Thursday, May 5, 2016

Alicia Ramsey (1864-1933)

Née Alice Joanna Royston
Aka Alice Ramsey
Author, Playwright, Screenwriter
Born August 31, 1864, Chelsea, London, England
Died May 7, 1933, London, England

Alice Joanna Royston was born on August 31, 1864, in Chelsea, London, England, the daughter of hotelkeeper William Haylett Royston and Isabel Morgan Harris Royston. Mrs. Royston was a writer like her daughter after her and the author of a comedy called No Irish Need Apply. Alice was educated at Oxford College and in Paris. In addition, she studied music in Leipzig with the intention of becoming a pianist. In 1891, in Kensington, she married actor Cecil Ramsey (1866-1914), born Sanderson Henry Walker. Their son, Guy Haylett Walker (1900-1959), later known as Guy Ramsey, was also an author.

Cecil Ramsey died in 1914. On September 14, 1916, at her sister-in-law's home in New York City, Alice, then calling herself Alicia Ramsey, married Jamaican-born writer and actor Rudolph de Cordova (1859-1941). The two had been collaborating in their writing for the previous twenty years. Rudolph de Cordova, by the way, was the brother of actor and director Leander de Cordova (1877-1969).

Alicia Ramsey got her start writing for the stage with a work called Only a Model, produced in 1892. She and de Cordova began working together in or about 1896. As movies came into their own, Alicia began writing screenplays, in the United States for Famous Players-Lasky Corporation and Vitagraph and in Britain for Gaumont British and Stoll Picture Productions. She also wrote a number of books, plus short stories for Ainslee'sArgosyNovel Magazine, The Smart Set, Snappy Stories, and Young's. Her lone story for Weird Tales was "The Black Crusader," from January 1926.

Alicia Ramsey died on May 7, 1933, in London, at age sixty-eight.

The Adventures of Mortimer Dixon (1913)
Miss Elizabeth Gibbs (1915)
The Three Cocktails and Other Stories (posthumous, 1933)

Plays-A Partial List
Only a Model (1892)
The Executioner's Daughter with Rudolph de Cordova (1896)
Gaffer Jarge (1896)
Monsieur de Paris with Rudolph de Cordova (1896)
As a Man Sows with Rudolph de Cordova (1898)
Honor with Rudolph de Cordova (1896)
Byron (1908)
The Earthquake with Rudolph de Cordova
The Guardian Angel
The Hand of Vengeance with Rudolph de Cordova
Isla the Chosen
The Mandarin with Rudolph de Cordova
The Password with Rudolph de Cordova
The Vigil of Sieur Ercildoune
Whom the Gods Love with Rudolph de Cordova

Eve's Daughter (1918)
The Two Brides (1919)
The Spark Divine (1919)
The Prince of Lovers (1922)
Rob Roy (1922)
Guy Fawkes (1923)
Young Lochinvar (1924)
The Money Habit (1924)
The Desert Sheik (1924)
The Love Story of Aliette Brunton (1924)
The Presumption of Stanley Hay, MP (1925)
King of the Castle (1925)
One Colombo Night (1926)

Alicia Ramsey's Story in Weird Tales
"The Black Crusader" (Jan. 1926)

Further Reading
Who's Who in the Theater, Volume 3, page 505, here.
For the best biography you're likely to find on any of the principals in this entry, see "Guy Ramsey" by Steve at the blog Bear Alley Books, dated January 14, 2010, here.

Alicia Ramsey and her husband Rudolph de Cordova in a photograph from the Library of Congress.

Text copyright 2016 Terence E. Hanley

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Six Women from Britain-Introduction

As I wrote the other day, I have given some organization to the remaining tellers of weird tales. In so doing, I have come up with six British women writers. These are in addition to four about whom I have already written. (Click on their names for links.) Here is an alphabetical list of all ten. The names in bold are of the authors about whom I will write in the next few days. I will take them in chronological order by birth.
I can't say that this list is complete, as there are dozens of tellers of weird tales about whom I know nothing. Most of these have either very common names and no fame as authors, or they used only their first and middle initials and, again, are otherwise unknown.

After I have finished this series, I plan to write about Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley and her Gothic romance/proto-science fiction novel, Frankenstein. I have been reading this book and going to a book-club discussion of it. I also recently found an article of interest regarding the author and her book. All together, these things have helped me puzzle out a mystery concerning Mary Shelley and Frankenstein.

Text copyright 2016 Terence E. Hanley

Monday, May 2, 2016

Two Victorian British Authors

T.W. Speight
Thomas Wilkinson Speight
Railroad Man, Author
Born 1830, Liverpool, England
Died 1915

Thomas Wilkinson Speight, better known as T.W. Speight, was born in Liverpool in 1830. The Stanford Companion to Victorian Fiction (1989) states that he "was probably illegitimate," continuing, "[h]e was educated at a foundation school at Kendal in the Lake District" of northwestern England. Speight worked for the Midland Railway Company from 1847 to 1887. Even before reaching the end of the line as a railroad man, Speight had begun writing for publication. He contributed to All the Year RoundBelgravia, Cassell's MagazineGentleman's Annual, and other periodicals. From 1867 to 1912, he published more than four dozen short stories, serials, and novels, some of which are listed below. These were mostly thrillers, mysteries, historical romances, and sensation novels, what we might call, I think, suspense, crime, or even exploitation novels. Speight died in 1915. His only story for Weird Tales, "Mrs. Penleath's Strategem," was reprinted from Cassell's Magazine nearly forty years after his death.

T.W. Speight's Books-A Partial List
Brought to Light: A Story (1867)
Under Lock and Key (1869)
In the Dead of Night: A Novel (1874)
A Secret of the Sea: A Novel (1876)
The Mysteries of Heron Dyke: A Novel of Incident (1880)
For Himself Alone: A Tale of Reversed Identities (1884)
A Barren Title: A Novel (1885)
The Sandycroft Mystery (1890)
Burgo's Romance, complete in The Gentleman's Annual (Christmas 1893)
The Grey Monk (1895)
A Husband from the Sea (1895)
The Heart of a Mystery: A Novel (1896)
The Master of Trenance: A Mid-Century Romance (1896)
A Minion of the Moon: A Romance of the King's Highway (1896)
The Crime in the Wood (1899)
The Chains of Circumstance: A Novel (1900)
Juggling Fortune: An Everyday Romance (1900)
The Celestial Ruby (1904)
Ursula Lenorme, Lady Companion: Being a Record of Certain Experiences (1909)
A Bootless Crime
By Fortune's Whim
The Golden Hoop
A Late Repentance
A Match in the Dark
The Sport of Chance
The Web of Fate
Wife or No Wife?

T.W. Speight's Story in Weird Tales
"Mrs. Penleath's Stratagem" (Mar. 1953; reprinted in Weird Tales British edition #23, 1953; originally in Cassell's Magazine, July 1905)

* * *

Richard Marsh
Pseudonym of Richard Bernard Heldmann
Author, Editor
Born October 12, 1857, North London, England
Died August 9, 1915, Haywards Heath, Sussex, England

Richard Bernard Heldmann was born on October 12, 1857, in North London and was the son and grandson of men in the lace business. He began publishing adventure stories and boys' school stories in 1880. From October 1882 to June 1883, Heldmann was co-editor of the boys' weekly Union Jack. His employment ended abruptly. Only recently was it discovered that he passed forged checks in 1883. In April 1884, he began serving a sentence of hard labor because of it. Upon his release, Heldmann adopted the pseudonym Richard Marsh. (See the entry on John Flanders, from April 28, 2016, for a similar situation in the life of a writer in Weird Tales.) Marsh wrote prolifically in the same genres as T.W. Speight, including the sensation novel, a type pioneered by Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins. His most well-known book is The Beetle, from 1897. (Wikipedia has a list of his books. The Internet Speculative Fiction Database has a list of his genre works.) Marsh also contributed to Belgravia, Cornhill Magazine, Household Words, and The Strand Magazine. His work appears to have been neglected by American anthologists, but it is deserving of a second look. Richard Bernard Heldmann died on August 9, 1915, at age fifty-seven. Heldmann's grandson was author Robert Aickman (1914-1981).

Richard Marsh's Story in Weird Tales
"The Adventure of the Pipe" (Sept. 1927; originally in Cornhill Magazine, Mar. 1891)

The Beetle in a British edition from 1959 with cover art by R.W. Smethurst.

Text copyright 2016 Terence E. Hanley

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Two Irish Authors

Henry De Vere Stacpoole
Aka Tyler De Saix
Medical Doctor, Author, Poet, Biographer, Translator
Born April 9, 1863, Kingstown (now Dún Laoghaire), County Dublin, Ireland
Died April 12, 1951, Shanklin, Isle of Wight, England

Henry De Vere Stacpoole was born on April 9, 1863, in Kingstown, a port city located south of Dublin. His father was William C. Stacpoole, a doctor of divinity at Trinity College and headmaster of Kingstown school. His mother was Charlotte Augusta Mountjoy Stacpoole, a native of Canada. In 1871, Stacpoole's mother took her son and three daughters to Nice in the south of France so that he might convalesce from an ailment of the lungs. He returned to Ireland to attend the boarding school at Portarlington. From there it was on to Malvern College in London, then St. George's Hospital, University College, and St. Mary's Hospital. Stacpoole completed his education and received his degree in medicine in 1891. For a short time thereafter he served as a ship's doctor. His first novel, The Intended, was published in 1894. In all, he published more than ninety novels, collections, biographies, translations, and books of verse. His number of books in fact exceeded the number of years in his very long life. Stacpoole's most well-known novel is The Blue Lagoon. Originally published in 1908, it has been adapted to film five times. Other movies based on his work include The Man Who Lost Himself (1920, 1941), Beach of Dreams (1921), and The Truth About Spring (1965). His older brother, William Henry Stacpoole (1846-1914), was also a writer and an author of genre works. Twins and doppelgängers are themes in the fiction of the two Stacpoole brothers. In addition to writing novels and other books, Henry De Vere Stacpoole contributed to Popular Magazine, Weird Tales, and The Yellow Magazine. He served as a country doctor in England for several years. In the 1920s, he relocated to the Isle of Wight, the place of his death on April 12, 1951. He had just turned eighty-eight. Henry De Vere Stacpoole's grave is at Bonchurch on the Isle of Wight.

Henry De Vere Stacpoole's Story in Weird Tales
"Dead Girl Finotte" (Jan. 1930)

Further Reading

A French edition of The Blue Lagoon by Henry De Vere Stacpoole. I'm not sure whether this book was a tie-in to the movie, but that looks an awful lot like Jean Simmons . . .
the star of the 1949 film adaptation. I'm not sure of the lineage of the musical genre and pop culture fad of Exotica, either, but it seems like Henry De Vere Stacpoole's desert island novels are part of it. Gilligan's Island could even be a descendant.

Harold Lawlor
Born June 15, 1910, Ireland, or Chicago, Illinois
Died March 27, 1992, St. Petersburg, Florida

Harold Lawlor wrote twenty-nine stories for Weird Tales, yet little is known of his life, at least as far as the Internet is concerned. He was born on June 15, 1910, in Ireland (according to the Internet Speculative Fiction Database) or in Chicago (according to the Social Security Death Index). His career as an author of genre fiction began in April 1942 with "The Eternal Priestess," published in Fantastic Adventures. His first story for Weird Tales was "Specter in the Steel" from May 1943. Of note is Lawlor's story "Mayaya's Little Green Men" (Weird Tales, Nov. 1946), the first genre work to use the phrase little green men. In the early 1960s, Rapuzzi Johannis, an Italian artist and author, claimed to have encountered a little green man in the Dolomite Mountains of his home country in August 1947, the first summer of the flying saucer era. That encounter came less than a year after Lawlor's story first appeared. Lawlor had his work adapted to screen in three episodes of the television show Thriller, "The Terror in Teakwood," "The Grim Reaper," and "What Beckoning Ghost?" all from 1961. The movie Dominique (1979) also came from "What Beckoning Ghost?" Harold W. Lawlor died on March 27, 1992, in St. Petersburg, Florida, and was buried at Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Clearwater.

Harold Lawlor's Stories in Weird Tales
"Specter in the Steel" (May 1943)
"Tamara, the Georgian Queen" (July 1943)
"The Wayward Skunk" (Sept. 1944)
"Tatiana" (Jan. 1945)
"The Peripatetic Corpse" (Mar. 1945)
"The Legend of 228" (May 1945)
"The Dark Brothers" (Sept. 1945)
"The Cranberry Goblet" (Nov. 1945)
"The Diversions of Mme. Gamorra" (Jan. 1946)
"The Silver Highway" (May 1946)
"The Cinnabar Redhead" (July 1946)
"Xerxes' Hut" (Sept. 1946)
"Mayaya's Little Green Men" (Nov. 1946)
"The Terror in Teakwood" (Mar. 1947)
"The Black Madonna" (May 1947)
"The Girdle of Venus" (Sept. 1947)
"Nemesis" (May 1948)
"What Beckoning Ghost?" (July 1948)
"The Beasts That Tread the World" (Sept. 1948)
"Lover in Scarlet" (Jan. 1949)
"The Door Beyond" (May 1949)
"The Previous Incarnation" (July 1949)
"Djinn and Bitters" (May 1950)
"Unknown Lady" (Sept. 1950)
"Grotesquerie" (Nov. 1950)
"Amok!" (July 1951)
"Lovers' Meeting" (Jan. 1952)
"Which's Witch?" (July 1952)
"The Dream Merchant" (Mar. 1953)
Letter to "The Eyrie"
July 1943

Harold Lawlor's story "The Cranberry Goblet" was the cover story for Weird Tales in November 1945. The cover artist was Lee Brown Coye.
Although most of Lawlor's genre stories were printed in either Fantastic Adventures or Weird Tales, he had other titles to his credit, including the British magazine Detective Tales.

Text copyright 2016 Terence E. Hanley

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Two Belgian Authors

John Flanders
Né Raymundus Joannes de Kremer or Raymond Jean Marie De Kremer
Aka Jean Ray, King Ray, Alix R. Bantam, John Sailor, and other names
Author, Editor, Journalist, Comic Book Scriptwriter
Born July 8, 1887, Ghent, Belgium
Died September 17, 1964, Ghent, Belgium

Weird Tales published four stories by the pseudonymous author John Flanders, all in 1934-1935. That was only the smallest part of his staggering output of about 9,000 stories and 5,000 articles, essays, reviews, and so on written from the 1920s until his death in 1964.

John Flanders was born Raymundus Joannes de Kremer or Raymond Jean Marie De Kremer, in Ghent, Belgium, on July 8, 1887. He was educated in his home city and worked as a city clerk from 1910 to 1919 before joining the staff of Journal de Gand. He later worked for the monthly L'Ami du LivreDe Kremer's first book was a collection of weird stories called Les Contes du Whisky, published in 1925. He continued writing while serving jail time for "breech of trust" and began using the pseudonym John Flanders in 1928. In February 1929, he was released from prison and continued in his writing career. From 1929 to 1938, he wrote more than one hundred adventures of Harry Dickson, "the American Sherlock Holmes." De Kremer's novel Malpertuis (1943) was filmed in 1971 with Orson Welles in a starring role. After the war, de Kremer wrote comic book scripts for Les Aventures d'Harry Dickson and Les Aventures d'Edmund BellA native of Flanders, de Kremer wrote in Dutch as John Flanders and in French as Jean Ray; his known pseudonyms number more than four dozen. De Kremer died on September 17, 1964, in Ghent.

John Flanders' Stories in Weird Tales
"Nude with a Dagger" (Nov. 1934)
"The Graveyard Duchess" (Dec. 1934)
"The Aztec Ring" (Apr. 1935)
"The Mystery of the Last Guest" (Oct. 1935)

Further Reading
"Jean Ray (écrivain)" in the French-language Wikipedia, here.

Oscar Schisgall
Aka Stuart Hardy
Author, Corporate Historian
Born February 23, 1901, Antwerp, Belgium, or Russia
Died May 20, 1984, Manhattan, New York, New York

According to the Internet Movie Database and the online Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, Oscar Schisgall was born in Russia. The Internet Speculative Fiction Database has his birthplace as Antwerp, Belgium, a bit of information that seems to have come from the U.S. Census. Whether Schisgall was born in Russia or Belgium, he was in the United States by September 19, 1926, when he married Lillian Gelberg. A newspaper item from 1947 reported that "Schisgall once toured the capitals of Europe, making his way by writing and selling mystery novels about each great city he lived in." Maybe he considered the Continent as a whole his home.

Like John Flanders, Oscar Schisgall was a very prolific author. He wrote 4,000 short stories and articles for Collier's, LibertyThe New York Times Magazine, Reader's Digest, The Saturday Evening Post, and other mainstream publications. He had a series character, Baron Ixell, in Clues from 1927 to 1932 and wrote two stories for Weird Tales and two more for Jungle Stories (1931, 1939). Other pulps that printed his stories included Blue-Ribbon Western, Cowboy StoriesDime Detective Magazine, Frontier, The Masked Rider, and others. One of his thirty-five novels, Swastika (1939), was adapted to the silver screen as The Man I Married, also known as I Married a Nazi (1940).

In 1943, Oscar Schisgall became head of the Office of War Information (OWI) Magazine Bureau, taking the place of Dorothy Ducas. In addition to writing stories and novels, Schisgall authored corporate histories, including for Procter & Gamble, Bowery Savings Bank, Xerox, and Greyhound Bus, the last of which was published posthumously. Oscar Schisgall died in Manhattan on May 20, 1984.

Oscar Schisgall's Stories in Weird Tales
"The Death Pit" (Nov. 1923)
"In Kashla's Garden" (May 1927)

Further Reading
The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, here.
Internet Movie Database, here.
Internet Speculative Fiction Database, here.
New York Times obituary, here.


Text copyright 2016 Terence E. Hanley

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Two Australian Authors

If you look to the right, you will see a label for Authors of Australia and New Zealand. Right now, there are only three entries with that label. The first (chronologically) is for Wilma Dorothy Vermilyea (1915-1995), an American author who lived in Australia late in life. The second is for Thomas G.L. Cockcroft (1926-2013), a New Zealander who did not write for Weird Tales but who indexed all the stories and poems in that magazine and its companion titles, Oriental Stories and The Magic Carpet Magazine. The third is for Percy B. Prior (dates unknown), whom I speculated was the only native-born Australian to have contributed to "The Unique Magazine" or its companion titles. Now I have found two others, and I would like to write about them today.

Coutts Brisbane was the nom de plume of Robert Coutts Armour, an early and fairly prolific author of what was then called the scientific romance, later science fiction. Born on September 14, 1874, in Queensland, Australia, Armour began publishing stories in his late thirties. According to the online Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (SFE), "[h]is earliest known story is 'Mixed Piggles' for The Red Magazine," (Dec. 1, 1910), while his earliest science fiction story is "Beyond the Orbit," also in The Red Magazine (Feb. 15, 1914). In addition to Coutts Brisbane, Armour wrote using the bylines Pierre Quiroule, Hartley Tremayne, Reid Whitley (or Whitly), "and other names not yet discovered," according to SFE. He contributed to Boys' Papers, Oriental StoriesTales of Super Science, Tales of Wonder, and The Yellow Magazine. Armour was also the author of Terror Island, or, the House of Glass (London: The Amalgamated Press/Sexton Blake Library, 1921), The Secret of the Desert (London: Nelson, 1941), and Wheels of Fortune (London: Nelson, 1948). By the description of Wheels of Fortune in SFE, I would say that Armour's novel could have been a work of proto-Steampunk. Armour, who also worked as a lithographer, died in Surrey, England, in 1945. Other sources give dates of 1942 and 1956.

Coutts Brisbane's Stories in Oriental Stories
"For the Sake of Enlightenment" (Feb./Mar. 1931)
"At the Fortunate Frog" (Summer 1931)

Dorota Flatau, also known as (or had her name misspelled as) Dorotha or Dorothea Flatau, was born on December 30, 1874, in Bathurst, New South Wales, Australia. She was the older sister of two other writers, Hermione Flatau (1879-?) and Theodore Flatau (1886-1916). The three settled in England around 1900-1910. Theodore Flatau was killed in action in France during the Great War. You can see a list of works by all three writers in The Bibliography of Australian Literature, hereDorota Flatau was an author of novels and children's books. The Rat of Paris (1922) is a romance involving a hunchback. Seven Journeys (1920) is listed as a genre work in the Internet Speculative Fiction Database. Dorota Flatau wrote one story for Oriental Stories, "Golden Rosebud" in the Winter 1931 issue. Her date of death is unknown.

Dorota Flatau's Story in Oriental Stories
"Golden Rosebud" (Winter 1931)

Text copyright 2016 Terence E. Hanley

Saturday, April 23, 2016

More Weird Tales from the Renaissance

On October 23, 2011, I wrote about William Shakespeare (1564-1616) in an entry called "Weird Tales from the Renaissance." I had thought that Shakespeare--who died four hundred years ago today--was the only writer from the Renaissance to have been in the original Weird Tales. Now I find that there was another, Shakespeare's near contemporary, sometime collaborator, and successor, playwright John Fletcher (1579-1625).

I won't write much about John Fletcher, as his biography and credits are readily available on the Internet and in the world's libraries. He was born in Rye, England, in December 1579, orphaned in his teenage years, and educated at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge University. His first play was The Faithful Shepherdess from 1608-1609. About fifty plays followed, of which about two-thirds were collaborations, with Francis Beaumont, Philip Massinger, Thomas Middleton, William Rowley, and others, including Shakespeare himself. After Shakespeare's death, John Fletcher assumed his role as the leading playwright for the acting company The King's Men. Fletcher died in August 1625 of the plague and was interred at Southwark Cathedral.

In its May issue of 1939, Weird Tales published a poem it called "The Dead Host's Welcome." (In Jaffery and Cook's Collector's Index to Weird Tales, the title is given as "The Dead Hart's Welcome.") That poem follows.

"The Dead Host's Welcome"
by John Fletcher
from The Lovers' Progress (edition of 1647)

'TIS late and cold; stir up the fire;
Sit close, and draw the table nigher;
Be merry, and drink wine that's old,
A hearty medicine 'gainst a cold:
Your beds of wanton down the best,
Where you shall tumble to your rest;
I could wish you wenches too,
But I am dead, and cannot do.
Call for the best the house may ring,
Sack, white, and claret, let them bring,
And drink apace, while breath you have;
You'll find but cold drink in the grave:
Plover, partridge, for your dinner,
And a capon for the sinner,
You shall find ready when you're up,
And your horse shall have his sup:
Welcome, welcome, shall fly round,
And I shall smile, though under ground.

John Fletcher (1).JPG
John Fletcher

Original text copyright 2016 Terence E. Hanley