Thomas Nygard Gallery - 19th and 20th Century American Art




Will James’ early life as Joseph Ernest Nephtali Dufault, began in Quebec, Canada in 1892. He would migrate west to Saskatchewan and Alberta as a teenager to live with his sister and work on ranches. He was acutely drawn to horses and the way of the cowboy.  Western Canada’s relationship to that way of life was enhanced by it’s proximity to Montana just to the south of where James would call home.


He would further migrate to the United States with the new name, William Roderick James, where he was convicted of cattle rustling. He served a stint in prison for this avocation and while there, cared for the prison horses. In 1924 he began what would become a rousing career in writing, eventually penning close to two dozen books. His third one, Smokey, would win the coveted Newbery Award for Children’s Literature and become a movie.

(1892 - 1942)

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