Monday, November 11, 2013

O.M. Cabral (1909-1997)

Olga Marie Cabral
Aka Olga Cabral, Olga Kurtz
Office Worker, Poet, Author
Born September 14, 1909, Trinidad, British West Indies
Died December 6, 1997, New York, New York

O.M. Cabral was Olga Marie Cabral. She was not Everil Worrell and she was definitely not Kenneth H. MacNichol. So how did that piece of fiction begin? Who made the original assertion that Kenneth H. MacNichol used the pen name O.M. Cabral? Whoever it was fooled The FictionMags IndexWikisource, the Internet Speculative Fiction Database--and me, too. Fortunately, Weird Tales researcher Randal A. Everts corrected me, but not before I posted a biography of Kenneth Hartley MacNichol as the author known as O.M. Cabral. I have decided to leave that biography posted here, even though MacNichol was not a contributor to Weird Tales. I apologize for my error, and I'm glad to have this chance to set the record straight.

Olga Marie Cabral was born of Portuguese parents on the British West Indies island of Trinidad on September 14, 1909. She was taken by her parents, Anthony and Marie de Lourdes Cabral, to Canada shortly after her first birthday. The family lived in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, for some time, but by 1930, Olga was residing in Brooklyn, New York, and employed as a stenographer. (1) Like Catherine Lucille Moore, Olga worked in an office by day, but turned her interests to fantastic fiction. And like C.L. Moore, she used only her initials in her published stories. O.M. Cabral had four stories printed in the weird menace magazine Thrilling Mysteries in 1936-1938 before breaking into weird fiction in Strange Stories (1940) and Weird Tales (1941). Her credits in genre fiction and verse include the following:
  • "The Dead and the Damned" in Thrilling Mystery (Jan. 1936)
  • "Horror Has Blind Eyes" in Thrilling Mysteries (June 1936)
  • "Hell Flares on Howling River" in Thrilling Mysteries (July 1936)
  • "Drowned Men Never Rest" in Thrilling Mystery (Sept. 1938)
  • "Tiger! Tiger!" in Strange Stories (June 1940)
  • "Mirage" in Weird Tales (Jan. 1941; reprinted in the British edition of Weird Tales #3, 1942)
  • "Unhallowed Holiday" in Weird Tales (Sept. 1941)
  • "Electronic Tape Found in a Bottle" in Science Fact/Fiction, edited by Edmund J. Farrell, et al. (1974)
  • "Revenge of the Uvengwa" in Weirdbook #26 (Autumn 1991)
Beginning in the 1930s, Olga Cabral also had her poetry published in modernist and socialist magazines. Her first book of verse didn't appear until 1959. It was entitled Cities and Deserts, and it was followed by several more volumes: The Evaporated Man (1968), Tape Found in a Bottle (1971), The Darkness Found in My Pockets (1976), Occupied Country (1976), In the Empire of Ice (1980), The Green Dream (1990), and Voice/Over: Selected Poems (1993). Olga also wrote two books for children, The Seven Sneezes (1948), a Little Golden Book illustrated by Tibor Gergely, and So Proudly She Sailed: Tales of Old Ironsides (1981). (2)

Olga M. Cabral was married to Kenneth H. MacNichol, and in 1940, the couple were enumerated in the Federal census while living in Manhattan. That marriage would explain the conflation of the two writers, Olga Cabral and Kenneth MacNichol. Olga was also married to the Yiddish poet Aaron Kurtz. Born near Vitebsk, Russia, in 1891, Kurtz came to the United States in 1911. He wrote eight books of Yiddish verse, including Chaos (1920), Figaro, Plakaten, Marc Chagall (1947), and Lider (1966). Kurtz also edited and published the Yiddish poetry magazine Heintike Lieder. Kurtz died on May 30, 1964, in Long Beach, Long Island.

Kurtz's widow survived him by more than thirty years. Late in life she wrote:
I have lived through all the wars of this century, together with the rise of fascism, the Great Depression, the cynical witch hunts of McCarthyism, the atom bomb, the Cold War--I've seen it all. The twentieth century. My century.
Olga Marie Cabral Kurtz came into the world nine years after the twentieth century began and left it two years before its ending, on December 6, 1997, in New York City. Her brief obituary read: "Renowned poet and author, she enriched the lives of all she touched."

O.M. Cabral's Stories in Weird Tales
"Mirage" (Jan. 1941; reprinted in the British edition of Weird Tales #3, 1942)
"Unhallowed Holiday" (Sept. 1941)

Further Reading

(1) Olga Cabral attended George Washington High School in New York City. In 1926, she participated in the National Oratorical Contest.
(2) An actress named Olga Cabral appeared in a Portuguese science fiction movie called O Louco (1945), written and directed by Victor Manuel. I can't say whether this was the same Olga Cabral or not.

A poem by Olga Cabral, in which she sang of her island home:

The Music of Villa-Lobos
by Olga M. Cabral

Someone is speaking a lost language.
It is the music of Villa-Lobos.
I try to remember: where was I
born?  And from what continent
untimely torn?  I might have been
a priestess among the caymans
guarding the eye-jewel of the
crocodile god.  I might have sailed
orinocos of diamonds, seas of coconuts,
leased the equator for life and learned
my ancestral language.

But I have only some old sleeves of rain
in a trunk with spiders
to remember my ancestors by.
They have left me
nothing, and I have forgotten
that island of my birth
where the sun in his suit of mirrors
was seen once only with my vast fetal eye.

But in the music of Villa-Lobos
a god with a tower of green faces
comes striding across cities
of permafrost, and I am summoned
once again to the jaguar gardens
guarded by waterfalls
where the hummingbird people are at play
far from the cold auroras of the north.

from Tape Found in a Bottle (1971)

The Seven Sneezes by Olga Cabral (1948), illustrated by Tibor Gergely (1900-1978).

Following is a revised version of my original posting on Kenneth H. MacNichol:

Kenneth H. MacNichol
Author, Playwright, Journalist, Teacher, Lecturer
Born November 3, 1887, Canton, Ohio
Died June 29, 1955, Santa Cruz, California

On the occasion of Veteran's Day, formerly known as Armistice Day, I would like to write about a veteran of World War I. His name was Kenneth Hartley MacNichol and he was born on November 3, 1887 (some sources say 1886, others 1888) in Canton, Ohio. MacNichol began calling himself an author before the onset of the Great War in 1914. His first writing credits seem to have come from 1909. According to a later passport application, he served in France from July 1917 to June 1919. (The beginning date at least is questionable.) A blog called From an Oblique Angle says that MacNichol was a stretcher bearer before being transferred to the staff of Stars and Stripes. That blog, written by a man named Joshua Blu Buhs, includes a multi-part article on Kenneth MacNichol. I'll try not to go over the same ground as Mr. Buhs.

Kenneth H. MacNichol suffered from shell shock, what was later called combat fatigue and now PTSD. Separated from his wife and subjected to the strains and horrors of war, MacNichol not very surprisingly fell into the arms of another woman, Leonie Winckel. In December 1919, presumably after he had returned to the United States, she bore him a child. MacNichol's wife, Hetta Louise Eckel, for reasons we can only guess at now, took the child (and apparently the mother) into her own home. However, the arrangement did not work out, and both returned to Miss Winckel's home country of France. The result of all this was that Kenneth MacNichol became "temporarily deranged" and was placed under the guardianship of his wife. On his passport application of April 19, 1921, MacNichol's was called by a government clerk "the case of the irresponsible husband." The clerk wrote to his associate: "I would . . . address both passports to Mrs. MacNichols [sic] as he may destroy hers & skip alone to France." Evidently, both passports went to Mrs. MacNichol, for the couple traveled to Europe in the spring of 1921.

There was instability in the life of Kenneth MacNichol before that and for many years afterward. In his youth he lived in Ohio, New Mexico, Arizona, and probably California. The first of his several marriages (there were at least three) took place in Yavapai County, Arizona in 1913. His new wife was the same H. Louise Eckel who later became his guardian and later still his ex-wife. In the 1940 Federal Census, MacNichol was enumerated with another wife, the former Olga M. Cabral. MacNichol married again as late as 1953 in California. There was at least one and possibly two more wives between Hetta Louis Eckel and his wife of 1953.

During and after World War I, MacNichol lived in Barnstable and Boston, Massachusetts; Newark, New Jersey; Belle Mead, New Jersey (in a sanitarium during his breakdown); New York; London; San Francisco; and possibly other places. In that time, he worked as a newspaperman, lecturer, and teacher of writing. He also started his own businesses related to writing and books. According to Joshua Blu Buhs, MacNichol founded the San Francisco chapter of the Fortean Society. He also wrote plays, novels, non-fiction, and short stories. Wikisource lists his books and plays:
  • The King’s Idol (1909)
  • The Petaluma Product (1909)
  • Pan (play, 1917, presumed lost)
  • The Faerie Fool (play, 1918)
  • Enough Is Plenty (1918)
  • Home for Breakfast (1919)
  • That Kind of a Man (1920)
  • The Twenty-Seventh Story (1921)
  • He Missed the Train (1922)
  • The Affair Mouchard (1923)
  • The Devil’s Assistant (1923)
  • The Nose of Papa Hilaire (1923)
  • Freight (1923)
  • Between the Days (1925)
  • The Piper of Kerimor (1927)
  • Twelve Lectures on the Technique of Fiction Writing (non-fiction, 1929)
  • A Gamble in Gold Bricks (1931)
  • Murder Delayed (1935)
  • The Devil’s Well (1940)
  • Drums of the Dead (1940)
His genre stories and pulp fiction included the following:
  • "Murder Delayed" in Popular Detective (Mar. 1935)
  • "Murder in Vaudeville" in Detective Fiction Weekly (June 6, 1936)
  • "The Man Without a Face" in Doc Savage (Sept. 1938)
  • "Drums of the Dead" in Doc Savage (June 1940)
MacNichol also wrote for The All-Story Magazine, The Blue Book Magazine, Argosy, Blackwood's, and other magazines between 1909 and 1940. His writing credits seem to have dried up after 1941. In 1942 he was employed by the Newspaper Institute of America.

On June 26, 1955, MacNichol was riding in a bus in Santa Cruz, California, with his third or fourth or fifth wife Marie when it was struck by a train. MacNichol died from his injuries later that week, on June 29, 1955. His wife, though injured, survived him.

Note: Certain websites, without attribution, assert that Kenneth H. MacNichol used the pen name O.M. Cabral. They include The FictionMags Index, Wikisource, and the Internet Speculative Fiction Database (which refers to my own erroneous posting of November 11, 2013). In writing my posting on O.M. Cabral, I relied on those sources. I have since learned from Weird Tales researcher Randal A. Everts that O.M. Cabral was in fact Olga Marie Cabral, also known as Olga Cabral Kurtz. My posting on the author was incorrect. I have made corrections here. Although Kenneth H. MacNichol did not write for Weird Tales, I have decided to leave his biography posted here, with the right O.M. Cabral's biography posted above it. I have learned further that Olga Marie Cabral and Kenneth H. MacNichol were married at one time, and that's probably where all the confusion began over their identities.

Further Reading
You can read much more on Kenneth Hartley MacNichol in multi-part series of postings on the blog From an Oblique Angle by Joshua Blu Buhs.

Detective Fiction Weekly, June 6, 1936, with Kenneth MacNichol's byline on the cover.

Revised on March 28, 2015. Thanks to Randal A. Everts and Alistair MacNichol for corrections and clarifications.
Text and captions copyright 2013, 2023 Terence E. Hanley


  1. Olga Cabral was my Aunt on my mothers side and I was researching her and found this blog. Thank you for the write up.

    1. Kenneth MacNichol was my grandfather, interesting bio. On the 1940 Census Olga & Kenneth appear to be married?

    2. Dear Mr. MacNichol,

      Thanks for the very vital piece of information. Now we know where the confusion comes from.

      According to the 1940 Federal Census, Olga M. MacNichol, born ca. 1910 in the British West Indies, was enumerated in Manhattan with Kenneth H. MacNichol, born ca. 1886 in Ohio.

      I have updated my article. Thanks again.

      Terence Hanley