Arthur Guy Empey was born on this date in 1883. The soldier, actor, author and filmmaker is one of the writers profiled in The Beginner’s Guide to Pulp Fiction.
Empey, an American frustrated with neutrality, fought in World War I with the British Army beginning in 1915. He served on the Western Front as a bomber and machine-gunner and was wounded in action at the Battle of Somme.
After a medical discharge, Empey returned to the United States in 1917, where he wrote Over the Top, a book about his experiences. The popular book was made into a film in 1918, leading to a career in Hollywood for the former soldier.
As the medium transitioned to sound in the late 1920s, Empey’s career slowed and he began writing war-themed pulp stories. Empey created the popular Terence X. O’Leary, a World War I infantryman, military policeman, aviator and secret agent. His adventures appeared in multiple pulps including War Stories, Battle Stories and War Birds. The latter was retitled as Terence X. O’Leary’s War Birds in 1935 in an attempt to boost sales. Oddly, the editors also changed the format, changing genres from more realistic war stories to more fanciful, supernatural tales. The experiment ended after only three issues and the title was dropped altogether in 1936 as public interest in World War I faded.