Mary Elizabeth Counselman

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(November 19, 1911 – November 13, 1995)

Mary Elizabeth Counselman

Southern author Mary Elizabeth Counselman (married name: Vinyard) was mainly a writer of short stories and poetry. Counselman's work appeared in Weird Tales, Collier's, The Saturday Evening Post, and other popular magazines. Some of her stories were adapted for television programs, including General Electric Theater and Thriller. There have been TV adaptations of her stories in Canada, England, and Australia.

Counselman began writing at a very young age. She was very precocious, selling a poem when she was only 6, and writing some of her best-known stories when she was a teenager. Counselman’s work first appeared in Weird Tales in 1933. Her first published science fiction story was "The Conquistadors Come" in Planet Stories (November, 1951).

She published extensively, including 30 stories and several poems in Weird Tales. Her short story, "The Three Marked Pennies" (1934), has been reprinted often and was reported to be the second-most-popular story ever published in "The Unique Magazine"; it certainly generated a flurry of letters to "The Eyrie," the magazine's lettercolumn.

Described as witty, intelligent, and free-spirited, she had many interests outside writing — which she once said was "the world's toughest and screwiest racket." At times, she had as many as 20 cats, many of them black because they reminded her of Halloween.

Signing her letters MEC, she "indulged in a wide and prolific correspondence" with several of her Weird Tales colleagues (including August Derleth, Seabury Quinn, and Greye La Spina) and with SF editors/writers such as Groff Conklin and Don Wilcox. She contributed to fanzines. She was a member of First Fandom and belonged to the Southern Fandom Confederation. She didn’t begin attending conventions until the 1970s, when she was a goh at the one-day Stacon in ’78, and went on to Chattacon 4 in ’79.

Some of her books were:

  • Half in Shadow: A Collection of Tales for the Night Hours (1978), which contains 14 tales, six not in an earlier UK edition published in 1964 — apparently the result of Derleth selecting the stories in the Arkham House edition and Counselman selecting the ones in the UK edition.
  • African Yesterdays: A Collection of Native Folktales (1975) — her "jungle fables" from the pulp magazines.
  • Everything You Always Wanted to Know About the Supernatural — But Are Afraid to Believe (1976) — her views on the supernatural, including reports of her own psychic experiences.
  • SPQR: The Poetry and Life of Catullus (1977).
  • New Lamps for Old (1978) — a chapbook of previously unpublished stories.

She grew up on a plantation, and later moved to Gainesville, Georgia, where her father was a faculty member at the Riverside Military Academy. She attended Alabama College and Montevallo University. She taught creative writing at the University of Alabama. She married Horace Vinyard in 1941.

Awards, Honors and GoHships:

Person 19111995
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