F.R. Buckley, 1896-1976

December 20

Pulp writer Frederick Robert Buckley was born on today’s date in 1896. The English writer, film critic and screenwriter is one of the writers featured in The Beginner’s Guide to Pulp Fiction, Volume 2.

Born in Colton, Staffordshire, England, in 1896, he emigrated to the United States in 1915. He went to work as a film critic for the New York Evening Mail, then joined Vitagraph Studios. He worked as a screenwriter and actor for the silent film studio. In 1916, he married actress Helen Curry, sister of pulp writer Tom Curry.

Buckley left the studio in 1918 after selling his first short story, “Getting It,” to The Black Cat. His fiction would appear in the slicks, as well as several pulps, including Argosy, Adventure, Blue Book and Western Story Magazine.

For Adventure, Buckley wrote his most famous series, featuring Captain Luigi Caradosso, an Italian mercenary during the Renaissance. The swashbuckling hero first appeared in 1924, with several more stories from 1926 to 1934, when Buckley returned to England. A second series of Caradosso stories ran in Adventure from 1940 to 1949.

From 1934 to 1970, he worked as an announcer and writer for the BBC. He died in England in 1976.

Alfred Bester, 1913-1987

December 18

Alfred Bester was born on today’s date in 1913. The pulp writer, television and radio scribe and editor is one of the writers featured in The Beginner’s Guide to Pulp Fiction.

A member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame, Bester got his start by winning a story contest sponsored by Thrilling Wonder Stories. His story, “The Broken Axiom,” won Bester $50 and was published in the April 1939 issue.

Bester published several more stories in Thrilling Wonder Stories, Startling Stories and Astounding Science Fiction over the next couple years. In 1942, Bester began writing for DC Comics, then scripted episodes of several radio programs, including The Shadow and Nick Carter, Master Detective.

In the 1950s, Bester returned to writing science fiction short stories and novels, which he would do on-and-off along with other various writing and editing jobs until his death in 1987.

Arthur Guy Empey, 1883-1963

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.

Fredric Brown, 1906-1972

Fredric Brown was born on this day in 1906.

He’s one of the many pulp writers profiled in the Beginner’s Guide to Pulp Fiction, Vol. 1.

Brown was a science fiction and mystery writer, known for his use of humor and for his mastery of ultra-short stories of one to three pages, often with ingenious plotting devices and surprise endings.

According to his wife, Fredric Brown hated to write and would do everything he could to avoid it. Despite that, Brown churned out millions of words worth of short stories, novels and collections.

Brown worked as an editor and typesetter at the Milwaukee Journal in the 1930s. His first professional short story publication was “The Moon for a Nickel,” in the March 1938 issue of Detective Story Magazine. Dozens more mystery and detective stories would follow in Thrilling Detective, Ten Detective Aces, G-Men Detective and The Phantom Detective to name just a few.

His first science fiction story, “Not Yet the End”, was published in the Winter 1941 issue of Captain Future. Brown published stories in many of the great science fiction pulps and digests, including Unknown, Astounding, Startling and Galaxy Science Fiction.