Friday, September 9, 2011

George N. Laws (1902-1981)

Aka Hardy Peters
Newspaperman, Advertising Man, and Author
Born January 15, 1902, Dallas?, Texas
Died March 12, 1981, San Diego, California

George Newton Bowlin Laws lived a colorful and tragic life, documented by his daughter, Carolyn See, in her memoir, Dreaming: Hard Luck and Good Times in America (1996), and her website, The Rumpus. Laws was born on January 15, 1902, and grew up in Dallas. His family were city fathers, despite the fact that his grandfather, a gambler and drinker, shot a man in a gunfight. Laws was forced to go to work early in life. His employers were his "cousins named Red and Ted Tedford," according to Carolyn See. "They ran a bootlegging establishment and hired little Georgie to walk bottles of hooch across town in a baby carriage under a pretty blanket." At thirteen, he was accidentally shot in the chest by his brother. Laws thought he was "fixin' to die," but he survived and carried the bullet for the rest of his life. A year later, another gunshot wound did irreparable damage to the life of his family when his mother killed herself. It was left to George Laws to find the body.

An admirer of Mark Twain, James Branch Cabell, and C.S. Forester, Laws became a writer, first for newspapers, later for pulp magazines and advertising agencies, later still for an entirely different market. As described by his daughter, "George Laws, a darling, hard-drinking newspaperman with one unpublicized marriage already under his belt and a ukulele under his arms came to California. . . " in the early 1930s. There he worked for the Los Angeles Illustrated News, Los Angeles Daily News, and Huntington Park Signal. He was involved in advertising during the 1950s, employed by David S. Hillman, Inc., and his own George N. Laws Advertising Agency. Laws also wrote short stories for New Western Magazine, All Western Magazine, Western Adventures, and Weird Tales during the mid-1940s. His only story for "The Unique Magazine" was "Stranger in the Mirror," printed in the July 1944 issue.

At age sixty-nine, Laws began the final chapter in his writing career when he authored the first of "seventy-three cheery volumes" of pornography, aimed at the paperback-reading crowd, under the pseudonym Hardy Peters. Titles over the next seven years included When Virtue Fails, Unwilling to Trade, and Sexiest Student. According to Carolyn See, he spent the last three years of his life "in clinical depression." George N. Laws died on March 12, 1981, in San Diego, California.

George N. Laws' Story in Weird Tales
"Stranger in the Mirror" (July 1944)

Further Reading
Dreaming: Hard Luck and Good Times in America by Carolyn See (1996)
The Rumpus, Carolyn See's website, at therumpus.net

Weird Tales for July 1944 with cover art by A.R. Tilburne. George Newton Laws' story, "Stranger in the Mirror," also illustrated by Tilburne, appeared in this issue.
The quotes are from Carolyn See's book, Dreaming: Hard Luck and Good Times in America (1996), and are used here only for informational and educational purposes. All rights are reserved to the author.

Otherwise, text and captions copyright 2011 Terence E. Hanley

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