The weird life of pioneering female pulp fiction writer CL Moore

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CL Moore was one of the only women who ever wrote for famous pulp fiction magazines Weird Tales and Astounding Science Fiction during the 1930s. Now Andrew Liptak has a great article about her life over at Kirkus, including links to never-before-seen short stories by the woman who was both a fantasy and SF pioneer. I love this bit about where she composed her stories, and how she met her husband via mail (who of course assumed she was a man based on her byline and interests):

As the Great Depression settled into the United States, Moore left the university and began work as a secretary at a bank in Indianapolis a year and a half after enrolling. She continued to write, staying after hours at the bank in the bank's balcony "where she could look out over the bank's main floor," submitting stories to various fanzines. The back of one of her later novels noted that she enjoyed writing where she had a good view . . . Moore's first professional sale in 1933 made the biggest splash: Farnsworth Wright, editor for Weird Tales magazine received her story, Shamebleau, and immediately knew that he had something fantastic. Reportedly, Wright closed Weird Tales' offices for the day in celebration upon reading the story, which appeared in the magazine's November issue, under the name C.L. Moore. While other women writing in the science fiction field at the time masked their names to compete in a male-dominated field, Moore claimed that the abbreviation of her name was more to protect her identity from her employer.

Moore continued the adventures of the story's central character, Northwest Smith, with Black Thirst, published in Weird Tales' April 1934 issue and with Scarlet Dream in May and Dust of Gods in August. The Black God's Kiss, appearing in the October 1934 issue of Weird Tales, featured a new character, Jirel of Joiry, a notable female protagonist in a sword and sorcery story.

Weird Tales readers praised Moore's characters, prose and storylines, including fellow author H.P. Lovecraft. Others in the industry took notice, including F. Orlin Tremaine, the editor of Astounding Science Fiction, bringing Moore into the science fiction fold with her story The Bright Illusion in the October 1934 issue. She would continue to publish in the magazine market throughout the rest of the 1930s as C.L. Moore.

Another fellow author and admirer of Moore's work was Henry Kuttner, who had published his first story in 1936 in Weird Tales, Graveyard Rat. Kuttner wrote to Moore, unaware that she was a woman. In 1940, the pair married, marking a major change in their writing careers. Moore all but ceased to write under her own name as they collaborated extensively; their contributions to their stories are inseparable.


Read more over at Kirkus, and check out the stories.