Friday, May 20, 2011

Theda Kenyon (1894-1997)

Author, Poet, and 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 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," printed 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 the November 1929 issue. 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

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