Darrel Crombie (b. New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, 1915; d. New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, 2001)
“Darrel Crombie” was the pseudonym of Joseph Fraser Darby, the son of Joseph Edwin Darby (1882-1965), a British-born Canadian accountant, and his wife, a school-teacher, Marion Louise Fraser (1883-1965), who were married in New Glasgow on 4 September 1914.
Darby, as “Darrel Crombie,” published very little, but small-press publisher Donald M. Grant thought very highly of him. Grant published his only-known short story, “Wings of Y’vren” in the anonymously-edited paperback anthology, Swordsmen and Supermen (1972). A short essay titled “Ghosts Walk . . .” is a memoir of Darby reading Talbot Mundy as a youth. It appeared in Grant’s Talbot Mundy: Messenger of Destiny (1983).
According to Grant, Darby studied writing for more than two years in the mid to late 1930s via a correspondence course with Arthur Sullivant Hoffmann (1876-1966), who had been the editor of Adventure during its glory years 1912-1927. Grant also notes that Darby “began to crack the British market with poetry and fiction. But World War II rolled around, and a hopeful start was erased in a day.” Darby gave up writing creatively for more than twenty-five years (though he worked for years as a journalist). Through the late 1960s and early 1970s he worked on a trilogy to be titled The Priestess of the Silver Star, but he never finished it. In the mid-1970s, after Grant was shown an unpublished El Borak story by Robert E. Howard titled “Three-Bladed Doom,” he passed it on to Crombie for re-writing. Crombie reworked this into a 102 page typescript under the title of “Lair of the Hidden Ones,” but again he never finished it.
Darby’s pen-name took the “Dar” from his last name, expanding it to Darrel, and Crombie came from his summer home in Abercrombie, just outside of New Glasgow in Nova Scotia.
*I’m grateful to Nagzie Harb of Nova Scotia for supplying some information on Darby.