Lee Hoffman

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(For her fanzine LeeH see LeeH.)

Lee Hoffman in front of Beatley's, the Midwestcon hotel, ca. 1952.
Photo by George Young.

(August 14, 1932 – February 6, 2007)

Lee Hoffman, born Shirley Bell Hoffman in Chicago, was an American fan, an editor of early folk music fanzines, and an author of science fiction, Western and romance novels. She was called LeeH and, while married to Larry Shaw, Lee Shaw and LeeH Shaw. Hoffwoman was another nickname, and she sometimes wrote as J. Youngfan III. Lee was Fan GoH at Chicon IV, the 1982 Worldcon, the first woman to be so honored in her own right.

From 1950 to 1953, while living in Savannah, Georgia (which she termed the Sodom of the South and the Swamp), she edited and published the highly-regarded science fiction fanzine, Quandry. In November 1951, she began publication of Science-Fiction Five-Yearly, which appeared regularly for 55 years, with Lee as faned through 1981. Her publishing house was Quandrical.

From left, Walter Willis as Southern Fan, Hoffman as Quandry (she printed her fanzine on her dress), and Max Keasler as a fan from Missouri, at the Chicon 2 masquerade, 1952.

In 1956, she won TAFF, but declined to take the trip under the auspices of the fund since she was getting married and she and husband Larry Shaw would be attending the 1956 Eastercon on their honeymoon. She was a member of FAPA and of the FATE Tape. Lee was prominent in many of the mythical (and often funny) stories that develop in fandom. See Steam, for example.

She was married to Shaw from 1956 to 1958, and she was the assistant editor on the science fiction magazines he edited, Infinity Science Fiction and Science Fiction Adventures. During that same time, she began editing and publishing her folk music publications, Caravan and Gardyloo, which found a readership through Izzy Young's Folklore Center as the folk music scene expanded during the late 1950s.

Quandry was the focal point fanzine of its period. It was the main venue where Walt Willis wrote and gained his massive influence and popularity. Quandry was so influential that when Hoffman announced that it would no longer be published, Harlan Ellison declared that it was the end of the era of Sixth Fandom and that Seventh Fandom had begun.

Much later, she received nominations for the 1951 Best Fan Writer Retro Hugo and the 1951 Best Fan Artist Retro Hugo, as well as the 1954 Best Fan Writer Retro Hugo. She won the 1987 Rebel Award.

She was Honorary Co-chairman of Tropicon 1–10 and worked on Tropicons 1–7.

Fan GoH Hoffman at Chicon 4, 1982.
Photo by Frank Olynyk.

Besides her fanac, she wrote several SF novels, including The Caves of Karst and Telepower. Hoffman won the Western Writers of America Spur Award for her novel The Valdez Horses (Doubleday, 1967). In Spain, John Sturges directed the 1973 film adaptation, The Valdez Horses/Valdez, il Mezzosangue (aka Chino), starring Charles Bronson and Jill Ireland. Under the pseudonym Georgia York, she wrote historical romances for Fawcett Books during the years 1979 to 1983.

Lee Hoffman Hoax[edit]

From Fancyclopedia 2, ca. 1959
Lee Hoffman Hoax was not really meant as a hoax. When Leeh entered fandom she didn't bother to state her sex, which many assumed on the strength of the first name and the well-known predominance of he-fans to be male. Not till she appeared at Nolacon was the truth generally realized.

If not actually a hoax, it was a deliberate obfuscation. Since her initial fanac was exclusively by mail, and since "Lee" was a unisex name held by male actifen in an era when women were a minority in fandom, few fans at first were aware she was actually a woman.

She certainly made no attempt to correct the error.

Hoffman, whose nickname, Lee, was short for Shirley, went to some trouble to keep her gender a secret, reportedly going so far as to tell people that the then-current Korean War draft had not been a problem “because I couldn't pass the physical,” leading people to think she was crippled or ill.

She recollected in Fanhistorica 1 (May 1976, p. 10):

Lee is an ambiguous name. Non-committal. Throughout my first year of fan publishing, I made a point of never making a point of being female. This was, indeed, on purpose. It wasn’t too difficult. I was in an isolated section of the country, in face-to-face contact with only a couple of other fans. I swore a few close associates, like Shelby Vick, to secrecy. I let the rest of Q’s readers draw their own conclusions. In typical male chauvinistic manner, most concluded that the editor of a successful fanzine must be male. 

In Oopsla #12 Walt Willis reported that when he found out she was a woman:

I still remember calling Bob Shaw the minute I got to work that morning...
"Drawing Office, please."
"Is Mr. Shaw there?"
"Of course I'm sure."
"She sent me her photograph. In the first place, she looks like a girl. She looks like one in the second place, too."

Bob Tucker, when he met her at the 1951 Nolacon, was fresh out of the bath; "I'll be damned!" he cried, and dropped his towel. (Both Lee’s and Tucker’s versions of the story are in the above cited Fanhistorica.)

Fanzines and Apazines:

Awards, Honors and GoHships:

From Fancyclopedia 2, ca. 1959
LeeH Lee Hoffman. Coined by Boggs, 1953, to differentiate between Hoffwoman and other Lees then active in fandom: Lee Jacobs (who adopted "Leej" in imitation), Lee Riddle (who published fanzine Leer in APAs), Lee Tremper, and Lee Bishop.

LeeH’s signature “Li'l Peepul” cartoon characters.
From Spaceship 17 (April 1952, p. 22, Bob Silverberg, ed.)

Person 19322007
This is a biography page. Please extend it by adding more information about the person, such as fanzines and apazines published, awards, clubs, conventions worked on, GoHships, impact on fandom, external links, anecdotes, etc. See Standards for People and The Naming of Names.