Margaret St. Clair (17 February 1911 – 22 November 1995) was an American science fiction writer, who also wrote under the pseudonyms Idris Seabright and Wilton Hazzard. ====History==== St. Clair was born in Huchinson, Kansas. Her father, US Representative George A. Neeley, died when Margaret was seven, but left her mother well provided for. With no siblings, Margaret recalled her childhood as "rather a lonely and bookish one." When she was seventeen, she and her mother moved to California. In 1932, after graduating from the University of California, Berkeley, she married writer Eric St. Clair. In 1934 she earned a Master of Arts in Greek Classics. The St. Clairs lived in a house in the hills with a panoramic view near Richmond, California, where Margaret gardened and bred and sold dachshund puppies. St. Clair wrote that she "first tried my hand at detective and mystery stories, and even the so-called 'quality' stories," before finding her niche writing fantasy and science fiction for pulp magazines. "Unlike most pulp writers, I have no special ambitions to make the pages of the slick magazines. I feel that the pulps at their best touch a genuine folk tradition and have a balladic quality which the slicks lack." Beginning in the late 1940s, St. Clair wrote and published, by her own count, some 130 short stories. Her early output included the Oona and Jick series of eight stories published from 1947 to 1949, chronicling the comic misadventures of "housewife of the future" Oona and her devoted husband Jick. The stories were ostensibly set in a idealized future but cast a satirical look at post-war domestic life, with its focus on acquiring labor-saving household devices and "keeping up with the Joneses." St. Clair would later remark that the Oona and Jick stories "were not especially popular with fans, who were—then as now—a rather humorless bunch. The light tone of the stories seemed to offend readers and make them think I was making fun of them." She was especially prolific in the 1950s, producing such acclaimed and much-reprinted stories as "The Man Who Sold Rope to the Gnoles" (1951), "Brightness Falls from the Air" (1951), "An Egg a Month from All Over" (1952), and "Horrer Howce" (1956). She occasionally drew inspiration from her education in Classics and her knowledge of Greek myth, as in "Mrs. Hawk" (1950), a modern update of the Circe myth, "The Bird" (1951), about a modern man's fateful encounter with the mythical phoenix, and "The Goddess on the Street Corner" (1953), in which a down-on-his-luck wino meets an equally vulnerable Aphrodite. Beginning in 1950 with "The Listening Child," all of St. Clair's stories in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction appeared under the pseudonym Idris Seabright. The Seabright story "Personal Monster" appeared in the September 1955 issue immediately before the story "Too Many Bears" by a newcomer to the magazine, St. Clair's husband, Eric; in his introductory note to "Too Many Bears," editor Anthony Boucher quipped that Eric St. Clair "is enviably married to two of my favorite science fiction writers." Three of her short stories were adapted for television. "Mrs. Hawk" was filmed as "The Remarkable Mrs. Hawk" for the 1961 season of Thriller, with Jo Van Fleet in the title role. "The Boy Who Predicted Earthquakes" (1950) and "Brenda" (1954) were filmed as segments of the 1971 season of Rod Serling's Night Gallery. I'm in search of some still photos, captures would do as nicely, of the creature from Night Gallery Episode 13 (?) - Brenda, also interested in who may have fabricated the original suit worn by Fred Carson.the work of John Chambers, and Werner Kepler. They're the guys who made Pickman's Model. It interesting to me, that this monster looks spot on to the monster from the Marvel Comics adaptation of "IT" by Theodore Sturgeon.the creatures bares resemblance that of Swamp Thing and Man-Thing - and they're both It's children!always thought of "Brenda" as a sort of unofficial sequel to "It" -- the mold and glop forming the creature in "It" was simply washed away by a stream. The mold could grow back! I remember some comic mag -- BACK ISSUES, maybe? -- that showed a page of a Man-Thing script (or the bible for the comic). There were actual reminders not to make Manny too much like "It" (which had come out in SUPERNATURAL THRILLERS #1). I recall the notes pointing out that "It"'s motivation was that it was intellectually curious, while Man-Thing was empathic but essentially mindless -- so Manny was a conscious "Like-it-but-opposite" spin on "It". Always found this episode troubling as a kid. The relationship between the girl and monster is pretty nebulous (who was gaining what from whom here?) and the girl was incredibly unlikable to the point that you almost feel sorry for the monster for wanting her company!This is an essay that I wrote at the Night Gallery Yahoo Group (that I may have written about somewhere here as well), but as a fan of Brenda, I thought I'd put it here: "Brenda" is one of my favorite Night Gallery segments. It's a perfect blend of mystery, fantasy, drama, and a delicate sense of wonder. Ever since the first time I saw it I was particularly engrossed in trying to work out the significance of the final section where Brenda encounters the creature still alive under the rocks. Why was the girl crying? If it was all in her imagination, what had the island dwellers fought? Why can't it escape? I've come to the conclusion that "Brenda" has been misinterpreted for many years as just a gentle coming of age fantasy. While I think that it can be read that way on the surface, and it's even possible the filmmakers understood it that way, I think there is evidence that the short story is about something else. And, considering how close the episode stays to the short story, I believe the meaning from the short story is just as evident in the television episode. The writer of the story, Margaret St. Clair, was one of the earliest American adherents to the ways of modern witchcraft, or Wicca. This aspect of her life is discussed in Chas S. Clifton's essay on Margaret's life and fiction here: http://chasclifton.com/columns/column17.html "Brenda" was written (or first published at least) in 1954 (in Weird Tales - awesome!). According to Clifton's timeline, while St. Clair & her husband only became officially initiated into the mysteries of Wicca in 1966, her writing showed she was familiar with books written by the modern purveyor of Wicca Gerald Gardner, specifically "High Magic's Aid" from 1949 and "Witchcraft Today" from 1954. She could have been influenced by those books when they came out in the late 40's and early 50's, though so far I don't have a smoking gun to say she did definitively base Brenda on those concepts, but I believe there is circumstantial evidence in the story. So, with the information about St. Clair's inclinations towards Wicca, and having a personal interest in Wicca myself, I thought back to another seminal work in the witchcraft field that I read, Margot Adler's Drawing Down The Moon. In it, Margot notes that many Wiccan followers go back and talk about how their childhood experiences with nature and to some degree their imagination (or magical reality) allowed them to touch upon divine aspects of life on earth that corresponded to and reinforced their understanding of Wicca, and that this childhood experience helped fuel their adult interest in Wicca. I've also read this in other autobiographical accounts of Wiccans and how they got into the movement. Could "Brenda" be then, not so much a typical coming of age story with a young girl experiencing growing older, but more a young girl experiencing the divine, a natural god-form/Green-Man, and not wanting to forget that connection? And at the end, the sounds she detects through the rocks of the strange creature's continued life showing that Brenda was still able to connect with the magic in nature where most people have closed that world off? And the tears that Brenda sheds being something about appreciating the connection that still exists between her and the green mossy critter, rather than taking it for granted when she was younger and more selfish? It's how I see it now, and for me it makes sense of the stranger elements of the story, with St. Clair using her own world view to enrich the narrative with an unusual subtext that helps give the storyit's eerie power of something more...rather like the beast under rocks that still lives! Interesting take on the story and one of the reasons it has stuck in my mind for so many years is that it isn't laid out for the audience to digest and walk away from the table content. I really can't say what my initial reaction to the episode was the first time i saw it,but i surely must have taken it as a more straight forward monster yarn. I do remember finding the monster unsettling and interesting and the little girl pretty unbearable. Watching it now, the title character seems incapable of making friends or even recognizing human emotions outside of her own (which now makes her seem like she is less a rotten bad seed and more the victim of some sort of mental illness/condition) and the monster,being almost completely inhuman in every way, is her only real shot at some sort of non judgmental companionship. Maybe she wants human friendship and can't attain it,so she is more than willing to become attached to something seeking the same companionship who is willing to return it blindly,like some sort of mistreated animal. St. Clair wrote only a handful of stories in the mystery genre, but one of them, The Perfectionist (1946), was widely reprinted and translated, and served as the basis for the play A Dash of Bitters by Reginald Denham and Conrad Sutton Smith. She used her Wilton Hazzard pseudonym for occasional forays into manly adventure, including stories for the magazines Jungle Stories, Football Action, and Baseball Stories. Under her own name she wrote several pieces of fiction and satire for "gentlemen's magazines" including Gent and The Dude. St. Clair also wrote eight novels, four of which were published in the Ace Double series. One of her most highly regarded novels was Sign of the Labrys (1963), notable for its overt early use of Wicca elements in fiction; St. Clair wrote that the book "was primarily inspired by Gerald Gardner's books on witchcraft." The editor of The Crystal Well called Sign of the Labrys "an occult classic," and in his review of the novel for Analog, P. Schuyler Miller declared that St. Clair was one of the most unappreciated writers in science fiction. St. Clair's research into witchcraft led to her friendship with Raymond Buckland, who recalled the St. Clairs as "absolutely wonderful people, very warm and loving." In her rare autobiographical writings, St. Clair revealed few details of her personal life, but interviews with some who knew her indicate that she and her husband were well-traveled (including some visits to nudist colonies), were childless by choice, and in 1966 were initiated into Wicca by Raymond Buckland, taking the Craft names Froniga and Weyland. She died at Santa Rosa, California, in 1995. ====Works==== =====Novels=====
- The Green Queen (1956)*Agent of the Unknown (1956)*The Games of Neith (1960)*Sign of the Labrys (1963)*Message from the Eocene (1964)*The Dolphins of Altair (1967)*The Shadow People (1969)*The Dancers of Noyo (1973) =====Story collections=====
- Three Worlds of Futurity (1964)*Change the Sky and Other Stories (1974)*The Best of Margaret St. Clair (1985) ====References====
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 St. Clair, Margaret, "Wight in Space: An Autobiographical Sketch" in Fantastic Lives: Autobiographical Essays by Notable Science Fiction Writers edited by Martin H. Greenberg, Southern Illinois University Press, 1981, pp. 144-156.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 "Presenting the Author" by Margaret St. Clair, Fantastic Adventures, November 1946, p. 2.
- ↑ Introduction to "Too Many Bears" by Eric St. Clair, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, September 1955, page 63.
- ↑ Analog Science Fact & Science Fiction, March 1964, p. 91.
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 "Letter From Hardscrabble Creek: Chasing Margaret" by Chas. S. Clifton, Hardscrabble #17, June 1997.
- Template:Isfdb name includes a lengthy bibliography*Margaret St. Clair at The FictionMags Index includes some unique bibliographic entries*Margaret St. Clair entry at Worlds Without End, includes a photo of the author*Margaret St. Clair at IMDb*Margaret St. Clair at The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction online edition*More Authors of the Golden Age of Science Fiction: Margaret St. Clair, Part 1 and Part 2, posted June 25, 2103 at Tellers of Weird Tales *"The Elusive Margaret St. Clair" by Andrew Liptak, posted at Kirkus Reviews, July 18, 2013*Reviews by Timothy Mayer of several Margaret St. Clair books, and an article on collecting St. Clair ephemera*The Best of Margaret St. Clair review by Todd Mason*Change the Sky and Other Stories review by Ian Sales*"Super Whost" an Oona and Jick short story by Margaret St. Clair*Margaret St. Clair at UNZ.org*Idris Seabright (pseudonym of Margaret St. Clair) at UNZ.org*"Presenting the Author", Margaret St. Clair's autobiographical essay for Fantastic Adventures, November 1946, including a photo of the author Template:Authority control Template:Persondata Template:US-sf-writer-stub