Sunday, December 8, 2013

Suzanne Pickett (1908-1999)

Aka Sue Pickett
Reporter, Columnist, Short Story Writer, Memoirist
Born January 19, 1908
Died December 21, 1999

We have the vaunted Internet, brimming with information both true and false, trivial and profound, serious and ridiculous. So why does a writer like Suzanne Pickett go without a biography? I'm certain that someone will write to me with more information on her life, but that won't happen until I begin. Update (July 8, 2015): And now someone has written to me, and I thank Victoria Hallman (comment below) for doing so.

Suzanne Pickett, also known as Sue Pickett, was born on January 19, 1908, presumably in Alabama. She saw her first published work on the children's page of the Birmingham News when she was just ten years old. Described as a Bibb County, Alabama, housewife, she also worked as a reporter and columnist for the Centreville News. Sue wrote six stories for Weird Tales, published from May 1952 to the final issue, September 1954. All but the last were reprinted in the British edition of Weird Tales. She also penned one published letter to "The Eyrie." Sue Pickett was the author of at least two books, Hot Dogs for Thanksgiving: A Memoir (1999), which was reworked and reissued as The Path Was Steep: A Triumphant Recollection of Life in the Appalachian Coal Fields and Mining Camps During the Great Depression (2013).

Sue Pickett died on December 21, 1999, at age ninety-one. Although that is all I know of her, her granddaughter, Victoria Hallman, can offer much more.

August 31, 2014: See the update below for more on Suzanne Pickett.
July 8, 2015: Second update with birth and death dates, thanks to Victoria Hallman.

Suzanne Pickett's Stories and Letter in Weird Tales
"A Bit of Moss" (May 1952, reprinted in Weird Tales (UK) #17, 1952)
"There Was Soot on the Cat" (July 1952, reprinted in Weird Tales (UK) #18, 1952)
"I Can't Wear White" (Jan. 1953, reprinted in Weird Tales (UK) #21, 1953)
"Effie's Pets" (Jan. 1954, reprinted in Weird Tales (UK) vol. 1, #3, 1954)
Letter to "The Eyrie" (Jan. 1954)
"Nepthae" (Mar. 1954, reprinted in Weird Tales (UK) vol. 1, #4, 1954)
"Dorgen" (Sept. 1954)

Further Reading
"Memoirist Sue Pickett shares an economics lesson, still meaningful" by Randall Williams on the website New South, Inc., here.

"Effie's Pets," Suzanne Pickett's fourth story for Weird Tales, earned her a spot on the cover in January 1954. She also had a letter printed in that issue. The cover artist was W.H. Silvey.

Update (August 31, 2014): I am still lacking in some details on the life of Suzanne Pickett, but I have at least her own autobiographical sketch from the issue of Weird Tales shown above.

"The Eyrie"
Weird Tales, January 1954

WHEN we read manuscripts for WEIRD TALES—and there are a lot of them coming in day after day, post after post—we sort of "savor" many of them before we settle down to read them. Sometimes the savor lasts (sometimes it doesn't; that's a different story) and it's always a red letter day for us when a story by an author unknown to us, first arouses our interest and then holds it as we get deeper into it. The first story by Suzanne Pickett that crossed our desk caught our eye, and we have seldom been disappointed since. In connection with her intriguing "Effie 's Pets" in this issue Mrs. Pickett tells us:

As for myself, I am married, and my husband is Safety Director for Black Diamond Coal Mining Co., of Birmingham, Alabama. When he started working for them as Superintendent of their West Blocton mine in '42, he was the youngest Sup't in Alabama at that time. We have two daughters and two grandchildren.


My first story was published at about age ten in the children's page of the Birmingham News, my second in a series in the Birmingham Post at age fifteen. But my talents were supposed to be music and painting, so I thought very little of writing, only had the urge to ‘dash off’ a story every five years or so. I write songs (naturally) poetry, etc.


At twenty-four I wrote the News in Rhyme for the Welch Daily News of Welch, W.Va.—Will Rogers and I were featured on the front page!—but I was still going to be a great artist or musician, only I was so busy with my children I had little time. (Oh yes, I also go in for amateur dramatics, etc. Jack of all trades and—well I hope to be good at writing some day.)


Four years ago the urge to write became so strong that I at last started working seriously, I have written and burned one novel and a half. Have three more almost finished, but my big one is a historical novel PAGAN which promises to be worth quite a bit of work. My weird tales come in a flash and are a pleasure to write. I'm glad you like them.


Original text and captions copyright 2013, 2015 Terence E. Hanley

2 comments:

  1. Suzanne Pickett was my grandmother, and for starters I can tell you that she was born January 19,1908, died December 21, 1999. As a tiny child, I played beneath her desk while she typed, and that same desk, on which she wrote her Weird Tales, now sits in my den, a prized possession that proudly bears ruts carved by her heavy black Underwood and sags in the middle from its weight. My grandmother was an extraordinary woman and I know almost everything about her. What would you like me to share? Thank you for remembering! I can be reached at victoriaht@comcast.net (Victoria Hallman)

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    1. Dear Victoria,

      Thank you very much for writing and for filling in the blanks on your grandmother. I will send you an email message in her regard.

      Thanks again.

      TH

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