Saturday, January 28, 2012

Genevieve Larsson (?-?)

Author and Reviewer
Born ?
Died ?

I don't know much at all about the Swedish-American author Genevieve Larsson, but I can write what I know and surmise a little further. Her first story, "Witch Mary," printed in Pictorial Review in January 1923, was a hit and earned her an O. Henry Memorial Award and entry into Prize Stories of 1923. In writing about her story and her life in the magazine The Editor, Genevieve revealed that she had studied short story writing under Dr. Blanche Colton Williams and her assistant, Shirley V. Long, at Columbia University. If you remember from a previous entry, Theda Kenyon (1894-1997) also studied under the good doctor. If Genevieve Larsson wrote her first story in 1922 or thereabouts, then perhaps she was born at about the turn of the century or a little earlier.
Concerning myself, I hesitate to speak [she wrote in The Editor]. It is my ambition to write of the people I know, and to whom I belong, the Scandinavians of this country. A deep strain of mysticism, an undercurrent of melancholy, run [sic] through their veins. The American writers who have handled these people have done so from the outside in. I want to do it from the inside out. Whenever an American wants a stupid cook in a story, or a lumberjack, he invents what he considers a Swede by giving the character a Scandinavian name and having him speak in atrocious dialect. We aren't all cooks, we aren't all lumberjacks, nor are we all slow and stupid. Some of us can even speak English. It's strange, perhaps, but it's true. The descendants of the proud Vikings form too vital a part of our American civilization to be disposed of in this fashion.
In so writing, Genevieve didn't tell us where she is from, but we can guess it was in the upper Midwest or somewhere else in the northern tier of states. That doesn't narrow it down much, but two newspaper articles place Genevieve in New York in the 1920s and 1930s. Both articles describe her as an author and associated with a crime, in both cases as a possible witness. The first is minor. The second involves a notorious missing persons crime, the case of Agnes C. Tufverson, who disappeared in 1934 and is believed to have been murdered and dismembered by her conman husband, the "young and charming" Jugoslavian Ivan Poderjay.

Genevieve Larsson wrote stories for Pictorial Review, The Century, Live Stories, and The Delineator. True to her ambition, she wrote about the people she knew in "Ingeborg the Proud" (Pictorial Review, June 1924) and "Astrid and the Hill Folk" (Pictorial Review, Dec. 1924), the latter illustrated by the Swedish-American artist Gustaf Tenggren (1896-1970). Tenggren had arrived in the United States a few short years earlier, in 1920. He went on to create illustrations for children's books and the Walt Disney studio. There are too many really fine images of artwork by Tenggren for me to choose one to display here. Don't hesitate searching for them yourself, though. Genevieve Larsson on the other hand has become an obscure figure. Her lone work for Weird Tales was "The City of Lost Souls," printed in the October 1928 issue of the magazine.

That's as much as I know. Having written about Genevieve Larsson (Swedish-American), Signe Toksvig (Danish-American), Charlton Lawrence Edholm (Swedish-American), and Alexander L. Kielland (Norwegian), with Volney G. Mathison (Danish-American) still in progress, I have covered many of the Scandinavian and Scandinavian-American writers for Weird Tales. I'll be on the lookout for more in the future.

Genevieve Larsson's Story in Weird Tales
"The City of Lost Souls" (Oct. 1928)

Further Reading
You can read the full text of "A Unique Philosophy" by Genevieve Larsson online in The Editor, Vol. 59-60. You can also read more about the Tufverson case in Ten Perfect Crimes by Hank Sterling. In your Internet search, look for a new use for vanishing cream.

A story by Genevieve Larsson appeared in this issue of Weird Tales, October 1928, with a cover art by C.C. Senf.
If you want to read a true weird tale, you might try the story of Agnes Tufverson, a New York lawyer who disappeared in 1934 and was never found. Alexander L. Schlosser recounted the story in The Gentle Art of Murder, 1934. So what's the connection? Genevieve Larsson was friends with Agnes and offered a lead to the police as to her whereabouts.
Original text and captions copyright 2012 Terence E. Hanley

1 comment:

  1. The Bookman in 1935 says "born in a log cabin on a farm in Western Wisconsin" and that her parents were from Sweden (via Google Books snippet)