Peter B. Kyne

Peter B. Kyne (October 12, 1880 November 25, 1957) was an American novelist who published between 1904 and 1940. He was born and died in San Francisco, California. Many of his works were adapted into screenplays starting during the silent film era, particularly his first novel, The Three Godfathers, which was published in 1913 and proved to be a huge success. More than 100 films were adapted from his works between 1914 and 1952, many of the earliest without consent or compensation.[1] Kyne also created the character of Cappy Ricks in a series of novels.

Peter Bernhard Kyne
Born(1880-10-12)October 12, 1880
DiedNovember 25, 1957(1957-11-25) (aged 77)
San Francisco, California, U.S.
Other namesPeter Bernard Kyne
Years active1914–1952

Early years

The son of cattle rancher John Kyne and Mary Cresham, young Kyne worked on his father's ranch then attended a business college where he decided to become a writer.[2]

Military service

When still younger than 18 years old, he lied about his age and enlisted with Company L, 14th U.S. Infantry nicknamed "the Golden Dragons", which served in the Philippines from 1898 to 1899. The Spanish–American War and the following insurrection of General Emilio Aguinaldo provided background for many of Kyne's later stories.[3] During World War I, he served as a captain of Battery A of the California National Guard 144th Field Artillery Regiment, known as the "California Grizzlies".[4]

Partial filmography

Adaptations of The Three Godfathers

  • The Tracy High School football field and MVP trophy are named after Kyne, whose Bohemian Club friends orchestrated the naming in 1927, Kyne and his Bohemian club friends funded early Tracy High School athletic programs and purchased the land for the eponymous Peter B. Kyne Field.
  • A wooden sign in Sequoia Park in Eureka, California, bears a quote from Kyne's The Valley of the Giants: "I'm not going to cut the timber in this valley. I haven't the heart to destroy God's most wonderful handiwork. 'Twas in her mind to give her Valley of the Giants to Sequoia (Eureka) for a city park." In Kyne's Humboldt-inspired book The Valley of the Giants, a timber baron's wife's wish of saving a favorite stand of redwoods and creating a park in the middle of a city is made possible by her husband after her death.[6][7]


  1. "[W]ork was pillaged, "borrowed," altered, or literally stolen, with no payment to them... [Unlike Lew Wallace,] ...Peter B. Kyne, took this plagiarism in stride," Everson, William K., American Silent Film (Oxford University Press, 1978), p. 102
  2. "Peter B. Kyne - Biography and Works. Search Texts, Read Online. Discuss". Retrieved May 16, 2018.
  3. "Archives West: Peter Bernard Kyne papers, 1917-1957". Retrieved May 16, 2018.
  5. According to contemporaneous newspaper reports, Action was based on J. Allan Dunn's novel, The Mascotte of the Three Star; Mascotte appeared as the lead novel in the pulp magazine Short Stories, February 1921. See, for example, the San Francisco Chronicle, September 4, 1921.
  6. "Eureka and Sequoia Park," Dione F. Armand, Arcadia Publishing
  7. "Sequoia Park: New book delves into the history of a community oasis," Sharon Letts, Eureka Times Standard, January 20, 2008
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