Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Wilhelm von Scholz (1874-1969)

Poet, Playwright, Author, Actor, Editor, Narrator, Translator
Born July 15, 1874, Berlin, Germany
Died May 29, 1969, Konstanz, Germany

Sooner or later, if you're writing about historical, cultural, or biographical events of the twentieth century, you will almost certainly have to deal with some unsavory topics, for the last century was one of horrors. Every century has its horrors of course. However, the horrors of all previous centuries are far removed from us, while those of the last hundred years survive. They survive not only in the memories--and in and on the bodies--of people who lived through them, but also in the minds of those who still adhere to the ideologies and philosophies that perpetrated those horrors. Even at this late date, despite abundant evidence that Marxism, communism, Nazism, socialism, Fascism, and their kindred isms are corrupt and murderous failures, the world is full of people who believe that we should march to their drums.

Seventy-four years ago this month, Nazi Germany annexed and occupied its southern neighbor, Austria, in an event known as the Anschluss. In that same month, Weird Tales printed a story called "The Head in the Window," translated and adapted by Roy Temple House from the work of a German writer named Wilhelm von Scholz. Scholz or von Scholz may be unique among contributors to Weird Tales, for the German author was a servant of Nazism.

Born on July 15, 1874, in Berlin, Wilhelm von Scholz was the son of Adolf Heinrich Wilhelm Scholz (1833-1924), later von Scholz and the Secretary for the Treasury of Germany and Minister of Finance for the Kingdom of Prussia. Wilhelm Scholz grew up in Berlin and moved with his father to the family estate, "Schloss Seeheim," in Konstanz in 1890. Scholz graduated high school in 1892 and studied literature, history, and philosophy in Berlin, Lausanne, and Kiel. He received his doctorate from the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich in 1897. Scholz became dramaturge and director of the Stuttgart State Theatre in 1916 and president of the section for poetry of the Prussian Academy of Arts in 1928.

I have called Scholz a servant of the Nazis, but I don't know that he was ever a member of the Nazi Party. It would have been hard for him to explain his actions during the Nazi era however. On March 16, 1933, he signed a declaration of loyalty to the German Academy of Literature. In October of that year, he pledged allegiance to Adolf Hitler. According to a German Wikipedia article, in 1939 Scholz retracted his previous "philo-Semitic remarks." During the Nazi occupation of Poland, he published a Nazi newspaper in Krakow. Also according to the article, Scholz authored verse glorifying the Führer for an anthology of poetry as late as 1944. Finally, in June 1944, Scholz received an honorary doctorate from the Ruprecht-Karls University of Heidelberg and a grant of 30,000 marks from Adolf Hitler. Whether Scholz was compelled to serve the State or whether he was a willing participant in Nazism is a question for another time and place. It may be worth noting that, first, the main body of his work appeared before 1933, and, second, Scholz was nearly sixty when the Nazis came to power. It's also worth noting that large swaths of German society--including writers and of course military men--were required to take oaths of loyalty to Hitler and his regime. Doing so might very well have proved the difference between living and dying. In any case, Scholz's reputation will probably forever be marred by his association with Nazi Germany.

After the war, Scholz served as president and honorary president of the Association of German Playwrights and Composers. I don't have clear details on the remainder of his career, although I know that he received various badges and medals during the 1950s and 1960s. Wilhelm von Scholz died on May 29, 1969, in Konstanz and was buried in his adopted home city. According to a German Wikipedia article, "His poetry is marked by the mystical-occult." In his plays, Scholz followed in the neoclassical tradition of Paul Ernst and Christian Friedrich Hebbel. By the way, the German playwright Karl Friedrich Paul Ernst (1866-1933) should not be confused with the American author Paul Ernst (1899-1985), a prolific teller of weird tales. 

Works by Wilhelm von Scholz
(Titles are freely translated from the German.)
The Losers, 1899
Swapped Souls, 1910
New Poems, 1913
The Lake, 1913
Dangerous Love, 1913
The Jew of Konstanz, 1913
Days of Summer, 1914
The German Narrator, edited by Wilhelm von Scholz, 1915
Ensign of Braunau, 1915
The Lake: A Millennium of German Poetry from Lake Constance, selected by Wilhelm von Scholz, 1915
The Unreal, 1916
German Mystic, 1916
The Poet, 1917
Luck and Fate [?], 1923
Perpetua, 1926
Charlotte Donc, ca. 1928, 1941
The Road to Ilok, 1930
The Duty, 1932
The Poems, Complete Edition, 1944

Wilhelm von Scholz's Story in Weird Tales
"The Head in the Window" translated and adapted by Roy Temple House (Mar. 1938)

Further Reading
I have based my biography almost entirely on a German-language Wikipedia article. This may be the first English-language biography of Scholz on the Internet.

Left to right: Wilhelm von Scholz, Oskar Fried, and Rainer Maria Rilke in a drawing by Emil Orlik, 1896.
An etching in illustration of Scholz's Charlotte Donc (ca. 1928) by Alois Kolb.
A work by Wilhelm von Schulz appeared in this issue of the American-style German magazine Uhu ("Owl"), from March 1932. The magazine was in print from 1924 until 1933. I doubt that it's any coincidence that the end year for publication was the same year in which Adolf Hitler rose to power. (Uhu was published by and named for the publishing house Ullstein. Thanks to Lars Dangel for further information.)
Six years later, Scholz's story, "The Head in the Window," appeared in this issue of Weird Tales. The cover art was by Margaret Brundage.

Revised on March 30, 2023.
Text and captions copyright 2012, 2023 Terence E. Hanley

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Earl Leaston Bell (1895-1972)

Aka Earl L. Bell
Newspaperman, Author
Born February 11, 1895, Augusta, Georgia
Died March 26, 1972, Richmond County, Georgia, probably in Augusta

Earl Leaston Bell was born on February 11, 1895, in Augusta, Georgia. I believe the original spelling of his name was Earle, a name that could easily have been turned into "early bell" by friends and schoolmates. Bell's father was a life insurance agent. Ironically he died while Bell was a young man, leaving him to provide for his mother and two sisters. As early as 1917, when he filled out his draft card, Earle L. Bell was working as a newspaper reporter on the Augusta Herald. He may very well have spent his career in his native city as a newspaperman. However, that didn't prevent him from contributing stories to pulp magazines beginning in February 1924 with "Doctor DeBruce" in Weird Tales. Other Bell stories included "The Moon of Doom" in Amazing Stories Quarterly (Winter 1928), "The Young Old Man" in Amazing Stories (Sept. 1929, reprinted in Amazing Stories in Oct. 1962, and in Science Fiction Adventure Classics, Winter 1970), and "The Land of Lur" in Weird Tales (May 1930). Bell was an early reader of Weird Tales. The first of his four letters printed in "The Eyrie" showed up in the third issue of the magazine, in May 1923. Bell was later the author of "Sighs the Southwind" an essay in A Southern Sampler (1943) and the book The Augusta Chronicle: Indomitable Voice of Dixie, 1785-1960 (1960) with Kenneth C. Crabbe. Bell died on March 26, 1972, probably in the city of his birth.

Earl Leaston Bell's Stories & Letters in Weird Tales
Letter to "The Eyrie" (May 1923)
"Doctor DeBruce" (Feb. 1924)
Letter to "The Eyrie" (July 1926)
"The Land of Lur" (May 1930)
Letter to "The Eyrie" (May 1938)
Letter to "The Eyrie" (Oct 1938)

Further Reading
I'm afraid I don't know of any further reading on the life or work of Earl Leaston Bell.

Earl Leaston Bell's first story for Weird Tales appeared in this issue, February 1924, just in time for the author's twenty-ninth birthday. The cover art was by R.M. Mally.
In his next appearance, Bell found his name listed on the cover with art by C.C. Senf.
Bell's name made the cover of Science Fiction Adventure Classics in the winter of 1970 with a reprint from four decades before. The cover art by Frank R. Paul was also a reprint.

Text and captions copyright 2012, 2023 Terence E. Hanley

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

N.J. O'Neail (1898-1972)

Author, Journalist
Born January 19, 1898, Brantford, Ontario, Canada
Died May 4, 1972, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Since writing on N.J. O'Neail, I have heard from Weird Tales researcher Randal A. Everts with more information on the Canadian author's life, gleaned from a letter written by his sister in 1995.

Norbert James O'Neail attended schools in Brantford, Ontario, and by age seven was already writing and keeping a notebook or commonplace book. He started his newspaper career at the Brantford Courier, which ceased publication in 1919. At the time O'Neail was city editor, and at age twenty-one, one of the youngest journalists in Canada to hold that position. From 1919 until 1945, he was with the Toronto Daily Star. Known to his friends as "Tip" O'Neail (after James Edward "Tip" O'Neill, a major league baseball league player born in Springfield, Ontario, near Brantford), O'Neail was with the Financial Post newspaper for a short time, then with the Toronto Telegram until he retired in 1962. He wrote a column on Canada for the Detroit Free Press, circa 1947-1950, and wrote political speeches for members of the Ontario legislature in the 1930s and 1940s.

N.J. O'Neail was a member of the Irish Regiment, Royal Canadian Army Reserve Corps during the war years, 1939 to 1945. In the 1930s, he wrote for popular pulp magazines, including Weird Tales. In 1947 he was a member of the panel on a radio show, "Press Club News Quiz," on station CFRB Toronto. The panel attempted to answer questions related to news, past and present, sent in by listeners. With his photographic memory, O'Neail anchored the panel and could always be counted on to answer questions others could not handle.

Norbert James O'Neail died in Toronto on May 4, 1972, at age seventy-four.

Author and journalist Norbert James "Tip" O'Neail (1898-1972). Photograph courtesy of Randal A. Everts.

Text and captions copyright 2012, 2023 by Randal A. Everts and Terence E. Hanley

Saturday, March 17, 2012

N.J. O'Neail (1898-1972)

Norbert James "Tip" O'Neail
Newspaperman, Author
Born January 19, 1898, Brantford, Ontario, Canada
Died May 4, 1972, St. Joseph's Hospital, Toronto, Canada

Updated March 17, 2024.

Today, March 17, 2012, is St. Patrick's Day. On the occasion, I would like to write about an Irish Catholic author born in Canada. His byline for three stories and ten letters in Weird Tales was N.J. O'Neail. Weird Tales researcher Randal A. Everts has identified him as Norbert James O'Neail, who was born on January 19, 1898, in Brantford, Ontario. His parents, James Frederick O'Neail and Catherine Ryan O'Neail, were also born in Ontario and both were of Irish descent. Their son came into the world on the anniversary of Edgar Allan Poe's birth.

O'Neail, nicknamed "Tip," was a newspaperman for his whole career. He began with The Expositor in his native city. He was then city editor of the Brantford Courier until it ceased publication, after which event he moved to Toronto to work for the Toronto Star. He was also with the Financial Post, then the Toronto Telegram until his retirement in about 1962. O'Neail's brother, Douglas O'Neail, was also with the Brantford Courier. By the way, bestselling author Thomas B. Costain (1885-1865) was also born in Brantford, and he also worked, as a reporter, for the Brantford Courier, from 1902 until 1908 or thereabouts. Costain's daughter, Molly Costain Haycraft (1911-2005), was also a novelist. Her husband, Howard Haycraft (1905-1991), was an editor, publisher, and author of Murder for Pleasure: The Life and Times of the Detective Story (1941), an early study--if not the first--of mystery, crime, and detective fiction. Haycraft traced stories of this type to the same early American author with whom N.J. O'Neail shared a birthday.

N.J. O'Neail's three stories for Weird Tales were published in a three-year period, 1929 to 1932. His letters continued to appear in the magazine throughout the 1930s. One in particular has received special attention. In a letter published in "The Eyrie" in March 1930, O'Neail asked whether Kathulos, the title character in Robert E. Howard's recent "Skull-Face" (serial, Oct.-Nov.-Dec. 1929), is somehow related to H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu. (1) That letter has gotten some attention from researchers, including S.T. Joshi, et al., in An H.P. Lovecraft Encyclopedia. That would imply that O'Neail was the first to notice the connection (if any, and perhaps established only after "Skull-Face" was published). In any case, Howard queried Lovecraft about the names Lovecraft used in his loose but evolving mythos. According to Mr. Joshi, Lovecraft admitted that "he dropped references to his myth-cycle in his ghostwritten tales purely for fun." Howard began following suit, as did Clark Ashton Smith, Donald Wandrei, August Derleth, and others as the years went by. The upshot of all this is that a letter from Norbert J. O'Neail seems to have played a part in the formation of the Cthulhu Mythos.

O'Neail's last letter in Weird Tales appeared in March 1938. Howard and Lovecraft had by then gone to their graves, although both were represented in that March issue, seventy-four years ago this month. (2) I don't know what O'Neail did for a living or where or when he died. The only other biographical information I have on him is his marriage to Frances Gertrude Burd on April 5, 1924, in York, Ontario. [One hundred years ago as I write this update.] They had two daughters and a son together. Norbert J. O'Neail died on May 4, 1972, at St. Joseph's Hospital in Toronto Canada. He was seventy-four years old.

I don't know if N.J. O'Neail ever made it back to the Emerald Isle, but I hope he enjoyed many a St. Patrick's Day. And I hope that Cthulhu, resident of another island (an island covered in green slime, not grass), a creature that is green rather than wears green, goes on sleeping for many, many strange eons to come.

(1) O'Neail's first story for Weird Tales, "The Gallows Tree," shared a spot in the magazine with the last part of Howard's serial.
(2) Howard's work was a poem, "The Poets." Lovecraft's contribution: "Beyond the Wall of Sleep." Incidentally, this year [2012] marks the eighty-second anniversary of the appearance of O'Neail's seminal letter of March 1930.

N.J. O'Neail's Stories in Weird Tales
"The Gallows Tree" (Dec. 1929)
"The Flame Fiend" (Sept. 1930)
"Devouring Shadows" (Feb. 1932)

N.J. O'Neail's Letters in Weird Tales and Oriental Stories
Aug. 1928 
Sept. 1929 
Jan. 1930 
Mar. 1930 
Apr. 1930 
Feb. 1931 
Letter in Oriental Stories Feb. 1931 (All others are in Weird Tales)
July 1932
Aug. 1933
Aug. 1937
Mar. 1938

I'm not sure that Weird Tales ever had a cover with an Irish theme, but Saint Patrick would have approved of the man fighting a giant serpent--green, too--on the cover of the August 1934 issue. The cover story is Robert E. Howard's "Devil in Iron," the cover art by Margaret Brundage. Note the story is set on "an amazing island city of green stone."
Margaret Brundage also created this cover of a woman in green for the November 1933 issue of "The Unique Magazine."
Those aren't shamrocks growing over the figure of the supine woman, but green is the dominant color in this cover by Virgil Finlay from April 1938. The cover story is "The Garden of Adompha" by Clark Ashton Smith.

Text and captions copyright 2012, 2023 Terence E. Hanley

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Arthur Styron (1891-1958)

Author, Teacher, Minister
Born December 23, 1891, Wilmington, North Carolina
Died September 8, 1958, Connecticut?

Arthur Styron lived such a varied life, I am inclined to think he was two different people. An Episcopal minister who wrote pulp fiction? It had been done before. Ordained in 1912, Henry S. Whitehead (1882-1932) began writing for Weird Tales in 1924. Whitehead's friend H.P. Lovecraft described him thus: "He has nothing of the musty cleric about him; but dresses in sports clothes, swears like a he-man on occasion, and is an utter stranger to bigotry or priggishness of any sort." (Quoted in Wikipedia.) Unfortunately I don't have a description of Arthur Styron, though I do have a photograph and an account of his life.

Arthur Herman Styron was born two days before Christmas 1891 in Wilmington, North Carolina. He attended the University of North Carolina, and his name appeared in the yearbook, The Yakety Yack, in 1912. In 1917, Styron was a civilian employee of the U.S. government at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia. The following year he began a two-year stay overseas, traveling to England, France, Germany, Holland, and Italy. Styron would travel to Europe several more times over the years. In 1919 he joined the U.S. Navy Naval Reserve, and he taught at the Irving School for Boys in Tarrytown, New York, now Sleepy Hollow High School. Coincidentally, stories by Washington Irving also appeared in Weird Tales.

I don't know when or where he was ordained, but Arthur H. Styron served as minister at the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration, also called "The Little Church Around the Corner," in New York City. I wonder if his congregation knew that Arthur H. Styron also contributed stories to pulp magazines with titles like Hot Stories, Paris Follies, and Nickel Detective. Styron contributed two stories to Weird Tales, "The Lip" (May 1925) and "The Clock" (June 1925). Styron also wrote "The Artist of Tao" for Strange Tales of Mystery and Terror (Oct. 1932). Styron's other pulp fiction credits include stories for Brief Stories, Man Stories, Navy Stories, and War Stories. Now more evidence of a double life: Arthur H. Styron also wrote the books The Three Pelicans: Archbishop Cranmer and the Tudor Juggernaut (1932), The Cast-Iron Man: John C. Calhoun and American Democracy (1935), and The Last of the Cocked Hats: James Monroe and the Virginia Dynasty (1945). 

Arthur H. Styron died on September 8, 1958, and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Do two men lie in that grave?

Arthur Styron's Stories in Weird Tales
"The Lip" (May 1925)
"The Clock" (June 1925)

Further Reading
Arthur Styron's papers are at the University of North Carolina.

Arthur Styron's story "Betrayed" appeared in this issue of The Yellow Book in 1929. I can't say whether its ingredients included speed, sparkle, spice, or all of the above.
Another one-word title for a story: "Doubt," in Paris Follies, December 1933. I can't read the artists's signature.
Arthur H. Styron (1891-1958).

Text and captions copyright 2012, 2023 Terence E. Hanley

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Edgar Rice Burroughs and Weird Tales

On the anniversary of Percival Lowell's birth, I write of Mars. (1)

One hundred years ago, in February 1912, The All-Story began serializing "Under the Moons of Mars" by an unknown writer, Norman Bean. Story and author are now known by other names, for A Princess of Mars (as the serial was called in its book form) by Edgar Rice Burroughs (1875-1950) was the beginning of a very popular subgenre of fantasy fiction, the planetary romance. (2) As I write this, moviegoers across the globe are enjoying the latest incarnation of the planetary romance, a movie based on the story that started it all, called simply John Carter.

Theorists of fantasy fiction can split hairs as to the definition of the term planetary romance and its related subgenres, science fantasy, space opera, swords and planets, sword and sorcery, and heroic fantasy. Where one stops and the next begins is a question too large for a blog entry. (The term interplanetary romance may as well be considered a synonym of planetary romance.) Burroughs' stories of Barsoom--as Mars is known to its own inhabitants--might best be considered the model, and a definition drawn from therein. Science fiction critic Gary K. Wolfe defined the term as "broadly, an adventure tale set on another, usually primitive, planet." More simply and concretely, you might describe a planetary romance as a swashbuckling fantasy in the mode of Captain Blood, Robin Hood, or The Three Musketeers, only with monsters, aliens, and maybe even rayguns and spaceships.

Edgar Rice Burroughs' byline never appeared in Weird TalesBy the time the magazine came along in 1923, the Chicago-born author was busy juggling two very successful franchises, John Carter of Mars and Tarzan, and selling his work to leading story magazines. With the proceeds, he purchased a California ranch, naming it Tarzana, and established his own publishing company, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. Both are still in existence. It's worth noting, however, that Burroughs submitted a story to Weird Tales in 1929. Entitled simply "Beware"--a warning to editors as much as anything--it must have come from the bottom of his pile of manuscripts. In responding to Burroughs' submission of the tale, Robert H. Davis of The All-Story called it "the nearest approach to mediocrity that ever came from your pen." It's probably safe to assume that Burroughs saved his best work for magazines that paid a higher rate than that paid by "The Unique Magazine." In any case, Burroughs turned down Weird Tales' offer of $230 for "Beware." Instead, after making the rounds of editorial offices for close to two decades, "Beware" was rewritten by Raymond Palmer of all people and published in Fantastic Adventures in July 1939 as "The Scientists Revolt." Burroughs' take after all those years: $245.

Nonetheless, Burroughs appeared in Weird Tales in spirit if not in word, for a whole generation of science fiction and fantasy authors grew up reading his work. I would like to provide a complete list of planetary romance stories published in Weird Tales, but I'm not sure such a thing exists, and I'm afraid the primary source for compiling such a list--back issues of the magazine itself--are beyond my reach. Instead, I'll offer some highlights and suggestions for further research.

First comes Nictzin Dyalhis and his seminal work of science fantasy for Weird Tales, "When the Green Star Waned," from April 1925. Dyalhis' tale is noteworthy for a number of reasons, including the first known use of the term blastor (later blaster) for a science-fictional hand weapon. Also worth noting is the fact that--unlike every other early science fiction story you can think of--Earthmen are not the rescuers but the rescued in Dyalhis' story. It's up to people from Venus to save us from monsters from beyond earth. Incidentally, the story has nothing to do with Lin Carter's Green Star series of books. Finally, a sequel, "The Oath of Hul Jok," appeared in the September 1928 issue of Weird Tales.

Next, C.L. Moore, a star of the magazine during the 1930s, authored a series of science-fantasy stories with Northwest Smith as protagonist. An interplanetary adventurer and surely a model for Han Solo, Northwest Smith made his debut in "Shambleau" (Nov. 1933), a sensational story dripping with mood, color, and eroticism. Northwest of Earth returned in several more stories during the 1930s, the last being "Tree of Life" (Oct. 1936). Like "Shambleau," it was set on Mars. Burroughs inspired Catherine L. Moore (and her future husband, Henry Kuttner). Catherine in turn inspired Leigh Brackett, one of the more successful practitioners of the art of the planetary romance.

C.L. Moore's stories for Weird Tales gained her entry to H.P. Lovecraft's circle of correspondents. Halfway across the continent, Robert E. Howard was also part of that circle. Catherine broke the news to Lovecraft that Howard--a friend he had never met--had killed himself. Three years later, Weird Tales published Howard's own planetary romance, "Almuric," in a three-part serial in May, June/July, and August 1939. An uncharacteristic story from the creator of Conan, "Almuric" could almost have been one of the John Carter series.

There were of course others: Clark Ashton Smith, Otis Adelbert Kline, and Edmond Hamilton come to mind. I hope that readers can offer their own examples of the planetary romance, inspired by Edgar Rice Burroughs and printed in the pages of Weird Tales.

(1) Astronomer Percival Lowell was born on March 13, 1855, in Boston, Massachusetts. From an observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, Lowell studied Mars and its perceived surface features. His books, Mars (1895), Mars and Its Canals (1906), and Mars As the Abode of Life (1908), helped fuel the popular notion that the red planet was inhabited by intelligent life forms. It's probably no coincidence that three works of science fiction, The War of the Worlds (1898), Lieutenant Gullivar Jones: His Vacation (1905), and "Under the Moons of Mars" (1912), followed the publication of Lowell's findings. Unfortunately, Lowell's observations of Mars proved illusory.
(2) There were precedents, Edwin L. Arnold's Lieutenant Gullivar Jones: His Vacation (1905), for example. The situation is kind of like the European discovery of America, though: the Vikings may have been here first, but once Columbus discovered America, it stayed discovered.

"When the Green Star Waned" was Nictzin Dyalhis' first story for Weird Tales. It landed his name on the cover and proved the most popular story in the issue in which it appeared (April 1925) and of the year in which it appeared. "When the Green Star Waned" was also the fifth most popular story printed in Weird Tales between 1924 and 1940. The cover art was by Andrew Brosnatch.
C.L. Moore's Northwest Smith stories for Weird Tales were collected in this hardbound edition, entitled Northwest of Earth, in 1954. The cover art was by Ric Binkley.
Almuric, by Robert E. Howard, originally published in Weird Tales in 1939 and reprinted in this Ace paperback edition in 1964 with cover art by Jack Gaughan. 
Finally, the cover of Weird Tales for January 1933. The cover story is "Buccaneers of Venus" by Otis Adelbert Kline. The cover art was by J. Allen St. John, the artist who perhaps more than any other is associated with the fiction of Edgar Rice Burroughs. St. John (1872-1957) was a near contemporary of Burroughs, and like the author, hailed from Chicago. He also created nine covers and numerous interior illustrations for Weird Tales.

Text and captions copyright 2012, 2023 Terence E. Hanley

Monday, March 12, 2012

Bodo Wildberg (1862-1942)

Pseudonym of Heinrich Ludwig William Gabriel Dickinson
Aka Heino Louis Bodo von Dickinson-Wildberg
Poet, Playwright, Author, Translator, Editor
Born August 7, 1862, Lemberg, Austrian Empire (now Lviv, Ukraine)
Died January 31, 1942, Berlin, Germany

Bodo Wildberg was born on August 7, 1862, in the Austrian Empire city of Lemberg (now Lviv, Ukraine), a son of British-Austrian aristocracy. His father was Heinrich August Dickinson, Esquire (1822-1866), a major in the Austrian army and a descendant of Edmund Dickinson, a physician and alchemist in the court of King Charles II of England. Wildberg's mother was Maria Theresa, the widowed Baroness von Escher, born Baroness von Hennet and well placed in Prague. Major Dickinson was killed in 1866 in the Battle of Königgrätz during the Austro-Prussian War. Sometime after that and before 1876, his son attended school in Dresden. In 1876, the boy matriculated at the Theresianum in Vienna. Later he studied in Prague. The subjects of his study included law, philosophy, and philology. During his working life and into retirement, Wildberg lived in Teplice-Šanov, Dresden, and Berlin. To compound the loss of his father, Wildberg's son was killed in France during World War I.

Bodo Wildberg is an obscurity, little known even in his own country despite his long career, his sizable output, and his association with the renowned German poet Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926). His nickname, Bodo, was once a common name in his native land, especially during the Middle Ages. I don't  know the source of the second half of his pseudonym, Wildberg, although it may have been a surname from his mother's family. Bodo Wildberg's first published works--verse and plays--went into print in the 1880s. The author's first foray into the world of the macabre and supernatural was a collection with a title translated as Death Shoots, which can also be translated as Deadly Instincts and Deadly Urge (1894). Other collections followed: Dark Stories (1910), The Snakeskin and Other Strange Stories (1911), and The Sixth Panther and Other Stories (1912). Wildberg also wrote novels of fantasy and adventure and translated works by Edgar Allan Poe into German. He was known to American readers perhaps only for the stories "The Sixth Panther," published in Young's Magazine in July 1911, and "The Snakeskin Cigar Case," published in Weird Tales in July 1936. According to a German Wikipedia entry, Wildberg's work was mainly in the category of fantasy and is comparable to the work of British writers H. Rider Haggard (1856-1925) and John Beresford Davies (1873-1947). A Russian website compares him to Robert Louis Stevenson and Edgar Rice Burroughs among others. According to reader Lars Dangel, Wildberg was extremely wealthy and unconcerned with material success as an author.

Wildberg died in Berlin on January 31, 1942, at age seventy-nine. What I have read of him sounds very intriguing. I hope that more of his works will someday be translated into English.

Bodo Wildberg's Story in Weird Tales
"The Snakeskin Cigar Case" translated by Roy Temple House (July 1936)

Further Reading
A list of works by and about Bodo Wildberg appears in the German Wikipedia entry on him. You can find it by clicking here.

Author Bodo Wildberg (1862-1942)
The same photograph on the cover of what appears to be a journal or pamphlet an advertising stamp. [See the note below for a correction.] The title "The Sixth Panther" appears below his signature. I hope that a German reader can shed some light on this image and on Wildberg himself.
Postscript (Feb. 15, 2013): I have heard from a reader and collector on Bodo Wildberg. I will quote him directly: The bottom picture "shows an advertising stamp. These stamps were collectibles and very popular around 1900. Many companies (cigarettes, food, zoo, publishers, industrial companies, etc.) gave them away to promote their work. Today they are very hard to find as in 1920 they were already out of fashion." The stamp shows the cover of The Sixth Panther and Other Stories. Thanks to Lars Dangel for further information, corrections, and clarifications. Thanks to Mr. Dangel also for corrections to Wildberg's names.

Text and captions copyright 2012, 2023 Terence E. Hanley

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Drury D. Sharp (1886-1960)

Aka D.D. Sharp
Writer, Farmer
Born November 10, 1886, Queen City, Texas
Died August 25, 1960, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Drury Dubose Sharp was born on November 10, 1886, in Queen City, a community squeezed into the northeast corner of Texas. (1) From there it was ever westward. In 1900: Sherman, Texas; in 1918: Fort Worth; in 1920 and 1930: San Antonio, New Mexico, where Sharp finally reached what must have been his dream: to be a writer. (2) His first published story was for Weird Tales. It was called "The Goddess of the Painted Priests," and it appeared in the April 1929 issue. Sharp followed that with his second and last story for "The Unique Magazine," "In the Toils of the Black Kiva" from October 1929. Between those two dates, Science Wonder Stories published Sharp's most famous and enduring tale, "The Eternal Man," a melancholy if not despairing meditation upon human existence (Aug. 1929). "The Eternal Man" has been reprinted again and again, about once every decade since its first appearance. Its protagonist, Herbert Zulerich, returned in a sequel, "The Eternal Man Revives," in Wonder Stories Quarterly in the summer of 1930.

After his initial success, D.D. Sharp submitted stories to a number of pulp magazines, mostly in the genre of science fiction. Between 1930 and 1944, his work was published in Startling Stories, Astounding Stories, Marvel Science Stories, Astonishing Stories, Marvel Stories, Thrilling Wonder Stories, Captain Future, and finally Jungle Stories. Sharp also shared a spot with Clyde Farrar in volume 12 of Hugo Gernsback's Science Fiction Series, a collection of eighteen pamphlets published from 1929 to 1932.

During the 1930s, Drury Sharp worked for the Federal Writers' Project under the WPA. He wrote about the history and people of his adopted home state of New Mexico. The last credit I can find for him in his own lifetime is a bit of non-fiction called "Prayer Stick Vengeance," published in The Desert Magazine in August 1957. The story of a curse, it combines the author's interests in the strange and fantastic with his home country.

Drury D. Sharp died in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on August 25, 1960. A dozen years later, Eerie Publications adapted one of his stories to its comic book title, Terror Tales (Vol. 4, No. 6).

(1) Sources on the Internet give Sharp's birth year as 1880. Census records and his World War I draft card agree on a birth year of 1886.
(2) Science fiction author Jack Williamson (1908-2006) arrived in New Mexico in 1915 with his family. Though a generation younger than Sharp, Williamson may have crossed paths with him in the small world of 1930s science fiction. Unfortunately, I don't have a biography of Williamson to consult. Update (Mar. 30, 2023): I checked the index of Jack Williamson's autobiography. D.D. Sharp is not there.

Drury D. Sharp's Stories in Weird Tales
"The Goddess of the Painted Priests" (Apr. 1929)
"In the Toils of the Black Kiva" (Oct. 1929)

Further Reading
You can read a reprint of "The Eternal Man" in a number of editions, including The History of the Science Fiction Magazine, Volume 1: 1926-1935, edited by Mike Ashley (Henry Regnery, 1974).

D.D. Sharp's byline appeared on the cover of his last known pulp magazine credit, "The Eternal Man" combined with "The Eternal Man Returns," in the first issue of Wonder Story Annual in 1950. The name of the cover artist is unknown.
Sharp and his story again made the cover of the digest-sized Famous Science Fiction in its Fall issue, 1968.  The art on the cover, almost certainly a reprint, was by Wesso.
Sharp's work was adapted to comics in Terror Tales, October 1972. I don't know the name of the cover artist.

Text and captions copyright 2012, 2023 Terence E. Hanley

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Kadra Maysi (1890-1969)

Pseudonym of Katherine Drayton Mayrant Simons
Aka Drayton Mayrant
Poet, Author, Historical Writer, Editor
Born January 21, 1890, Charleston, South Carolina
Died March 31, 1969, Charleston, South Carolina

Today, March 8, 2012, is International Women's Day and for the occasion I would like to write about Kadra Maysi, a woman with an exotic sounding name but solidly southern in origin. Katherine Drayton Mayrant Simons was born on January 21, 1890, in Charleston, South Carolina. As a writer, she used the pseudonyms Drayton Mayrant and Kadra Maysi, a contraction of her four names. She seemingly wrote in every form: novels, short stories, non-fiction, verse, drama, articles, reviews, and even a sketch for a ballet. Her first book, Shadow Songs (1912), a collection of poems, was issued a century ago. She followed that up with more volumes of verse, plus nine novels, two plays, and two collections of historical sketches. Katherine also contributed to the Charleston News and Courier and Names in South Carolina, a compendium of place names and histories, between 1955 and 1969. According to Find-A-Grave, she was the only woman elected president of the Poetry Society of South Carolina, and she won a number of awards from the society. She was also member of the John Doyle Writing Group.

Under the name Kadra Maysi, Katherine wrote three stories for Weird Tales. All have intriguing titles: "The Boat on the Beach" (Dec. 1930), "Conjure Bag" (Apr. 1932), and "The Isle of Abominations" (Oct. 1938). Although I have not read them, "Hag-Hollerin' Time," a poem from the 1939 Halloween issue of The Saturday Evening Post, and "The Lost Atlantis," a ballet performed by the Charleston Civic Ballet Company in 1964, sound like they might also fall into the category of fantasy. Katherine also contributed to The Art World, Contemporary VerseThe Lyric, Sea Stories, and Grit. I'll list her books in a future posting.

Although she traveled to Europe and Bermuda, Katherine Drayton Mayrant Simons seems to have stayed close to home for most of her life. Much of her work concerns her native state, its people, and its history. That state rewarded her with a doctorate in literature from Converse College, a women's college located in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Katherine Drayton Mayrant Simons died on March 31, 1969, in the city of her birth.

The Taking of Baghdad
By Kadra Maysi

Had you taken Rome of story, you had taken pomp and glory; 
Had you taken Codrus' Athens, where the broken marbles gleam, 
You had taken all the beauty of Ionia for your duty 
Where you took the courts of Bagdad, there you took the courts of dream! 

Did the sacred pave, I wonder, break before a genii thunder 
Underneath the cursed marching of the Christians in the street? 
When the muezzins are calling, while the eastern dusk is falling, 
Do you smell the orange blossoms and Damascus roses sweet? 

Are there veiled, averted faces which you pass in sheltered places 
With a heavy scent of attar and a sheen of cloth-of-gold? 
Have you found a caliph's chalice in some minaretted palace, 
Or the key to mosque and chamber such as Scherezade told? 

Under olive groves enchanted, where the date and fig are planted, 
Do you follow as the byways of the secret gardens lead? 
Where the nightingales are singing and the blazing pheasants winging, 
Have you found, bewitched, a princess hid in a pomegranate seed? 

Had you broken Persia's pinions, when the satraps sent their minions 
To the westward of the Iran for an empire supreme, 
You had taken all the splendour of which Asia was the vender 
When you took the courts of Bagdad, then you took the courts of dream.

From: Contemporary Verse Anthology: Favorite Poems Selected from the Magazine Contemporary Verse 1916-1920, Charles Wharton Stork, editor

Note: I have done my best to reconstruct this poem from a jumbled Internet source. If you find errors in it as it appears here, please let me know.

Kadra Maysi's Stories and Letter in Weird Tales
"The Boat on the Beach" (Dec. 1930)
Letter to "The Eyrie" (Apr. 1931)
"Conjure Bag" (Apr. 1932)
"The Isle of Abominations" (Oct. 1938)

Further Reading
The website Find-A-Grave offers a biography based on Katherine's obituary. It also has a photograph of her headstone. There are other sources on the Internet as well. "The Boat on the Beach," a ghost story that passes into the realm of the weird story, was reprinted in 100 Wild Little Weird Tales, selected by Robert Weinberg, et al. (Barnes and Noble, 1994).

Katherine Drayton Mayrant Simons, a portrait by Georgia artist Anne Nash (1884-1968).
Thanks to Francesca di Colloredo for suggesting this observance of International Women's Day.

Text and captions copyright 2012, 2023 Terence E. Hanley