About Ivan Doig and his Writings
Ivan Doig at work with his typewriter. Marc Gaede photo. Ivan Doig Archive, https://arc.lib.montana.edu/ivan-doig/item.php?id=6436
Ivan Doig (June 27, 1939- April 9,2015), a third generation Montanan, was born in White Sulphur Springs, Montana. He grew up along the Rocky Mountain front where much of his writing takes place. His highly acclaimed memoir This House of Sky (1978), was a finalist for the National Book Award. A former ranch hand, newspaperman, and magazine editor, Doig graduated from Northwestern University where he received bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism. He earned a Ph.D. in history from the University of Washington in 1969, and during his career was the recipient of three honorary doctorates. In the century's-end San Francisco Chronicle polls to name the best Western novels and works of non-fiction, Doig was the only living writer with books in the top dozen on both lists: English Creek in fiction and This House of Sky in non-fiction. He lived in Seattle with his wife Carol, who taught the literature of the American West.
Ivan Doig writes at his new desk in Washington, 1998. Carol Doig photo. Ivan Doig Archive, https://arc.lib.montana.edu/ivan-doig/item.php?id=2993
Ivan Doig posing at Augusta badlands in Montana. Carol Doig photo. Ivan Doig Archive, https://arc.lib.montana.edu/ivan-doig/item.php?id=3796
"Landscapes of a Western Mind" explores the prolific work, cultural impact, and profound legacy of Montana author Ivan Doig. Produced by MontanaPBS and released in early 2023.
Books and Other Writings
Ivan Doig’s sixteen original works, published between 1978 and 2015, remain popular with readers today. Whether fiction or non-fiction, his books provide a window into western history generally, and a way into Montana in particular, where Doig spent his childhood.
Annotated Ivan Doig Bibliography
By Jan Zauha, Outreach and Humanities Librarian
This House of Sky: Landscapes of a Western Mind (1978), Nonfiction.
A memoir of growing up in hardscrabble Montana along the Rocky Mountain Front, Doig ponders the nature of memory, loss, hard work, and family while he relates stories of his father and grandmother and finding his own path in the world.
Winter Brothers: A Season at the Edge of America (1980), Nonfiction.
Doig spends a season on the coast of Puget Sound tracing the words and steps of James Gilchrist Swan, his own diary mirroring that of this 19th century settler. The result is a blend of history and memoir, rich in observations of the natural world and time past.
The Sea Runners (1982), Novel.
Inspired by events in 1853, Doig here imagines the daring of four Scandinavian canoe men on their escape from Russian imprisonment in New Archangel, Alaska. Navigating 1,200 miles of the Pacific coast from Alaska to Oregon, their tale of survival on water and land speaks of dangers within and without.
English Creek (1984), Novel.
This first book in the Two Medicine trilogy is set in 1939 Montana. Jick McCaskill, son of forest ranger Varick McCaskill, makes his way through the world of his 14th summer learning about ornery horses, family life and love, hard work, history, and so much more about himself.
Dancing at the Rascal Fair (1987), Novel.
Prequel to English Creek, this second book in the trilogy relates the tumultuous lives of two Scottish immigrants, Rob Barclay and Angus McCaskill, from 1889-1919. New to Montana at the dawn of statehood, these young sheepmen witness tremendous change in their friendship and the Two Medicine country.
Ride With Me, Mariah Montana (1990), Novel.
The third title in the Two Medicine trilogy finds Jick McCaskill widowed and hitting
the road with his journalist daughter and ex-son-in-law in search of “real” Montana
stories. Their journey reveals a changed Montana on the eve of its state centennial.
Heart Earth (1993), Nonfiction.
Made possible by access to long lost letters from Doig’s mother who died when he was six, this memoir fills in the outlines of Berneta Doig and the family’s quest to improve her health, moving from Montana to Arizona and back to Montana, their “heart earth.”
Bucking the Sun (1996), Novel.
Mysterious deaths, family drama, and one of the largest construction projects ever come together in this novel set in New Deal era Montana.
Mountain Time (1999), Novel.
Prairie Nocturne (2003), Novel
The Whistling Season (2006), Novel
The Eleventh Man (2008), Novel
Work Song (2010), Novel
The Bartender’s Tale ( 2012), Novel
Sweet Thunder (2013), Novel
Last Bus to Wisdom (2015), Novel
One of Ivan’s typewriters, now part of the Ivan Doig Archive. MSU Library photo.