The Shepherd of the Hills


Harold Bell Wright’s novel The Shepherd of the Hills introduced readers across the world to the Missouri Ozarks. The inspiration for Wright’s fictional story came from his time in the White River region near Branson. Throughout the 1890s, Wright made several trips to the area and developed a connection to the land and the locals. The people he met, like John and Anna Ross, became the key characters in his novel. The Shepherd of the Hills found immediate success. The novel became the first book to sell one million copies in the United States and has been adapted to film four times.

Following its publishing in 1907, The Shepherd of the Hills inspired readers to travel to the Ozarks to experience the hills and characters immortalized in his book. The arrival of the railroad the same year made traveling to the Ozarks as easy as buying a ticket. Over the next decade, visitors came by train to the Ozarks in search of “Old Matt’s Cabin,” the fictional name given to the Ross homestead. Local entrepreneurs capitalized on the book’s success, opening businesses named for characters and places in the book. Although the sensationalism of the book has subsided, film and play adaptations of The Shepherd of the Hills still attract visitors to the beauty and character of the Ozarks today.

Object Details

Categories: Arts & Culture

Creator: Harold Bell Wright

Date: 1907

Subject: Literature

Contributing Institution: The Springfield-Greene County Library District

Copy Request: The Springfield-Greene County Library District offers broad public access to its collection to enhance education and scholarship. Written permission is required for distribution, reproduction, or other use of protected images(s) beyond that allowed by fair use or other statutory exemptions. For more information on using this image, contact the Springfield-Greene County Library District.

Rights: The Springfield-Greene County Library District does not hold copyright on many of the materials in the Local History & Genealogy collection. Patrons assume all responsibility for obtaining the necessary permissions for publication and further use, and assume sole responsibility for any infringement of the literary rights, copyrights, or other rights which pertain to these materials.

County: Taney

Region: Southwest

Type: Book

Language: English

Latitude: 36.667185

Longitude: -93.306411