Thursday, May 14, 2015

A. Merritt (1884-1943)-Part One

Aka W. Fenimore
Author, Journalist, Editor, Poet
Born January 20, 1884, Beverly, New Jersey
Died August 21, 1943, Indian Rocks Beach, Florida

Abraham Grace Merritt was a contemporary of Francis Stevens--Gertrude Barrows Bennett--and he was her champion, the man who persuaded the editor of Famous Fantastic Mysteries and Fantastic Novels Magazine to begin reprinting her stories in the early 1940s. Born on January 20, 1884, A. Merritt was just four months younger than Gertrude Barrows. His first story in the field of fantasy, "Through the Dragon Glass," was published in the November 24, 1917, issue of All-Story Weekly. Francis Stevens' first story, "The Nightmare," had been published just seven months before in the same magazine, in the issue of April 14, 1917. Like Stevens, Merritt was not an extremely prolific author of fantasy. If I have done my research correctly, then I count his total output as seventeen short stories and serials published from 1917 to 1936. That list is short enough to appear here in its entirety:
All of those stories have been reprinted multiple times, and the serials have been reprinted as whole novels. "The Pool of the Stone God," from American Weekly, was Merritt's only story published under a name not his own. His use of a pseudonym is understandable considering that Merritt was at the time on the staff of American Weekly. In 1937 he became its editor.

In addition, A. Merritt contributed to two round-robin stories:
  • "Cosmos" (seventeen-part round-robin serial in Science Fiction Digest/Fantasy Magazine, July 1933-Jan. 1935) (1)
  • "The Challenge from Beyond" (five-part round-robin story in Fantasy Magazine, Sept. 1935)
And he wrote a number of stories, essays, fragments, and outlines that were published after his death or fleshed out by others and, again, published posthumously. These include:
  • "The Fox Woman," a story completed by Hannes Bok and published in 1946
  • "The Black Wheel," a story completed by Hannes Bok and published in 1947
  • "The White Road" and "When Old Gods Awake," two fragments published in The Fox Woman and Other Stories in 1949
  • "How We Found Circe," an essay reprinted in Weird Tales, Winter 1973
Finally, A. Merritt was the author of many poems and pieces of non-fiction published in science fiction and fantasy magazines over the years. These include three letters to "The Eyrie," October 1929, October 1934, and November 1935. I should warn you that if you begin looking into Merritt's writing credits, you could easily lose your way. If I have left out any stories or have made any mistakes, I hope someone will offer corrections.

To be continued . . .

(1) Merritt's chapter of "Cosmos," "The Last Poet and the Robots" (Part 11, Apr. 1934), was, according to a quote from Mike Ashley on Wikipedia, "voted the most popular [and] a gem of a story."

Text and captions copyright 2015 Terence E. Hanley

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