McMurtry was born on June 3, 1936, into a family of ranchers. McMurtry graduated from what is now the University of North Texas in Denton in 1958 with a bachelor’s degree in English and from Rice University in Houston with a master’s degree in English in 1960. He was also a member of Stanford University’s Stegner writing fellowship.
He wrote his first novel, “Horseman, Pass by,” at the age of 25 in 1961. It was made into the movie “Hud” starring Paul Newman that came out two years later.
McMurtry opened his first used and rare bookstore in 1971 in Washington, D.C., and later opened other stores in Houston, Dallas and Tucson.
In the mid-1980s, lured by cheap real estate, he opened his Booked Up store in Archer City. Eventually, the store in Archer City was the only one remaining. He downsized the store — both in volume and storefronts — in an effort dubbed The Last Book Sale, but retained about 200,000 volumes.
He had about 28,000 books in his nearby home in Archer City. “I’m very attached to the books. I need them. I need to be among them,” he told The AP in 2014.
McMurtry’s writing collaboration with Diana Ossana began after she helped him get out of a slump following quadruple bypass heart surgery in 1991. They won the Academy Award for their screenplay for the 2005 movie “Brokeback Mountain,” based on an Annie Proulx short story about two cowboys who fall in love. His most recent novel, “The Last Kind Words Saloon,” came out in 2014.