Thursday, December 13, 2012

Muriel Campbell Dyar (1875-1963)

Born December 31, 1875, Marietta, Ohio
Died November 21, 1963, San Diego City, California

Muriel Campbell Dyar was born on the day before the nation's centennial year began, on December 31, 1875, in Marietta, Ohio. Granddaughter of a professor and daughter of an oilman, she graduated from her hometown Marietta College in 1897. A 1905 directory of alumni listed her as engaged in "Literary Work" in Beverly, Ohio, a Muskingum River town north of Marietta. The 1910 census found her across the river in Waterford and living with her sister-in-law. Muriel's occupation was listed as "Writer for Magazine." That situation repeated itself ten years later when Muriel was counted this time with her brother-in-law in Downers Grove, Illinois. He was a banker, while she continued to write for magazines. By 1930, she had arrived on the West Coast and was residing with her cousin. Muriel Campbell Dyar had by then moved up to being an "authoress" of novels and stories.

The Fiction Mags Index has listed Muriel C. Dyar's stories, but that list (below) is incomplete, including as it does credits only from the period 1899 to 1912. She was also the author of a book, Davie and Elizabeth, Wonderful Adventures (1908).

  • "The Woman in Red" The Black Cat (Nov. 1899)
  • "Unmasked" The Black Cat (Mar. 1900)
  • "Benje’s Eulogy" Harper’s Monthly (Aug. 1903)
  • "Elizabeth and David" Harper’s Monthly (Sept. 1904)
  • "The Story of a Great Week" Harper’s Monthly (Mar. 1905)
  • "The Beau" Harper’s Monthly (Feb. 1906)
  • "The Valedictory" Harper’s Monthly (Mar. 1907)
  • "The Last Visit to a Scholar" Harper’s Monthly (Apr. 1907)
  • "Old ’Lijah Bale’s Escape" Harper’s Monthly (June 1907)
  • "Johnny Hall" Harper’s Monthly (July 1907)
  • "The Tea-Party" Harper’s Monthly (Jan. 1908)
  • "The Mother Bird" Harper’s Monthly (Apr. 1908)
  • "The Oversight" Harper’s Monthly (June 1908)
  • "The Man of Destiny" Harper’s Monthly (Nov. 1908)
  • "In the Other Room" Harper’s Monthly (Mar. 1909)
  • "Resignation" Harper’s Monthly (July 1909)
  • "Sleepyhead" Harper’s Monthly (Sept. 1909)
  • "On the Bird-Cage Road" Harper’s Monthly (June 1910)
  • "The Crime in Jedidiah Peeble’s House" Harper’s (Mar. 1912)

As you can guess, Muriel must have submitted her story "The Woman in Red" to The Black Cat not long after graduating college. In his introduction from Weird Tales (Summer 1973), Sam Moskowitz described the reaction to "The Woman in Red":
So tantalizing was the ending of this provocatively imaginative story that hundreds of letters poured in [to The Black Cat] asking for a sequel and big red letters across the top of the March, 1900 number presented it reading: "The Woman in Red--Unmasked!"
Weird Tales reprinted the story and its sequel in the first issue of its revived version in the summer of 1973. By then, Muriel Campbell Dyar had been gone a decade, having died the day before John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Her place of death was San Diego, California. Before that she had lived in El Cajon.

Muriel Campbell Dyar's Stories in Weird Tales
"The Woman in Red" (Summer 1973, originally in The Black Cat, Nov. 1899)
"Unmasked" (Summer 1973, originally in The Black Cat, Mar. 1900)

Further Reading
Muriel Campbell Dyar is briefly listed in Ohio Authors and Their Books, 1796-1950 (1962), edited by William Coyle.

Muriel Campbell Dyar was a prolific and popular author, yet I could find only one image relating to her life and work. It's this illustration by W.H.D. Koerner (1878-1938) for her story "Ann Eliza Weatherby's Trip to Town" from Harper's Monthly Magazine (1916)
Text and captions copyright 2012 Terence E. Hanley

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