Sunday, July 17, 2011

Artemus Calloway (1883-1948)

Aka Arthemus Calloway, Artemus S. Calloway
Author, Journalist, Critic, Editor, and Teacher
Born October 1, 1883, Pineapple, Alabama
Died April 7, 1948, Jefferson County, Alabama

Artemus Calloway was one of a number of tellers of weird tales who wrote from Birmingham, Alabama. I have already posted entries on Jack Kytle (1906-1971) and Pettersen Marzoni (1886-1939). It's likely that they and Calloway crossed paths.

Abram Artemus Calloway was born on October 1, 1883, in Pineapple, Alabama, and worked for the Birmingham Ledger and the Birmingham News as a reporter, author, and editor. Author Octavus Roy Cohen (1891-1959) was on the staff of the Ledger as well for a short time. That may have been where he and Calloway met. In any case, Calloway served as Cohen's secretary despite being the older of the two men. Calloway also associated with Jack Bethea, James Saxon Childers, and Edgar Valentine Smith, all authors and all reporters for Birmingham newspapers. Another connection to a person of note: Calloway's wife, Effie Ball Calloway, was a charter member (in 1930) of the Southern States Communication Association.

Calloway was the author of the book A.B.C.'s of Short Story Writing, published in Birmingham in 1932. He knew whereof he wrote, for Calloway authored about 400 short stories, serials, and novelettes for All-StoryArgosyChicago TribuneCountry GentlemenCowboy Story MagazineEverybody's Magazine, Holland'sTop-Notch, Triple-X, and many other magazines and newspapers. That number pales in comparison to the 3,000 stories he wrote for a bedtime feature in the Birmingham News. Of course Calloway also wrote for Weird Tales, though only once. His story was called "Jungle Death," and it appeared in the second issue of the magazine, dated April 1923.

In 1931, Calloway started the Birmingham News-Age-Herald's short story department. In his capacity as editor and teacher, he encouraged and instructed young writers, and purchased their stories for weekly publication in his newspaper. Calloway also wrote acts for the Neil O'Brien Minstrels for four years, worked in oratorical contests in his home state, and started a book exchange program for schools in Alabama. Ironically, he was a member of a group called the Loafers Club, established by Octavus Roy Cohen and active--as much as loafers can be active--in the 1920s.

Abram A. Calloway died on April 7, 1948, in Jefferson County, Alabama. He was sixty-four years old.

Artemus Calloway's Story in Weird Tales
"Jungle Death" (Apr. 1923)

Further Reading
Artemus Calloway's A.B.C.'s of Short Story Writing was recently listed on Ebay. Evidently there are still copies of the book floating around out there. There is plenty of material for an expanded biography of Calloway and his circle. A place to start might be "'The Loafers' in Birmingham in the Twenties," by John W. Bloomer, in The Alabama ReviewApril 1977 (Vol. 30, No. 2). A search of vertical files or newspaper microfilms in Birmingham libraries would probably turn up plenty of information, too. Again, a place to start: an article in the Birmingham News-Age-Herald, dated June 4, 1939.

An advertisement for Holtons Band Instruments featuring Neil O'Brien's Minstrels. Artemus Calloway wrote feature acts for the minstrel show for four years of his very prolific writing career.
Danger in Paradise by Octavus Roy Cohen, a fellow newspaperman in Birmingham and a successful author of crime novels. I'm afraid I don't know the name of the cover artist.
Weird Tales, "The Unique Magazine," April 1923. Artemus Calloway's story, "Jungle Death," appeared in this issue.  The cover artist was R.M. Mally.
Artemus Calloway (1883-1948)
Thanks to Randal Everts for the photograph of and other information on Artemus Calloway.
Text and captions copyright 2011 Terence E. Hanley

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