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Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Authors

Donald Wandrei

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Donald Wandrei

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Full Name: Donald Albert Wandrei
Born: April 20, 1908
St. Paul, Minnesota, USA
Died: October 15, 1987
St. Paul, Minnesota, USA
Occupation: Writer, Poet, Editor
Nationality: American
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Biography

Donald Wandrei was an American science fiction, fantasy and weird fiction writer, poet and editor. He was the older brother of science fiction writer and artist Howard Wandrei. Donald's father, Albert Christian Wandrei, became chief editor of West Publishing Company, America's leading publisher of law books. Donald grew up in his parents' house in St Paul, Minnesota, and lived there most of his life, save for a stint in the Army and occasional sojourns in New York and Hollywood. He loved frequent rambles in the woods along the Minnesota River; it was Wandrei who later taught August Derleth the fine art of morel hunting.

Wandrei attended Central High in St Paul, Minnesota, during which period he published short compositions in the school newspaper and avidly read the magazine Science and Invention. In 1923 he began work part-time as a "page-boy" in the Circulation Room of the Saint Paul Public Library, filling reader's requests for books from the storage stacks, and worked evenings at the Hill Reference Library; this expanded his access to, and reading of, a wide variety of literature. He graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1928, with a BA in English. While there, he was a student editor on the student newspaper The Minnesota Daily. At that time, he was enormously influenced by a reading of Arthur Machen's novel The Hill of Dreams.

In late 1927, Wandrei hitchhiked from Minnesota to Rhode Island to visit H.P. Lovecraft. Lovecraft conducted him on a grand antiquarian tour of Providence, R.I. and then on to similar tours in Boston, Salem and Marblehead. There was also an excursion to Warren, R.I., later made famous by Wandrei's reminiscences in the Arkham House volume Marginalia, during which Wandrei, Lovecraft and James Ferdinand Morton each sampled twenty-eight different flavors of ice cream at Maxfield's ice-cream parlour.

Wandrei's novelette "Raiders of the Universes" was the cover story in the September 1932 Astounding Stories. Wandrei was active in pulp magazines until the late 1930s. He was a member of the "Lovecraft Circle," as a friend and protégé of H. P. Lovecraft, corresponding with other members of the circle (Frank Belknap Long, Clark Ashton Smith, etc). Wandrei personally made the case for Weird Tales to publish Lovecraft's "The Call of Cthulhu", telling Farnsworth Wright that unless he published the tale, Lovecraft might look into submitting his stories to other magazines.

As an accomplished poet, Wandrei was the first to write a series of sonnets for Weird Tales, "Sonnets of the Midnight Hours". Lovecraft liked the idea so much, he embarked on his own series, "Fungi From Yuggoth". Wandrei published 3 novels, and had fourteen stories in Weird Tales and another sixteen in Astounding Stories, plus a few in other magazines including Esquire.

Wandrei and August Derleth later co-founded the publishing house Arkham House to keep Lovecraft's legacy alive, an action for which Wandrei is perhaps better remembered than for his own fiction. Much of the editorial work on Lovecraft's Selected Letters series, as published by Arkham House in five volumes, was performed by Wandrei.

In the 1970s, Wandrei commenced a long and tedious process of litigation against Arkham House, the publishing company he had helped to found. Three years after Wandrei's death in 1987, Philip Rahman -- who had met Wandrei in 1976 at a convention and become friends with him -- founded, with his mostly silent partner Dennis Weiler, the publishing firm of Fedogan and Bremer to issue work by Donald and Howard Wandrei as well as other classic pulp writers.


Works in the WWEnd Database

 Non Series Works

 (2012)
 (1997)
 (1989)
 (1948)
 
 

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