Thursday, July 21, 2011

De Witt Newbury

De Witt Newbury (b. New York, New York, 10 July 1888; d. Riverdale, New Jersey, December 1967)

De Witt Newbury published no books, but he was a frequent contributor to the pulps magazines in the 1940s and 1950s, specializing in westerns and in adventure stories, some of which were stories about the Vikings, all of which showcase Newbury's interest in history.
De Witt Newbury

He was born De Witt Mirrielees Newbury in New York, the son of George Newbury,  a shipping manager of Canadian and British descent, and his wife Jessie, née Mirrielees, whose parents came from Scotland and Wales. De Witt Newbury had an older brother and a younger sister; he seems never to have married.  Early in the twentieth century, the Newbury family moved to a house on the Pompton Newark Turnpike in Riverdale, New Jersey, where De Witt lived the rest of his life.  He worked for a time in advertizing, and then followed his father as the manager of a shipping firm, but in the late 1930s, he turned to writing.  His first pulp story seems to have been "Good Men's Luck" in Adventure in July 1939. This was followed by some Viking stories in Adventure, and further ones in Argosy in 1943 and, later in the decade, in Blue Book. He published one novelette, "A Man Can Swear", in Doc Savage (June 1946). Otherwise, he contributed more regularly to Frontier Stories, where eight tales appeared between 1946 and 1953.  His last known short story appeared in Western Short Stories in June 1954. 

In a letter to "The Camp-Fire" in Adventure in the July 1939 issue, Newbury revealed that his nickname was  "Doc", and he gave the following biographical information:
Have been a framer and a machine-gunner with the A.E.F., Company C, 105th Battalion. Have done some knocking around, had a brief and inglorious career as a commercial artist, and put in years of business hustling in New York City. Now I have dug into the old home acres to battle the depression. . . . I have always liked to write, and have always written.  More for pleasure than profit, though my stuff is published now and then.  I like to write fiction based on sound historical fact. About men who really lived and things they actually did.  The Norsemen are my favorites. I don't want to pose as a great authority on Scandinavian history, but I have done a lot of studying and thinking about them. They were the toughest, hardiest adventurers of all time.  And real humans, too.
The former home of De Witt Newbury, in Riverdale, New Jersey

NB: Thanks to Morgan Holmes for assistance on this entry.  

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Lyllian Huntley Harris

Lyllian Huntley Harris (b. Fulton County, near Atlanta, Georgia, September 1883; d. Sandersville, Georgia, 12 January 1939)

Lyllian Brantley Huntley was an only child whose parents divorced when she was young.  She was raised by her mother, Mattie May (Pringle) Huntley.  On December 5, 1905, in Macon, Georgia, Lyllian married John Joseph Harris (1881-1951), a lawyer (and after 1933, a judge). They settled in Sandersville, where both had grown up. They had no children. Lyllian Huntley Harris was a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy and Southern States, and lived most of her life in central Georgia.

Harris had only one significant publication, the short story "The Vow on Halloween" which appeared in the May-July 1924 issue of Weird Tales, the last of the large bedsheet style format. With the title spelled slightly differently (as "The Vow on Hallowe'en") the story was fraudulantly attributed to noted Irish writer Dorothy Macardle (1889-1955) by Peter Haining and included in his anthology Hallowe'en Hauntings (London:  William Kimber, 1984).  Haining even claimed the story had appeared in a 1922 issue of Eire, where it did not.  This is a typical example of the brazen fraud that Haining engaged in while putting together his many anthologies; the scope of this fraud has only become apparent in recent years.  "The Vow on Halloween" is being reprinted with its correct author name in Paula Guran's anthology Halloween, to be published by Prime Books in late September 2011. **UPDATE, see comments below: in the end this story was not included in Paula Guran's anthology.**

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Charles F. Hall

Charles F. Hall  (British, fl. 1938)

Virtually nothing is known about Charles F. Hall, beyond his stories.  (If anyone can tell me more about him, I'll be pleased to hear it.)  He published two stories in the short-lived British science fiction magazine, Tales of Wonder, edited by Walter H. Gillings. Sixteen issues of Tales of Wonder were published between 1937 and 1942.  Both of Hall's stories are imitative of H.G. Wells.  The first, "The Man Who Lived Backwards", appeared in issue no. 3 (Summer 1938). I reprinted this story in my anthology Tales Before Narnia (2008) because it is clearly the story C. S. Lewis mentioned as an influence on himself in his preface to The Great Divorce (1946). The second  story, "The Time-Drug",  is also about time, and it appeared in issue no. 5 (Winter 1938).

I can now confirm a third story by this writer, "Paid Without Protest," which appeared in the 8 October 1938 issue of a non-genre magazine The Passing Show (v. 7 no. 342), where is is signed "C. F. Hall."  That this is the same author is evidenced in the November 1938 issue of Novae Terrae, the first British science fiction fanzine, where it refers to Hall as "author of [the] hit story 'The Man Who Lived Backwards' " and notes the new story is about "an apparent television-phone" (p. 25), so it's a third science fiction tale. 

The cover of the issue of the "highly coloured" magazine of "scientifiction" containing Hall's "The Man Who Lived Backwards" which influenced C.S. Lewis's The Great Divorce
About the only biographical information I can find on Hall comes from  the Spring 1938 issue of Tomorrow, where it says that "A new British author whose work promises to be immediately popular appears in the person of C.F. Hall, a member of B.I.S., who contributes 'The Man Who Lived Backwards' as his first published story" (p. 6).  The B.I.S. is the British Interplanetary Society.

The noted science-fiction historian Mike Ashley has told me that he once asked Walt Gillings about the lesser-known contributors to Tales of Wonder, and Gillings noted "I never heard again from Charles F. Hall (real name) after running "The Time-Drug" in Tales of Wonder: a pity, because he was very promising in spite of sticking too closely to Wells." Gillings suggested that Hall might have been from Hull, but then wondered at the similarity between Hall and Hull (information courtesy of Mike Ashley).

So that's it.  Three short stories, all published in 1938.  And then silence.