Horseman, Pass By

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Horseman, Pass By
First edition
Author Larry McMurtry
Country United States
Language English
Genre Modern western
Publisher Harper
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardback and Paperback)

Horseman, Pass By is the first novel written by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Larry McMurtry.[1] It was published before McMurtry's thirtieth birthday.[2] The 1961 western portrays life on a cattle ranch from the perspective of young narrator Lonnie Bannon. Set in post-World War II Texas (1954), the Bannon ranch is owned by Lonnie's venerable grandfather, Homer Bannon. Homer's ruthless stepson, Hud, stands as the primary antagonist of the novel. The novel inspired the film Hud starring Paul Newman as the title character.

The title of the novel derives from the last three lines of the poem "Under Ben Bulben" by William Butler Yeats (1865-1939), which are carved on his tombstone:

"Cast a cold eye
On life, on death.
Horseman, pass by."


Seventeen-year-old Lonnie lives on a Texas ranch with his grandfather Homer Bannon, Homer's wife Jewel, and her adult son Hud. While a good cowboy, Hud does whatever he wants, regardless of others.

One of Homer's young heifers dies suddenly, and first one vet, then another is called. The dead animal is found to have foot and mouth disease, and it is communicated to the rest of the herd. All cattle on the ranch are shot and their bodies buried deeply.

During this time, Hud rapes the cook, Halmea, causing her to leave. Lonnie goes to the town rodeo, only to see one of his friends get seriously hurt in a bull riding accident. Lonnie heads back to the ranch, as Hud also returns from another direction.

Homer is hit by a car on the highway and is found by Hud and Lonnie. Hud sends Lonnie for help, but shoots Homer while he is gone. The book ends with Lonnie leaving Homer's funeral to see the injured friend.


  1. ^ McMurtry, Larry (2008). Books : a memoir (1st Simon & Schuster hardcover ed.). New York: Simon & Schuster. p. 59. ISBN 9781416583349. 
  2. ^ "The Fort Scott Tribune - Google News Archive Search". 

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