Thursday, April 28, 2011

Leah Bodine Drake (1904-1964)

Poet, Editor, and Critic
Born December 22, 1904, Chanute, Kansas
Died November 21, 1964, Parkersburg, West Virginia

Leah Bodine Drake had a distinguished career as a poet, but her career and her life were entirely too short. Born in Chanute, Kansas, on December 22, 1904, she attended schools in Cincinnati and Kentucky. An attractive and glamorous woman, she danced in Billy Rose's revue staged at the Fort Worth Centennial Exposition in 1936-1937. By then she was already a published author, her first poem for Weird Tales, "In the Shadows," having appeared in the October 1935 issue. Nearly two dozen more poems would follow in the magazine's pages over the next twenty years. She was in fact the second most prolific female poet whose work appeared in Weird Tales. Only Dorothy Quick wrote more pieces for the magazine. It may come as a surprise that Leah wrote two short stories for Weird Tales as well. They were "Whisper Water" (May 1953) and the intriguingly titled "Mop-Head" (January 1954).

Leah's verse was published in the first issue of The Poetry Chap-Book, dated October-November 1942. The New Yorker, The Saturday Evening Post, The Saturday Review, and The Atlantic Monthly were only a few of the many titles to print her poems. Leah authored at least three volumes of poetry, A Hornbook for Witches (1950), This Tilting Dust (1956), and the posthumous Multiple Clay (1964). This Tilting Dust earned her a spot as a finalist for the National Book Award in 1957 and perhaps as a reviewer of poetry for The Atlantic Monthly from 1957 to 1958. Her poem, "Precarious Ground," won first prize from the Poetry Society for the best to appear in any magazine in the English-speaking world in 1952. "Precarious Ground" is now available as a download on the Internet.

Between 1941 and 1951, Leah was music and drama critic for the Evansville (Indiana) Courier. Beginning in 1953, she wrote special features for the Henderson (Kentucky) Gleaner and Journal. After 1957, Parkersburg, West Virginia, was her home, and on November 21, 1964, the place of her death. She was only a month and a day short of her sixtieth birthday.

Leah Bodine Drake's Stories, Poems, and Letters in Weird Tales
"Whisper Water" (May 1953)
"Mop-Head" (Jan. 1954)

"In the Shadows" (Oct. 1935)
"The Witch Walks in Her Garden" (Apr. 1937)
"Witches on the Heath" (Oct. 1938)
"They Run Again" (June/July 1939)
"Bad Company" (Mar. 1941)
"Haunted Hour" (Nov. 1941)
"Wood Wife" (Mar. 1942)
"Changeling" (Sept. 1942)
"A Vase from Araby" (Mar. 1943)
"Sea Shell" (Sept. 1943)
"The Path through the Marsh (Sept. 1944)
"The Nixie's Pool" (May 1946)
"Heard on the Roof at Midnight" (Nov. 1946)
"The Seal-Woman's Daughter" (Jan. 1947)
"The Stranger" (Sept. 1947)
"The Steps in the Field" (Nov. 1947)
"The Heads on Easter Island" (Jan. 1949)
"The Vision" (Jan. 1950)
"Revenant" (Mar. 1951)
"Swan Maiden" (May 1951)
"The Mermaid" (Nov. 1952)
"Red Ghosts in Kentucky" (Jan. 1953)
"Six Merry Farmers" (Sept. 1953)
"Out!" (Mar. 1954)

Letters to "The Eyrie"
Oct. 1935
June 1937
Sept. 1938
Jan. 1939
Mar. 1939
Aug. 1939
Oct. 1939
Mar. 1941

Further Reading
"They Run Again" in Weird Tales, edited by Peter Haining (Carroll and Graf, 1990)-Originally printed in the June/July 1939 issue of Weird Tales

Leah Bodine Drake's own books are hard to come by, and even some old magazines can be pricey, but her poetry will turn up in a thorough search on the Internet.

Leah Bodine Drake's poem, "The Nixie's Pool," from Weird Tales, May 1946. The illustrator was Matt Fox (1906-1988?).
And her first book of poetry, A Hornbook for Witches (1950), published by Arkham House, with a cover illustration by Frank Utpatel (1905-1980).

Captions and text copyright 2011 by Terence E. Hanley

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Allison V. Harding (?-?)

Pseudonym of Jean Milligan
Author and Attorney
Born ?
Died ?

"The big man was still grinning, and one hand came up and touched his cheek. The hole there was apparent, but what was oozing out, slowly, thickly, almost like honey, was not blood. It could not be blood for it was not red. It was neutral-colored liquid, strange and terrible to see as it was inexplainable. An almost whitish, thick, serum-like substance."
-from "The Damp Man"

Weird Tales offered many popular and memorable characters to its readers over the years, but few were as weird and downright creepy as Lother Remsdorf, Jr., otherwise known as the Damp Man. The Damp Man first showed his turgid face in an eponymous story in the July 1947 issue of Weird Tales. Despite the seemingly irreversible fate he encountered at the end of the story, Remsdorf was back in the September issue ("The Damp Man Returns") and made yet one more appearance in Weird Tales in May 1949 ("The Damp Man Again"). There's no mystery as to why the Damp Man returned again and again, for he is a character not soon forgotten, and he must have been very popular with readers of the magazine.

The Damp Man was the creation of Allison V. Harding, a writer about whom little is known, despite the fact that she wrote three dozen stories for Weird Tales between 1943 and 1951. According to Weird Tales aficionado Robert Weinberg, she was an attorney in New York City. "Allison V. Harding" was in fact the pen name of a woman named Jean Milligan. I have found a couple of newspaper articles about a New Yorker named Jean Milligan, but nothing to tie the subject of the articles to the author of stories for Weird Tales. If anyone has information on Allison V. Harding or Jean Milligan, please send it my way.

Unlike Catherine Moore, Allison V. Harding seems to have written primarily in the here and now. I have read just two of her stories (reprints are hard to find), both of which have a 1940s urban setting. Some of her other story titles (el, tunnel, city, steam shovel, engineer) suggest a similar locale. Certain other titles suggest future science fiction: "The Day the World Stood Still" (The Day the Earth Stood Still), "Revolt of the Trees" (M. Night Shyamalan's execrable The Happening), and "The Murderous Steam Shovel" ("Killdozer").

Allison's style is slick and sophisticated, though perhaps a little pulp-ish in places. She may have been influenced by John Collier (1901-1980) whose stories appeared in The New Yorker and other slick magazines at the time. In any case, despite their popularity among readers of Weird Tales, few stories by Allison V. Harding have been reprinted in the last fifty years. A compilation would make a nice addition to the bookshelf of the Weird Tales reader.

Allison V. Harding's Stories in Weird Tales
"The Unfriendly World" (July 1943)
"Night Must Not Come" (Sept. 1943)
"Death Went That Way" (Nov. 1943)
"House of Hate" (Jan. 1944)
"The Marmot" (Mar. 1944)
"The Day the World Stood Still" (May 1944)
"The Guard in the Dark" (July 1944)
"The Seven Seas Are One" (Sept. 1944)
"Ride the El to Doom" (Nov. 1944)
"Revolt of the Trees" (Jan. 1945)
"Fog Country" (July 1945)
"Night of Impossible Shadows" (Sept. 1945)
"The Murderous Steam Shovel" (Nov. 1945)
"Tunnel Terror" (Mar. 1946)
"The Wings" (July 1946)
"The Machine" (Sept. 1946)
"Mayaya's Little Green Men" (Nov. 1946)
"The House Beyond Midnight" (Jan. 1947)
"The Immortal Lancer" (Mar. 1947)
"The Place with Many Windows" (May 1947)
"The Damp Man" (July 1947)
"The Damp Man Returns" (Sept. 1947)
"The Inn by Doomsday Falls" (Nov. 1947)
"The Frightened Engineer" (Jan. 1948)
"The Coming of M. Alkerhaus" (Mar. 1948)
"City of Lost People" (May 1948)
"Isle of Women" (July 1948)
"The Follower" (Sept. 1948)
"The House on Forest Street" (Nov. 1948)
"Four from Jehlem" (Jan. 1949)
"The Holiday" (Mar. 1949)
"The Damp Man Again" (May 1949)
"The Deep Drowse" (Sept. 1949)
"The Underbody" (Nov. 1949)
"Take the Z Train" (Mar. 1950)
"Scope" (Jan. 1951)

Further Reading
"The Damp Man" in Weird Tales, edited by Marvin Kaye (Barnes and Noble, 1988)
"Take the Z Train" in Weird Tales, edited by Peter Haining (Carroll and Graf, 1990)

For an updated entry on Allison V. Harding, click here for my posting of May 24, 2011, "Who Was Allison V. Harding?"

Allison V. Harding and her character, the Damp Man, finally made the cover of Weird Tales in May 1949. The cover art is by illustrator and comic book artist John Giunta (1920-1970). Despite his comic book-like origin, the Damp Man evokes real dread. Perhaps only a woman could have written as effectively about a creature who is essentially a nightmarishly indefatigable stalker.

Original text and captions copyright 2011 by Terence E. Hanley

Friday, April 22, 2011

C.L. Moore (1911-1987)

Author, Illustrator, Teacher, Screenwriter
Born January 24, 1911, Indianapolis, Indiana
Died April 4, 1987, Los Angeles or Hollywood, California

Catherine Lucille (or Lucile) Moore was born in Indianapolis and grew up a sickly child immersed in fantasy. She attended Indiana University for two years but was forced to go to work during the early years of the Great Depression. As a secretary of a bank president, she typed during the day, but at night, after the bank had closed its doors, she wrote away, composing stories she hoped would win her a place in the pulp magazines of the day. Her dream came true with the first story she ever submitted to Weird Tales. Then and now, her "Shambleau" is a sensation.

Northwest Smith, a forerunner to interplanetary heroes all the way to Han Solo, was the hero of her first four stories for Weird Tales. Then came Jirel of Joiry, the acknowledged first heroine in the field of heroic fantasy, then dominated by Robert E. Howard's Conan. Northwest and Jirel traded back and forth as the protagonists of her fiction for "The Unique Magazine" until 1937 when they teamed up in a story that was itself a team-up between Catherine and her future husband, Henry Kuttner of Los Angeles. The story was "Quest of the Starstone," and it was illustrated by Kuttner's future best man, Virgil Finlay.

Catherine's last story for Weird Tales was a reprint, "Nymph of Darkness," co-authored by another Angeleno, Forrest J Ackerman. Fittingly enough, it was printed in the last issue of the 1930s. Six months later, Catherine was married and living on the East Coast, engaged in a writing collaboration with her husband that would last almost two decades. Weird Tales had by then already made a similar move, to offices in New York City. By the end of 1940, Weird Tales editor Farnsworth Wright would be in his grave, and the magazine's heyday would come to a close.

C.L. Moore's Stories and Letter in Weird Tales
"Shambleau" (Nov. 1933)-Northwest Smith
"Black Thirst" (Apr. 1934)-Northwest Smith
"Scarlet Dream" (May 1934)-Northwest Smith
"Dust of Gods" (Aug. 1934)-Northwest Smith
"The Black God's Kiss" (Oct. 1934)-Jirel of Joiry
"Black God's Shadow" (Dec. 1934)-Jirel of Joiry
"Julhi" (Mar. 1935)-Northwest Smith
"Jirel Meets Magic" (July 1935)-Jirel of Joiry
"The Cold Gray God" (Oct. 1935)-Northwest Smith
Letter to "The Eyrie" (as Miss Catherine Moore, Oct. 1935)
"The Dark Land" (Jan. 1936)-Jirel of Joiry
"Yvala" (Feb. 1936)-Northwest Smith
"Lost Paradise" (July 1936)-Northwest Smith
"The Tree of Life" (Oct. 1936)-Northwest Smith
"Quest of the Starstone" (Nov. 1937) with Henry Kuttner-Northwest Smith & Jirel of Joiry
"Hellsgarde" (Apr. 1939)-Jirel of Joiry
"Nymph of Darkness" (Dec. 1939) with Forrest J. Ackerman-Northwest Smith, reprinted from Fantasy Magazine (Apr. 1935)

Further Reading
Reprints of C.L. Moore's stories are common in anthologies published since the 1960s, but if you're looking for collections of her stories alone, start with these:
  • The Best of C.L. Moore (1975), with an introduction by Lester Del Rey and an afterword by the author herself
  • Jirel of Joiry (Paperback Library, 1969)
  • Northwest Smith (Ace Books, 1981)
  • Black God's Kiss (Planet Stories, 2007)
The Jirel stories and Northwest Smith stories have been published in other collections as well, some of which are pricey. Catherine's only solo novel, Doomsday Morning (1957), is generally available, too. However, despite flashes of the color and imagination from her days writing for Weird Tales, it's not a very satisfying book.

You can also read more about C.L. Moore on my blog, Indiana Illustrators, at I have also posted an article about her on my blog, Hoosier Cartoonists, at

Catherine L. Moore (1911-1987)--The date of the photograph is unknown, but the author-to-be is quite young, perhaps still a student. Look upon this and other pictures of her, read her stories, and you'll not wonder why Forrest J Ackerman called her "Catherine the Great," why E. Hoffman Price confessed his love for her, and why Henry Kuttner proposed to her shortly after their first meeting. From the collection of Julius Schwartz and reprinted in Locus, March 1988.

Welcome to my new blog, in which I plan to tell the stories of the artists and writers who made Weird Tales a magazine made of pulp but containing gems. Please leave comments and requests. You can also contact me by email at:

Text and captions in this blog are copyright 2011 by Terence E. Hanley. All rights are reserved. Images are the property of their individual owners or creators. This blog is for informational and educational purposes only.