The Virginian (1902) is Owen Wister's classic popular romance, and the most significant shaping influence on cowboy fiction. Its narrator, fresh from the East, encounters in Wyoming cattle country a strange, seductive and often violent land where the handsome figure of the Virginian battles for supremacy with Trampas and other ne'er-do-wells. His courtship of the genteel Vermont schoolteacher, Molly Wood, is a humourously observed battle of the sexes, demonstrating that the 'customs of the country' must eventually prevail. Rich in vernacular wit and portraying a romanticized escape from the decorum of the patrician East, The Virginian exudes a sense of redemptive possibility, drawing on Wister's experience of a summer spent on a Wyoming ranch in 1895. This edition includes Wister's neglected essay, 'The Evolution of the Cow-Puncher' (1895), a revealing companion to a novel that has disturbing undercurrents.