Tuesday, May 31, 2011

William Hope Hodgson (1877-1918)

Sailor, Author, Bodybuilder, and Photographer
Born November 15, 1877, Blackmore End, Essex, England
Died April 1918, On the Battlefield at Ypres, Belgium

In observance of Memorial Day, here is a posting on one of the great early writers of science fantasy, William Hope Hodgson, who was killed on the battlefield during World War I. Much has been written on his life and work. H.P. Lovecraft himself knew of Hodgson and commented on his works in Lovecraft's "Supernatural Horror in Literature." You can read an excerpt on an interesting website devoted to Hodgson, called "The Night Land," here.

Hodgson died before Weird Tales came into existence, but the magazine printed one of his stories, "The Hog," in its January 1947 issue. "The Hog" is the longest in a series of stories featuring Hodgson's supernatural detective, Carnacki the Ghost Finder. Perhaps because of its length, it was not printed as the others were in the British magazines The Idler and The New Magazine between 1910 and 1912. Hodgson's powers and limitations as a writer are on full display in the Carnacki stories. He had a great imagination--an imagination ahead of its time really--and was capable of describing dreadful wonders. On the other hand, his stories and novels are often overlong, repetitive, mawkish, and formulaic. Hodgson's needless framing devices alone are enough to drive you crazy. In any other writer, those flaws might prove fatal. Hodgson, though, is always worth reading because when he is good, he is unmatched.

William Hope Hodgson's Stories in Weird Tales
"The Hog" (Jan. 1947)
"A Tropical Horror" (Summer 1973)
"Eloi Eloi Lama Sabachthani" (Fall 1973)
"The Terror of the Water Tank" (Winter 1973)
"The Finding of the Graiken" (Summer 1974)

Further Reading
William Hope Hodgson's work has been reprinted repeatedly during the last century. If you can find Ballantine's paperback reprints from the early 1970s, that might be a good place to start. In any case, his works include:
  • The Boats of the "Glen Carrig" (1907)
  • The House on the Borderland (1908)
  • The Ghost Pirates (1909)
  • The Night Land (1912)
  • Carnacki the Ghost-Finder (1913)
And many, many short stories. In addition, Sam Moskowitz was a particular fan of Hodgson and published one of his stories in each of Moskowitz's four issues of the revived Weird Tales in the early 1970s. Moskowitz also wrote and published a three-part critical, biographical, and bibliographical study of Hodgson in the Summer 1973 issue through the Winter 1973 issue, the first of its kind.


William Hope Hodgson (1877-1918), one of the casualties in the unspeakable slaughter and waste that was the First World War.  
It's hard to beat Ace for great science fiction and fantasy covers. Here is the cover of Hodgson's novel The House on the Borderland. I don't know the name of the artist, but it could be Richard M. Powers.
Finally, the cover of Carnacki the Ghost-Finder in a British edition from Panther (1973). The illustration is for "The Hog," the longest story in the book and the only one to be reprinted in Weird Tales. Again, I don't know the name of the artist.
Text and captions copyright 2011 Terence E. Hanley

Monday, May 30, 2011

Harry Anable Kniffin (1876-1939)

Author and Illustrator
Born February 12, 1876, Brooklyn, New York
Died February 18, 1939, Westfield, New Jersey

Harry Anable Kniffin was born on February 12, 1876, in Brooklyn, New York, but lived in Bayonne and Westfield, New Jersey, for most of his life. As a young man, he worked in the insurance business, then as an illustrator, a stenographer, and finally a writer for magazines. His triumph was "The Tribute," a story from Brief Stories selected for an O. Henry Award and published in Prize Stories of 1921. His only work for Weird Tales, "The Hand of Fatma," was published in the January 1924 issue. Kniffin also wrote for The Delineator, a Butterick magazine with a focus on women's fashions. His family, some of whom worked as pattern makers, may also have worked for the Butterick Publishing Company, which was based in Manhattan. Kniffin's stories for The Delineator appeared in the issues for April and July 1924. His short story, "Westfield 140 Years Ago," was printed in his local paper, The Westfield Leader, on December 9, 1925.

Kniffin was probably the same H.A. Kniffin who authored a one-act play called "Mrs. Flynn's Lodgers" (1910). He was also involved in civic affairs in his home town of Westfield, co-authoring a church history printed in 1929 and serving as president of the Westfield Art Association. Kniffin died a week after his birthday, on February 18, 1939, in Westfield. His wife, Louise H. Kniffin, remained active as head of the Children's Country Home in Westfield for many years afterward.

Harry Anable Kniffin's Story in Weird Tales
"The Hand of Fatma" (Jan. 1924)

Further Reading

"The Tribute" has fallen into the public domain and is readily available on the Internet.


Harry Anable Kniffin wrote fiction and perhaps also provided illustrations for the Butterick company's magazine, The Delineator.
Harry Anable Kniffin (1876-1939)
Thanks to Randal Everts for the photograph of Harry Anable Kniffin.
Text and captions copyright 2011 Terence E. Hanley

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Preston Langley Hickey (1900-1962)

Editor, Author, Magician, Poet, and Publicist
Born July 30, 1900, Charlestown, Massachusetts
Died September 28, 1962, Indianapolis, Indiana

Preston Langley "Duke" Hickey was born on July 30, 1900, in Charlestown, Massachusetts, and lived in Chicago (where his father ran a restaurant called the JeJong) and Minneapolis as a young man. He served overseas in the U.S. Army's famed "Rainbow Division" during World War I. (Poet Joyce Kilmer was also a member of the division, commanded by General Douglas MacArthur.) In civilian life, Hickey attended the New York Institute of Fine Arts and the McPhail School of Music in Minneapolis.

At nineteen Hickey was an editor for the Associated Press in Minneapolis. He also wrote booklets after the war, Practical Drawing Room, Club and Stage Patter (1919) and Parlor Problems, or Mental Mathematical Magic (1920). During the 1920s, he wrote for pulp magazines, some fiction, some verse, and some "true" stories. "True" stories--true romances, true confessions, true mystery stories, true terror tales--were a popular kind of pulp story. Hickey contributed to that sub-genre in the magazine True Detective Mysteries. During the first year of Weird Tales' run, he wrote a regular "true" feature, "The Cauldron-True Adventures of Terror." "The Unique Magazine" also published two of his poems, "Hops" and "The Crystal Globe," in 1924. His short story, "The Ship Terror," appeared in the October 1924 issue of Triple-XIf Hickey is known for any of his works today, it's for a book called The Conspiracy of Silence: An Indictment (1938), written with silent movie actress Juanita Hansen (1895-1961). The book came out of her experiences abusing drugs. In it, she argued that drug users should be treated medically rather than sent to prison. Unlike other celebrity drug users, she reformed and lived a long life.

Hickey spent most of his career in motion picture publicity and eventually became known to "every newspaper movie critic east of the Mississippi" according to his obituary. He spent the last fourteen years of his career in Cleveland with Universal International Films. From his obituary:
Combining the swashbuckling style of movie publicists of another era with the qualities of modern public relations men, he obtained essentially the space he required in newspapers and other publications when he was publicizing a movie.
In addition to writing fiction, semi-fiction, and non-fiction, Hickey enjoyed compiling historical information on the state of Montana. He was in fact a member of the Montana Cowboys Association, the Vigilantes Club of Virginia City, Montana, and other organizations, despite living in Lakewood, Ohio, late in life. Preston Langley Hickey died on September 28, 1962, in Indianapolis, Indiana, while on a publicity trip.

Preston Langley Hickey's Features and Poems in Weird Tales
"The Cauldron-True Adventures of Terror" (June 1923; July/Aug. 1923; Sept. 1923; Oct. 1923)
"Hops" (Poem, Jan. 1924)
"The Crystal Globe" (Poem, Mar. 1924)

Further Reading
I don't know of any sources for Hickey's work except for the original works themselves.

Although Preston Langley Hickey's "The Cauldron" did not appear in the May 1923 issue of Weird Tales, a cauldron appeared on the cover that month, presaging the arrival of Hickey's feature in June. The cover art is by an illustrator whose identity will be revealed in a future posting.
Silent movie actress Juanita Hansen suffered through drug abuse during much of her career in Hollywood. By the 1930s, that career had ended, but that didn't stop her from becoming an anti-drug crusader. Her book with Preston Langley Hickey, The Conspiracy of Silence: An Indictment (1938), was part of that crusade. Early on, Juanita Hansen took a turn as a jungle girl in The Lost City of the African Jungle (1920). Tarzan had made his debut just eight years before.
For the last fourteen years of his life, P.L. "Duke" Hickey did publicity work for Universal International pictures, producer and purveyor of movies made in the old pulp genres of western, adventure, horror, and science fiction.
Text and captions copyright 2011 Terence E. Hanley

Friday, May 27, 2011

Lamont Buchanan's Books

Lamont Buchanan (b. 1919) was the associate editor and art director of Weird Tales during its years in his hometown of New York City. Although I have not yet found when he started in that position, I have found a source announcing his resignation in the winter of 1949-1950. (My source is Science Fantasy Review, Vol. 4, No. 17. You can look at that source here, on the website Efanzines.com.) By the time of his resignation, Buchanan had already seen three or four of his books in print. His future as a writer, editor, and compiler of pictorial books must have seemed bright.

In a review of one of his books, the reviewer wrote: "The author is identified as 'one of the earliest contributors to the big pictorial magazines' and 'a pioneer in the text and picture method of telling a story.' " That would suggest that Buchanan's work appeared in Life, Look, or similar magazines. In any case, Lamont Buchanan specialized in pictorial books, a field that seems to have opened up after World War II. One review stated that he had authored thirteen books, but I could find the titles of just twelve, the first from 1947 and the last from 1956.
  • The Story of Football in Text and Pictures (New York: Stephen-Paul, 1947)
  • The Story of Basketball in Text and Pictures (New York: Stephen-Paul, 1948)
  • People and Politics: The Pictorial History of the American Two-Party System (New York: Stephen-Paul, 1948)
  • The Story of Tennis in Text and Pictures (New York: Vanguard Press, 1951)
  • A Pictorial History of the Confederacy (New York: Crown Publishers, 1951)
  • The World Series and Highlights of Baseball (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1951)
  • The Kentucky Derby Story (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1953)
  • The Flying Years: A Pictorial History of Man's Conquest of the Air (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1953)
  • The Pictorial Baseball Instructor (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1954)
  • Steel Trails and Iron Horses: A Pageant of American Railroading (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1955)
  • Ballot for Americans: A Pictorial History of American Elections, 1789-1956 (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1956)
  • Ships of Steam (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1956)
And then, like Allison V. Harding, he seems to have vanished.


Copyright 2011 Terence E. Hanley

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Lamont Buchanan (b. 1919)

Associate Editor and Art Director of Weird Tales Magazine
Author of Books and Articles
Born March 7, 1919, New York, New York

For most of the 1920s and '30s, the editorial offices of Weird Tales magazine were located in Chicago. In 1938, the magazine changed hands and made a permanent move to New York City. Two years later, as longtime editor Farnsworth Wright retired in failing health, Dorothy McIlwraith took over the helm of Weird Tales, adding that responsibility to her position as editor of Short Stories magazine. Assisting her on Weird Tales was a young writer, Lamont Buchanan, who served as associate editor and art director. Dorothy McIlwraith stayed with Weird Tales until its final issue in September 1954. For that she has gotten a lot of print. Very little has been written about Lamont Buchanan.

Charles Lamont Buchanan was born on March 7, 1919, in New York City. His father, Charles L. Buchanan (1884-1962), was a journalist as well as a music, art, and drama critic. Even as a child, Charles Lamont Buchanan was going by the name C. Lamont. In later years, he dropped the "C" and became simply Lamont Buchanan. I don't know when he assumed his position with Weird Tales, but it's common knowledge that Dorothy McIlwraith became editor of the magazine with the May 1940 issue. If Buchanan started at the same time, he would have just turned twenty-one years old.

Enthusiasts of the Farnsworth Wright years at Weird Tales are often not kind to Dorothy McIlwraith. Perhaps they see the 1920s and '30s as a golden age for "The Unique Magazine," an age that became tarnished during the 1940s. To be fair, though, we should all remember that two of the most important writers for Weird Tales--H.P. Lovecraft (1890-1937) and Robert E. Howard (1906-1936)--died within a year of each other, before McIlwraith came on as editor. Other contributors, such as C.L. Moore, had moved on to other things by 1940. The list of contributors during the 1940s and '50s is nothing to sniff at though. It includes Ray Bradbury, Robert Bloch, August Derleth, Edmond Hamilton, Mary Elizabeth Counselman, Carl Jacobi, and many other well known authors. We should also remember that pulp magazines in general went into decline during the 1940s and '50s. Wartime paper shortages followed by the rise of comic books and paperback novels helped finish off most of the pulps. Dorothy McIlwraith actually acquitted herself quite well by keeping Weird Tales alive until 1954.

The Wright years at Weird Tales are seen as a golden age not only for their words, but also for their images. It's true that Hugh Rankin, Virgil Finlay, and J. Allen St. John were mostly absent from the magazine after 1940, but Margaret Brundage continued doing covers until 1945, while other artists such as Hannes Bok, A.R. Tilburne, Matt Fox, and even Frank Kelly Freas came on to take the place of illustrators since departed. One of the artists most closely identified with Weird Tales was actually a discovery of its art director, Lamont Buchanan.

The inimitable Lee Brown Coye (1907-1981) created the cover illustrations for ten issues of Weird Tales between 1945 and 1951. Moreover, his fantastic black and white artwork appeared in the interior, either as illustrations for stories or as stand-alone "Weirdisms." Coye was introduced to Weird Tales in 1944 when he was working on the illustrations for an anthology to be called Sleep No More. His publisher did not have manuscripts of the stories that would be included in the anthology, so Coye went to the source, the editorial offices of Weird Tales magazine. There he met Lamont Buchanan, who asked him to illustrate a story for the magazine. The two became friends, and Coye became a regular contributor to Weird Tales.

Buchanan was connected in a more intimate way with another contributor to "The Unique Magazine." Allison V. Harding was one of the most prolific writers for Weird Tales during the McIlwraith years. Her "Damp Man" stories of 1947-1949 kept readers coming back for more. Allison however became the source of a mystery: Who was she? The answer is that Allison V. Harding was Jean Milligan, Buchanan's wife (although I don't yet know the date of their wedding). I have looked into the mystery of Allison V. Harding in the previous posting. I'll have more to say as I find out more about her. In any case, no one knows or no one is telling the circumstances under which Jean Milligan came to write for Weird Tales. She and Buchanan may have met in New Canaan, Connecticut, where both lived during the 1930s. They may even have been high school classmates.

In addition to being an editor and art director, Lamont Buchanan was an author. He wrote "Feeding 7,000,000!" with Lynn Perkins for Argosy (April 1945) and "What Makes the Action Story Go" for Writer's Yearbook (1945). Between 1948 and 1956, he authored or compiled a number of books on sports, transportation, and American history. I'll list those books in the next posting.

Allison V. Harding wrote her last story for Weird Tales in 1951. The magazine ceased publication in 1954. And Lamont Buchanan published his last book in 1956. So what happened to the writing couple? That's another mystery surrounding tellers of weird tales.

"Weirdisms" by Lee Brown Coye appeared in Weird Tales during Dorothy McIlwraith's years as editor (1940-1954). Coye, who is still closely identified with the magazine, was a discovery of Lamont Buchanan, associate editor and art director at the time.

Text and captions copyright 2011 Terence E. Hanley

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Who Was Allison V. Harding?

Weird Tales was a magazine of mystery, terror, wonder, and weirdness. One of the magazine's greatest mysteries however existed outside its pages. For the better part of a century, readers of "The Unique Magazine" have wondered: Who was Allison V. Harding?

Allison V. Harding was one of the most prolific of Weird Tales' many authors. Between 1943 and 1951, she published three dozen stories in the magazine, the most by any woman and more than most of the men, including Ray Bradbury, Carl Jacobi, Frank Belknap Long, David H. Keller, and E. Hoffman Price. Her most memorable creation was The Damp Man, that bloated, creepy, seemingly unkillable stalker of women who prowled the pages of "The Unique Magazine" during the late 1940s. The Damp Man made his debut in a self-titled tale from the July 1947 issue. Despite the fact that he was hard-frozen at the end of the story, The Damp Man returned in not one but two sequels, fittingly entitled "The Damp Man Returns" (September 1947) and "The Damp Man Again" (May 1949). (As every fan of fantasy and horror knows, being frozen does not equal being dead.) "The Damp Man Again" earned a spot on the cover of the magazine, testament to the popularity of the character and the appeal of Allison's writing.

Allison's last story for Weird Tales, published in the January 1951 issue, was called "Scope." As far as anyone knows, she never again wrote for any magazine or in any book. In fact, Weird Tales was the only magazine to print the byline "Allison V. Harding." Although a few of her stories have been reprinted, there has never been a collection of Allison's fiction, never an interview, never an appearance at a book signing or convention. Allison V. Harding, a mystery even when her work was in print, seems to have vanished from the face of the earth after 1951.

So what happened to Allison V. Harding? The answer lies in the fact that there was no Allison V. Harding. The author's name was a pseudonym, assumed by a woman named Jean Milligan, a woman who also remains a mystery. According to science fiction historian and editor Sam Moskowitz (1920-1997), Jean Milligan was an attorney in New York City during the 1940s. Apparently that's all he or anyone else knew of her (or at least the people who were telling). Moskowitz evidently based that knowledge on his examination of the files of Weird Tales magazine, then in the possession of Leo Margulies (1900-1975), longtime editor and publisher of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Unfortunately, those files were destroyed, and so any evidence they may have held as to the identity of Jean Milligan or Allison V. Harding is lost.

"Jean Milligan"--a seemingly common name. But if she was an attorney working in New York City in the 1940s, there is at least a little information with which to start an investigation. That investigation leads pretty quickly to a member of a prominent family. Even then, no firm connection between that Jean Milligan and the Jean Milligan who wrote for Weird Tales remains. Is someone covering her tracks? Maybe so. In any case, you follow leads where you find them.

Jean Milligan was born in 1919 in Cleveland, Ohio, to John R. Milligan (1885-1959) and Beatrice Isabel Humphrey Milligan (ca. 1885-1938). Jean was the youngest of three girls, all born in Cleveland into a family from the East. John R. Milligan worked for some time with Tillotson & Wolcott Company, a banking and investment firm located in Cleveland. After 1920, the family returned East and lived in New Canaan, Connecticut, for many years. In the 1940s--perhaps earlier and perhaps later--John R. Milligan was with a Wall Street firm called Van Cleef, Jordan, and Wood. That firm is still in existence.

The Milligan family were members of society and educated in the East. Mr. Milligan graduated from Amherst College, his wife from Smith College where she studied literature. Mary Louise Milligan, the oldest girl, attended Vassar College and married Charles Nassau Lowrie, Jr., an attorney and son of a prominent New York City architect. Katherine, the middle daughter, married a businessman and later an industrial engineer who worked for Sikorsky Aircraft and North American Rockwell Corporation. And Jean Milligan? Though mentioned in newspapers in connection with her family and their social activities, Jean Milligan remained elusive--no record of her college, work, or marriage. Still no firm connection.

For the sake of where it might lead, let's say that Jean Milligan of New Canaan, Connecticut, was the same person who wrote under the name Allison V. Harding. Why did she not want her identity known? In the decade prior to Allison's debut in Weird Tales, Catherine Moore of Indianapolis wrote under the name C.L. Moore, not as some have claimed to hide her sex from editors and readers, but to hide her identity from her employer. Pulp magazines were often considered trash--cheap, lurid, barely literate, and full of violence, perversion, and even pornography. C.L. Moore didn't want her employer, an Indianapolis banker, to know that she was moonlighting as a pulp fiction writer. (Eventually the truth came out, apparently without consequence.) Could Jean Milligan have been similarly motivated? If she was an attorney, working for a prominent firm and member of a prominent family, would she have embarrassed or shamed them by writing under her own name? Was she pressured or persuaded to write under a pseudonym? Or did she write in secret?

Secrets surround the question of Jean Milligan and Allison V. Harding. But secrets draw inquiry. The denser the cloud of secrecy, the closer the investigator is to penetrating to the heart of the mystery. Neither Jean Milligan nor any of her family or relatives has ever come forward to confirm or deny that the Jean Milligan born in Cleveland in 1919 was in fact Allison V. Harding. The investigator is left to infer what he or she can from the evidence. Jean Milligan was in the right place at the right time to write for Weird Tales. (The magazine was published in New York City between 1938 and 1954.) She was evidently well educated and well connected. Her family included attorneys, bankers, and businessmen. Her mother studied literature in college and may have passed that interest on to her children. Moreover, Jean Milligan married a writer who was also the son of a writer. Sam Moskowitz said that Jean Milligan as Allison V. Harding had passed away, but records suggest that Jean Milligan of the Connecticut Milligans was still living even after Moskowitz's death. So how could they be the same person? They could be the same person if her death had been exaggerated. If Jean Milligan or someone associated with her had wanted to put the life of the pulp fictioneer behind her, what better way than to say that she had died? 

That's mere speculation. What's incontrovertible is that Jean Milligan--daughter of John R. and Beatrice I. Milligan of New Canaan, Connecticut--was married to the writer Charles Lamont Buchanan, better known as Lamont Buchanan. Although Buchanan wrote numerous books on sports and American history--books published in the 1940s and '50s--he also worked for a magazine during that time as an associate editor. His boss, the editor, was Dorothy McIlwraith. The magazine was Weird Tales.

Allison V. Harding's character, The Damp Man, as drawn by John Giunta, from Weird Tales magazine. The sign in front of him says "Stop," but there's no stopping The Damp Man. Apparently even time, a mystery to the rest of us, is pliable to him, judging from the melted timepiece in his hand. Although Weird Tales was full of mystery, the mysteries in its fiction might pale to the mysteries of real life. For example: Who was Allison V. Harding and why has she never revealed herself?
Text and caption copyright 2011 Terence E. Hanley

Katherine Metcalf Roof (1871-?)

Author, Playwright, and Biographer
Born March 31, 1871, Clifton Springs, New York
Died ?

Pulp magazines rose and many older and more respectable titles fell in the years following World War I. The Great Depression was partly to blame. Paper shortages during World War II finished off many of the titles that had survived the 1930s. Writers who once saw their work printed in Scribner's, The Century, and The Smart Set had to be satisfied in later years with writing for the pulps. Katherine Metcalf Roof was one of them. She was born on March 31, 1871, in Clifton Springs, New York, and began writing for magazines as early as 1902. Ainslee's, Metropolitan, and The Smart Set were among the magazines that published her work. The high point of her writing career may have been The Life and Art of William Merritt Chase (1917), a biography of her friend, the renowned painter and teacher from Indiana, William Merritt Chase (1849-1916). She also wrote plays, including Three Dear Friends, and a second book, Colonel William Smith and Lady, published in 1929.

Pulp magazines that printed Katherine's work included Street and Smith's Detective Story Magazine, Snappy Stories, Romance, and of course Weird Tales. Katherine's lone story for "The Unique Magazine" was "A Million Years After," which made the cover of the November 1930 issue. (That was the same year coincidentally in which The Century and The Smart Set gave up the ghost.) She ended the decade with a letter to "The Eyrie" in December 1939. 

Dinosaurs were in the air when "A Million Years After" appeared. Brought to the silver screen in the 1910s by moviemaker Willis O'Brien (through stop-motion photography) and cartoonist Winsor McCay (through hand-drawn animation), dinosaurs had been in the public eye for some time when the silent film The Lost World was released in 1925. Based on Arthur Conan Doyle's book, the film featured advancements in Willis' techniques and proved a smash hit. Soon dinosaurs appeared on the covers of popular magazines, including Amazing Stories in June 1926 and February 1929. Weird Tales got in on the act with Katherine Metcalf Roof's story, illustrated by Curtis C. Senf on the cover and in the interior. Robert Weinberg considered it a mediocre tale, while Donald F. Glut was kinder, describing it as a "whimsical story" involving the theft and inadvertent incubation of a brontosaurus egg by two burglars. After going on a rampage, the poor dinosaur meets the same fate as rampaging dinosaurs everywhere. Incidentally, less than three years after "A Million Years After" was published, the moviegoing public flocked to the nation's theaters to see a film that was then and is still a sensation--King Kong.

Katherine Metcalf Roof's Story and Letter in Weird Tales
"A Million Years After" (Nov. 1930)
Letter to "The Eyrie" (Dec. 1939)

Further Reading
Some of Katherine Metcalf Roof's early work has been digitized and is available on the Internet. I don't know of any reprints of her pulp fiction.

Katherine Metcalf Roof's "Million Years After" landed her a spot on the cover of Weird Tales in November 1930. The art is by C.C. Senf.

Note: Although Katherine Metcalf Roof listed her birth year as 1881 in an application for a passport, Randal A. Everts has found her in the 1880 census, aged nine. I have changed the birth year I had previously shown in this posting. Her date and place of death are still unknown.
Text and captions copyright 2011 Terence E. Hanley

Monday, May 23, 2011

Women Writers in Weird Tales

It doesn't take long for the reader of Weird Tales to realize that women contributed a great deal to the magazine, including stories, poetry, letters to "The Eyrie," and of course Margaret Brundage's many cover illustrations. Conventional thought is that science fiction, fantasy, horror, and other pulp genres don't appeal to women and that male fans, writers, and editors of those genres may even be hostile to women. In 2006, historian Eric Leif Davin sought to dispel those myths in his book Partners in Wonder: Women and the Birth of Science Fiction, 1926-1965. It's clear to me that Weird Tales welcomed women writers and women readers, without bias or any hostility. "The Unique Magazine" may have been unique in that respect among pulp magazines. Nonetheless, Mr. Davin has done some interesting research, some worth repeating here.
  • Eric Leif Davin counted 127 writers he considered identifiable as women who contributed prose fiction to Weird Tales. That's about 17% of the total number of writers for the magazine. You can quibble with his count: Clinton Dangerfield--a woman--for example is not on his list. Terva Gaston Hubbard--whom I believe was a man (and is subject for a future posting)--is on his list. In any case, close enough.
  • According to his count, there were 2,712 stories and serials printed in Weird Tales between the years 1923 and 1954. Writers identifiable as women were responsible for 365 of those works, or about 13.5% of the total.
  • The most prolific of those writers were: Allison V. Harding (36 stories); Mary Elizabeth Counselman (30); G.G. Pendarves (19); Everil Worrell (18); Greye La Spina (16); C.L. Moore (16); Dorothy Quick (15); Bassett Morgan (13); Eli Colter (12); and Margaret St. Clair (10).
  • Mr. Davin also counted 63 poets identifiable as women, or 40% of the total number of poets who contributed to Weird Tales.
  • According to his count, "The Unique Magazine" published 575 poems, of which 170 were written by poets identifiable as women, or about 30% of the total.
  • The most prolific of those poets were: Dorothy Quick (25 poems); Leah Bodine Drake (23)*; and Cristel Hastings (18). You'll notice that Dorothy Quick is the only contributor on both of his lists. In fourth place for poets is Page Cooper with seven poems. (*The correct number is actually 24.)
  • In a long discussion on pseudonyms and supposed efforts on the part of female writers to hide their sex behind initials or masculine pseudonyms, Mr. Davin concludes in the case of C.L. Moore that she did not try to hide her sex from readers, she simply tried to hide her identity from her employer. I came to the same conclusion in my research. Simply put, it's a myth that C.L. Moore feared revealing the fact that she was a woman.
Mr. Davin closes his book with biographies of 133 women writers of science fiction, fantasy, and other pulp genres, including, from Weird Tales: Mary Elizabeth Counselman, Leah Bodine Drake, Sophie Wenzel Ellis, Frances Garfield, Clare Winger Harris, Hazel Heald, Minna Irving (Minna Odell), Amelia Reynolds Long, Mindret Lord (Mildred Loeb)***, Dorothy (Haynes) Madle, C.L. Moore, Maria Moravsky, Dorothy Quick, Margaret St. Clair, Frances Stevens (Gertrude Barrows Bennett), and Leslie F. Stone.

It's worth remembering, too, that the editor of Weird Tales between 1940 and 1954 was a woman, Dorothy McIlwraith, and as Mr. Davin points out, the most prolific contributor to "The Eyrie" was also a woman.** In short, Weird Tales appealed to women--women readers, women writers, women artists, and women correspondents--and it welcomed their work. And what work they produced.

**Update, October 28, 2011
According to a list of letter writers to the weird fiction magazines, compiled on The FictionMags Index website, the top six letter writers to Weird Tales were: Jack Darrow (35 letters), B.M Reynolds (33), Gertrude Hemken (32), Donald Allgeier (29), Henry Kuttner (28), and Robert Bloch (26). The website includes a disclaimer on its homepage, but if the count made on the site is correct, the most prolific writer of letters to Weird Tales was a man, the third most was a woman, and the second most could have been either a man or a woman.
***Update, April 25, 2016
Mindret Lord was actually a man, Mindred Loeb.

Margaret Brundage began drawing cover illustrations for Weird Tales with the September 1932 issue, and until the early 1940s, only J. Allen St. John could keep up with her. During one stretch, from June 1933 to August/September 1936, she drew thirty-nine straight covers for "The Unique Magazine." Here is her cover for the October 1933 issue, an image that has become an icon, and justly so. Could the creators of Batman have been influenced by Margaret Brundage's bat-woman?

Text and captions copyright 2011 Terence E. Hanley

Sunday, May 22, 2011

R. Ernest Dupuy (1887-1975)

Author, Journalist, Editor, Military Historian, U.S. Army Officer
Born March 24, 1887, New York, New York
Died April 25, 1975, Walter Reed Army Hospital, Washington, D.C.

Richard Ernest Dupuy was not the typical (or stereotypical) pulp writer. When Weird Tales published his story "The Edge of the Shadow" in its July 1927 issue, Dupuy was already almost twenty years into his career as a U.S. Army officer. Dupuy's career would eventually carry him to the highest levels of command where he would witness the signing of the German surrender ending World War II in Europe.

Dupuy was born on March 24, 1887, in New York, New York, son of a French immigrant. As a young man he worked in a bank, but in 1909, Dupuy enlisted in the New York National Guard. During World War I, Dupuy saw action in an artillery unit in the St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne campaigns. After the war he transferred to the regular Army and was stationed at Camp Lewis, Washington. He also served in the Philippines. In later years, Dupuy returned east and was stationed on Governors Island in New York. In an army at ease during the interwar period, Dupuy made a name for himself as a polo player.

Prior to his military service, Dupuy joined the staff of the New York Herald, rising from cub reporter to ship news editor and feature editor by 1917. He also wrote fiction and non-fiction for magazines, even into the 1920s and '30s. In 1937, he co-wrote (with fellow military officer and Weird Tales contributor George Fielding Eliot) a book called If War Comes, in which the authors speculated on the course of future war in a world vastly changed from 1918. Over the course of his long career, Colonel Dupuy wrote more than one hundred articles and stories and twenty-two books.

As a second world war approached, Dupuy worked into positions of prominence. He served as official observer of the Spanish Civil War and was appointed to the post of public relations officer for the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1938. In 1941, he moved to the Department of War in Washington, D.C., eventually becoming chief of the news division of the department's Bureau of Public Relations. Dupuy could be heard on CBS radio in the late '30s as a commentator on the run-up to war.

During World War II, Dupuy served as chief of the news division for American forces in Europe. He was promoted to colonel and attached to Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) as director of public relations towards the end of the war. It was he who announced on the radio that Allied forces had landed in Normandy on June 6, 1944. Dupuy also witnessed the formal surrender of the German armed forces to the Russians in Berlin on May 9, 1945.

Dupuy continued writing after the war and retired as a colonel. His frequent collaborator was his son, Trevor N. Dupuy (1916-1995), also an army officer. Their first book together was To the Colors: The Way of Life of an Army Officer (1942). Their last was Encyclopedia of Military History (1975), published in the year of Colonel Dupuy's death.

R. Ernest Dupuy's Story in Weird Tales
"The Edge of the Shadow" (July 1927)

Further Reading
"The Edge of the Shadow" in 100 Creepy Little Creature Stories, edited by Robert Weinberg, et al. (Barnes and Noble, 1994)
"Col. R. Ernest Dupuy, 88, Dead; Publicist and Military Historian," New York Times, Apr. 26, 1975, p. 25.

R. Ernest Dupuy was a prolific writer of military history. His books, written on his own or with others, are too numerous to list here. A simple search on the Internet will turn up their titles and availability. You can read more about the Dupuys on the website of The Dupuy Institute, here.

A very small reproduction of the cover of R. Ernest Dupuy's book, World in Arms: A Study in Military Geography (1940).

Updated June 10, 2014.
Text and captions copyright 2011 Terence E. Hanley

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Clinton Dangerfield (1872-1954)

Pseudonym of Ella Howard Bryan
Poet and Author
Born February 19, 1872, Savannah, Georgia
Died February 13, 1954, Richmond, Virginia

For half a century, Ella Howard Bryan wrote poems, short stories, and novels under the name Clinton Dangerfield. The list of magazines that published her work is long and impressive, ranging from the high-class (The Century, The Smart Set), through the popular (The Saturday Evening Post, Liberty), to the lowly pulp (Rodeo Romances, Ace-High). She was born in Savannah, Georgia, on February 19, 1872, to Major Henry Bryan and Jane Howard Bryan. Her father earned his rank with the Confederate Army during the Civil War. Born midway between the end of the war and the end of Reconstruction, Ella would no doubt have grown up in an atmosphere dripping with memories of the recent conflict and the antebellum period. The milieu of the Confederacy would show up later in her poetry and fiction, including a movie short based on her work.

Ella was educated at home and spent her childhood on her mother's homeplace on Lookout Mountain, Tennessee. She served as a governess in the North from 1897 until 1901 when she published her first story, "Behind the Veil." The story proved such a success that Ella returned to her home  and assumed a new career as a writer and the nom de plume Clinton Dangerfield. Her choice of a manly-sounding pseudonym would prove propitious in her career as a pulp fictioneer.

Although she started her writing career with stories and verse submitted to Pearson's, Ainslee's, Watson's, and other popular magazines, she took full advantage of the boom in pulp fiction after World War I. Westerns were a specialty, and she counted The Masked Rider Western Magazine and Buck Jones Western Stories among her many markets. Clinton Dangerfield also wrote novels, including The Rustlers of the Hidden Valley (1932) and Lost Canyon (1932). Two of her stories made it to the silver screen, both short subjects from 1915: "Tides That Meet" and the Civil War story "Vain Justice." Clinton Dangerfield wrote just one story for Weird Tales. It was called "The Message" and it appeared in the September 1931 issue.

Ella Howard Bryan, aka Clinton Dangerfield, lived a long life and enjoyed a long career as a writer. Her connections to the South held to the very end, for she died in Richmond, Virginia, capital of the Confederacy, on February 13, 1954. She was just six days away from her eighty-second birthday.

Clinton Dangerfield's Story in Weird Tales

"The Message" (Sept. 1931)

Further Reading

Much of Clinton Dangerfield's work is old enough to have fallen into the public domain and has been digitized on Google Books. Her pulp fiction is harder to find however. If anyone knows of any reprints, please let me know, too.

Ella Howard Bryan, aka Clinton Dangerfield, in a photograph from the Atlanta Constitution, 1902.
A poor reproduction of the cover of Clinton Dangerfield's western novel, Lost Canyon (1932).
Pulp magazines were not only an American phenomenon--Europeans and Latin Americans loved them, too. Here's a Danish magazine, Cowboy, from January 1944. Inside is a story by Clinton Dangerfield, "Sort Torden," or "Black Thunder." 
Text and captions copyright 2011 Terence E. Hanley

Friday, May 20, 2011

Theda Kenyon (1894-1997)

Author, Poet, Lecturer
Born September 19, 1894, New York
Died November 16, 1997, New Jersey

Theda Kenyon enjoyed a long life as a writer and lecturer. Although she was the daughter of an Episcopal priest and theologian, she is best known today for authoring a book on witches. And though her first name is an anagram for "death," she lived for over a century. Theda was born on September 19, 1894, in New York, presumably in Brooklyn, where she lived much of her life. She saw her name in print as early as 1907 when she wrote a letter to St. Nicholas magazine. Encouraged early in her career by New York Times journalist F.C. Mortimer, she wrote poems for many different magazines, including The Argosy, Munsey's, Everybody's Magazine, McCall's, Breezy Stories, and The Red Cross Magazine. She was also published in the New York Times. Her lone work for Weird Tales was a short story called "The House of the Golden Eyes," published in the September 1930 issue, a nice gift for her thirty-sixth birthday. A tale for Droll Stories is worth mentioning if only for its provocative title: "This Sex Stuff!" (February 1927).

Theda Kenyon wrote many books, most sensationally a book entitled Witches Still Live: A Study of the Black Art Today (1929). An article of the same name was published in North American Review in November 1929. Other books included Jeanne (novel, 1928), Certain Ladies (verse, 1930), Scarlet Anne (novel in verse form, 1939), Pendulum (novel, 1942), The Golden Feather (novel, 1943), Black Dawn (1944), That Skipper from Stonington (fictionalized biography of Richard Fanning Loper, 1947), and Something Gleamed (1948). She also read from her poetry and prose on the radio and in front of women's clubs and other social and cultural groups. She even shared a bill at a poetry reading once with Edwin Arlington Robinson and Robert Frost.

Theda Kenyon died on November 16, 1997, in New Jersey. She was 103 years old.

Theda Kenyon's Story in Weird Tales
"The House of the Golden Eyes" (Sept. 1930)

Further Reading
Some of Theda Kenyon's works are available on the Internet, while others might be had from a secondhand book dealer or on Ebay.

Author and poet Theda Kenyon (1894-1997)
For more on Theda Kenyon, see my posting of December 27, 2011, here.
Text copyright 2011 Terence E. Hanley