Weird Tales was founded by Jacob Clark Henneberger (1890-1969), a Pennsylvanian by birth and a writer and publisher by trade. Henneberger arrived in the Midwest in 1919 and by the following year was in Chicago. In a letter to Joel Frieman from near the end of his life, Henneberger remembered:
Before the advent of Weird Tales, I had talked with such nationally known writers as Hamlin Garland, Emerson Hough, Ben Hecht and other writers then living in Chicago. I discovered that all of them expressed a desire to submit for publication a story of the unconventional type but hesitated to do so for fear of rejection. (1)
Long a fan of Edgar Allan Poe, Henneberger conceived of a magazine that might offer a safe place for well-known writers to delve “into the realms of fantasy, the bizarre, and the outré.” (2) That magazine was of course Weird Tales, and the first issue was dated March 1923.
A poet once wrote that the saddest of words are, “It might have been.” The history of Weird Tales helps bear out that adage. At the end of the magazine’s first year, for example, J.C. Henneberger offered H.P. Lovecraft editorship of Weird Tales if Lovecraft would move to Chicago. Lovecraft famously declined. But what of those first named writers? Who were they and did they ever contribute to “The Unique Magazine”? The answer to the second part of that question is easy enough, for neither Hamlin Garland, nor Emerson Hough, nor Ben Hecht wrote for Weird Tales. The answer to the first part takes a little more digging.
First: Hamlin Garland (1860-1940)
(1) Reprinted in WT 50: A Tribute to Weird Tales, edited by Robert Weinberg (1974), p. 4.
(2) WT 50: A Tribute to Weird Tales, p. 4.
This series originally appeared on the website of the new Weird Tales magazine. That website is no longer in existence; the only place you can read this series is here.
An extraordinary photograph of the Chicago skyline at about the time J.C. Henneberger moved his editorial offices from Indianapolis to the City of the Big Shoulders. The caption below comes from a source on the Internet:
This photograph was probably taken in 1925, since the vantage point seems to be the Tribune Tower (1925). The London Guarantee and Accident Building (1923; now 360 North Michigan Avenue), and both the Wrigley Building (1921) and its Annex (1924) are completed, while Wacker Drive, which opened in 1926, is under construction. Grant Park is still largely undeveloped. Illinois Central facilities dominate the area south of the river and east of the buildings that line the east side of a widened Michigan Avenue. Photographer: Kaufmann & Fabry Source: Chicago Historical Society (ICHi-51173).
Copyright 2014 Terence E. Hanley