F. S. Winger (b. Clay Lick, Pennsylvania, 24 January 1865; d. Chicago, Illinois, 5 March 1936)
Frank Stover Winger was the second of five sons of Elam Buckwalter Winger (1837-1904), a merchant, and Barbara Elizabeth Stover (1841-1891). Around 1889, in Chicago, he married his cousin May Porter Stover (1873-1944), the daughter of the wealthy Daniel Stover (1839-1908), who manufactured many things including a full line of Stover-brand gasoline engines, and the famous Henney buggy, from Freeport, Illinois. Frank Winger and his wife would have one daughter, Clare M. Winger (1891-1968), and one son, Stover Carl Winger (1893-1969). Under her married name, his daughter Clare Winger Harris became a pioneering woman writer of science fiction. Sometime around the beginning of World War I, Frank and his wife divorced, and later Frank married Emma May Finfrock (1871-1950), the widow of Louis Price Bennett (1866-1915) and mother of three adult sons.
E. F. Bleiler gives a lengthy description of the plot of the novel in his Science-Fiction: The Early Years (1990), concluding accurately that it is "amateurish." Perhaps the primary quality of the book is that it may have been a source of inspiration for Clare Winger Harris's early interest in science fiction.
Friday, April 26, 2013
Thursday, April 25, 2013
Robert T. Griebling (b. Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 9 November 1901; d. Tarentum, Pennsylvania, 1959)
Robert T. Griebling and his
brothers grew up speaking German at home, where they read Grimms fairy tales
and other German stories, including tales of the Rübezahl, and Struwwelpeter. Robert attended the University
of Wisconsin in Madison, studying journalism and graduating in 1922. His thesis was on James Gibbon Huneker as a
dramatic critic. He married Mary H. Hughes
(1902-1989) on 29 January 1927, and they settled near Pittsburgh, where Mary
Griebling worked as a school teacher, and Robert T. Griebling worked in
Robert Theodore Griebling was the oldest of three sons (three daughters died in infancy) of Oscar Griebling (1858-1928) and Louise Dammann (1867-1934), who were married in Milwaukee on 12 May 1897. Both parents were the children of German immigrants who had settled in Wisconsin. Oscar Griebling worked in insurance, and his wife Louise was a school teacher.
|Robert T. Griebling in 1922|
Some of Griebling’s early writings were included in the “Little Blue Book” series published by Haldeman-Julius of Girard, Kansas. These include the title essay of Snyder-Gray Murder Echoes (1928), and pieces on “The Greek Letter System” in The Revolt of Modern Youth (1928) and “On the Correcting of the Plebs’ in Small Town Humor (1929). One single short story, “A Wager in Candlesticks,” was published in Weird Tales magazine for May 1928. It is derivative of Richard Connell’s famous story “The Most Dangerous Game,” which had appeared in Collier’s Weekly for 19 January 1924 and which was filmed successfully in 1932. Griebling’s variation has a Russian aristocrat killing people in candlestick duels. After this Griebling apparently ceased publishing, until he collaborated with his two brothers on a pamphlet, The Story of Oscar Griebling on the Observance of the 100th Anniversary of His Birth, March 16, 1958 (1958), prepared as a memorial for the subjects grandsons. The November, 1959, issue of Wisconsin Alumnus notes Robert T. Greibling’s passing.
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
John Vasseur (b. Worcester, Massachusetts, 22 September 1894; d. San Francisco, California, 14 March 1952)
|Dust-wrapper art by Clifford Pyle|
The only published book by John Vasseur is the novel Typhon's Beard (New York: George H. Doran, 1927), which appeared in June of 1927. (A British edition followed soon afterwards from Allen & Unwin, made from sheets printed in the U.S.) It tells the story of Pyrrhus, the idle and philandering son of Leonidas, a vineyard owner in the dullest province of Greece, who is sent off to explore the wider world. The meandering plot takes Pyrrhus and his horse Heraclitus on a series of adventures, one of which is an encounter with Typhon, "the ugliest of all giants", who teaches Pyrrhus to stretch himself to giant-size and together they wander the empyrean. The prose in the novel has a light ironic touch which is mildly diverting, but otherwise the book lacks any depth or substance.
“John Vasseur” was the pseudonym of Chandler Parks Barton, the only child of Herbert Parks Barton (1866-1925) and his wife Frances Johnstone Vasseur (1867-1922), who were married in Brooklyn, New York, on 18 October 1890. Herbert Parks Barton was a surgeon, and a great-great-nephew of Clara Barton (1821-1912), the founder of the American Red Cross. In the late 1890s, the Barton family settled in California, and in 1904, Herbert Parks Barton organized the Clara Barton Hospital in Los Angeles. Barton served as an administrator at the hospital until his death.
|Chandler Barton at Berkeley|
Chandler P. Barton grew up in Los Angeles, and attended the University of California in Berkeley, receiving an A.B. in 1916, and an M.A. in philosophy in December 1917. For the latter, Barton’s thesis was on “Individualism and the State: A Comparison of Hegel and Plato.” Barton also served in World War I. In the 1920s, he contributed a small number of short stories to various magazines, including All-Story Weekly, Argosy All-Story Weekly, and Munsey’s Magazine. His mother died in an automobile accident in October 1922, and his father died three years later to the month. The pseudonym under which he published his novel, “John Vasseur,” was derived from his mother’s middle and maiden names. He married a Pasadena society girl, Mary Joyce, in 1928, but the marriage did not last long. In the 1940s, he worked as a checker for the U.S. Government at Pier 45, San Francisco. Barton died in 1952 at the age of fifty-seven, and is buried in the Golden Gate National Cemetery, San Bruno, California.
NB: Thanks to Dave Goudsward for identifying the writer behind the pseudonym.
Saturday, November 24, 2012
Sheila Hodgson (b. Beckenham, Kent, 22 December 1921; d. South Newton, Wiltshire, 25 December 2001)
Ruth Sheila Hodgson was the only child of John Stuart Hodgson (1877-1950) and Emily Storr Best (1875-1965), who were married in Bromley, Kent, in the spring of 1915. Her father was known as Stuart Hodgson, a journalist and author, most-known as the last editor, from 1921-31, of the left-wing newspaper the Daily News. He wrote a number of books, including The Liberal Policy for Industry (1928); Portraits and Reflections (1929); and The Man Who Made Peace: The Story of Neville Chamberlain (1938).
Sheila (who like her father was known familiarly by her middle name) was educated at Broadstairs, the Brighton and Hove High School, and the Michel Saint-Denis Stage School. During World War II she acted in repertory companies, and began to write plays. She worked for the BBC as a scriptwriter for about six years in the 1950s, moving on to ATV, where she wrote a well-received serialized thriller for children, Stranger on the Shore (1961). It is remembered for its theme music for clarinet by Acker Bilk. Additionally, she edited and introduced a volume Love Story: Based on ATV’s Top Play Series (1968), and a few of her plays appeared as booklets, Alarm Call (1976) and Tunnel Vision (1995).
Hodgson was a prolific writer of radio dramas for over four decades. Her first radio play was “Night without Sleep”, broadcast in the “Saturday Night Theatre” on 6 June 1959. In the 1970s she was working freelance out of Brighton. She sometimes adapted stories by other writers, including five by Algernon Blackwood, four of these utilizing Blackwood’s psychic detective John Silence, all first broadcast on BBC Radio 4. These include “The Camp of the Dog” (broadcast 28 August 1974); “The Nemesis of Fire” (18 December 1974); “Secret Worship” (19 March 1975); and “The Empty Sleeve” (2 October 1975). The fifth Blackwood adaptation was “The Human Chord” (10 December 1985). She was also known for her own thrillers, including her first full-length play, “The Long Drive Home” (1967), and “Inter City Incident” (1975), “This Line is Now Closed” (1978), and “Sea Fever” (1989).
After adapting Blackwood’s John Silence stories in 1974-75, she took M.R. James’s “Stories I Have Tried to Write” as a springboard for further radio dramas. Eight radio scripts were done in all (the first three utilizing James’s discarded plots): “A Whisper in the Ear” (broadcast 7 October 1976); ‘Turn, Turn, Turn” (3 March 1977); “The Backward Glance” (22 September 1977); “Here I Am; Where Are You?” (29 December 1977); “Echoes from the Abbey” (21 November 1984); “The Lodestone” (19 April 1989); “The Boat Hook” (15 April 1992); and “The Fellow Travellers (20 February 1994). Afterwards Hodgson turned the scripts into short stories. Two were published in Blackwood’s Magazine: “The Turning Point” (March 1978, retitled from the radio script “Turn, Turn, Turn”) and “The Villa Martine” (July 1978, retitled from the radio script “A Whisper in the Ear”). These were followed by an essay on “The Ghost of M.R. James” (June 1979). After Blackwood’s Magazine ceased, Hodgson found a ready market for her ghostly tales in the small press magazine, Ghosts and Scholars, edited by Rosemary Pardoe. Four further stories appeared there: “Come, Follow” (no. 4, 1982); “Echoes from the Abbey” (no. 9, 1987); “The Lodestone” (no. 13, 1991), and “The Boat Hook” (no. 19, 1995).
Hodgson’s twelve ghost stories (eight of which were based on her radio plays) were collected in The Fellow Travellers and Other Ghost Stories (Ashcroft, British Columbia: Ash-Tree Press, 1998), with a new introduction by the author but oddly not including Hodgson’s essay on “The Ghost of M.R. James”. (One further uncollected story is known, “Slip Stream”, which appeared in the June 1972 issue of London Mystery Selection, presumably excluded from the collection because it is not a ghost story.)
In early 1970 (not 1971 as is sometimes reported), Hodgson had married David Roderick Middleton (1923-2003), a travel journalist, in Hampstead in Greater London. Eventually they settled in Wiltshire, about three miles from Stonehenge. They had no children, and in their last few years they were institutionalized and unable to care for themselves. Sheila had a stroke about six weeks before she passed away on Christmas Day 2001, three days after her eightieth birthday. Her husband passed away nine months later.
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Edwin Eddison (b. Gateford, Worksop, Nottinghamshire, 22 June 1805; d. Headingley Hill, Leeds, 13 January 1867)
Edwin Eddison (b. Worksop, c. 1823; d. reg. Hastings, Sussex, July-Sep. 1867)
Edwin Eddison (1805-1867) was fifth of nine children, and the fourth of six sons, of John Eddison (1756-1812) and Ann Booth (1770-1845). He lived in the Leeds area for most of his life, having come there from Worksop in his youth.
|E.R. Eddison's uncle, John Edwin Eddison|
In Leeds on 18 November 1830, he married Hannah Maria Baker (1809-1872), and they had nine children, the first of which died in infancy. The ninth child was the eighth son, so named Octavius (1850-1916), and he became the father of fantasist E.R. Eddison. One of Octavius’s older brothers, John Edwin Eddison (1843-1929) became a professor of veterinary medicine. He had literary interests, and was a friend of Andrew Lang. Though married, he was childless, and his nephew E.R. Eddison was one of the three beneficiaries of his large estate.
Edwin Eddison was a solicitor, and served as Town Clerk in Leeds for several years. He kept a farm at Adel, where he practiced animal husbandry, producing some of the finest breeds of animals. He was also a member of the Society of Friends. Edwin Eddison suffered from heart problems for the last year of his life, and died at the age of sixty-one.
Because he was born in Worksop, it has been believed that this Edwin Eddison was the author of a History of Worksop; with Historical, Descriptive, and Discursive Sketches of Sherwood Forest and the Neighborhood (London: Longman and Co.; Worksop: S. Sisson, 1854), but recent research has shown this to be by another Edwin Eddison (c. 1823-1867), the son of Benjamin Eddison. This Edwin Eddison was a resident of Worksop through the early 1860s. He was also a solicitor, and his wife’s name was Mary. Which Edwin Eddison wrote the serial “Dick Turpin and His Horse” that appeared in New Sporting Magazine (March, June and July 1865) remains unknown. These two Edwin Eddisons were likely related. With some overlapping biographical facts, they have become easy to confuse. This entry is an attempt to disambiguate the two.
Monday, November 19, 2012
George Frost (b. Clapham, London, 25 August 1857; d. Banstead, Surrey, 23 December 1944)
The British Museum Catalogue attributes three books published as by “George Frost” to Mrs. Octavius Eddison, the mother of fantasist E.R. Eddison. Closer study of the three volumes show that one, The Troubles of Monsieur Bourgeois (1890), is erroneously attributed to her, and in this instance the pseudonym “George Frost” was used by George E. Vail, an Englishman resident in Paris, and author of L’Art du Patinage (1886). The other two “George Frost” books were certainly authored by Mrs. Eddison.
She was born Helen Louisa Rücker, the fifth of six children of Daniel Henry Rücker (1813-1890), a merchant of colonial produce, and Mary Antoinette Williams (1824-1905), the eldest daughter of a Dublin merchant, who were married in Dublin on 4 November 1847. Helen had three brothers and two sisters. Her eldest brother was Arthur William Rücker (1848-1915), who was educated at Oxford and became a distinguished professor of physics at the Royal College of Science, London, and later the first principal of London University from 1901 to 1908. He was knighted in 1902.
Helen was apparently educated privately, and she married Octavius Eddison (1850-1916), an Oxford-educated solicitor, at the Holy Trinity Church, Clapham, London, on 2 March 1882. They settled in Adel, near Leeds, and had two sons, Eric Rücker Eddison (1882-1945), a civil servant and fantasist, and Colin Rücker Eddison (1889-1957), who was for many years active in promoting Christian Science.
Both of Helen Eddison’s books came out the same year, one in the summer and the other in the autumn: Where Is Your Husband? and Other Brown Studies (London: Thomas Burleigh, [June] 1901), and A Medley Book (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., [November] 1901). Despite her second book appearing from a major London publisher, it is by far the rarer of the two. Both books are a mix of fiction and meditative essays, with the essays dominating the contents. The first book reprints items from The Leeds Mercury. A Medley Book contains one novella, “What Mrs. Dunn Knew”, which borders on the fantastic, and could be considered a psychological ghost story. Mrs. Dunn’s friend Margaret loved one man but married another, who, a few years later on his death bed, threatened that he would never allow her to marry again. Over time, Margaret’s relationship with her first love is rekindled, and on the evening of their wedding she is found dead. Margaret left a letter for her friend Mrs. Dunn in explanation, but the interpretation is left open for the reader as to whether Margaret’s haunting was real or merely psychological. The author of the tale did not interest herself in stylistic effects or atmosphere, but primarily in the young woman’s melodrama. Thus the story has a curiously flat tone to it.
Helen Eddison also published a serial Fate and a Fiddle in The Yorkshire Post, and contributed to The Academy, Country Life, and other publications. Late in life she accompanied her son Colin on trips to the United States for his work on promoting Christian Science.