Sunday, November 18, 2018

Sylvia Leone Mahler (1900-1972)

Pseudonym of Edith Chandler (Walker) Haubold
Author, Poet, Artist
Born January 21, 1900, Azusa Township, Los Angeles County, California
Died May 23, 1972, California

According to a description of the Ingo Swann Papers in the Ingram Library Special Collections at the University of West Georgia, Sylvia Leone Mahler was a pseudonym used by Edith Chandler Haubold. I'll take the library's word for it, as I haven't been able to find anyone named Sylvia Leone Mahler in public records or historical newspaper accounts. So . . . 

Edith Chandler Walker was born on January 21, 1900, in Azusa Township, Los Angeles County, California. Her parents were Charles H. Walker, a physician, and Lilian (Chandler) Walker. Tragically, Lilian Walker died on January 28, 1900, only a week after the birth of her daughter. Dr. Walker was left to rear his three girls, the twins Bertha Ellinwood Walker and Ethel Bardwell Walker, and the new baby, Edith Chandler Walker, on his own. However, in 1910, when the census taker came around, his mother-in-law, Stella B. Chandler, was there to lend a hand. The Walker family lived in South Pasadena then and for years afterwards.

Edith C. Walker graduated from South Pasadena High School in 1917. Twelve years later, in 1929, she married Georgia native Moritz Casper Haubold (1888-1966). He had been married before. Considering the ages of his previous wife and daughter and the year of his filling out his draft card--1918 the year of the Spanish Influenza--I hate to think what happened to them.

Moritz C. Haubold was nearly deaf, but the Haubold family got by. In 1930, he was working as a shipping clerk in a department store. By 1940, he and his wife had had a daughter, Lila J. Haubold. They lived in various places in southern California over the years, in South Pasadena (1930), Pasadena (1935), Monrovia (1940), and Temple City (1942). By that last date, Haubold was retired due to a disability.

Edith C. Haubold, alias Sylvia Leone Mahler, was an artist, author, and poet. I have been able to scrape together some of her credits:
  • Feathers from the Starry Swan by Bertha Ellinwood Walker, illustrated by Edith C. Haubold. Bertha E. Walker was of course Edith's sister. Her book was issued in a hardbound edition of 500 copies in 1940 by Harvey Parker of Hollywood, California.
  • "Colleagues" (short story) in Weird Tales, May 1943; reprinted in Weird Tales Canadian edition, September 1943.
  • Symbolic Drawings and Interpretive Poems by Sylvia Leone Mahler and Nazir Hassan, published in Los Angeles by Arrowswift Press in 1947.
  • "Of a Little Jade God" (poem) in The Beacon, April 1948.
  • "Strange Harbors" (poem). The date and place of publication are unknown. (See below.)
If you detect an occult-Eastern mysticism-New Age kind of vibe in those titles and credits, you might be on to something. Author, artist, and supposed psychic Ingo Swann (1933-2013) had access to artwork by Sylvia Leone Mahler. From the aforementioned description of Swann's papers:
26 Jul 1976 typed letter from Marian Pullen, of J.G. Ferguson Publishing Company, to Ingo Swann asking for help contacting Sylvia Leone Mahler so they can use her drawing Alpha as shown in Cosmic Art for their book. (one leaf), 1976
The book mentioned here is Cosmic Art by Raymond F. Piper and Lila K. Piper, edited and with a forward by Swann (1975). Cosmic Art does indeed have at least one piece of art by Sylvia Leone Mahler. (1) We should also remember that Pasadena, California, was kind of a hotbed of occult activity in the 1930s and '40s. Scientist and occultist John Whiteside Parsons (1914-1952) lived there, as did L. Ron Hubbard, at least for a time. Anyway, Marian Pullen's letter of 1976 to Ingo Swann was too late: Edith Chandler (Walker) Haubold, aka Sylvia Leone Mahler, died on May 23, 1972, at age seventy-two. She was buried at Rose Hill Memorial Park with her husband, who had preceded her in death in 1966.

Strange Harbors
A Poem
by Edith Chandler Haubold

Let me set sail for strange harbors, the crescent mouth
Of a languid land, laughing along the south,
Where men, dark bees, swarm, honey-tongued and bold,
Breasting the bar of breakers to uphold
Sweet fruit, soon tasted, gems too gladly sold . . . 
Wind, fill afresh the slack sails of my yearning . . .
No footprint on this shore and no returning.

For stranger harbors let me now set forth,
From breathless islands to the lock-lipped north,
Where men, lone trees, stand sheathed in fibers cold,
Indifferent to my figurehead of gold,
Blind to the worth my cargo could unfold:
Candles for starring stark oblivion;
Mirrors, redoubling vestiges of sun.

Hurled by hurricanes from pole to pole
Becalmed in beauty, without peace of soul,
East to West I plow the sapphire loam
And reap no harvest from the fleeing foam . . .
Let me set sail for the strangest harbor--home . . .
Landfall at daybreak, looming spires and slips
Where spent tides still the restless pulse of ships.

There, past slow-turning beacons, glad hands bring
The hawser to the rusted mooring-ring.
(How many years ago did I depart,
With cloud on the horizon of my heart?)
Before me wanderings I cannot chart,
For here a wider sea for questing lies,
And strange new harbors, in remembered eyes.

Sylvia Leone Mahler's Story in Weird Tales
"Colleagues" (May 1943; reprinted in Weird Tales Canadian edition, Sept. 1943)

Further Reading
None that I have found.

(1) In case you're wondering, Lila K. Piper was not Lila J. Haubold. She was actually Lila (Kehm) Engberg Piper of Mason City, Iowa, later of Syracuse, New York, and much too old to be the daughter of Edith Haubold.

The front cover of Feathers from a Starry Swan by Bertha Ellinwood Walker, sister of the illustrator, Edith Chandler (Walker) Haubold, from 1940.

An interior illustration from the same book.

And the front cover of Cosmic Art, in which at least one piece of artwork by Edith Haubold, working under the name Sylvia Leone Mahler, was published.

By the way, it occurs to me that Sylvia Leone Mahler may be a symbolic or totemic name: Sylvia for the forest, Leone for the lioness, and Mahler for a composer of sweeping Romantic music.

Original text copyright 2018 Terence E. Hanley


  1. "Mahler" is also the German word for (fine arts) painter. As Mahler the composer did not become widely appreciated until the 1960s, this may be a more likely reason for this choice of pseudonym.

    1. Dear Anonymous,

      Thank you for pointing this out. I agree with you that it's a more likely reason for her choice of a pseudonym.