Sandy Sanderson

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(December 15, 1931 – May 12, 1993)

Sandy Sanderson at Loncon, 1957 (photo Norman Shorrock)

Harold Peter "Sandy" Sanderson was a 1950s UK fan and editor. He is primarily remembered for the hoax he perpetuated with his creation of the Joan W. Carr persona, and then for his role in the love triangle of Inchmery Fandom.

Sanderson, from Manchester, UK, first encountered fandom in May 1952 when he attended the London SF Con. He joined the Nor'west Science Fantasy Club shortly afterwards and was soon helping run the Mancon. He was an Army Sergeant (which explains his military-style, surname-abbreviating nickname), and after learning of the Tucker Death Hoax, started thinking of something in reverse. In 1953–56, he was deployed to Egypt, whence he did fanac by mail (and occasional furloughs), providing him with an ideal opportunity to create a fictive femmefan in his unit's women's auxiliary – see below.

After he returned to a desk job in the War Office, Sanderson became a lodger in the London home of Joy and Vin¢ Clarke, with whom he had become close during the hoax. Together they created the intensely prolific Inchmery Fandom. At some point, he and Joy began an affair, and in early June 1960, she dumped Vin¢ to marry and move to the US with Sanderson. (Vin¢ Clarke retained custody of their 18-month-old daughter, Nicki.)

Sanderson was running for TAFF in the midst of this, but the 1960 TAFF Race was won by Eric Bentcliffe, with whom he had feuded – Sanderson placed last out of three. However the deadline was on 15 June, so the starting bad publicity due to the breakup could not have influenced the results much (certainly not the July Ex-Inchmery Fan Diary, Vin¢’s embittered accusing gafiation letter substitute). The running tallies[1] show that Sanderson was by far the least popular in Britain consistently throughout all spring, even though he had a slight lead in the US.

Sanderson and Joy moved to New York with help from WSFS, Inc. backers Belle and Frank Dietz. After that, their traces weaken. Dick Lynch's obituary said:

Sandy's involvement with fandom diminished [in the U.S.] His last convention appearance was the 1981 Worldcon in Denver, but he continued to show up from time to time in the letters column of a few fanzines, and maintained his interest in fandom right up until his death.

Fanzines and Apazines:

Joan W. Carr[edit]

Joan W. Carr (abbreviated JoCa and JWC) was a popular UK femmefan in the early 1950s, who turned out to be a hoax created by the male UK fan Sandy Sanderson, along with Frances Evans. Then a sergeant in the British Army stationed in Egypt, Sanderson reported meeting a WRAC (British WAC) who’d expressed an interest in fandom. This was at a time when there were not a lot of women in fandom, though the numbers were growing fast compared to the 1940s.

"She" was soon writing to various fans back in England, and was eventually asked (and agreed) to edit Femizine, which became a very popular focal point for female unity in the UK. At the height of its popularity under Joan's editorship, it had a respectable circulation over 200 and generated reader response of roughly 50% – which was unheard of, before or since. When the hoax was finally revealed early in 1956, it shook up many of the fans, and particularly the femmefans who had responded so positively.

But it was not as if this sort of gender bending had not taken place before. In the US, when Lee Hoffman started publishing Quandry in 1950, the fact that there were two male BNFs named Lee – (Charles) Lee Riddle and Lee Jacobs – led everyone to simply assume that LeeH was a he rather than a she. But the distinction, perhaps, is that Shirley Hoffman had not intended to hoax anyone when she used her childhood nickname on her fanzine. When her attempts to hint otherwise – e.g., writing about sitting cross-legged on the bed while typing or sending columnist Walt Willis a Valentine's Day card – failed to alert anyone, she became amused and continued it, just telling it to a few friends, until she could unmask at the Nolacon, the 1951 Worldcon. See Lee Hoffman Hoax.

Fanzines and Apazines:

From Fancyclopedia 2, ca. 1959
Joan W Carr One of the more popular hoaxes in fannish history, which boasts a good many. She was a femmefan, first born in the mind of HP (Sandy) Sanderson back in October 1952. When he was posted to the Middle East, Sandy [a sergeant in the British army] concocted with Frances Evans a plot against the male members of the Northwest Science Fantasy Club (of Manchester, his home town). Soon after arriving in North Africa he told them of meeting a WRAC [British WAC] who took an interest in fandom. Later "she" wrote letters to various Manchester fans, using a typer (Sandy never did) and signing "her" signature in green with a special pen. Later, she came into contact with fans outside of the original Northern group, and by May 1954 was well-known in Anglofandom. It was generally assumed that she and Sandy would be married at the end of their overseas tour. (One British femmefan worried a bit about their future, remarking that Joan sounded like one of those ultra-masculine sergeants the WRACs develop and would probably not make anybody a good wife.)

Meanwhile, back in England, Frances (who had been studying the reaction among Anglofen while Sandy animated his creation in Egypt) had been in touch with Ethel Lindsay, and had put forward the idea of uniting all the female fans thru a magazine of their own. Joan "volunteered" to edit it, and so FEMIZINE came into being. It was more popular than expected. Suddenly femmefandom turned up plenty of talent that had previously been hidden. In short order FEZ had a circulation of 200, with up to 50% letter returns -- an amazing reader response. By March 1955 Ethel Lindsay had been brought into the plot, Joan was known thruout fandom, and time was running short. JoCa had grown out of all consideration of the original idea, and began to go gafia. FEZ was turned over to Pamela Bulmer (who produced issues 8&9) in July 1955, and presently Joan had reduced her activity to OMPA only and was slowing down there.

When the hoax was revealed it dealt British female fandom a jolt from which it has yet to recover (1959). The fear of this had led Frances and Ethel to decide that Joan should go gafia; Sandy started to take over Joan's activities in his own name, spreading talk of a quarrel between himself and Joan. Unfortunately, in May '56 somebody blew the gaff; Ron Bennett was intending to create a mythical wife, also named "Joan", and someone in the secret told him it had already been done. Hints and suggestions were flying around the '56 Kettering convention, and it was decided to break the story in FEZ 9.

Joan's name in the first place was taken from a box of Carr's biscuits and from Carrs Mills, where a non-fan cousin of Sandy's (who later posed for photos of "Joan") lived. It was chosen without any thought of the various meanings that could be read into it and its contractions JoCa and JWC. It says something for the differences between Yanks and Britons that many of Sandy's Army acquaintances knew of his hoax yet didn't think there was anything odd about it, even picking up "her" mail and holding it while Sandy was on leave.

(Note that the Fancy 2 chronology is somewhat misleading – Cytricon II took place over Easter at the turn of March/April, and Femizine 9 itself was dated May 1956. Also, square brackets above are a transcription of Fancy's strike-through slashes, used here without a clear distinction from ordinary round parentheses.)

For more, see Chapters Four and Five of Then by Rob Hansen and especially his 2023 Generation Femizine.


Person 19311993
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