Photo: "Wolf Dance at Fort Washakie"--a photograph (no date) identified by Wister as an inspiration for his 1891 short story How Lin McLean Went East. Owen Wister Papers.
Wister began writing short stories derived from material in his diaries in 1891. His first work was Chalkeye, a story about a small Western land owner and his dealings with a tenderfoot Easterner. Wister never completed this manuscript.
Wister’s first published work was Hank’s Woman, a story about the marriage of a ranch hand and his European wife. Written in 1891, it featured the first appearance of the character who became The Virginian.
How Lin McLean Went East, also written in 1891, concerns a Western ranch hand who goes East, but prefers the West. Lin McLean is considered to be an early version of the Virginian. He evolved into a separate character and later appeared in Lin McLean and The Virginian.
Harper’s Monthly published the latter two stories in 1892, prompting Wister to become a full-time writer.