Friday, September 30, 2011

Biography and "The Call of Cthulhu"-Part 2

Reputed to be a recluse and a shrinking violet, Howard Phillips Lovecraft did a most unexpected thing late in the day on March 3, 1924: he married Sonia Greene and moved to New York City. Lovecraft had met Sonia through their shared interest in the amateur press. (1) By all accounts she was an attractive and vivacious woman. She was also a successful--though perhaps erratic--businesswoman. If he was going to keep up with her, Lovecraft would have to find work (something he had never done before) in the bustling big city (a place he had never lived before). He would also have to share a home and a life with her. In short, he was going to have to live like a normal human being. He proved himself unequal to the task.

Lovecraft was at first enchanted by New York, but by the end of 1924, hard times in the lives of the newly married couple had soured him on the city and his place there. Lovecraft's biographer, L. Sprague de Camp, wrote that "[t]he year and a quarter following Sonia's departure [on the last day of 1924, to work in Cincinnati] was the low point in Lovecraft's life. His depression and misanthropy reached near-suicidal strength, while his behavior showed him at his worst." (2) Sonia returned to the couple's Brooklyn home in February 1925 but left for another job in Cleveland that summer, departing on August 20, her husband's thirty-fifth birthday.

Lovecraft spent a good deal of the year 1925 living as a bachelor. His job-hunting was largely fruitless, yet the year was not wasted. Lovecraft wrote several stories in 1925, including "The Horror at Red Hook," completed at the end of July and published in Weird Tales in January 1927. Set in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn, the story might best be described as a screed. The story "He" followed quick on its heels. Ostensibly fictional, "He" opens with a confession:
My coming to New York had been a mistake; for whereas I had looked for poignant wonder and inspiration in the teeming labyrinths of ancient streets that twist endlessly from forgotten courts and squares and waterfronts equally forgotten, and in the Cyclopean modern towers and pinnacles that rise blackly Babylonian under waning moons, I had found instead only a sense of horror and oppression which threatened to master, paralyze, and annihilate me. . . .
A dire situation indeed.

As summer slipped into autumn, Lovecraft had an idea for another story, tentatively titled "The Call of Cthulhu." Although he wrote an outline, the tale itself would have to wait until the following year before being completed. Lovecraft spent the end of 1925 working on an essay, "Supernatural Horror in Literature," a work that would take many more months to complete. By early 1926, he was ready to quit New York and return to Providence. His aunt arranged it, and even Sonia (back from Cleveland) helped him pack, unwittingly participating in her husband's abandonment of their marriage. On April 17, 1926, H.P. Lovecraft arrived by train in the city of his birth. His friend W. Paul Cook described him as "the happiest man I ever saw." (3)

Having never been loved properly, H.P. Lovecraft probably did not know how to love in return. He was also stubborn in his eccentricity, holding onto ways that could only have made his life more difficult. His wife loved him and did much for him. He expressed  affection (though not love) in return. But Providence and a decaying household shared with his mother's sisters were home to him. Although the marriage of H.P. Lovecraft to Sonia Greene never legally ended, the couple drifted apart due almost entirely to Lovecraft himself, or as L. Sprague de Camp described it, to his "imp of the perverse."

Lovecraft's unhappy sojourn in New York began on March 3, 1924, and ended with his return to Providence on April 17, 1926. In "The Call of Cthulhu," a story still in outline form at his return, those dates are seemingly combined into a single year, thereby bracketing a crisis for the earth and all of humanity: the resurrection of great Cthulhu.

Next: Biography and "The Call of Cthulhu"-Part 3.

(1) Sonia H. Greene's story, "The Invisible Monster," was printed in Weird Tales in November 1923. Her future husband had made his debut in the magazine the month before with "Dagon."
(2) Lovecraft: A Biography by L. Sprague de Camp (Ballantine, 1976), p. 244.
(3) Quoted in de Camp, p. 276.

Sonia Haft Shafirkin Greene (1883-1972), H.P. Lovecraft's one and only wife, and then only for a while. (L. Sprague de Camp gave her name as "Shifirkin." Everyone since then seems to have spelled it "Shafirkin." I'll go with the accepted spelling.)
"The Horror of Red Hook," Lovecraft's tale from his unhappy years in Brooklyn was published in the January 1927 issue of Weird Tales, after he had returned to Providence. The story was reprinted in March 1952. In neither case did it make the cover. "Drome" by John Martin Leahy, illustrated here by C. Barker Petrie, Jr., was the lead story, the first part of a five-part serial. I have included the cover here mostly because it's one of my favorites from the early years of "The Unique Magazine."
"He," written in August 1925, appeared a few months before "The Horror at Red Hook," in the September 1926 issue.  Lovecraft's name made the cover, though it was Everil Worrell's "Bird of Space" that nabbed the lead spot. The artwork is by E.M. Stevenson.

Text and captions copyright 2011 Terence E. Hanley

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Biography and "The Call of Cthulhu"-Part 1

"Earthquake Felt in New York"
New York Times, Aug. 23, 2011

"There had been a slight earthquake tremor the night before, the most considerable felt in New England for some years. . . ."
"The Call of Cthulhu," Weird Tales, Feb. 1928

"The Call of Cthulhu" by H.P. Lovecraft is a seminal work in many ways. Published in Weird Tales in February 1928, it was the first of Lovecraft's stories to mention and describe Cthulhu, a great and horrifying creature from another star system, imprisoned in a drowned crypt at the bottom of the ocean. The tale was not the first in Lovecraft's so-called "Cthulhu Mythos," but it provided the central figure and a unifying theme for what might otherwise have been an inconsistent and non-systematic cycle. Lovecraft appears not to have used the term "Cthulhu Mythos." He was also not its systematizer. We can attribute the term and the system instead to his successor and champion, August Derleth. Nonetheless, Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos survives to this day, arguably one of the most successful and long-lasting of literary inventions, at least of the twentieth century.

"The Call of Cthulhu" is also an early example of Lovecraft's attempts to wed science fiction (a term not used in print prior to 1929) and supernatural horror. Although Cthulhu is a monster, it is a monster from another planet, transported to Earth by scientific (or pseudoscientific) means. There are elements of fantasy, horror, and even Oriental adventure in Lovecraft's tale, but every fantastic and horrifying event in "The Call of Cthulhu" can be explained in rationalistic and scientific terms--or at least the story's narrator so tries. (1) In "The Call of Cthulhu" as in much of Lovecraft's subsequent fiction, the world's secrets are uncovered not by a medium, psychic, or ghost hunter, nor by a two-fisted man of action, but by a scientific investigator. With this story, the material universe supersedes the supernatural as the origin of Earth's horrors. 

Lovecraft claimed not to have been able to write a detective tale. He may have been ingenuous in that belief, or he may simply have wanted to avoid a genre that wasn't really up his alley. What else is "The Call of Cthulhu" but a detective story? A practical, rational investigator stumbles upon a mystery--a series of seemingly unrelated events--and carefully reconstructs the relationship among them, thereby revealing the truth. In his non-linear narrative, Lovecraft may have unintentionally paralleled developments in what was then considered modern fiction. (2) He may also have been inspired by the first cover story for Weird Tales, "Ooze" by Anthony M. Rud (March 1923). As in "The Call of Cthulhu," the narrator of "Ooze" is an investigator, a man obligated by friendship rather than family ties or scientific curiosity to discover the causes of insanity, death, and destruction on an Alabama farm. Like Lovecraft's narrator, the investigator in Rud's story carefully reconstructs hidden events and solves the mystery. One difference, reflective of Lovecraft's somewhat darker view of the world, is that his narrator investigates the mystery from within, eventually to fall prey to it. The threat survives him. By the time the narrator of "Ooze" has entered the picture, the threat has passed and humanity is safe. (3)

One of Lovecraft's innovations in "The Call of Cthulhu" is the atmosphere of verisimilitude in the story. The author gets carried away at times with his own purple prose and the conventions of pulp fiction, but if you set those aside, "The Call of Cthulhu" has  the appearance of an investigative article or--in movie terms--a documentary. There is little dialogue or characterization and not much of the pulse-pounding action so characteristic of pulp fiction. (4) The text is peppered with the names of real people, places, things, and events--or at least they sound like they could be real. Lovecraft even gives the exact location of Cthulhu's island city (South Latitude 47 degrees 9 minutes, West Longitude 126 degrees 43 minutes). This is no never-never land of past, future, or imagination: the main events in "The Call of Cthulhu" took place in the three years prior to the story's publication (three years to the month in fact), and Lovecraft provides all the dates as proof. Those events are so recent in fact that the manuscript of "The Call of Cthulhu" could only have been discovered among the narrator's papers shortly before Lovecraft submitted it to Weird Tales.

One of the reasons why "The Call of Cthulhu" rings true is that it was drawn largely from fact, either from Lovecraft's own experiences or from historical figures and events. The emotional atmosphere of the story may also have been drawn from the author's life. I'll talk about that in Part 2 of "Biography and 'The Call of Cthulhu'."

(1) It's interesting to note that five years before King Kong (1933) was released in theaters, a ship's crew landed on an uncharted island in the South Pacific and unwittingly loosed a large and terrifying creature on the world in the pages of Weird Tales. Godzilla shares something of his origins with Cthulhu and King Kong, as does the monster in the 2008 film Cloverfield. See Chris Perridas' blog, H.P. Lovecraft and His Legacy, for more on the Cthulhu-Cloverfield connection.
(2) For example, William Faulkner's finest novels of the 1920s and '30s, including his own non-linear investigation of a mystery, Absalom, Absalom! (1936).
(3) "Ooze" may also have been the inspiration for The Blob (1958), that quintessential teen monster movie of the 1950s, starring Hoosier Steve McQueen and Andy Griffith's girlfriend, Aneta Corsaut. Correction (Nov. 11, 2019): The Blob was actually based on Joseph Payne Brennan's story "Slime," which was published in Weird Tales in March 1953. That's not to say, of course, that Brennan was not inspired by "Ooze."
(4) Lovecraft also claimed an inability to write action scenes, yet the encounter with Cthulhu near the end of the story lacks nothing for excitement or suspense. The makers of the recent movie adaptation of "The Call of Cthulhu" (2005) captured that excitement very effectively in what must have been a difficult sequence to put on film.

Weird Tales for February 1928, the issue in which "The Call of Cthulhu" first saw print. Despite the fact that the story was voted the most popular story of the month and of the year, and was tied for eighth place as the most popular story published in "The Unique Magazine" between 1924 and 1940, "The Call of Cthulhu" failed to make the cover except through its author's name. Instead, a scary, scary ghost table, scary enough to make a young woman swoon, is the subject of the cover art by Curtis C. Senf. (And why is her rescuer carrying a gun? Wouldn't an ax or a power saw be a better weapon?)
H.P. Lovecraft's own version of Cthulhu, drawn for the author's youthful admirer and eventual literary executor, R(obert) H(ayward) Barlow, dated May 11, 1934.
"Ooze," the cover story for the very first issue of Weird Tales (March 1923), was the work of Anthony M. Rud and a possible inspiration for H.P. Lovecraft's "Call of Cthulhu." The cover art is by Richard R. Epperly. The octopoid body is misleading: in actuality, Rud's monster is a giant amoeba. It's worth noting, however, that the head of Cthulhu resembles the creature depicted here.

Revised slightly on April 26, 2020.
Text and captions copyright 2011, 2023 Terence E. Hanley

Friday, September 23, 2011

Mary McEnnery Erhard (1884-1963)

Teacher, Superintendent, and Author
Born May 4, 1884, Hoboken, New Jersey
Died July 8, 1963, Swansea, Massachusetts

Mary McEnnery was born on May 4, 1884, in Hoboken, New Jersey. Daughter of an immigrant, she came by her Irish surname honestly. In about 1906, she married William Joselin Erhard, who at some point in his career served as priest-in-charge of the Emmanuel Memorial Mission (Episcopal) in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts. His ministry also carried the young family to Nebraska and Brownsville, Texas. By 1930, Mary McEnnery Erhard was  back home in Hoboken with her mother, Ida McEnnery, and her three orphaned children. At the time, both Mary and her mother were teachers. In fact, Mary McEnnery Erhard spent twelve years teaching in the New York Public School System. Also in 1930, Mary became superintendent of the Episcopal Church Charity Foundation Home, otherwise known as "The Cottages," in Sayville, Long Island. A small orphanage, "The Cottages" was in operation from 1924 to 1943. Mary McEnnery Erhard served as superintendent from 1930 to 1935, when she left suddenly and mysteriously. Author Jack Whitehouse speculates that she was fired, perhaps through the efforts and ambitions of another employee.

Mary McEnnery Erhard wrote one story for Weird Tales, "Tangled Skeins," printed in the July 1927 issue of the magazine. She also wrote a story called "Lost Bride of Erin" for Catholic World (Mar. 1928). I can only guess that her tale is set in the land of her father's birth. Much of her writing concerned church history and church doctrine.

Mary lived in Sherwood, Tennessee, during the war years and in Swansea, Massachusetts, after that. For all or most of that period, she was a resident of the Eliza Gray Case Home, a retirement home for Episcopal ministers and their wives. She died on July 8, 1963, in Swansea.

Mary McEnnery Erhard's Story in Weird Tales
"Tangled Skeins" (July 1927)

Further Reading
Sayville Orphans Home: The Cottages of Saint Ann's by Jack Whitehouse (2010)

Weird Tales, July 1927, with cover art by Curtis C. Senf.

Thanks to Randal A. Everts for locating the obituary of Mary McEnnery Erhard.
Text and captions copyright 2011, 2023 Terence E. Hanley

Friday, September 16, 2011

Weird Tales on Film-Rod Serling's Night Gallery

Rod Serling's Night Gallery

Rod Serling (1924-1975) was one of the heroes of television in what some consider its Golden Age of the 1950s. His science fiction anthology The Twilight Zone went on the air in the final television season of that golden decade and lasted five years, finally succumbing to cancellation in 1964. Six years later, Serling tried his hand at occult and weird fiction with his self-titled TV series Rod Serling's Night Gallery. As with The Twilight Zone, Serling introduced each installment in the anthology. This time Serling's introductions came in his role as the curator of the eponymous gallery. The series grew out of a feature-length pilot, one segment of which was directed by a youthful Steven Spielberg.

The majority of Night Gallery episodes were Serling's work, either original or as adaptations from magazines or anthologies. Other writers contributed teleplays as well. I have counted six episodes or installments based on stories from Weird Tales. I remember two from when I watched Night Gallery (as the show was known) as a child, "Brenda" and "Pickman's Model." I have recently started watching Rod Serling's Night Gallery again, and I can see why "Pickman's Model," with its fight scene between Pickman and his monster, would appeal to a child. I don't remember "Death on a Barge" from the first time around, but I can recommend it for its performance by a young and very beautiful Lesley Ann Warren and for a peek at another era in television, when there was plenty of sex for the grown-ups and chills and thrills for the kids. The episode concludes with an unsubtle and wholly erotic double entendre, one that would have flown over the heads of the kids watching.

Each season of Night Gallery had a different main title sequence. Each is creepy in its own way, but the sequence from the second season has to rank as one of the best of any television series, before or since. Night Gallery was cancelled with its third season. Two years later, television fans were shocked and saddened to hear that Rod Serling had died at age fifty. Few figures in the medium's history are as well remembered.

Season 1 (1970-1971)
"The Dead Man" by Fritz Leiber, Jr. (Weird Tales, Nov. 1950), teleplay by Douglas Heyes

Season 2 (1971-1972)
"The Phantom Farmhouse" by Seabury Quinn (Weird Tales, Oct. 1923, reprinted Mar. 1929), teleplay by Halsted Welles
"Brenda" by Margaret St. Clair (Weird Tales, Mar. 1954), teleplay by Douglas Heyes
"Pickman's Model" by H.P. Lovecraft (Weird Tales, Oct. 1927, reprinted Nov. 1936), teleplay by Alvin Sapinsley
"The Dear Departed" by Alice-Mary Schnirring (Weird Tales, May 1944), teleplay by Rod Serling

Season 3 (1972-1973)
"Death on a Barge" by Everil Worrell (Weird Tales, Dec. 1927, as "The Canal," reprinted Apr. 1935), teleplay by Halsted Welles

Other Stories by Tellers of Weird Tales from
Rod Serling's Night Gallery 
"The Doll" by Algernon Blackwood (The Doll and One Other, 1946)
"The Horsehair Trunk" by Dave Grubb (Collier's, May 25, 1946, as "The Last Laurel")
"The Boy Who Predicted Earthquakes" by Margaret St. Clair (McLean's, 1950)
"Death in the Family" by Miriam Allen deFord (Stories That Scared Even Me, edited by Alfred Hitchcock, 1967)
"The Devil Is Not Mocked" by Manly Wade Wellman (Unknown Worlds, June 1943)
"Big Surprise" by Richard Matheson (Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, 1959, as "What Was in the Box")
"House--With Guest" by August Derleth (Lonesome Places, 1962, as "House--With Ghost)
"The Dark Boy" by August Derleth (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Feb. 1957)
"Cool Air" by H.P. Lovecraft (Tales of Magic and Mystery, Mar. 1928)
"The Painted Mirror" by Donald Wandrei (Esquire, May 1937)
"Lagoda's Head" by August Derleth (Source unknown)
"The Funeral" by Richard Matheson (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Apr. 1955)
"The Caterpillar" by Oscar Cook (Switch on the Light, 1931, as "Boomerang")
"Little Girl Lost" by E.C. Tubb (New Worlds, 1955)
"The Return of the Sorcerer" by Clark Ashton Smith (Strange Tales of Mystery and Terror, Sept. 1931)
"The Girl with the Hungry Eyes" by Fritz Leiber, Jr. (The Girl with the Hungry Eyes and Other Stories, 1949)
"The Ring with the Red Velvet Ropes" by Edward D. Hoch (Source unknown)

Rod Serling in his role as after-hours guide to the Night Gallery.
And Lesley Ann Warren in her role as Hyacinth in the Night Gallery episode "Death on a Barge," based on a vampire story, "The Canal" by Everil Worrell, originally published in Weird Tales magazine.

Text and captions copyright 2011, 2023 Terence E. Hanley

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

H.A. Noureddin Addis (1884-1958) & Marguerite Lynch Addis (1880-1948)

H.A. Noureddin Addis
Aka Harold K.P. Addis, Harold Ahmed Noureddin Addis, H.K. Addis, Ahmed Noureddin, Noureddin Addis
Né Harold Kenneth Peebles Addis
Author, Tradesman, and Grocer
Born August 6, 1884, Chesterhill, Ohio
Died December 16, 1958, Los Angeles, California

Marguerite Lynch Addis
Née Marguerite Theresa Lynch Ovens
Author and Librarian
Born October 11, 1880, Kennington, London, England
Died April 16, 1948, Los Angeles, California

Harold Ahmed Noureddin Addis sported a very Muslim-sounding name, despite the fact that he was born the blond-haired, blue-eyed, fair-skinned son of an Ohio farmer. He came into the world as Harold Kenneth Peebles Addis in Chesterhill, a small town on the fringes of Appalachia, and matriculated at Ohio State University. On the day before his twenty-first birthday, Addis left the United States for Europe. A few months later he applied for a passport in Paris so that he might travel to Turkey. According to an autobiographical sketch that appeared in The Overland Monthly in 1916 (below), Addis "resided in Constantinople" and "[w]as closely associated with some of the leading members of the Committee of Union and Progress of the Young Turk Party prior to the revolution of July, 1908." Recently married, Addis returned stateside in early 1907. Although he was still traveling under the name Harold K.P. Addis, it wasn't long before he began using alternate names.

Addis' wife on that homeward trip was Marguerite Theresa Lynch Ovens, born October 11, 1880, in Kennington, London, and baptized at St. Philip Lambeth Parish in Surrey. Her mother was British, her father a Chilean-born naval officer. In 1901, Marguerite was living with her mother in London and working as a shorthand writer (or stenographer). Harold Addis claimed to have married at age twenty-two. That would have placed the happy occasion in about 1906, or shortly before the couple set off for America. In any case, by 1910 the Addises were living in Marion, Ohio, where Harold worked as a grocer and headed a growing household of children to whom he gave Muslim names.

In the 1910s, Harold and Marguerite Addis moved west, settling in southern California. Harold worked as a carpenter and grocer and began selling stories and articles to magazines, including Asia, Adventure, and The Overland Monthly. He later added Weird Tales and Five-Novels Monthly (with Charles Saxby) to his list of credits. Marguerite Lynch Addis, later a public librarian, tried her hand at writing, too. For Weird Tales, she wrote an article, "Sorcery Past and Present" (June 1927). She also authored a book called George the Rooster, published in 1945. Her husband's lone work for Weird Tales was the story "Doctor Grant's Experiment," which appeared in the first-anniversary issue, May/June/July 1924. He, too, wrote a book, Arrow of Flame (verse, 1946), published under the name Noureddin Addis.

The Addises lived in Long Beach, Pasadena, and Sierra Madre for many years. Marguerite Lynch Addis died on April 16, 1948, in Los Angeles or Los Angeles County. Her husband followed her to the grave on December 16, 1958.

H.A. Noureddin Addis' Story in Weird Tales
"Doctor Grant's Experiment" (May/June/July 1924)

Marguerite Lynch Addis' Article in Weird Tales
"Sorcery Past and Present" (June 1927)

Further Reading
On the Internet, there is a great deal on or by Addis and the world of which he wrote. There is comparatively little on his wife. It's an interesting story, though, involving revolution and the end of an empire. Addis and his milieu are deserving of further research. Addis is also covered briefly in Ohio Authors and Their Books, 1796-1950 (1962), edited by William Coyle. Also in that book is a listing for Hugh Addis (1909-    ), another author born in Chesterhill and a resident of Sierra Madre, California. Hugh Addis wrote mystery stories. I assume Hugh Addis and Harold K.P. Addis were related.

An autobiographical sketch, a photograph, and the first few paragraphs of a story by Ahmed Noureddin, aka Harold K.P. Addis, from The Overland Monthly, 1916.

Text and captions copyright 2011, 2023 Terence E. Hanley

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Poetry of Helen V. Rowe

Helen Van Arsdale Rowe, known to readers of Weird Tales as Helen Rowe Henze, was born in Pennsylvania but went to school in Kansas City, Missouri. Even as a high school student, she was an ambitious poet, as the following verse shows. These three poems, "The Gulls," "The Voices of Nature," and "The Journey," are from her high school yearbook, the Westport High School Herald, 1918.

These poems, published in 1918, would appear to be in the public domain.

Original text copyright 2011, 2023 Terence E. Hanley. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Carlos G. Stratton (1900-1967)

Attorney, Humanitarian, Author
Born April 4, 1900, Louisville, Kentucky
Died September 16, 1967, Los Angeles, California

Carlos Gordon Stratton was born on April 4, 1900, in Louisville, Kentucky, the only child of a pair of Hoosiers. His father, Don Carlos Stratton, was born in June 1869 when the memory of the Civil War was still fresh. It's likely that Don C. Stratton was named for the Union general Don Carlos Buell, who lived in Indiana before the beginning of the war. Carlos Gordon Stratton, then, was named for his father and his mother, and perhaps indirectly for a Civil War hero.

The Stratton family moved from Kentucky to Colorado sometime between 1900 and 1910, when the census taker found them in Las Animas. By 1920, they were in Denver. Carlos Stratton served as a private in the Student Army Training Corps (S.A.T.C.) in Denver during World War I. He went on to graduate from the University of Denver in 1922 and the Denver Law School in 1925.

Stratton practiced patent law in Denver and wrote for Dicta, a journal of the Denver Bar Association. According to a family member, Stratton met with great success as a lawyer in Denver and retired to Mexico to take up writing. One result may have been his lone story for Weird Tales, "A Pair of Mummies," from March 1925. 

By 1930, Stratton was back in Denver, but only for a while. Family troubles and his disillusionment with the city sent him packing to southern California in 1934. There Stratton built a new career and a large estate. Stratton Lane in San Marino, California, is named for himStratton served for a time as acting consul of The Netherlands for Colorado and New Mexico. He was also very involved in the Rotary Club, the Republican Party, the Presbyterian Church, and various professional groups. Carlos Gordon Stratton died on September 16, 1967, in Los Angeles.

Carlos G. Stratton's Story in Weird Tales
"A Pair of Mummies" (Mar. 1925)

Further Reading
You can read more about Carlos Stratton in The Rotarian magazine, as well as in his obituary in the Los Angeles Times, September 18, 1967. Another brief article and a photograph appeared on the front page of the Torrance Herald, September 11, 1941.

Carlos G. Stratton in a diminutive photograph from his college yearbook at the University of Denver, 1922.
Carlos G. Stratton (1900-1967)

Note: Thanks to Randal A. Everts for further information on Carlos G. Stratton, including the portrait photograph.
Text and captions copyright 2011, 2023 Terence E. Hanley

Royal W. Jimerson (1895-1958)

Newspaperman and Author
Born September 4, 1895, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Died August 3, 1958, Redwood City, California

Royal Wade Jimerson was born on September 4, 1895, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and as a child lived in Menomonie, Wisconsin. At the time he filled out his World War I draft card, Jimerson was back in the city of his birth and working as a newspaper reporter for The Music Trades with offices in the Railway Exchange Building. At age twenty-two, he may have been a recent graduate, his alma mater being the University of Wisconsin. Jimerson was a reporter for the Minneapolis Star and the Minneapolis Tribune for five years before the papers merged. He relocated to California in 1925, joining the San Francisco Examiner as a rewrite man. Jimerson moved up to reporter on the San Francisco Chronicle in 1934 before returning to the Examiner in 1937 as financial editor. He became political editor a year later. Ill health forced Jimerson to retire in 1954. He died a month short of his sixty-third birthday, on August 3, 1958, in Redwood City, California.

Jimerson wrote just one story for Weird Tales, but it proved a popular one. Called "Medusa," it appeared in the April issue, 1928. It was reprinted in the magazine a decade later, in the May 1938 issue. It was also reprinted in By Daylight Only: 20 Stories That Keep You Awake (1929), the fifth in a series called "Not At Night," edited by Christine Campbell Thomson and published by Selwyn and Blount. The story is also mentioned in John Clute and John Grant's Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1999) under the entry "Atavism." Jimerson's name appeared in "The Unique Magazine" shortly before and after his story was published, for he wrote to "The Eyrie" in the January and May issues of 1928.

Royal W. Jimerson's Letters and Story in Weird Tales
Letter to "The Eyrie" (Jan. 1928)
"Medusa" (Apr. 1928, reprinted May 1938)
Letter to "The Eyrie" (May 1928)

Further Reading
I don't know of any further reading for Jimerson except his story and his obituary (a brief one) in the New York Times, August 4, 1958.

Text and captions copyright 2011, 2023 Terence E. Hanley

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Capwell Wyckoff's Books

Capwell Wyckoff was a prolific author, despite his relatively short life. The following is an incomplete list of his books, compiled by an unknown author at an untitled website,

The Mercer Boys Cruise in the Lassie (A.L. Burt Company, 1929)
The Mercer Boys at Woodcrest (A.L. Burt Company, 1929)
The Mercer Boys on a Treasure Hunt (A.L. Burt Company, 1929)
The Mercer Boys Mystery Case 1929 (A.L. Burt Company, 1929)
The Mercer Boys on the Beach Patrol (A.L. Burt Company, 1929)
The Mercer Boys in Summer Camp (A.L. Burt Company, 1929)
The Mercer Boys as First Classmen (A.L. Burt Company, 1930)
The Secrets of the Armor Room (Saalfield Publishing Company, 1930)
Challenge of the Hills (Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Christian Education, 1931) 
In the Camp of the Black Rider (A.L. Burt Company, 1931)
The Mystery at Lake Retreat (Saalfield Publishing Company, 1931)
The North Point Cabin Mystery (Saalfield Publishing Company, 1932)
The Mystery of Gaither Cove (Saalfield Publishing Company, 1932)
The Mercer Boys and the Indian Gold (A.L. Burt Company, 1932)
The Mercer Boys with the Air Cadets (A.L. Burt Company, 1932)
The Mercer Boys and the Steamboat Riddle (A.L. Burt Company, 1933)
The Mystery Hunters at the Haunted Lodge (A.L. Burt Company, 1934)
The Mystery Hunters at Lakeside Camp (A.L. Burt Company, 1934)
The Mystery Hunters at Old Frontier (A.L. Burt Company, 1934)
The Sea Runner's Cache (A.L. Burt Company, 1935)
The Mystery Hunters on Special Detail (A.L. Burt Company, 1936)
The Search for the City of Ghosts (A.L. Burt Company, 1936)
Sounding Brass (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1943)
Bright Harvest (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1944)
Victory at Daybreak (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1945)
Singing Heart (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1947)
The Mercer Boys Cruise in the Lassie (World Publishing Company, 1948)
The Mercer Boys at Woodcrest (World Publishing Company, 1948)
The Mercer Boys on a Treasure Hunt (World Publishing Company, 1948)
The Mercer Boys Mystery Case (World Publishing Company, 1948)
The Mercer Boys With the Coast Guard (World Publishing Company, 1949)
Bright Horizons (Zondervan Publishing House, 1949)
The Bells Are Ringing (Zondervan Publishing House, 1949) 
The Mercer Boys in the Ghost Patrol (World Publishing Company, 1951)
The Winning of Kay Slade (Zondervan Publishing House, 1949)

Original text copyright 2011, 2023 Terence E. Hanley

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Capwell Wyckoff (1903-1953)

Aka Albert C. Wyckoff, Albert Capwell Wyckoff
Minister and Author
Born February 21, 1903, New Jersey
Died January 10, 1953, Columbia, Kentucky

Albert Capwell Wyckoff was born on February 21, 1903, in New Jersey. His father, also named Albert Capwell Wyckoff, died when his son was young, an event that forced Capwell to go to work. He never finished high school, yet Capwell Wyckoff became a successful author of two and a half dozen children's novels. He also wrote for children's magazines, including Boys' Life and The Open Road for Boys. Wyckoff is most well known for his series of mystery and adventure novels on the Mercer Boys, published in sixteen titles between 1921 and 1951. Interspersed among them were several other mystery novels, a perennially popular genre among children. Capwell Wyckoff wrote two stories for Weird Tales, "The Grappling Ghost" (July 1928) and "The Guillotine Club" (July 1929). Late in life, he wrote a number of Christian novels for children under the name Albert C. Wyckoff. He was well qualified, for Wyckoff served in the lay ministry in Arkansas before becoming ordained in the Presbyterian Church. He used the royalties from his books to pay for missionary work. For many years, Capwell Wyckoff lived and served in Kentucky, the place of his death on January 10, 1953. His headstone reads: "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."

Capwell Wyckoff's Stories in Weird Tales
"The Grappling Ghost" (July 1928)
"The Guillotine Club" (July 1929)

Further Reading
You can read more about Capwell Wyckoff at and at an untitled website devoted to his books:

Albert Capwell Wyckoff (1903-1953)

Text copyright 2011, 2023 Terence E. Hanley

Friday, September 9, 2011

George N. Laws (1902-1981)

Aka Hardy Peters
Newspaperman, Advertising Man, Author
Born January 15, 1902, Dallas?, Texas
Died March 12, 1981, San Diego, California

George Newton Bowlin Laws lived a colorful and tragic life, documented by his daughter, Carolyn See, in her memoir, Dreaming: Hard Luck and Good Times in America (1996), and her website, The Rumpus. Laws was born on January 15, 1902, and grew up in Dallas. His family were city fathers, despite the fact that his grandfather, a gambler and drinker, shot a man in a gunfight. Laws was forced to go to work early in life. His employers were his "cousins named Red and Ted Tedford," according to Carolyn See. "They ran a bootlegging establishment and hired little Georgie to walk bottles of hooch across town in a baby carriage under a pretty blanket." At thirteen, he was accidentally shot in the chest by his brother. Laws thought he was "fixin' to die," but he survived and carried the bullet for the rest of his life. A year later, another gunshot wound did irreparable damage to the life of his family when his mother killed herself. It was left to George Laws to find the body.

An admirer of Mark Twain, James Branch Cabell, and C.S. Forester, Laws became a writer, first for newspapers, later for pulp magazines and advertising agencies, later still for an entirely different market. As described by his daughter, "George Laws, a darling, hard-drinking newspaperman with one unpublicized marriage already under his belt and a ukulele under his arms came to California. . . " in the early 1930s. There he worked for the Los Angeles Illustrated News, Los Angeles Daily News, and Huntington Park Signal. He was involved in advertising during the 1950s, employed by David S. Hillman, Inc., and his own George N. Laws Advertising Agency. Laws also wrote short stories for New Western Magazine, All Western Magazine, Western Adventures, and Weird Tales during the mid-1940s. His only story for "The Unique Magazine" was "Stranger in the Mirror," printed in the July 1944 issue.

At age sixty-nine, Laws began the final chapter in his writing career when he authored the first of "seventy-three cheery volumes" of pornography, aimed at the paperback-reading crowd, under the pseudonym Hardy Peters. Titles over the next seven years included When Virtue Fails, Unwilling to Trade, and Sexiest Student. According to Carolyn See, he spent the last three years of his life "in clinical depression." George N. Laws died on March 12, 1981, in San Diego, California.

George N. Laws' Story in Weird Tales
"Stranger in the Mirror" (July 1944)

Further Reading
  • Dreaming: Hard Luck and Good Times in America by Carolyn See (1996)
  • The Rumpus, Carolyn See's website, at
Weird Tales for July 1944 with cover art by A.R. Tilburne. George Newton Laws' story, "Stranger in the Mirror," also illustrated by Tilburne, appeared in this issue.

The quotes are from Carolyn See's book, Dreaming: Hard Luck and Good Times in America (1996), and are used here only for informational and educational purposes. All rights are reserved to the author.

Otherwise, text and captions copyright 2011, 2023 Terence E. Hanley