Donald Wandrei, date unknown
|Born||Donald Albert Wandrei|
April 20, 1908
|Died||October 15, 1987 (aged 79)|
|Occupation||Writer, poet, editor|
Donald Albert Wandrei (April 20, 1908 – October 15, 1987) was an American
Wandrei was born in
He attended Central High in St Paul from 1921–24, during which he published short compositions in the school newspaper and avidly read the magazine
At the age of 16, Wandrei completed his short story "The Red Brain", in which a mysterious Cosmic Dust sweeps through the universe, obliterating the stars. Only
Wandrei started writing in 1926 and his writing career took off around 1932. In late 1927 he hitchhiked from Minnesota to Rhode Island to visit
In 1925 Wandrei gave Clark Ashton Smith $50 so the Auburn poet could see Sandalwood through the press.
Wandrei's first book, begun at age 18 and published when he was but 20, was the poetry volume Ecstasy & Other Poems which was published by
Wandrei was active in
As an accomplished poet, Wandrei was the first to write a series of sonnets for Weird Tales, "Sonnets of the Midnight Hours". Lovecraft liked the idea so much, he embarked on his own series, "
Wandrei's second book and second book of verse) was Dark Odyssey (Webb Publishing Co, 1931) illustrated with five illustrations by his brother Howard Wandrei.
Wandrei's only full-length fantastic novel, Dead Titans, Waken!, written in 1932, was rejected successively by three publishers – Harpers, Kendall and John Day – and finally shelved indefinitely by its author. However it was eventually destined to be published in a heavily revised version in 1948 by Arkham House as
During 1933 Wandrei lived in a studio apartment in New York that was within easy walking distance of the offices of
During the 1930s Wandrei wrote two more (non-fantastic) novels and several plays, one a collaboration with his brother Howard but none were published although they were submitted to various publishers and agents.
At this period Wandrei also broke into the crime pulps with stories of his detective I.V. Frost published in such magazines as Clues Detective Stories and
In 1939, Wandrei and
Wandrei wrote some outlines for
The author note on Wandrei's story collection (his first prose volume)The Eye and the Finger (1944) says: "An inveterate traveler, he has ranged from New York to Hollywood, and from Quebec to New Orleans, with extensions to Panama and Cuba" and also notes that his active hobby was photography. Furthermore, "he prefers to work at night, and has often written a complete story in a single night. Some of his tales have originated in the form of dreams, of which he says he has a hair-raising variety, and have been written with few changes."
Wandrei served almost four years with the U.S. Army in World War II, and as a technical sergeant, Third Battalion, 259th Infantry, 65th Division, a unit of General Patton's famous Third Army, took part in the final drive across Germany into Austria – the Rhineland and Central Europe campaigns.
Post-World War II, Wandrei's fiction output dropped considerably. His time with the army had left him little time to write, and although he worked on several novels and plays, none of these was published.
In 1964, Arkham House published Wandrei's third book of poetry, Poems for Midnight. This volume, like his earlier Dark Odyssey, was supplemented with four pen-and-ink illustrations by his brother Howard Wandrei. The complete sonnet sequence "Sonnets of the Midnight Hours" is included, along with many other poems dating back as far as 1926 and including several reprints from both his earlier volumes of verse. Some of the early poems were revised radically for their appearance in Poems for Midnight
In 1965, Arkham House published Wandrei's second collection of short stories, Strange Harvest, which gathered 17 tales published in
In 1967, a new tale, "The Crater", appeared in the Arkham House anthology Travellers by Night.
Wandrei occupied his time editing Lovecraft's Selected Letters, whose first two volumes appeared successively in 1965 and 1968. Volume Three followed in 1971, and Volumes 4 and 5 eventually reached print in 1976.
In the 1970s Wandrei commenced a long and tedious process of litigation against Arkham House, the publishing company he had helped to found. After August Derleth's death in 1971, Donald Wandrei briefly acted as editorial director, but declined to resume his interest in the firm permanently.
1971 saw a new original tale from Wandrei, "Requiem for Mankind", which appeared in the Arkham House anthology
Though Wandrei had, for reasons unknown, abandoned the writing of poetry around 1934, he wrote four poems in 1977 and 1978 which he circulated amongst friends and colleagues as limited state broadsides.
Wandrei circulated iconoclastic letter-essays that denounced many of the organized forces behind the modern fantasy movement – a movement he, as a founder of Arkham House, was instrumental in setting motion.
In 1984, Wandrei was awarded the
He died in St. Paul in 1987.
In 1976 Philip Rahman had met Wandrei at a convention and the two became friends. Three years after Wandrei's death in 1987, Rahman and his mostly silent partner Dennis Weiler founded the publishing firm of