Helen Wesson

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(July 6, 1919 – September 7, 2006)

Helen Alice Wesson (née Vivarttas, often styled Helen V. Wesson), was active in fandom, principally in FAPA, beginning in the 1940s, and was still publishing there in 2006. She had participated in SF fandom at least by 1944, when (she mentions in Siamese Standpipe) she was carrying a copy of Shangri-L'Affaires 17, and discusses joining FAPA. She was an aficionado of H. P. Lovecraft, which led her into fandom via Francis Towner Laney.

She published Pendragon and Helen's Fantasia for FAPA. She also published The (Unspeakable) Thing with Burton Crane and later with her husband, Sheldon Wesson, from 1946–52.

They were living in Yokohama, Japan, in 1950 and ’52, according to the colophons. The 1950 Fan Directory puts her in Rockaway, NY, while the 1961 Directory of Science Fiction Fandom lists her in Yokohama. In the 1980s, she lived in Alexandria, Virginia, and in the ’90s, in Venice, Florida, according to FAPA rosters.

She belonged to the Southern Fandom Confederation. Helen was also heavily involved in ajaysmundane apas — including NAPA and AAPA, from 1938, including a term as President of AAPA.

In a 1954 reminiscence of her publishing life, Helen wrote:

During those war years I joined the Fantasy Amateur Press Association after Alf Babcock showed me a copy of Acolyte, scholarly publication of Fran Laney, a NAPAn briefly. That in turn led to Howard Phillips Lovecraft, one of NAPA's great literary figures, and renewed my interest in the Weird.

For FAPA I have published (1946–52), with Burton Crane co-editing for three issues, five numbers of The (Unspeakable) Thing of China, New Jersey, Japan and New York, totaling 148 mimeographed 8 1/2 x 11 pages, illustrated and hand-painted. When the FAPA surplus stock sale was held, TUT sold for 20 cents per copy, the others only 1 cent to 10 cents, which indicates something. I'm not sure what.

My admiration for Laney's complete lack of inhibition in his thinking and writing "unlaxed" my own mental restrictions from whalebone stays. Helen's Fantasia—of which three issues have been mimeod in FAPA's tradition of thoughts-first-appearance-second and devil-take-the-prudish—is currently fulfilling my activity requirement of eight pages per year for the limited membership of 65.

According to Les Croutch in Light 30 (January 1946), she was against advertising in fanzines:

In fact, after reading Helen V. Wesson’s neatly printed magazine in which she commented on selling advertising space, and costs, I am wondering more about doing this. Helen Wesson takes the logical viewpoint that an amateur does not do what he is doing in return for monetary recompense of even the mildest sort.

She believes that an amateur publication ceases to be an amateur publication the moment it sells an inch of space for advertising, or sells subscriptions. If this is the case, there aren’t many true amateur magazines in the field.... However, a point to bo considered which she does not and that is that there are many amateur publishers who are short of cash and who must try to make their magazine pay for itself to as great an extent as possible. Evidently Helen Wesson has no such fears. 

Joe Kennedy records her as attending the The First Post-war Eastern Science Fiction Convention in 1946:

Helen Wesson was wandering around with an armload of The ... Things, looking beautiful and bewildered as she tried to locate all the people that the copies were supposed to go to.

Tigrina described her as “a tall, jolly brunette” when Helen visited LASFS en route to Japan in Fall 1946.

Helen grew up in Weehawken, New Jersey, the daughter of Percy and Cecelia Vivarttas. She married Sheldon C. Wesson, whom she’d met through NAPA, on September 4, 1943, shortly before he left to serve in WWII. They had two sons, Sheldon and David, and a daughter, Pamela. Helen wrote professionally for newspapers and in the fashion field (textile, apparel and home furnishings).

Fanzines and Apazines:

Awards, Honors and GoHships:

  • 1938 — AAPA Fiction Laureate
  • 1951–52 — NAPA Printing Laureate
  • 1955 — The Gold Composing Stick "for exquisite Craftsmanship in that Labor of Love which is Amateur Journalism" from The Fossils, an ajay
  • 1957 — The Fossil Literary Award

Person 19192006
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