1926 former WC student wrote popular westerns
This is the final installment of the 150th Anniversary Monthly Moments celebrating the 150th anniversary of Wilmington College, which is celebrated until September 2021.
W. Todhunter Ballard (1903-1980), a member of the Wilmington College Class of 1926, distinguished himself as the author of 70 Western novels and detective novels.
He was born in Cleveland and attended Westtown Friends School (Pa.) Before enrolling at Wilmington College. During World War II, it was stationed at Wright Field in Dayton and at Clinton County Army Airfield.
Ballard began his professional writing career as the editor of a magazine specializing in electricity. After college, he acquired knowledge in this area when he worked for his father’s company, FW Ballard Co., for two years as an engineer in the construction of power plants and transmission lines. .
His first published story, “Gamble’s Luck,” appeared in pulp magazine, Brief Stories, in 1927.
A partial bibliography of his novels includes “The Circle C Feud” (1952), “High Iron” (1953), “Guns of the Lawless” (1956), “Trail Town Marshal” (1957), “Trouble on the Massacre” (1959), “The Night Riders” (1961), “Gopher Gold” (1962), “Gold in California!” (1965), “Trails of Rage” (1975), “Sheriff of Tombstone” (1977), “Home to Texas” (1974) and “The Californian” (1971).
“Gold in California!” won him the prestigious “Spur Award” for this genre in 1965.
In addition to his novels, the prolific writer has also written thousands of magazine stories and over 50 TV scripts. His popular articles appeared regularly in the Saturday Evening Post, Collier’s, McCall’s, Esquire and Liberty.
Additionally, he has written stories for popular magazines such as Black Mask, Dime Mystery, Popular Western, and Ranch Romances.
His screenplays included the film “The Outcast” for Republic Pictures and the television series “Cowboy G-Men”, “Death Valley Days”, “Shotgun Shade”, “Shannon” and “Alias Smith & Jones”.
Ballard’s 70 books also included those written under pseudonyms such as. WT Ballard, Jack Slade, Neil McNeil, Clay Turner, Sam Bowie and Parker Bonner.
He resided in California for much of his life and died at the age of 77 in Mount Dora, Florida in 1980.
The cover of the book “Gold in California” by W. Todhunter Ballard.