"John Clayton's The Cowboy Girl is as meticulously researched as it is a bona fide page-turner," writes Victoria Lamont in the journal Western American Literature. "What sets The Cowboy Girl apart from standard works of western Americana, aside from the inherently sensational life of its subject, is the way it weaves together details of both Lockhart's public and private life with insights about the historical, social, and cultural developments of which Lockhart was a part. The result is a fascinating read... a rare revelation of frontier mythology as lived experience."
The book, a narrative biography of the novelist, journalist, publisher, and rancher Caroline Lockhart (1871-1962), was a finalist for a 2007 High Plains Book Award. It was named one of the best books of the year by the website NewWest.Net. And it led to Lockhart's inclusion in the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame.
Lockhart was a fascinating woman: she broke ground as stunt-girl reporter for the Boston Post and Philadelphia Bulletin; traveled to New Mexico, Montana, Europe, Newfoundland, and Spanish Honduras; moved to the newly-founded town of Cody, Wyoming, in 1904, where she knew Buffalo Bill; wrote seven bestselling novels, including three that were made into films; and spent five years as editor/publisher of the Cody Enterprise.
She was probably the first woman to float the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in Idaho, and may have been the first woman over Swiftcurrent Pass in what is now Glacier National Park.
But through all that, Lockhart's lifelong quest was to be a "cowboy girl" -- to re-create the magic of the Old West despite the progress of the 20th Century. John's book tells the story of that quest.
Reviews of The Cowboy Girl:
"Clayton's biography captures this woman who was often difficult to love but always larger-than-life, and The Cowboy Girl is a striking portrait of a Western woman who lived on her own terms throughout her long, extraordinary life." -, Best Books of 2007
"So you want to know more of the real Old West? Caroline Lockhart sure lived it. She had talent, guts, grit, and independence -- yet she was so damned ornery that when I was growing up I knew a lot of folks who walked the other side of the street when they saw her comin'! John Clayton fully captures this complex and colorful gal in this lively, well-researched, thought-provoking, wonderful book. I heartily recommend it." -former Wyoming senator Al Simpson
"explores the life of one of the West's greatest proponents, journalists, novelists, and storytellers... What is it about the image of open range, gunfights and cattle drives that still moves us today? Clayton's story of Lockhart's long life is as much about answering this as it is a story of a unique woman's life." -Big Sky Journal
"As an author, publisher, adventurer, and entrepreneur, Caroline Lockhart is an important historical figure crucial in the understanding of the cultural development of the American West... Clayton presents a warm portrait of a woman of a woman [with] strong spirit and independent vision... [a] little-known legend." -Djamila Ricciardi, Bloomsbury Review
"essential to a better understanding of the scope of characters that shaped the West." -State of the Arts
"Clayton not only offers a thorough assessment of the life of a fascinating and underrated woman novelist but also delves deeply into the appeal of the American West... [the book] has given Lockhart the absorbing biographical treatment her remarkable life deserves."-Booklist
"a well balanced narrative biography of Lockhart, a woman obsessed with the West and whose passions often overshadowed her better judgment. It is a fascinating story." -Western Writers of America's Roundup Magazine
"Lockhart was a driven woman, adventurous and spirited, but a banshee if you were on the wrong side of an issue or her personal life... Clayton presents the full, complex woman. Actress, reporter, world traveler, magazine and novel author, newspaper editor, rancher... she was a "cowboy girl" of her own making. " -Pete Warzel, Montana Quarterly
"It is Clayton's language skills and consolidation of his comments with Lockhart's own words that make The Cowboy Girl such a pleasure to read." -Patty Myers, Wyoming Library Roundup
"Lockhart's biography is both gripping and funny, tearful and joyous." -SIROW Newsletter, Southwest Institute for Research on Women at the University of Arizona
"Clayton should be commended for bringing Lockhart out of obscurity. She was an incredible woman who lived outside traditional female roles of her time." -Mary Madden, Kansas History
"Whether or not you like Lockhart's fidelity or character on a personal level, Clayton has crafted a strong, enlightening account of her life as a self-described Cowboy Girl." -Journal of the West
"John Clayton's lively account of Caroline Lockahrt is a welcome biography that will be of interest to western historians, women's historians, literary scholars, and general readers... an enjoyable and readable window into the world of a woman we should all know better." -Oregon Historical Quarterly
"John Clayton had his work cut out for him when he took on the challenge of writing a biography of a colorful and almost forgotten writer and cattle queen. The result is a thoroughly entertaining portrait." -Lorna Thackeray, Billings Gazette
"Not only does Clayton's sensitive and powerful writing fill Lockhart's character out with the grit and depth of her temperament, but the vivid episodes reveal her to be a valuable writer." -Lively Times
"looks at the myths and contradictions that shape the complicated place called the West, while telling the passionate and cantankerous tale of Lockhart's long life." -Bozeman Daily Chronicle
"Lockhart's rough-and-tumble demeanor and true-grit ambition allowed her to chew up and spit out anything the Old West had to offer." -Magic City Magazine
"as fascinating a Westerner as I've ever read about."-Jenny Shank, www.NewWest.net
"This larger-than-life Western woman deserved a good biography, and John Clayton has written one." -Bill Croke, Washington Times
"As biographies go, this is no doubt the best I have read in years." -Linda Wommack, True West
"a fascinating story of a driven, adventurous, lusty, at times abrasive and even murderous woman." - www.NewWest.net
"Mr. Clayton's grasp of his subject and her environment is masterful, and that is no mean feat."-Jim Larson, Billings Outpost
"an absorbing story of a talented but difficult woman always torn by her conflicting ambitions of fame, power, domestic bliss and a country life." -Joan Hinkemeyer, Rocky Mountain News
"Lockhart doesn't need to be a mythic or even likable figure to impress. She was extraordinary despite her faults. Maybe even because of them." -Jay Stevens, Missoula Independent
"The Wyoming legend, Caroline Lockhart, is immortalized in [this] new biography." -Casper (Wyo.) Journal
"Clayton's book follows the true story of Lockhart, Philadelphia's celebrity female journalist from the early 20th century. Sent out west on a newspaper assignment, Lockhart met miners and frontiersmen, Indians and trappers and was inspired to live the life of her dreams in what remained of the wild West." -Laramie Boomerang
"What a great service John Clayton has done us in rescuing Caroline Lockhart from oblivion in this insightful and highly readable biography. I was fascinated from beginning to end with this story of a woman who not only wrote stories of the West, but lived and loved it."-Mary Clearman Blew, author of All but the Waltz
"A fresh and highly original portrait of that quirky, irascible writer of the range, Caroline Lockhart. Like the author herself, Clayton's work winds through a landscape both factual and fantastic; in the end he manages to shine light not merely on one unforgettable woman, but on the appetites and yearnings that have driven many of our most cherished notions of the American West."-Gary Ferguson, author of The Great Divide: The Rocky Mountains in the American Mind
"Expertly researched and wonderfully written, this biography of Lockhart expands the genre to a meditation on frontier, feminism, and the vagaries of literary hubris. Clayton has rendered a riveting portrait of a woman both troubled and brave; a character caught up in the fiction of her own life."-Mark Spragg, author of An Unfinished Life
"A very interesting, well-written, and well-documented look at an early Western woman writer who has not previously received the recognition she deserves. Caroline Lockhart is such a complex figure--talented, beautiful, energetic, and often headstrong, but also conniving, insecure, and mean spirited--that she will be of interest to readers who have never heard of her work. I stayed up late to finish it because I couldn't put it down!"-Sue Hart, Montana State University-Billings
The Cowboy Girl: The Life of Caroline Lockhart