True Grit

Charles Portis

Illustrated by Juan Esteban Rodríguez

Introduced by Donna Tartt

A whiskey-swilling bounty hunter and a fearless teenage girl are unlikely allies in this electrifying all-American adventure introduced by Donna Tartt.


They tell me you are a man with true grit

Fourteen-year-old Mattie Ross wants to avenge her murdered father, but she can’t pull in the fugitive killer on her own, so she asks around town for the meanest gun for hire. A one-eyed US Marshall with a taste for whiskey and a trigger-happy approach to law enforcement, Rooster Cogburn, is happy to take her money. But there’s a catch: there’s an outstanding warrant on the killer, and debonair Texas Ranger LaBoeuf is hell-bent on claiming it ... so, he’s packing his saddlebags and joining the search party.

Production Details

Bound in printed and blocked cloth

Set in Kennerley

176 pages

Black & white frontispiece and 6 colour illustrations, including 2 double-page spreads

Blocked slipcase

9˝ x 5¾˝

An exciting first for Folio

‘Portis has made an epic and a legend. Mattie Ross should soon join the pantheon of America’s legendary figures such as Kit Carson, Wyatt Earp and Jesse James’

  1. Washington Post

Amongst the greatest first-person narratives in American literature, True Grit is a taut, tense and unflinching adventure in the tradition of John Steinbeck and Mark Twain. Gorgeously written and epic in scale, it has all the characteristics of a classic western and it marks Folio’s first sortie into this rich but often underrated genre. Charles Portis plays with the classic revenge scenario by pitting the wits of a teenage girl against gun-toting outlaws. Single-minded, plucky and unyielding, Mattie is a typical western protagonist in everything but gender. However, it isn’t long before this becomes gloriously irrelevant, as she holds her own in the badlands of 1870s Arkansas.

The book that launched a movie gold rush

Three big-screen adaptations attest to the mesmerising visual appeal of True Grit, and its classic plot which crescendos to a thrilling finale. The Coen Brothers’ faithful 2010 film picked up ten Oscar nominations, and our edition celebrates the book’s filmic scope with Juan Esteban Rodríguez’s lavish illustrations. Soaked in sepia hues and western nostalgia, these atmospheric scenes perfectly depict the characters and their surroundings. The wraparound binding shows a defiant Mattie staring at the trail she hopes will lead to revenge.

The wrath of a wronged teenager

After killing Mattie’s father and stealing his horse and money, Tom Chaney is trying to put as much distance between himself and justice as possible, but seasoned tracker Rooster soon picks up his scent. Covering vast distances in the saddle, sleeping rough and surviving on scant rations, the unlikely search party each has their own motivation for pushing forwards, but are united in their desire to apprehend the killer, whatever it takes. Although violence is plentiful, it is never inapt and the growing camaraderie between the characters is built naturally. Portis’s story is driven by dialogue, with Mattie’s Presbyterian correctness in stark contrast to the rough vernacular and cussing of the outlaws and their pursuers. As celebrated author Donna Tartt writes in her introduction, ‘No living Southern writer captures the spoken idioms of the South as artfully as Portis does.’ True Grit had a huge impact on Tartt’s literary life, and that’s the beauty of the book: it’s a western for those who love westerns, but it’s also a darn good read for anyone who loves an adventure story.  

About Charles Portis

Charles Portis was born in El Dorado, Arkansas, in 1933. Having served in the Marine Corps during the Korean war, he studied journalism and later moved to New York to work for the Herald Tribune. He began writing fiction full-time in 1964, publishing his first novel, Norwood, in 1966 and True Grit in 1968. Both of these have been adapted into successful films, True Grit twice. His other full-length novels are The Dog of the South (1979), Masters of Atlantis (1985) and Gringos (1991). He died in February 2020.

About Donna Tartt

Donna Tartt was born and raised in Mississippi. She studied at university there before moving to Bennington College, where she began writing her first novel, The Secret History (1992), set in a fictional Vermont college. The Little Friend (2002) won the W. H. Smith Literary Award and her most recent novel, The Goldfinch (2013), won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2014. The same year she was included in Time magazine’s ‘100 Most Influential People’ list.

About Juan Esteban Rodríguez

Juan Esteban Rodríguez is a freelance illustrator based in Valencia, Spain. He studied Fine Arts there and started working on small commissions in 2012. His work since then has focused on film and gig posters as well as editorial. Clients include Lucasfilm, Warner Brothers, Scientific American and Foreign Affairs magazine.


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