William L. Hamling

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(June 14, 1921 – June 29, 2017)

William Lawrence Hamling, a Chicago fan and pro, was a member of First Fandom. He began reading sf in 1935 and published some in Lane Tech Prep, his high school newspaper which he edited. He became a fan in 1938 through the efforts of Mark Reinsberg and was a fan, writer, and editor during science fiction's Golden Age.

He wanted to run Chicon I and worked with Jack Darrow to re-form the Chicago SFL in 1939 as well as the Chicago Science Fictioneers (and served as a director of both clubs), but, ultimately, the convention was run by the Illini Fantasy Fictioneers, though he was on the concom. According to Jack Speer in the Fancyclopedia 1 article on Conferences, several were “held in 1939 and 1940 to plan the Chicon, attendees being Reinsberg, Korshak, Tucker, and other figures, but not including W. Lawrence Hamling, another prominent Chicago fan, who objected for reasons of anti-Semitism.”

Hamling published the fanzine Stardust, fandom's first printed fanzine with five issues in 1940. He was one of the Committee of Seven which ran Chicon II. He was elected to the First Fandom Hall of Fame in 2004. He was involved in a feud with Earl Singleton.

He got a job helping Ray Palmer in 1947, and he was managing editor of both Amazing and Fantastic Adventures during 1948–1950, and in 1951 became editor/publisher of Imagination, buying the title from Ray Palmer. A companion title, Imaginative Tales (late Space Travel), was later added, and he continued both until late 1958. He was involved in the Richard Shaver affair.

After he cancelled his SF magazines, he put his energies into his would-be Playboy clone Rogue and formed Greenleaf Classics, which published erotic novels, as well as the illustrated edition of the Presidential Report of the Commission on Obscenity and Pornography (1970), edited by Earl Kemp, for which they were both imprisoned for "conspiracy to mail obscene material," but they served only the federal minimum of three months and one day.

He also formed Regency Books, a mass-market paperback line, an attempt to diversify his publishing activities. The intent was to publish "controversial" books, featuring both fiction and non-fiction, including such topics as race relations, political corruption, and mob psychology. They were poorly distributed, however, and struggled to find an audience.

Hamling was born in Chicago and died in Palm Springs, California. He was married to Frances Hamling, who worked on his magazines.

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