Saturday, May 7, 2011

Henry Lieferant (1892-1968) & Sylvia B. Saltzberg (1896-1952)

Henry Lieferant
Author, Editor, Playwright
Born January 30, 1892, Przemysl, Austria (now Poland)
Died October 1968, New York, New York

Sylvia B. Saltzberg
Pathologist, Author, Playwright
Born June 17, 1896, New York, New York
Died January 24, 1952, New York, New York

Pulp fiction writers were known for their versatility. Although they may have specialized in one or two genres, many were capable of working in a wider range. Paid a pittance and by the word during the Great Depression, they had reason to write and sell what they could wherever they could. Although Henry Lieferant and his wife, Sylvia B. Saltzberg, wrote mainly romance and confession stories, they also managed to sell one story to Weird Tales magazine.

Henry Lieferant was born on January 30, 1892, in Przemysl, Austria (now Poland), and emigrated to the United States in 1910. He earned his citizenship by enlisting in the U.S. Army in 1918. At the time he was selling insurance for a living. After working for a fashion magazine, Lieferant freelanced until 1927, the year he signed on with McFadden Publications in New York. He became an editor on Bernarr McFadden's True Story magazine, which sold nearly two million copies a month in 1929, equalling or surpassing totals for the slick magazines of the day. Lieferant remained with McFadden until 1946. By then he had already written or co-written a number of novels, one of which, Doctors' Wives, was adapted to the silver screen in 1931.

Lieferant's co-writer was his wife, Sylvia B. Saltzberg, a New Yorker born on June 17, 1896, and a child of Russian (or Lithuanian) immigrants. Her name was in print as early as 1909 when she submitted a puzzle to St. Nicholas magazine. She attended Hunter College in New York and became a pathologist for the city in the late 1910s. A strand of popular fiction--the romance between doctor and nurse (or doctor and patient)--may trace back to Sylvia Saltzberg's experiences in the field of medicine.

Sylvia B. Saltzberg and Henry Lieferant were married in 1923 or 1924. One of their early collaborations was for Weird Tales. "A Game of Chance," their only story for "The Unique Magazine," appeared in the January 1924 issue during Weird Tales' first full year in print. Specializing in romance and true confession, the Lieferants contributed stories, serials, and novels to Sweetheart Stories, Five-Novels Monthly, Physical Culture, and other pulp magazines. They also wrote hardbound and paperback novels, including Doctors' Wives (1930), Charity Patient (1939, reprinted as Doctor's Temptation, 1959), Hospital-Quiet Please! (1941, reprinted as Dr. Anders' Dilemma, 1958), and The Gentile (1958). Their play, Hilda Cassidy, was staged in New York in 1933.

The writing careers of Henry Lieferant and Sylvia B. Saltzberg lasted more than three decades, surviving the transition from pulp to paperback. Even into the 1960s, you could still find their novels in print. Sylvia Lieferant died on January 24, 1952, at New York Hospital. Henry Lieferant died in October 1968 in New York City after being scalded in his bathtub. 

Henry Lieferant and Sylvia B. Salzberg's Story in Weird Tales
"A Game of Chance" (Jan. 1924)

Further Reading
Frank M. Robinson and Lawrence Davidson included a chapter on romance and confession pulps in their book, Pulp Culture (Collectors Press, 1998). You can read more about romance novels in The Look of Love by Jennifer McKnight-Trontz (Princeton Architectural Press, 2002).

The ecstatic nurse in a clinch with the manly doctor--dreams of romance are made of this.

Thanks to Randal Everts for further information on Sylvia and Henry Lieferant.
Text and captions copyright 2011 Terence E. Hanley


  1. I chanced upon this in looking up the names on a book plate. The book is "An Adventure", by two ladies, and is a very well documented and researched book of the time travel experiences of the two ladies, and others, to the gardens at Versailles in the early 20th century. The book is fascinating, and I'm delighted it comes from Henry and Sylvia's collection.

    1. Dear Anonymous,

      Thank you for writing. I had never heard or read of this incident before and I had never before encountered the term folie à deux, which has been suggested as an explanation for it. The book is called An Adventure, and it was published in 1911 under the pseudonyms Elizabeth Morison and Frances Lamont. The authors' real names were Charlotte Anne Moberly (1846–1937) and Eleanor Jourdain (1863-1924). The incident is supposed to have taken place on August 10, 1901, in the gardens of le Petit Trianon, a château at Versailles. It sounds like a fascinating book. The story behind it may be even more fascinating.