Books That Inspire 2009

Chip of the Flying U
Bertha Muzzy Bower

Bertha Muzzy Bower wrote under the pen name B.M.Bower in an effort to conceal her gender from the reading public. There were very few women writing western American fiction in the early 1900s. Drawing upon her life on the Montana frontier, she wrote sixty-eight western novels and enjoyed commercial success. Bower was a friend of the famous western artist Charles M. Russell, who illustrated her book, Chip of the Flying U. This novel is inspiring to me because it is a classic western story with a wonderful cast of characters, both human and horses. The characters include "the Old Man" who was the owner of the Flying U ranch of Montana, and his young physician sister who visits for the summer and is referred to as "the Little Doctor" by the Flying U cowboys. The cowboys include Happy Jack, Cal, Shorty, Slim and others. There is Whizzer, a tall rangy sorrel that the Flying U hands describe as a "long legged snake" and Bay Denver, a beautiful bay stallion, who is described as "the pride and terror of the ranch...noted for his speed and vindictive hatred of the more plebeian horses" of the ranch. Chip, the young cowboy and bronc buster is the main character of the novel. Bower blends Chip's personal struggle with his remarkable artistic ability and his role as the top cowhand of the Flying U into the story.

John R, Lovett
Curator Western History Collections, Director Special Collections, William J. Welch Professor of Bibliography
Western History Collections