Sunday, January 31, 2016

Abrach (?-?)-Part One

Born ?
Died ?

In my last entry, I wrote about how easily unanswered questions are being answered in this Internet age. Well, not so fast.

Abrach was the author of one story in Weird Tales, "The Plaid," from July 1952. The name is almost certainly a pseudonym. If you're looking for some deeper meaning to the word Abrach, you might think that it's made up of the first few letters of the magic word Abracadabra, with an h on the end of it. That doesn't do any good because it doesn't mean anything. Another possibility is that Abrach is related to the Greek magic or mystic word Abraxas or Abrasax, which may also be related to Abracadabra. But again, a magic-word explanation isn't a very good one. There are better clues in the story itself.

"The Plaid" is set in Scotland. It's a weird story rather than a fantasy or horror story or ghost story. In fact, the words weird, wraithuncanny, eerie, and rowan, all of which are Scottish or Old English in origin and all of which refer to the strange or supernatural, are in it. (1, 2, 3) The Scottish setting, words, and names are clues as to the author's name or place of origin, if not his identity.

As it turns out, Abrach is a Scottish surname, also part of a clan name. (4) Curiously, abrach is also a word used in reference to stones, specifically a kind of millstone or grinding stone. From History of Corn Milling, Volume 1: Handstones, Slaves & Cattle Mills by Richard Bennett and John Elton (1898):
The peculiar term "abrach," applied to these kind of stones, has reference not to their nature or quality, but to their supposed place of origin, the term "abrach," or, more correctly, "aberach,"indicating an origin in Lochaber; though, curiously enough, the stone from which abrach querns were made is not found at Lochaber. As a rule, the abrach was smaller than the ordinary quernstone. (p. 159)
A quernstone is a hand grinding stone, while Lochaber is a region in the west Scottish Highlands. (5) Aberach, like Abrach, is a Scottish surname or clan name originating in Lochaber. The root of the word is aber, meaning estuary or the mouth of a river or the confluence of two rivers. Abrach or Aberach would seem to have originated in a place with just such a body of water, such as in Lochaber. The meaning of the place name Lochaber seems to have been lost. (6) 

So Abrach is a Scottish surname and probably an indication as to its place of origin. Those facts lead me to believe that the author of "The Plaid" was a Scottish author, or a British, Canadian, or American author of Scottish descent or with close ties to Scotland. He or she may have been of the clans from which the Abrachs came, or have had origins in Lochaber. Weird Tales was full of stories from Scottish, British, Canadian, and Scottish-American authors. The editor, Dorothy McIlwraith (1891-1976), was also of Scottish descent. Although she was born in Canada, her grandfather came from Scotland, more precisely from Ayrshire, adjacent to Lochaber. She also received her education, in part, from Scotland, though by correspondence. And she traveled to Scotland at least once. "The Plaid" takes place during the war years, is told in the voice of a man, and is in the form of a letter written by a military man to another man, his friend, who works in government. It tells about things from a man's point of view and in a man's way. I don't think the author was a woman and almost certainly not Dorothy McIlwraith, although I wouldn't rule it out. However, I wonder if the Weird Tales editor got the story from a friend or acquaintance who was in the war and who preferred to remain anonymous for whatever reason. Now that the records and correspondence of Weird Tales are gone, we may never know.

To be concluded . . . 

Abrach's Story in Weird Tales
"The Plaid" (July 1952)

Further Reading
You can read "The Plaid" at, here.

(1) So is the Scottish word guddling, meaning to catch a fish with the bare hands. The synonym tickling is also used in explanation. I first heard of the practice when I lived in Missouri, where it's called noodling. So I find on Wikipedia that the origin of the word noodling is unknown. Ozark culture came from Appalachian culture as I understand it, and Appalachian culture is Scots-Irish. It seems to me that noodling is close enough to guddling for there to be a connection or derivation.
(2) The name of the stream in the story is Luath, no doubt drawn from the Irish, quick or fast. The names of the characters, Shemas, Johan, and Morag, are all Scottish names with English equivalents, but Morag is also the name given to a purported monster in Loch Morar, Scotland. The woman's name came first. The monster's name Morag is probably a pun on the name of the loch. The last name of the family in "The Plaid" is MacGillivray.
(3) In the story, a rowan tree grows in the yard "to guard the house from evil." Other plants are mentioned, too. All of these are at the beginning of the story. At the end, as a kind of bracket, is mention of a hazel tree. Like the rowan tree, hazel is supposed to possess magical, mystical, or folkloric powers.
(4) For example, the MacDonalds of Glencoe, a West Highland Scottish clan, is also called Clann Iain Abrach. Glencoe, I should note, is a town in Lochaber. The surnames Aberigh, Naverigh, and Naverich are related to Abrach and Aberach.
(5) Quern is another Old English word.
(6) Or at least confused. For a discussion of the place name Lochaber, see Transactions of the Gaelic Society of Inverness, 1886-1887, Vol. 13, pp. 258-259, here.

Text copyright 2016, 2023 Terence E. Hanley

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Marion Carrere (1906-1970)

Marion Carrère Black
Aka Marion Black Vaccaro
Poet, Author, Artist, Tutor, Friend and Traveling Companion
Born January 17, 1906, New York
Died April 14, 1970, Miami, Florida

I no longer have access to or ProQuest or some of the other sources I used when I began writing this blog. These past several months, I have been forced to take a different tack. I would like access to the websites I used before, but I'm making do without them, and it isn't as hard as I thought it would be. The difference between now and years past--even very recently past--is that these days there is so much more information available on non-subscription websites. The rate at which information is proliferating on the Internet only seems to be increasing. I can foresee a time when much of it--maybe all of it--will be free. So what does that mean to the researcher? Well, for one, it makes your life easier, but more importantly, it means that so many of the unknowns are going to drop away. I am seeing that for myself. If unanswered questions are the opposing force, I feel like I'm going to war against an army of cardboard cutouts. There is little resistance to inquiry. The facts are surrendered almost without a fight.

Here's a case in point: In The Collector's Index to Weird Tales by Sheldon Jaffery and Fred Cook (1985), there is listed a writer named Marson Carrere, author of the short story "The Guilty Man" from February 1924. That name, Marson, is a misprint. In the issue-by-issue index in the same book, the name is listed correctly as Marion Carrere. The identity of that person appears to be unknown, at least on the Internet. As I have said before, though, mystery attracts inquiry. The greater the mystery, the greater the intrigue. And the mystery of Marion Carrere went down with little fight.

The surname Carrere is not very common. In doing your research, you should begin with something that is unlikely to bring about your being swamped by thousands of results in your search. So a search for "Marion Carrere" gives this result:

That entry is from Who's Who in New York, 1907, p. 139, and there she is, Marion Carrère, born in 1906 to Reverend Robert Mickleberry Williamson Black and Clara Elliott (Atwood) Black. So in searching for "Marion Carrere Black," I came up with this article:

That article comes from the New York Sun, March 6, 1934, page 3, and tells of Marion Carrere [sic] Black's lineage and of her impending wedding to Regis Vaccaro of New Orleans. So now I had her married name. And what does a search for "Marion Black Vaccaro" give back? Everything.

Marion Carrère Black Vaccaro was a close friend of Tennessee Williams, "at one point," he wrote in his Memoirs, "she was perhaps my most devoted friend . . . ." (p. 63) Tennessee Williams (1911-1983) and the researchers who study him and his life have written much about her, so I won't duplicate their efforts. Instead, I'll just refer you to their work:
  • Memoirs by Tennessee Williams (Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Co., 1975)
  • "Tenn and the Banana Queen: The Correspondence of Tennessee Williams and Marion Black Vaccaro" by Philip C. Kolin, from The Tennessee Williams Annual Review, 2006, online here.
  • "Marion Black Vaccaro" on Find A Grave, here.
That's a start. There are other sources in print, online, and tucked away in the world's libraries. Philip C. Kolin's article is particularly good and thorough. It gives a window onto worlds that are now gone forever.

Tennessee Williams described his friend Marion as "a well-educated woman with fine taste in literature," adding, "she was a very talented poet." (Memoirs, p. 63) (1) Under the name Marion Carrere, she wrote a little for Breezy Stories, Droll Stories, and Weird Tales. Her only story for "The Unique Magazine" appeared in the February 1924 issue. She had just turned eighteen years old when it was published, and it may have been her first such work. Williams' only story for Weird Tales, "The Vengeance of Nitocris," was published in August 1928 when he was seventeen, and it was in fact his first published story. The two didn't meet until many years later, in 1941. I wonder if they ever talked about their common experience of being teenaged authors for Weird Tales.

In his article on their friendship, Mr. Kolin tells of a book of poems (and one story) handwritten and illustrated by Marion Vaccaro, which came into Williams' possession after her death. Mr. Kolin writes: "[T]he prevalence of death and other pessimistic subjects perhaps suggest Williams's influence." Maybe there are more weird tales from the pen of Marion Carrère waiting to be published. Here are her known credits otherwise:
  • "The Guilty Man" in Weird Tales (Feb. 1924)
  • "Traveling Expenses" in Droll Stories (Apr. 1924)
  • "Confession" in Breezy Stories (June #1, 1924)
  • "Presence of Mind" in Droll Stories (June 1924)
That's not the end of her work in the worlds of fantasy and science fiction, however. This is the strange part: Marion Black Vaccaro was a production assistant on Wild Women of Wongo, a movie about cavewomen released in 1958.

Marion's later years were marked by health problems and concerns about aging. Marion Carrère Black Vaccaro died on April 14, 1970, in Miami, Florida, at age sixty-four. Tennessee Williams survived her by nearly a quarter century and died on February 25, 1993, in New York City.

As for the unanswered questions that are so rapidly being answered, well, I hope we will always have mysteries, as a universe without mysteries wouldn't be very interesting at all.

(1) Williams called Marion's husband, Regis Vaccaro (1907-1946), "a likable guy" but "the worst alcoholic I have ever known in my life." Drunk, sober, or somewhere in between, he once removed his glass eyeball and flung it at his mother-in-law. It landed in her soup bowl. "[W]ithout a change of expression or intonation," Williams remembered, she dipped it out with her spoon, passed it to Marion, and said to her, "Sister, I think Regis has lost this." (Memoirs, pp. 65-66).

Wild Women of Wongo (1958) has among its credits Marion Black Vaccaro as production assistant.

The year before, Tennessee Williams had dedicated his play Orpheus Descending to her. Here they are together. "She was not a classic beauty," he wrote after her death, "but she had great charm and animation. . . . I loved her deeply . . . ." (Memoirs, pp. 63 and 68)

Original text copyright 2016, 2023 Terence E. Hanley

Monday, January 25, 2016

Edith de Garis (ca. 1874-1950)

Née Edith Wild
Journalist, Author, Teacher
Born March 29, 1874 (?), Waterford, New York
Died July 13, 1950, Albany, New York

The authors and artists who contributed to Weird Tales came from all walks of life and lived in earth's every quarter. Their lives and experiences were varied beyond description. They of course included men who went to war, in the Great War, before the magazine was founded, and afterwards in the Second World War and the Korean War. One teller of weird tales was even kept as a Japanese prisoner of war. Surprisingly that POW was a woman.

Edith Meeker de Garis, born Edith Wild on March 29 in or about 1874, in Waterford, New York, was the second wife of Frederic de Garis of Tacoma, Washington, later of Patchogue, Long Island. (1) Frederick de Garis' first wife was Isabel Carman (1855-1903), whom he married on November 11, 1891, in Patchogue. She died a dozen years later on her forty-eighth birthday. I don't know the date or place of Frederic de Garis' marriage to Edith Wild, but by 1922, she had taken his name and was living in Japan, having first arrived in the archipelago in 1917. Then or later, she wrote for the Japan Advertiser and the Japan Times.

Edith de Garis visited Patchogue in early 1922. Her husband was then still in Japan where he served as "director of publicity and editor of the English edition of the guide books of the Japanese Government Railway." (2) Over the course of his career in Japan, de Garis wrote Their Japan with Gaines Sensai (1936) and We Japanese (volume one, 1934). He was also an inventor. Edith wrote a piece on Japanese astrology for her husband's book We Japanese. She also wrote a story for Weird Tales, "The Dragon Girl," published in the January 1932 issue of the magazine.

After Frederic de Garis died in 1935, Edith de Garis taught at Tsuda College, a women's college; Aoyama Gakuin; and St. Margaret's High School, an Episcopal school for girls located in Tokyo. Although she returned to the United States at least once before the war began, Edith was back in Japan by 1942. On September 16, 1942, she was taken prisoner by the Japanese government and confined to a prison facility within a Catholic orphanage. A source on the Internet states that Edith was held at Sekiguchi-Koishikawaku Civilian Camp near Tokyo for four years, but one or both of those pieces of information are in error, as she departed Japan for the United States on September 14, 1943. You can read about her internment in a newspaper article called "Aunt of Local Resident Arrives on 'Gripsholm' from Japan: Mrs. Edith deGaris [sic] Tells of Experiences While Interned in East" in the Mill Brook Round Table (New York), December 17, 1943, page 1, here.

Edith Wild de Garis lived another six and a half years after being freed. She died on July 13, 1950, at Child's Hospital in Albany, New York.

(1) One source claims that Frederic de Garis was a pseudonym for Shozo Yamaguchi, but that claim is in doubt. On the other hand, de Garis is hard to find in public records and I have almost nothing about him. I hope someone can help clear up the confusion.
(2) In "Notes from the Advance Files, 35 Years Ago, March 31, 1922," Patchogue Advance, Mar. 28, 1957.

Edith de Garis' Story in Weird Tales
"The Dragon Girl" (Jan. 1932)

Further Reading
The obituary of Edith de Garis, "Former Prisoner of Japan During War Succumbs in Albany," was in the Troy, New York, Times Record on July 14, 1950, page 12.

Text copyright 2016, 2023 Terence E. Hanley

Friday, January 22, 2016

Mrs. Edgar Saltus (1883-1960)

Née Marie Florence Giles
Poet, Novelist, Short Story Writer, Biographer
Born May 15, 1883, Morristown, New Jersey
Died March 20, 1960, Hollywood, California

Weird Tales was a magazine with a special appeal to women, and, in general, there was no shame or embarrassment in having one's name in its pages. Most of the women who contributed to the magazine used their own names. A few employed pseudonyms or their first and middle initials. Fewer still--three at least--used their husband's names: Mrs. Chetwood Smith (Mary Chapin Smith), Mrs. Harry Pugh Smith, and Mrs. Edgar Saltus. In their time, not many readers would have known the names of the two Smiths. There would not have been much cachet there. But in the early part of the twentieth century, Edgar Saltus (1855-1921) was a familiar figure among the reading public. Being known as Mrs. Edgar Saltus would have carried some weight and probably helped to sell a few books.

Mrs. Edgar Saltus was born Marie Florence Giles in Morristown, New Jersey, on May 15, 1883--or at least that's the year on her memorial. According to a contemporary article in The Writer (below), Marie F. Giles published her book The End of the Journey when she was seventeen. As near as I can make out, the year of publication for that book was 1897, meaning she was born in about 1880 rather than 1883. In any case, Marie began writing when she was quite young and had her first books published before she was twenty. Following is a list of her works:
  • The End of the Journey (New York: G.W. Dillingham Co., 1897)
  • Though Your Sins Be as Scarlet (New York: F. Tennyson Neely, 1898)
  • Her Game of Consequences (New York: F. Tennyson Neely, 1898)
  • "As a Man Thinketh" (short story) in The Arena, July 1902
  • "Kaivalya" (short story) in Weird Tales, Dec. 1924
  • "Reincarnation" (poem) in Argosy All-Story Weekly, May 2, 1925
  • Edgar Saltus: The Man (biography, 1925)
  • Poppies and Mandragora (verse, 1926) by Edgar Saltus and Marie Giles Saltus
The following article tells a little more about her:

From The Writer, Volume 15 (1902), p.  152.

Marie Giles met her future husband when she was quite young as well. Early into her writing career and imagining herself "an embryonic Ouida," she was introduced to Edgar Saltus on the beach at Narragansett Pier in Rhode Island. The year was probably no later than 1900. He was then more than twice her age and married to his second wife. (1) "Startlingly handsome," with a reputation as "a Don Juan and a Casanova rolled into one," he immediately began wooing young Marie. In their first conversation, they spoke of reincarnation among other things. "From the time I was able to think at all," she told him, "I remembered many events from former lives." Whether by her prompting or his own searching, Saltus "began to study along a new line," Marie remembered, continuing:
Puzzled and confused as to what he really believed, he agreed to study the sacred books of the East. None were omitted,--the Zend-Avesta, the Upanishads, the Vedas, the Mahabharata--with its jewel the Bhagavad-Gitâ,--the Egyptian Book of the Dead,--the Talmud and the Koran.
     Between their leaves he found a new world. Thereafter he was forever digging for jewels,--which when found dazzled him with their beauty. With the enthusiasm Balboa may have felt at discovering an unknown ocean, Mr. Saltus went up the heights to the Garden of God, steeping himself in the perfume of occult and esoteric lore. Subconsciously, he had found food for his soul.
If he was in fact a seeker of wisdom and truth--as we all are, each in his or her own manner--then it can be little wonder that Edgar Saltus fell in love with Marie Florence Giles, for she had given him "food for his soul." (2)

In 1909, Edgar Saltus made a confession of faith, announcing that he had found in Theosophy "a solution to the mystery of life": 

From the Los Angeles Herald, Sept. 9, 1909.

Although he didn't mention Marie Giles in the article above, Saltus seems to have owed his achieving "complete contentment" to her. According to John V. Glass, she was the person who "introduced him to theosophy [sic] and the occult." (3)

After many years of chasing after the young authoress, Saltus finally secured a divorce from his second wife, and he and Marie were married on August 16, 1911. They spent the next decade together until his death on July 31, 1921. She recounted their time together in Edgar Saltus: The Man, described as an "extremely intimate and sometimes scandalously frank biography of her husband." (4)

According to Wikipedia, "Kaivalya . . . is the ultimate goal of Raja yoga and means 'solitude,' 'detachment' or 'isolation'." It is also the title of Mrs. Saltus' only story for Weird Tales, from December 1924. She followed that up with a poem, "Reincarnation," in Argosy All-Story Weekly for May 2, 1925. Those two works, along with the short story "As a Man Thinketh," from The Arena, July 1902, are her only known genre works. They also involve Eastern mystical concepts. (5)

"As a Man Thinketh" is an interesting story for students of fantasy, science fiction, and their penumbrae. First, it shows that, even early on, Marie Giles was "deeply interested in metaphysical research and mental science," as the first article above says. That deep interest helped to convert her husband and seems to have carried throughout her life.

Second, the story is an example of how science, more accurately pseudoscience, became and is hopelessly entangled with pseudoreligion and science fiction. I would add pseudohistory to that entanglement as well. All as we know them--pseudoscience, pseudoreligion, pseudohistory, and science fiction--originated or evolved in the nineteenth century. The ideas behind Theosophy, Christian Science, and Lysenkoism (a twentieth-century outgrowth of the pseudoscience, pseudohistory, and pseudoreligion of Marxism) are evident in "As a Man Thinketh." Other such belief systems from the 1800s include the hollow earth theory, phrenology, mesmerism, spiritualism, and socialism. All or most have also shown up in science fiction and fantasy.

Finally, "As a Man Thinketh" has a construction that later readers of Weird Tales would have recognized: the club-story format, the upper-class milieu, the use of diary entries, newspaper articles, and other documents to tell part of the story, and, more than anything, the twist ending, right down to the shocking revelation in the last sentence, printed of course in italics!

Marie Florence Giles Saltus survived her husband by nearly forty years. She died on March 20, 1960, in Hollywood, California, at age seventy-six. Her earthly remains were cremated and placed in the Chapel of the Pines Crematory in Los Angeles. Two other people connected to fictional reanimation--Helen Chandler and Colin Clive--are also interred there. If she was right in her beliefs, Mrs. Edgar Saltus--Marie Florence Giles--may very well be walking among us today. (6)

(1) Edgar Saltus was married three times, first, to Helen Sturgis Read in November 1883; second, to Elsie Welch Smith on October 8, 1895; and third, to Marie Florence Giles on August 16, 1911.
(2) The quotes are from Edgar Saltus: The Man by Marie Saltus (1925). The entire text of the book is available on Project Gutenberg at the following URL:

(3) From "Saltus, Edgar [Evertson]" in The Continuum Encyclopedia of American Literature, edited by Steven R. Serafin and Alfred Bendixen (A & C Black, 2005), p. 986.
(4) From "In Brief Review," in The Bookman, Dec. 1925, p. 504.
(5) You can read "As a Man Thinketh" by clicking here.
(6) Marie Giles' grandmother was Mrs. Peter Darlington, who lived under every American president except George Washington until her death on August 20, 1899, at age 101.

Mrs. Edgar Saltus' Story in Weird Tales
"Kaivalya" (Dec. 1924)

Further Reading
Edgar Saltus: The Man by Marie Saltus (1925), link above.

You can read Marie F. Giles' story "As a Man Thinketh" by clicking here.

Marie Saltus in a painting from 1925 by Hope Bryson (1887-1944). This image is from Marie's book Edgar Saltus: The Man. The caption reads: "Sitting at the Table on which her Husband wrote his Books, burning Incense before a Siamese Buddha and meditating on a Stanza from the Bhagavad Gitâ." Hope Bryson's picture could almost have been a cover for Weird Tales.

Original text and captions copyright 2016, 2023 Terence E. Hanley

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Edgar Lloyd Hampton (1872-1951)

Editor, Publisher, Journalist, Author, Poet
Born June 25, 1872, Iowa
Died September 22, 1951, Los Angeles, California

Edgar Lloyd Hampton was born on June 25, 1872, in Iowa, but he lived most of his life on the West Coast. The 1893 catalogue of Pacific College, in Newberg, Oregon, lists a student named Edgar L. Hampton of Dundee, Oregon. Whether that was our Edgar or not, Hampton was in Seattle by 1900, working as a newspaperman. Hampton remained in that city for at least ten years, publishing and editing the Seattle Saturday Mail (ca. 1900) and working, possibly as editor, on the Seattle Mail and Herald (to 1904). In 1904, he purchased the weekly Commonwealth and began as editor on a journal called The Westerner, An Interpretation of the West. His associate editor was poet Ella Higginson (1861-1940).

By 1920, Hampton was in Los Angeles, and he appears to have lived in southern California for the rest of his life. He took a special interest in this rapidly growing region and wrote articles for a number of publications, listed below. Hampton was also an author of short stories, serials, and poems. Those, too, are listed below.

  • "With the Publishers" in The Westerner, Apr. 1909 and Nov. 1909
  • "They Made Us Strike" in The Saturday Evening Post, Apr. 12, 1919
  • "The Case for Boulder Dam" in American Review of Reviews, Dec. 1922
  • "Cheap Power As a City Developer" in SCB [sic], May 1923
  • "Los Angeles, a Miracle City" in Current History, Apr. 1926
  • "Los Angeles as an American Art Centre" in Current History, Sept. 1926
  • "Transporting a River Over Mountains" in Scientific American, Apr. 1, 1927
  • "The Open Shop Movement as an Aid to Prosperity" in Industrial Digest, Sept. 1928
  • "Curses on Our Climate" in Los Angeles Times, Jan. 26, 1932
Stories and Poems
  • "A Measure of Wheat" in The Saturday Evening Post, Jan. 10, 1903
  • "The Law Breakers" in Tulsa Daily World, Dec. 27, 1914
  • "The Outlaw" in Collier's, May 1, 1915
  • "Skippy Limited" in The American Magazine, Oct. 1915
  • "The Peace Call" (poem) in The Century, Mar. 1919
  • "Seeing Faces" in Detective Story Magazine, Sept. 16, 1919
  • "The Return of Foo Chow" in Metropolitan Magazine, Mar. 1920; reprinted in The Golden Book, Jan. 1928
  • "The Rolling Stone" in Sunset, The Pacific Monthly, Nov. 1920
  • "The Wind in the South" (serial) in McClure's, May 1921
  • "The Old Burying Ground" in Weird Tales, Sept. 1923
  • "Vanishing Fractions" in Argosy All-Story Weekly, Apr. 3, 1926
Hampton was the editor of at least one book, Then and Now: 100 Landmarks Within 50 Miles of Los Angeles Civic Center with compiler Mrs. A.S.C. Forbes (1939).

Edgar Lloyd Hampton died on September 22, 1951, in Los Angeles, and was buried at Glen Haven Memorial Park in Sylmar, California.

Edgar Lloyd Hampton's Story in Weird Tales
"The Old Burying Ground" (Sept. 1923)

Further Reading
None known.

A photograph and biographical snippet from Sunset, The Pacific Monthly, November 1920.

Then and Now: 100 Landmarks within 50 Miles of Los Angeles Civic Center, edited by Hampton (1939).

Text copyright 2016, 2023 Terence E. Hanley

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Edith Ogutsch (1929-1990)

Poet, Author
Born January 30, 1929, Essen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany
Died February 25, 1990, Los Angeles, California

Edith Ogutsch was born in Essen, Germany, on January 30, 1929. Her father, Wilhelm Ogutsch (1893-1944), was a cantor and a teacher of religion. Despite having served his country during World War I, he was Jewish, and so, under the Nazis, considered undesirable or an enemy of the State. On July 20, 1942, he and his wife were deported to Theresienstadt, a concentration camp in what is now the Czech Republic. At Theresienstadt, he taught and held religious services at a children’s home until his death from malnutrition and illness in 1944His wife and Edith's mother, Erna Katz Ogutsch (1893-1971), survived the war and in 1947 immigrated to the United States. She died in New York in December 1971.

When she was ten years old, Edith Ogutsch was sent by her parents by Kindertransport to London.  Eventually she was adopted by a British family named Acker in Manchester. Edith helped her adoptive family by working in their several hotels. In July 1947, she immigrated to the United States, where she was reunited with her mother and her aunt, Emmy Katz (1896-1977). Edith became a naturalized citizen in 1953.

Edith Ogutsch's poems were published in EnsignFiddleheadGood Housekeeping, Negro Digest, the Los Angeles Times, The New YorkerReader’s Digest, Riverside Quarterly, The Saturday Evening PostWormwood Review, and other publications. She was active in science fiction fandom and contributed to several science fiction and fantasy magazines. Following is a list of her genre poems from the Internet Speculative Fiction Database (except for the first item):
  • A poem in Challenge #4 (Spring 1951)
  • "Reflections of an Egyptian Princess While Being Interred" in Weird Tales (Jan. 1954; reprinted in The Diversifier #20, May 1977)
  • "Musings of an Insomniac" in Fire and Sleet and Candlelight (Arkham House, 1961)
  • "Premonition" in Fire and Sleet and Candlelight (Arkham House, 1961)
  • "A Recluse Answers" in Omniumgathum: An Anthology of Verse by Top Authors in the Field of Fantasy (Stygian Isle Press, 1976)
  • "Immortality" in Omniumgathum (1976)
  • "Listen! The Grass is Dying" in Omniumgathum (1976)
  • "Nightmare Number Ten" in Omniumgathum (1976)
  • "Me" in Fantasy Crosswinds #2 (Jan. 1977)
  • "The Parade" in Fantasy Crosswinds #2 (Jan. 1977)
  • "Lethal Lure" in Escape #1 (Fall 1977)
  • "The Vampire" in Escape #1 (Fall 1977)
  • "A Wish Come True" in The Diversifier #23 (Nov. 1977)
  • "To a Meteor in a Planetarium" in Fantasy Crossroads #13 (June 1978)
  • "Midnight Wine" in The Anthology of Speculative Poetry #4 (1980)
In addition, Edith co-authored a short story, "The Ideas," with Ross Rocklynne, published in Witchcraft & Sorcery #5 (Jan./Feb. 1971). And she wrote two published essays on Hannes Bok, "A Memorial for Hannes Bok" in and flight of angels: The Life and Legend of Hannes Bok (1968), and "The Rambunctious Bok" in Escape #1 (Fall 1977), the latter with Bok.

Like Bok before her, Edith Ogutsch was found dead in her home, in her case, in Los Angeles on February 25, 1990. She was buried at Home of Peace Cemetery in San Diego.

Here is a science fiction limerick by Edith Ogutsch:

The alkaloid natives of Pollux
Engage in the strangest of frollux--
They each get their kicks
Chewing alkali sticks
Which makes them, of course, alkihollux.

Edith Ogutsch's Poem in Weird Tales
"Reflections of an Egyptian Princess While Being Interred" (Jan. 1954)

Further Reading
Guide to the Papers of the Ogutsch and Katz Family, 1893-1988, at the Leo Baeck Institute Center for Jewish History, New York, New York.
You can see photographs of Edith Ogutsch and others at Fun-Con 1, from July 1968, at the following URL:

Here is a poem from The Children's Newspaper, a British newspaper, from March 17, 1945. It shows, I think, a young poet learning her craft. We should remember that when this poem of the joy of spring was published, the poet's mother was imprisoned within the Nazi Reich, her father had already died, and the continent of Europe lay in ruins.
Edith Ogutsch's first published genre work may have been in this publication, Challenge: The Poetry of the Atomic Age #1.4 (Spring 1951). Lilith Lorraine was editor. Also represented in its pages were Clark Ashton Smith, Stanton A. Coblentz, Evelyn Thorne, Vera L. Eckert, Orma McMormick, Isabelle E. Dinwiddie, Emili A. Thompson, Michael Wolf, Clive Jackson, Alan Donovan, Dariell Dunay, and others. 

Text and captions copyright 2016, 2023 Terence E. Hanley