Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Paul Ellsworth Triem (1882-1976)

Aka Paul Ellsworth, Scott Ellsworth
Author and Journalist
Born March 4, 1882, Manchester, Iowa
Died April 14, 1976, Seattle, Washington

Newspaperman and author Paul Ellsworth Triem contributed two stories to Weird Tales during the magazine's first few months in print--and then no more. Those two stories came near the beginning of Triem's quarter century of writing for the pulps and shortly before tragedy struck his family.

Triem was born on March 4, 1882, in Manchester, Iowa, and lived in Iowa until about 1910. Triem worked for a newspaper in Seattle as a writer and editor during the following decade and sold a story--"An Appeal to Caesar"--to The Argosy in 1915. Nearing middle age in the early 1920s, Triem began selling stories and serials to pulp magazines with more success. "Vials of Insects" (May 1923) and "The Evening Wolves" (June/July-Aug. 1923), written for Weird Tales, were among his earliest.

Triem specialized in westerns and detective stories. His "Mother Hansen" stories appeared in Detective Story Magazine for most of the 1920s, and he wrote a novel called Alias John Doe, A Detective Story, published in 1930. Triem sold dozens more stories to Western Story Magazine, Romantic Range, Far West Illustrated, Clues Detective Stories, and other titles between 1922 and 1949, under his own name and two pseudonyms, Paul Ellsworth and Scott Ellsworth. Triem also wrote non-fiction books, the titles of which suggest a combination of hucksterism and quackery: Direct Healing (1922), The Mind Magnet (1924), and The Gist of New Thought, or Your Mind Dynamo and How to Use It (1925).

Triem was married twice. His first wife, Iowan Minnie Wetzstein, died in August 1923, the same month in which Triem's second and last story for Weird Tales was published. Triem's second wife was poet Helen Eva Platnik, known as Eve Triem. Eve was born on November 2, 1902, in New York City, and educated at the University of California at Berkeley. She and Triem were married in 1924 and moved to Dubuque, Iowa, in 1936, the year in which, according to an online biography of her, she began writing poetry in earnest. The couple later returned to the West Coast. (The names of Triem's wives come in part from a genealogical website, here. Information on the website is undocumented and seems to be the sole source online for the name "Helen Eva Platnik.")

Eve Triem was devoted to her husband of five decades and wrote poems to him throughout his life. Some were published after he died in the collection Dark to Glow (1979). Eve Triem authored seven books of poetry in all. She also wrote a critical study of the work of her friend, poet e.e. cummings. Paul Ellsworth Triem died on April 14, 1976, in Seattle, Washington. Son of a homeopathic physician and author of books on healing and the mind, he had lived to be ninety-four years old. Eve Triem followed him in death on December 26, 1992, in Brookline, Massachusetts. 

By the way, Triem's son, Justin Dewey Triem (1909-1991), was a comic book writer and artist of the 1930s and '40s. The younger Triem's credits included stories for Captain Marvel Adventures, The Marvel FamilySub-Mariner, Marvel Mystery Comics, and Junior Miss.

Paul Ellsworth Triem's Stories and Letter in Weird Tales
"Vials of Insects" (May 1923)
"The Evening Wolves" (Two-part serial, June/July and Aug. 1923)
Letter to "The Eyrie" (Sept. 1923)

Further Reading
Paul Ellsworth Triem's book, Direct Healing (1922), is available on Google books, as are several of his stories for Boys' Life magazine. You can also read about Triem's character Mother Hansen in Robert Sampson's book, Yesterday's Faces, Volume 5: Dangerous Horizons (1991). Finally, you can read more about Eve Triem in the description of her papers held at the University of Washington Libraries.

Poet Eve Triem, wife of writer Paul Ellsworth Triem. This photograph, by Mary Randlett, was taken in September 1991, the year before Eve's death at age 90.
Justin Dewey Triem (1909-1991), son of pulp writer Paul Ellsworth Triem, was a comic book writer and artist during the Golden Age of Comics. The Marvel Family and Junior Miss were two of the titles on which he worked.
Captions and text copyright 2011 Terence E. Hanley


  1. Interesting. Paul Ellsworth Triem was my paternal grandfather. I never met him, but did meet my grandmother Eve, once, in the late 70's.

  2. My father Paul Triem died at 94. My mother, Eve Triem, died at 90 but not in Seattle. she had come to live with me in Brookline MA. I can't do justice to either of them in this box. Elsewhere, maybe.

    Yvonne Prete

    1. Hi Yvonne, I'm a poet from Seattle and I'm doing a book for UW press on NW writers and artists with the photographer Mary Randlett. I'd love to talk with you briefly about your mom...
      Frances McCue frances@francesmccue.com

  3. Dear Yvonne,

    Thanks for writing and thanks for the corrections. I hope that what I have written is otherwise accurate. If you would like to offer anything more, you can always write to me at info@hoosiercartoonists.com.

    Terence Hanley

  4. Dear Yvonne, I had the great pleasure of knowing Paul and Eve when I was in Seattle in 1972-73, and was several times invited to tea at the tiny apartment they shared on Capital Hill. Paul would often talk about the writing of short stories and how he came up with the titles. I have a copy of "The Process" inscribed to me by Eve, and remember having a phone conversation with her before she left for Brookline. I feel honored to have known them both.

    Nathan Davis