Monday, August 1, 2011

Talbert Josselyn (1886-1961)

Journalist, Short Story Writer, and Novelist
Born January 9, 1886, Worcester, Massachusetts
Died April 2, 1961, Carmel, California

If you dig deeply enough, you're likely to find connections between Weird Tales and the unlikeliest of people, places, and things. Who would have guessed that a teller of weird tales also wrote the story upon which one of the Bowery Boys movies was based? It's the truth, though. Talbert Josselyn spent a career as a writer, mostly for magazines of the slick and pulp variety. His story, "Smuggler's Cove," serialized in Blue Book magazine in 1933, was adapted to the silver screen in 1948 under the same title. It was the eleventh in the Bowery Boy series. Josselyn also wrote the story for the film Navy Bound (1951), starring Tom Neal and Wendy Waldron. Hollywood bought at least two other Josselyn stories. John Garfield was to play the lead in "Second Wind," from The Saturday Evening Post (Jan. 27, 1940). "Kunming Cargo," coauthored by L.G. Heston, must have died in the making. I'm not sure if either was ever put on film.

Arthur Talbert Josselyn came from an old New England family. His ancestor, Private Charles Josselyn, a Revolutionary War soldier, "marched on April 20th, 1775, in response to the alarm of April 19th, 1775," in other words, at the outset of the war. Talbert Josselyn, as he came to call himself, was born on January 9, 1886, in Worcester, Massachusetts. The family may have alternated between east and west coasts, for Josselyn's younger brother Winsor, also a writer, was born in San Diego, California, in 1895. The Josselyns moved up the coast, living in Los Angeles and Pasadena before Talbert Josselyn settled in Carmel-by-the-Sea in 1914. In 1919, he built a house (still standing) and there he stayed.

Josselyn attended Stanford University and the University of California at Berkeley. He started writing stories at an early age and was published in pulp magazines before World War I. Known primarily for his sports stories, Josselyn had works published in The American Magazine, Argosy, Blue Book, Collier's, Country Gentleman, Everybody's Magazine, Fight Stories, Liberty, Red Book, and Short Stories, among others. His lone story for Weird Tales was called "The Bracelet," printed in the September 1926 issue. Josselyn also wrote a novel, Golden City. His brother, Winsor Josselyn (1895-1973), was also a short-story writer, and the brothers even collaborated on at least one tale. Older brother Lewis Josselyn (1883-1964) was a renowned photographer. One of his subjects worth special mention was the artist, illustrator, and cartoonist Jo Mora, creator of inimitable and invaluable works of the early twentieth century.

During World War II, Josselyn served with the Office of War Information in San Francisco. One result was an article, "Courage Beyond Duty," concerning Navy pilots and published in This Week magazine in 1942. Josselyn was involved in the local Forest Theater (where his brother Lewis was official photographer). He was also co-founder (in 1921) of the Abalone League, a softball league made up of Carmel residents and which played under some peculiar rules. For example, balks were allowed at all times, bunting was forbidden, the first baseman must be a woman, and the center fielder must be a grade school boy. Josselyn lived in the artists' colony of Carmel-by-the-Sea for almost half a century. He died on April 2, 1961.

Talbert Josselyn's Story in Weird Tales
"The Bracelet" (Sept. 1926)

Further Reading
Josselyn was a prolific writer. His work is probably not hard to find. You might also want to read something about his brother, the photographer Lewis Josselyn, through a simple web search.

Talbert Josselyn's house in Carmel, California.
Weird Tales for September 1926. Talbert Josselyn's name made the cover. The cover art is by E.M Stevenson.
Smuggler's Cove, starring Leo Gorcey, Huntz Hall, and Gabriel Dell, was based on a story by Talbert Josselyn, written when the Bowery Boys were still boys.
Talbert "Tal" Josselyn (1886-1961)
Thanks to Randal Everts for the photograph and obituary of Talbert Josselyn.
Text and captions copyright 2011 Terence E. Hanley

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