Aviator, Author, Editor, Civil Servant
Born November 22, 1896, Sedalia, Missouri
Died October 1, 1984, Washington, D.C.
Joel Townsley Rogers was born on November 22, 1896, in Sedalia, Missouri, to Otis J. and Bertha T. Rogers. He matriculated at Harvard University with the class of 1918, but world events had other things planned for him, for on June 25, 1917, Joel Townsley Rogers joined the United States Naval Reserve. Based on his record of service (below), I presume that he entered active duty on August 19, 1917. According to a website with the heading "Joel Townsley Rogers-Writings," Rogers received his flight training at Hampton Roads, Virginia, and was sent to Pensacola, Florida, to be a flight instructor. He served there, in Miami, and in Rockaway, New York, the last being the station where he separated from the navy on August 15, 1919.
Once returned to civilian life, Rogers decided to give writing for the pulps a try. The FictionMags Index has his first published story as "Finders-Keepers," published in Telling Tales in July 1920. However, according to the previously mentioned website, Rogers, writing as Roger Curly, had a story called "The Battle Cruiser Lady" in Snappy Stories for February 18, 1920. We probably should assume for now that "The Battle Cruiser Lady" was his first story using any byline. Dozens more followed, the last coming with the end of the pulp era in the 1950s. They were published in Action Stories, Adventure, Air Stories, Argosy, Detective Fiction Weekly, Metropolitan Magazine, New Detective Magazine, Snappy Stories, Warbirds, and other titles. Rogers had only one story in Weird Tales, "Hark! The Rattle!" from the very first issue, March 1923. Other works in the genres of fantasy and science fiction appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Startling Stories, Super Science Stories, and Thrilling Wonder Stories. Incidentally, Joel Townsley Rogers was one of few pulp writers who crossed over into writing for slick magazines, for he had three stories in The Saturday Evening Post between 1943 and 1958.
In 1920, Rogers was in Washington, D.C., with his parents and siblings. He was still working in aviation, in this case in the private sector. In 1922, the young writer was a graduate student at Princeton University and an editor at Brentano's Book Chat, where he used the pseudonym Roger Curley, a reference to his own curly hair. Rogers' first book dates from about that time as well. Entitled Once in a Red Moon, it came out in 1923, the same year in which he was published in Weird Tales. By 1940, he was in New York and working as a freelance writer. His remaining books came after that, The Red Right Hand in 1945, Lady with the Dice in 1946, and The Stopped Clock, also called Never Leave My Bed, in 1958. Rogers' books have been translated into French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Icelandic, and German. I don't know what he did once opportunities in the pulps dried up in the 1950s, but he lived for another quarter century and died on October 1, 1984, in Washington, D.C.
To be concluded . . .
Joel Townsley Rogers' Story in Weird Tales
"Hark! The Rattle!" (Mar. 1923)
There are lists of Rogers' stories on The FictionMags Index, The Internet Speculative Fiction Database, and on a web page with the heading "Joel Townsley Rogers-Writings," here. The last website also has information on Rogers' family, life, and career. You can of course also do an Internet search, which will likely prove fruitful, as Rogers is a widely admired writer, especially for his book The Red Right Hand, about which I will write next.
|A military record for Joel Townsley Rogers, from U.S. Adjutant General Military Records, Harvard's Military Record in the World War (1921).|
|A passport photograph of Rogers, with his signature, from 1919.|
Text copyright 2016 Terence E. Hanley