Friday, December 21, 2018

H.F. Arnold

Henry Ferris Arnold, Jr.
Public Relations Man, Author, Realtor, Businessman
Born January 2, 1902, Galesburg, Illinois
Died December 16, 1963, Laguna Beach, California

H.F. Arnold was the author of the short story "The Night Wire," one of the most popular to appear in the pages of Weird Tales between 1924 and 1938. It was voted second-most popular in the issue in which it appeared and was in the top 50 in popularity of all stories published during that period. The subject of Arnold's story is a real-time report of a creeping, malevolent fog that overtakes a city called Xebico, located in some unknown place in the world, out beyond the walls of a lonely night wire office. "The Night Wire" is an unusual, inventive, and very memorable story. Readers loved it at its first printing and still do. It was reprinted in Weird Tales years after its original appearance and has been anthologized nearly a dozen times since. It has also been translated into German and French. The 1980 film The Fog bears some similarity to H.F. Arnold's story.

Henry Ferris Arnold, Jr., was born on January 2, 1902, in Galesburg, Illinois, to Henry Ferris Arnold, Sr. (1868-1927) and Anna Pauline (Ward) Arnold (1869-1936). Arnold the younger graduated from Knox College, his father's alma mater, in 1923 with a bachelor of science degree. In summers he worked for the commission that fixed the Canadian-American border in the area of Glacier National Park. Arnold worked in public relations for the movie business, also as a realtor and as a businessman. 

H.F. Arnold wrote just three published genre stories, two for Weird Tales, the third for Amazing Stories:
  • "The Night Wire" in Weird Tales (Sept. 1926; reprinted Jan. 1933)
  • "The City of Iron Cubes" (two-part serial) in Weird Tales (Mar.-Apr. 1929)
  • "'When Atlantis Was'" (two-part serial) in Amazing Stories (Oct., Dec. 1937)
The FictionMags Index lists three more pieces by a Henry Arnold and a Henry F. Arnold:
  • "The Cowgirl" (article) in Western Novel Magazine (Dec. 1929)
  • "Loco Weed: The Cowman's Foe" (article) in Western Novel Magazine (Jan. 1930)
  • "Out of Bounds" (short story) in Wings (Spring 1949)
I don't know whether this is our man or not.

Henry F. Arnold enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1942 and trained for the tank corps at Fort Knox, Kentucky. He served with General George S. Patton's Third Army in France and was wounded in the advance in the Saar region of Germany. Arnold recuperated at a hospital in England and was returned to duty in Germany after V-E Day. He separated from the army at the end of 1947 as a first lieutenant. His last duty station was in the United States.

H.F. Arnold lived in Hollywood early in his career and spent the last ten years of his life in Laguna Beach, California. On December 16, 1963, he choked to death on a piece of meat, presumably in his home on Laguna Beach. He was survived by his daughter, three grandchildren, and a sister and was buried at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego, California.

H.F. Arnold's Stories in Weird Tales
"The Night Wire" in Weird Tales (Sept. 1926; reprinted Jan. 1933)
"The City of Iron Cubes" in Weird Tales (Mar 1929)

Further Reading
See the website Find A Grave for more on H.F. Arnold, including a photograph. "The Night Wire" is in the public domain, and you can read it on a number of websites. You can read about the story and its author on the blog Sepulchral Stories by E.B. Neslowe in an entry of December 27, 2014, here.

"The Night Wire" by H.F. Arnold was the cover story of the June 1965 issue of Magazine of Horror, edited by Robert A.W. Lowndes. The cover artist was Fred Wolters.

Update (April 23, 2021): I'm not sure that I have the right H.F. Arnold, and so I have stricken the biographical information above while leaving the information on Arnold's writing career. I'm on the case again and will let you know what I find.

Text copyright 2018, 2021 Terence E. Hanley

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