A. B. Guthrie Jr., a Kentucky journalist who turned to fiction and won a Pulitzer Prize as one of the century's leading Western historical novelists, died Friday at his home at Choteau, Mont. He was 90.
Carl D. Brandt, his agent, said he died of lung failure. He had been in poor health for several months.
Mr. Guthrie, who won the Pulitzer in 1949 for his novel "The Way West," also wrote the screenplay for the 1953 motion picture "Shane."
His final book, "A Field Guide to Writing Fiction," was published two weeks ago. His published works consisted of six novels, a book of essays, a children's book, a book of poems and five mystery novels.
Mr. Guthrie said he wanted to avoid writing myths about the West. "I have a sense of morality about it," he said. "I want to talk about real people. . . . For every Wyatt Earp or Billy the Kid, there were thousands of people trying to get along."
His first novel was called "Murders at Moon Dance," which was published in 1943. Mr. Guthrie later called it a "trashy piece of work." But the challenges offered by the novel intrigued him.
His Pulitzer-Prize winner, "The Way West," told the story of the trek of a group of men, women and children from Independence, Mo., to the promised land of Oregon.