The University of Kansas

Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

Books on a shelf

Welcome to the Kenneth Spencer Research Library blog! As the special collections and archives library at the University of Kansas, Spencer is home to remarkable and diverse collections of rare and unique items. Explore the blog to learn about the work we do and the materials we collect.

Pulp Writer Homer Eon Flint: A Donor’s Story

August 7th, 2012

A guest post from Vella Munn

Securing a final resting place for my grandfather Homer Eon Flint’s body of published fiction at the University of Kansas began with a backdoor approach. An email I sent to a man involved with Science Fiction Writers of America led to an introduction to James Gunn, SF writer, scholar, and founder of KU’s Center for the Study of Science Fiction, and from there to a series of emails with Special Collections librarian Elspeth Healey.

Photograph of Homer Eon Flint

Homer Eon Flint, photograph courtesy of Vella Munn

As a result, nineteen 90+ year-old pulp magazines such as Argosy All-Story Weekly, Fantastic Novels, and Flynn’s carrying Grandpa’s work are no longer disintegrating in my office. They’re being preserved by those who know how to treat the fragile publications, and I no longer worry that I’m not doing right by what I inherited.

The youngest of four children, Homer Eon Flint was born on Sept. 9, 1888 in Albany, Oregon. He devoured H. G. Wells, Jules Verne, Conan Doyle, and Rider Haggard, all known for their romantic fiction, and they made an indelible impact on him. With the encouragement of his wife, a teacher, and a hefty hospital bill to pay off, he started writing. He sold at least eight movie treatments for the fledgling film industry before moving onto short stories, penning everything from horror to humor.

Image of Homer Eon Flint's "The Money-Miler" in Flynn's  Image of Cover of Flynn's Magazine
Photograph of Protective Enclosures for Homer Eon Flint Materials

Pictured above: The first installment of Homer Eon Flint’s “The Money-Miler” in Flynn’s, Vol. 1, No. 3,
October 4, 1924 (Call Number: ASF C924);  Cover of the issue of Flynn’s that contained the second
installment of Flint’s “The Money-Miler,” Vol. 1, No. 4, October 11, 1924 (Call Number: ASF C925);
and protective enclosures used to house the fragile pulp magazines.

Flint made his mark with such science fiction as “The Emancipatrix,” “The Devolutionist,” “The Lord of Death,” “The Queen of Life,” and his co-written book The Blind Spot. Some two and a half million readers devoured The Planeteer. “The Money-Miler” ( Flynn’s, October 4-18, 1924) was his last sale. He made it a month before his violent and mysterious death at 36. His 1924 payment for that novella-length story–$400.

In addition, Homer wrote a number of stories that weren’t published. Those as well as his published work are being brought out by Musa Publishing.

Vella Munn
Vella Munn has written a biography of Homer Eon Flint
, titled Grandfather Lost.

Ray Bradbury, 1920-2012

June 7th, 2012

On Tuesday, legendary writer Ray Bradbury died at the age of 91.  James Gunn,  writer, scholar, and founder of KU’s Center for the Study of Science Fiction, has memorialized Bradbury as being “[…] a bridge between the two cultures – not [C. P.] Snow’s science and literature but science fiction and literature.”  KU Libraries holds close to one hundred editions Bradbury’s work, including thirty-five volumes housed the Kenneth Spencer Research Library. We are also fortunate enough to hold a smattering of letters by Bradbury in several of our science fiction collections, including in the papers of editor and publisher Donald A. Wollheim, writer and critic P. Schuyler Miller, and writer Theodore Sturgeon.

Ray Bradbury’s letters to Ted Sturgeon are a particular delight: playful, comic, and frank, with plenty of talk of writing and sex.  He opens one missive with the salutation, “Dear Word-That-Rhymes-With-Virgin.”  Indeed that letter, written in April of 1947, captures Bradbury at a particularly significant moment in his career.   His first book, Dark Carnival (1947), was just about to be published, but Bradbury was too caught up in the process of proofing to boast.  “It’s a swell book,” he writes to Sturgeon, “but, Christ, the ennui, the vertigo, the inertia that overcomes one after hours of reading stuff you don’t want to read anymore.”

Indeed, as the letter shows, Bradbury navigated his early successes with a good deal of self-effacing wit.  When Sturgeon congratulated him on the literary coup of publishing a story, “The Man Upstairs,” in the March 1947 issue of Harper’s, Bradbury joked about his new-found ego: “Since my sale to Harper’s I’m not speaking to anybody.  Especially my grocer, my cleaner, my clothier, my radio man; to all of whom I owe money […].”  Now, sixty-five years later, it’s hard to imagine that Bradbury’s place in the annals of American storytelling was ever anything but assured.

To celebrate this influential author’s  life and writings, we share below three covers from Bradbury volumes in the Spencer Library’s collections (click images to enlarge).  Rest in peace, Mr. Bradbury.

 Cover of first Book Club editio of Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles (1950)Cover of the first edition of Ray Bradbury's The Illustrated ManCover of Ray Bradbury's I sing the Body Electric, 1969

Clockwise: The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury.  Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1950 (Book Club Edition). ASF C194; The Illustrated Man, by Ray Bradbury. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1951 (First Edition). ASF C55; I Sing the Body Electric, by Ray Bradbury. New York: Knopf, 1969 (First Edition). ASF C790.

Elspeth Healey
Special Collections Librarian