THEN - THE LETTERS: 1930s & 1940s
THEN #1, covering the 1930s and 1940s was published in March 1988. The letters on that issue were in the following one, published in March 1989, and are reprinted below.
I read THEN with a growing sense of delight and - dare I say it? - wonder. Not only is it well written (which we expect from you) and informative (which it is, relentlessly so) it is also breathtakingly exciting. It read like a thoroughly professional history with a very high 'page turnability' quotient. I was so deeply impressed by this fruit of such an obvious labour of love that when I arrived home after midnight I rooted out THE STORY SO FAR from my pile of as yet unread CONSPIRACY memorabilia and did not go to bed before I had read it. If you want to realise just how high praise that is, I have to get up at 5am to get to work. I'm still feeling the effects of lack of sleep, and still think the sacrifice was worthwhile.
Don't beat about the bush, Martyn, did you like the issue or not?JERRY KAUFMAN
Seattle, WA, USA
I haven't got a lot of comments on THEN. I find the whole thing rather more interesting than I would have expected from a simple glance at the cover. But you do a number of things that make it more interesting: you put the fannish events into the context of British society and history; you trace, as much as possible, how each event influenced the next; you show the connections with US fandom; you give (especially in the introduction) some feeling for the methods of historical research (which I find pretty interesting...if I were ever to do fanhistorical research , I'd come to you for advice).
So I hope you can continue THEN right up to present days, and I hope you inspire some energetic US fan to pick up where Harry Warner left off, though I'm afraid that US fan history is a far more diverse affair, and might actually take a number of people, concentrating on a number of cities, interests, etc., to do right.
Maybe, and I'd certainly be interested in seeing (say) Moshe Feder do a history of New York fandom (NY and LA being the only two US cities I can think of with a large enough body,of writings about their activities over the years to make such a task relatively straightforward, if arduous), but I remain unconvinced that it's not possible to write a history of US fandom to the present day. True, you couldn't possibly cover every aspect of US fandom as it currently exists, but then why try? In much the same way that when I reach (say) the formation of the modern British Fantasy Society I'LL relate its beginnings to the point where it clearly became a separate entity then explain that its story from there on is a tale for another time (and for someone else to write), so the story of US
fandom can be told. Remember who you're writing for and concentrate on fanzine fandom, the major conventions and clubs, and the major developments beyond these that have affected them. Still a big task, but still easier than trying to cover the filking, costume, media, and single-author fandoms that have proliferated over recent years. By all means mention them, and when they became distinct entities, but remember that they are distinct entities (albeit sharing common roots with us) and their stories belong in distinct and separate works. You mention Harry Warner, Jerry, who by coincidence is our next writer....HARRY WARNER JR.
Hagerstown, MD, USA.
Even though I am a lapsed fanhistorian, I still love to read about fandom's past as long as someone else does the work. Obviously, you've done an exceptional amount of hard work.
If I'd been doing this history of early British fandom, there are only two things I would have done differently. For one thing, I wouldn't have done it as conscientiously and painstakingly. The other difference: I would have sneaked in somewhere a boast about the fact that British fanzines of the 1930s and 1940s were so superior intellectually and in the literary sense to fanzines produced elsewhere in the world. I remember clearly how when I used to write a lot of articles for fanzines, I thought nothing of sending a contribution to an American fanzine but felt as if I were intruding where I didn't belong if I sent one to a British fanzine. The general level of writing in British fanzines was so much better in syntax and organisation and spelling.
But surely that was mainly due to the average age of fans in Britain being higher than the average for America, Harry? There may have been some differences conferred by our different educational systems, but for the most part I can't say as I noticed as great a disparity during my research as you seem to be suggesting.Maybe you'll spur some others into trying to track down people and objects from the 1930s and 1940s. Hardly anyone seems to recognise the fact that very few years remain in which there is a reasonable hope of unearthing more primary source material about fandom's early years. By the end of this century, at the latest, virtually everyone who was active in fandom in the early 1930s will be either dead or senile. If fans can get around the countryside and have the ability to persuade people into searching attics or memories and will get busy between now and then, maybe there's a possibility that a few lost fans from those first years can be found. Who knows what treasures they might have saved all these years? Just think how wonderful it would be to find that amateur movie showing Gus Willmorth meeting fans in wartime England, or a copy of that enigmatic FANTASIA. Some correspondence might survive, still photos, who knows what else? And a11 of it will be lost in a few more years as ancient former fans die or dispose of their possessions upon moving into nursing homes.
Couldn't agree more and, yes, it would be neat to discover that Cosmos Club film. Getting whoever had it (if it still exists) to do an audio-tape commentary and then getting both combined on a
video-tape would be A Good Thing. However, when even such a recent home movie as the one Chris Priest and Dicky HoWett took of early-1960s London fandom no longer exists the chances for a film from the 1940s surviving seems remote. Of course, I've only got Priest's word that the film has been destroyed. Given the youthful gaucheness it doubtless displays he might have his own reasons for - ah - fibbing about this.ROBERT LICHTMAN
THEN #1 was everything I could have hoped for. This is far more informative than either Moskowitz or Warner have been on the subject of British fanhistory, and I eagerly look forward to future issues.
While nothing may have come of the Nazi engineers' investigation of the possibility of launching V-1's at the US coast(s), the Japanese certainly were present on the Pacific coast. I don't know if you got to see them during your visit here, but around the entrance to San Francisco Bay there are ruins of many fortifications put up in the '30s and '40s. There's little observation bunkers built into the sides of hills on the Marin County headlands, just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. The ruins of concrete pads where cannon and other artillery were once mounted are also much in evidence. Huge rusting steel doors opening into hillsides behind which armaments were once stored dot other hillsides nearby. My boys loved to come and play their kid games amidst these military ruins when they were much younger.
As to Moskowitz and your musings about THE IMMORTAL STORM, I suspect he'd probably be interested in seeing THEN. Sam is one of the two charter members of FAPA still active in the group (Jack Speer is the other) and last year, when I was digging up names of other charter members to see who was still alive - because FAPA had decided to send copies of the 50th anniversary (200th) mailing to all who were alive and could be located - I had occasion to correspond with Sam about the whereabouts of these elders. He was most helpful and quite cordial about it.
First, let me express my deep appreciation for sending me a copy of THEN. I have read it through once, uncritically, and my initial reaction is positive. I found a lot of interesting material, particularly in the latter portion with which I was not quite as familiar as the earlier, and I liked the narrative style which keeps one reading, preferring it to the encyclopedic format. If you turn out a second volume you should include an index of both volumes which would greatly enhance its value, making it a reference as well.
If and when it's completed, revised, and published in a single edition, I will, but doing it before then is an effort which might deter me from finishing.The reason that I made no reference to Paul Enever was that my common sense told me that what he said in his letter was absurd. He could not have had such a group and I didn't want to even pretend that I gave it the courtesy of
consideration. When he made that statement in 1933, even in the largest population
centres in the United States, where science fiction magazines containing
addresses were for sale on every business block, where they could be purchased
in quantity in second-hand stores and had been available for seven years, no
club had ever had an attendance of 20 people and the idea that a community on
the outskirts of London could assemble such a membership, when by their own
admission none had ever seen a science fiction magazine and when the appearance
of science fiction in one of the large-circulation boy's magazines was an event,
boasted such a regular-attending membership, had to be a hoax. Incidentally, my
information came from the final, 1933 issue of COSMOLOGY, the official organ of
the International Scientific Association, which I regarded as reliable, and was
not taken from the letter.
My attitude towards the Hayes Group was because they were a correspondence club and that is why they joined up with the ISA in the USA, because that was also a correspondence club. The fact that they got together interested parties and dreamed about putting out a fan magazine and involved themselves with a drama company that was putting on a play, does not make them, at best, any more than a precursor of the more active Science Fiction Association that later actually was an influential group.
I think it might be of interest to explain why there were so many British letters in the American SF mags, and from South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand as well. The unsold returns were being used as ballast in ships from the United States to those nations and the magazines sold to outlets like Woolworths by the pound, who in turn sold them at very low rates. Very few of the other English- speaking countries bought the magazines at full price from the ITS. The more foreign letters they got, the lower their circulations, that is paid circulations.
If you mentioned AMATEUR SCIENCE STORIES and Carnell's POSTCARD PREVIEW I missed it. The first ran Clarke's first fiction. The latter, launched with the issue of 21st October 1939, was intended to keep British fans informed of the latest SF news under wartime conditions.
No. I didn't mention them (can't name every fanzine published without the narrative becoming unruly), but for those interested the former was edited by Doug Mayer and saw three issues between Oct'37 and March'38., while the latter (listed in the Roberts Bibliography as POSTAL PREVIEW) saw 22 'issues', the final one appearing in September 1940. Actually. both of these should have been mentioned and will be in any future version of this history.If I ever clear my workload I intend to do another segment of THE IMMORTAL STORM for FANTASY COMMENTATOR. This would bring the British scene through to WWII and yours may be helpful when I study it again. Though my files are still in fine research order, I have correspondence with many of the leading figures of that period, having been dinner guests at the Carnells' and Gillings` before their deaths. Indeed, Carnell was my European agent and I bought Gillings back into the field in 1972 when he had left it, embittered.
Actually. I too have correspondence from a number of people of that period who responded to THEN #1. Here are a few of them, beginning with....
Guernsey, Channel Islands.
You ask for corrections, so here goes. Ref pages 17/18, I was never a visitor to the Flat - in mid-teens I couldn't afford the fare from Hampshire to London. My first trip was a special one, to the '39 convention, and I had to leave before the end to catch my train back. There was some comment that Fantacynic could not be me because he referred to events taking place after my departure; but I did have a good stringer in John Burke. I'm fairly sure that SATELLITE was in the first place John's individual enterprise, only later becoming the Liverpool SFA's organ. We were all surprised when it became the national organ, it (and John himself) having been gadflies to the bovine corpus of SFA HQ.
I think your memory may he playing tricks on you regarding the status of SATELLITE, Sam. I took the story of the formation of Liverpool SFA directly from the first issue, where it was stated quite clearly that John Burke and Dave McIlwain (the co-editor on the first three issues) had been charged with producing the club's organ, ie. SATELLITE.Re p.26, I was due to enlist in October but found myself hospitalised with seborrhea; I actually reported in February 1942. And re p.34, that meeting did take place in London, I being on LIAP leave from the Med. As I recall it coincided with VJ Day, and we were all very excited about the news of the atom bomb. There was a move (Benson Herbert inspired, I believe) to telephone or call on Wells, and we went so far as to stand outside his house in Regent's Park, but wiser counsels prevailed and refrained from pestering the poor old man.
I will put you in the picture on my own introduction into Liverpool fandom. I appeared just after the introductory stage when Eric Frank Russell, Les Johnson, etc., had created the group and it was about to fall apart. EFR never again came to a meeting (too busy at his job) and Cleator was on his way south. I can recall Les complaining about EFR that he had pinched one of Les' plots for a story, designated 'Meat-Eaters of Metropolis' by Les, and about cannibalism which, apparently, EFR used in a published story. Meetings at the Hamilton Cafe had come to an end.
With Les setting up an office in the centre of Liverpool it became possible to use it as a meeting place in the evenings. He then invited all local people on the SF Service books to attend, which included me, and I did. So out of this new arising we had Les and Abe Bloom (who was something of a partner) together with Dave McIlwain and John Burke - then me - as the basis of the group. Les Heald came later, and several others came in and out vaguely. LesJ worked not very far away in the Liverpool Corporation Education Office, Burke's father was a police inspector, LesH was a clerk in a civil engineering firm.
This went on for roughly a year-and-a-half until LesJ knew he was about to be called up (probably early-1940) when I took on the job of dismantling the office and transferring all the books to his home. No more meetings after that. I'm surprised you cannot find a record of the SFS address because there must be letter heads about, and he had adverts in the two promags.
Your quoting June 21st and Aug 26th without a year confuses me a little. You say
on p.18 that we attended the Druids Hall on 21st May 1939, and that is correct.
Now if Aug 26th refers to 1938 then this seems right to me and this would be at
the SFS office. Of course we had an agenda and minutes of the meetings and a
report of each meeting was sent to the SFA HQ in London, and I seem to recall
that some of them were printed in the official magazine etc., as mentioned on
p.17. Now, to line this up with my memory, I have to sav that the meeting on
Aug 26th must have been at the Hamilton and not the SFS office. Now it must be
recalled that I had an article in the May 1939 SATELLITE, which was Vo1.2 No.9.
Which implies that nine issues (now in the second year) had been issued since
August 1938. All this hangs together and it places my joining the group at the
end of 1938, and as I never went to the Hamilton that I can recall then the SFS
must have opened its office about that time. Harry O.Dickinson never appeared at
meetings again, but LesJ was still friends with him until LesJ's death and
Dickinson may still be alive for all I know.
I guess my fan activities fizzled out when I got married in 1962, and then left London for Sussex twenty years ago. Now and again I journeyed up to South Norwood to visit my old friend G.Ken Chapman and heard bits of news from him, but more and more my literary interests were spreading and SF took only a small part of my time. When Ken died my only link was Les Flood, who acted as my agent (more out of old friendship than any money I earned him), and when he gave up the agency my last remaing thread was INTERZONE. So, really, the door on the past closed some time ago and your History has had a very pleasant, yet sad, effect on me. All the names of provincial fans we used to bandy about! Mayer, Hanson (such a soft, gentle chap, but brainy as hell), Rosenblum, Mcllwain and Burke. Of course, my clearest memories are of the London men: Bill Temple, who I collaborated with a couple of times in our tyro days; 'Ego', of whom I remember asking why vision could not be put onto tape like sound and being told scornfully that the frequency and amplitude and all that stuff made it utterly impossible; Frank Cooper, who was the most persuasive talker I have ever encountered; and lovely old John Beynon Harris whose charm and quaker manners resisted all the demoralising rough stuff and language going on in the White Horse; Carnell, of course, with that tazz above a broad smile and unflagging zeal in the SF cause; Walt Gillings, quiet of Speech but steel in resolution; oh, and everybody! Even Harry Kay, who outclassed 'Ego' for egoism but never flagged despite all the chaff he received. I don't think anyone thought they were making history, but the way you write it up it seems to make it all hang together in a grand panorama of struggle. If you ever write Part 2, you must let me have it. But hurry up; I'm 70 and might not be around in another ten years.
Here it is, Eric, and only a year after the first part! I found your descriptions of early fans fascinating, since actual descriptions of fans are few and far between in early fanzines. One of the reasons I use so many quotes rather than merely summarising what they contain is for the 'voice' it gives to people who might otherwise remain ciphers to modern readers. Any more impressions you'd care to share on early fans would be welcomed. So Arthur Clarke was actually wrong about something. Amazing. It's like discovering that Santa doesn't exist.
Welling, Kent, UK.
Went delving into an old plastic bag of letters today - mostly late '50s, but I found a letter from Paul Enever, 10th March '53, where in commenting on George Clements, who sent out one issue of VOID and then folded it, he says "VOID got 12 subs in all plus two 'exchanges'. Lord love us! If our old FANTASIA had gotten FIVE subs to any one issue we'd have had to have worked overtime to type enough copies! No doubt about it, the younger generation of faneds are 'spoonfed and spineless'!" This confirms that FANTASIA did exist, anyway, that it was typed, and it was apparently on a sub. basis where only subscriber's copies were typed -- no extras.
A few footnotes to THEN, especially on the mental attitude of fans at the outbreak of war. I don't think Christian principles - turning the other cheek and the like - really entered into consideration. It was a time when some fans sin- cerely felt that the next war would be the End. Consider the scenario:
We were living in a time when the last World War was only 20-odd years in the past, when millions of families had lost someone in the trenches, and when you went shopping on Saturday afternoons you'd see a small procession of crippled veterans outside Woolworths and other big stores, chests bedecked with medals, begging.
There were dozens of books forecasting war in the near future (EXODUS AD, DAY OF WRATH, AIR-GODS' PARADE, WHAT HAPPENED TO THE CORBETTS, PLAGUE OVER LONDON etc.,) Even in the mundane sphere there was a hulluva lot of emotion - I have a cutting here from News of the World 2nd Oct 1938, reporting "How Prime Minister Saved Europe from Deluge of Blood".,."A still more amazing demonstration followed as the Prime Minister, filled with emotion, resumed his seat. He was seen to be in tears, and no wonder, after the tremendous strain which had been placed upon him for many weeks...."
So to some it was stone cold certain that a war would lead to the collapse of civilisation. If the explosives didn't get you the poison gas would, and if you missed the poison gas you'd be killed by the plague which would follow large- scale death. A lot of leading fans were to testify that they were willing to endure anything rather than contribute to that collapse.
'Anything'? Don't forget that the facts concerning the Nazi purges were obscure. In those days the globe was large and Czechoslovakia, for instance, was as far away as Turkey is today. There were a few lone voices crying 'War!' who were thought suspect - Churchill, for instance, who was probably in the pay of the munitions manufacturers; Claude Cockburn, who was issuing a duplicated 'zine giving the inside stuff to members of the diplomatic corps, but he was a Communist - but amongst the public as a whole there was only what might be described as a dull resentment that this Hitler was upsetting things in far- away Europe. Some thought he was mad, some thought he was, fiendishly clever; overall there was fear.
One reads of soldiers going off to fight WW1 with a jingoistic laugh; when WW2 eventually arrived the mood was as sombre as that of any '80s fan facing a nuclear holocaust.
During this research I've often been confounded by the generation gap between
us - so many things from the past that I've taken for granted as things that
'everyone knows' which have subsequently turned out to be surprising - and I
suppose that the concept of the isolation of the fan must be part of that.
Before the war, science fiction was magazines. Pocket books, were nearly non- existent, and no publisher would be mad enough to contemplate a series which was specifically SF. Books of "Wellsian scientific romance" were rare. So the fan spent his 3d or 4d (don't forget that before the 'teen-age revolution' this might have been 1/20th of his weekly income) on American SF magazine, and made contact with others through the letter columns: No University groups, and THEN lists the number of clubs.
During the war a few emasculated magazines were allowed; these had serials and many of the stories missing and, most importantly from the fan's point of view, no letter columns. This, more than anything else, stopped British fandom dead in its tracks. For a number of years the only influx of new fans was through chance meetings. It was in this atmosphere that the Science Fantasy Society was formed, and it ran. for two or three years until magazines (British as well as American), with letter columns and Operation Fantast adverts, and local clubs, took over Spreading The Word. You have a quiet smile at the original Slater concept of the SFS, but in fact it turned out to be quite as casually organised as most other clubs, and for a short time after the war had a vital role to play. From then on. the acceptance of SF by publishers and the general public meant that the dreadful sense of isolation of a fan slowly vanished.
"The six-year interruption-led to a signifigant change of outlook ...for the present they were content to remain as they were..." you say of the '46/'47 meetings at the White Horse. True, and it puzzled me at the time. Later, I realised that with lives disrupted by the war, the older fans - Carnell, Chapman, Williams, etc. - were content to try and build up their personal relationships, inside and outside fandom, but had lost the proselytising urge which was still characteristic of Gillings (tho' he was strictly sercon) and us newer fans.
This resulted in a sort of division at those London Circle meetings, where the pros and would-be pros - Carnell (editor and agent), Gillings (ditto), Chapman (sideline in antiquarian SF selling), Williams, Youd, Clarke, etc. (budding authors) would be talking word-rates and editorial requirements etc., in one half of the room, and the faans (self and other members of the SFS, etc.) would be swapping magazines, playing darts, and talking fan stuff in the other half. A few - Bulmer, Temple, Tubb, and a few others - floated between, the two camps. At conventions, tho', we all worked together.
Thank you for the copy of THEN. Despite all my reservations about your approach to the business of "doing history", I found it a genuinely riveting piece of work. I picked it up yesterday evening, intending to do no more than flip through it before dinner, but then found that I couldn't put it down again, and in the event read it right through to the end. This is, if nothing else, a testament to your narrative skill'. the ability to sieze your readers and keep them interested to the end.
However. (There is always a "however".) You may recall that one of my minor
criticisms of THE STORY SO FAR was that its quotes were unsourced: ie., that
there was no indication of the letter or article from which they'd been
extracted. Since TSSF only had a few such quotes, this perhaps didn't matter too
much - but THEN is full of them, and in this case it bloody well does matter.
You remarked in your letter in THE CAPRICIAN #2 that "we ought to do a lot more research and Get Our Facts Right". A vital part of doing research, and of getting the facts right, is itemising your sources, so that others have the opportunity to check into them as well - and, having checked them, review the use you've made of them and, by thereby validating your evidence, confirm the truth of your story. This is basic historical methodology - yet something you ignore. I can't imagine why. Having done all this research, having brought together in one place all this information, it is surely in your own interests to provide a thoroughly detailed, footnoted and cross-referenced list of your sources.
My original reasons were twofold. First, since a fair bit of this material was drawn from what may well be the only copies of some publications that still exist (in Vince`s collection) it seemed to me that that limited the scope of those following after to check my sources and make use of them. Second, I saw what I was writing as a 'popular' history rather than a work with the discriminating rigour of professional historiography and, more importantly, didn't want to tackle something I felt might interfere with my momentum and perhaps stop me from getting any further.I say this not just because, in your introduction, you request those who were active during the 1930s and 1940s to forward new data for incorporation in future editions. How do they know, without a list of such sources, that they may not direct you to a fanzine or letter you have already examined? No - of far greater importance than this possible duplication is your actual use of these sources, which I have to say is sometimes rather confusing. It's not always clear whether you're quoting from a letter or article written contemporaneously with the events you're describing, or whether you're extracting, from a reminiscence or memoir produced several years (or even several decades) afterwards. Your context often provides a rough guide to which; but what is required in a work of primary research is absolute precision - not least because reminiscences often suffer from the fallibility to which all human memory is prone, and unless they are clearly distinguished from the contemporary material it is impossible to check them against it in order to prove their veracity. By not clearly identifying which is which, and by not providing your readers with annotated footnotes for the quotes with which you fill your text, I think you let us down quite badly.
As you will have already noticed, source notes for the '30s and '40s are provided this issue. Those for the '50s have to wait for next issue since the text they cover, at 71 pages, will make them longer than I want to include in what is already one of the longest fanzines to appear in Britain in the last ten years (only Bridges' "Sheffield telephone directory" of a few years back was longer, I think - and possibly FANZINES IN THEORY & IN PRACTICE).Less seriously - at least for a work of primary research; in a work of theory it would loom much larger - I might query your structure. You tell us several times in the chapter on the 1930s that the science fiction fans of the day were
generally socialist and pacifist in their outlook, but make no attempt to relate
these ideologies either to the fandom of the time or to the wider world of which
they were part. This latter omission, given the impact of the Second World War
on British fandom is really rather crucial. After all, if Michael Rosenblum
hadn't been a pacifist there would have been no FUTURIAN WAR DIGEST, and thus no
fandom operating during the war years; yet the reasons for this pacifism are
nowhere explained. Instead you tell us that John F.Burke's statement in the .
second issue of THE FANTAST was "probably a reasonable expression of the opinion
of many of those in British fandom", which is too lame by half. If so, why? And
what did everyone else have to say?
Actually, those who weren't commited pacifists didn't have much to say on the topic at all - when they were called up they went off to war with scarcely a murmur. You're right about the inadequacy of my coverage of pacifism in British fandom,of course. For more general background on 1930s pacifism - particularly the PPU, which was the largest pacifist organisation of the time and the one favoured by fans - see info in the preceeding UPDATE, which will be incorporated in the next draft. With regard to Rosenblum's own reasons for becoming a pacifist, it's impossible to say specifically since he never.(so far as I've been able to discover) went into print with them. However, I think the reasons Vince lays out in his letter are pretty close to the truth, particularly as I recently read a book (THE PEOPLE'S WAR by Angus Calder) that explains the fears of intelligent people of the time in strikingly similar terms.I'm reminded of D West's comment, in his introduction to the fanthology published for CONSPIRACY, that fan histories have a tendency to treat the Second World War as something akin to a minor interruption to the postal service. (I'm not quoting exactly.) You manage to avoid that, but the chapter on the 1940s nevertheless seems to lurch backwards and forwards from the larger sweep of the war itself to the minutae of which fans met where on what leave.
Unavoidably to some extent, I'm afraid, though I will try and smooth out the transitions when I next revise it.MALCOLM EDWARDS
c/o Victor Gollancz Ltd, London.
Thanks for THEN - an impressive bit of research. I don't know if there would be any old fanzines worth your while looking at in the Science Fiction Foundation's library, but it might be worth a visit. Julian Parr's fanzine collection ended up there. Possibly there might even be some of those missing FUTURIAN WAR DIGESTs.
Alas, no. There are.fanzines that went out with FWD, most notably what looked to be a complete set of Webster's THE GENTLEST ART, but FWD itself was poorly represented. Unfortunately, the Foundation's fanzine collection is a random grab- bag of British and foreign fanzines of the last fifty years, and though arranged alphabetically by title are not really of much use to the serious researcher. However, given the prozines I had to plough through when researching the '50s the Foundation is an absolute godsend (and will continue to be when I get stuck into the 1960s). It's amazing to think that such an invaluable resource exists on little more than enthusiasm and fresh air. The North-East London Polytechnic has provided it with a room and enough money to pay
for someone to run it on a part-time (3-days a week) basis, that someone being the ever-helpful Joyce Day, but that's about it. They have no funds for expanding their activities or even for buying new books, relying as they do on the generosity of publishers and individuals. The question of how to dispose of the convention surpluses that often arise is a thorny one, but I couldn't see too many people objecting to a portion of such surpluses being used to obtain books on the Foundation's wants list since the more comprehensive its coverage of SF the greater the service it offers to those who may one day want to make use of it, fans included.If you are still trying to track people down, I think Ken Slater could put you in touch with Dennis Tucker, whose collection of UNKNOWN I tried to buy via Ken a few years ago (alas, he sold it to film producer Milton Subotsky instead). It's odd how one meets people who know about fandom. Not so long ago I was talking to Rabbi Lionel Blue (he who is always on Radio 4) and he said he was a keen SF reader and, indeed, used to go to the White Horse as a teenager in the late-'40s or early-'50s.
WAHF: Mal Ashworth, Dick Lynch, Sid Birchby, Ken Cheslin, Ethel Lindsay, Eric
Bentcliffe, Brian Aldiss (whose account of his first contact with fandom
from that letter is used on p.92), John Newman, Syd Bounds, Ted Chapman (of the
SF Foundation) who reports a comment by Arthur C.Clarke: "I've also received
THEN no.1 - British fandom in the '30s and '40s, which I read with fascinated
interest as there were all sorts of things I did not know at the time". Mike
Moorcock, Harry Turner, Don Allen, Jim Cawthorn, Alan Sullivan, Tony Chester,
Skel, Steve Holland, Terry Jeeves, and Chuck Harris: "I found THEN absorbing
and easy to follow and look forward eagerly to the next vital instalment...
there, waiting in the wings 'The man who was to have the most impact on fandom
~n the 1950s had already taken his first steps .towards contacting his fellow
fans...'. YES! YES!! YES!!! I had already joined The Universal Musketeers and
written a werewolf story ...oh...you mean??? SHIT ...eclipsed by Willis again... is
there no justice, no recognition? Am I doomed to be a fannish footnote remembered
only for my filthy eavesdropping quotes on the back pages of "-"? Seriously, I
hope that when you get around to it, you highlight Walt's effect, not only as a
creative fan but as a teacher. He took a succession of sow's ears and transformed
them into writers: I don't just mean James and Bob either. Clarke, Bulmer, Brunner.
Jackson, The Benford Twins. Dozens more were all. influenced and encouraged by him.
We used to joke in "-"... 'if we don't publish it, we criticise it free', but he
really did offer constructive criticism to anybody who showed the slightest
promise. I remember that one of my eternal werewolf stories, about weretigers just
for a change - he was reduced to praising the names of the characters, but any
sort of encouragement was manna from heaven, and a source of comfort to the tender
young flower I used to be. This, I feel, was just as important, as the way he
transformed fandom and made it fun rather than the stodgy sercon mess it once was,
and today's trufans owe everything in fandom to Willis and Hoffman. (Apart, of
course, from a lot of dirty Eavesdroppings that they owe to me)."