Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Who Wrote the Most Letters in Weird Tales?

"The Eyrie," the letters column and editorial department for Weird Tales, began with the first issue in March 1923 and continued through most of the magazine's run until September 1954. Hundreds of correspondents wrote to "The Eyrie," including most of the magazine's more prolific authors. H.P. Lovecraft for example was published in the letters column (in September 1923) before having his first story, "Dagon," in the main body of the magazine (in October 1923). Lovecraft wrote twelve letters published in Weird Tales. That's a bit of a surprise considering he was one of the most prolific writers of letters in human history.

The champion letter writer in Weird Tales was the so-called "Big Name Fan" Jack Darrow, a Chicagoan referred to more than once as a "letterhack." And he did hack out a few letters, 35 to Weird Tales, six to Oriental Stories, and three to The Magic Carpet Magazine. Next is the unknown B.M Reynolds with 33. If B.M. was a man, then the most prolific of women correspondents was Gertrude Hemken, nicknamed Trudy. Another Chicagoan, Gertrude Hemken wrote 32 letters published in the magazine. In his book The Weird Tales Story, Robert Weinberg described them as "disjointed patches of baby talk nonsense." Nonetheless, they and she were popular. (1) As for authors of stories, Henry Kuttner (28) and Robert Bloch (26) were on top.

Tom Cockcroft has compiled a list of letter writers to Weird Tales, published on the FictionMags website. That list is the source for my list. Once again, if my count is wrong, the fault is mine alone. If my count is correct, it's only as good as my source.

Who Wrote the Most Letters in Weird Tales?
1. Jack Darrow, 35 letters
2. B.M. Reynolds, 33
3. Gertrude Hemken, 32
4. Donald Allgeier, 29
5. Henry Kuttner, 28
6. Robert Bloch, 26
7. Julius Hopkins, 25
8. (tie) Alvin V. Pershing, 21
8. (tie) Seabury Quinn, 21
9. Clark Ashton Smith, 20
10. John V. Baltadonis, 19
11. (tie) Robert A. Madle, 17
11. (tie) E. Hoffman Price, 17
12. Manly Wade Wellman, 16
13. Caroline Ferber, 15
14. (tie) E.L. Mangshoel, 14
14. (tie) John Wasso, 14
15. Robert Leonard Russell, 13
16. (tie) H.P. Lovecraft, 12
16. (tie) J. Vernon Shea, 12
17. August Derleth, 11 letters on his own, plus 1 with another correspondent
18. Six correspondents tied with 11 letters each

Robert E. Howard by the way had nine letters published in Weird Tales.

(1) In doing research for this posting, I came upon some speculation that Gertrude Hemken and Caroline Ferber were the same person. If that's true, then Gertrude would be the top writer of letters in Weird Tales.

The heading for "The Eyrie," the long-running letters column of Weird Tales, drawn by Andrew Brosnatch and used for years after he was no longer associated with the magazine.

Text copyright 2011 Terence E. Hanley

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