Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Counselman, Mary Elizabeth

(1911-1995) US writer and poet, long resident in the South, which region figures significantly in her work, a fraction of which has been collected in Half in Shadow: A Collection of Tales for the Night Hours (coll 1964 UK) and the substantially different Half in Shadow (coll 1978). MEC's first professional sale was "The Devil Himself" in My Self (1931); her most popular was "The Three Marked Pennies" (1934 WT), an Allegory in which the titular coins – conveying wealth, travel and death – go to those who will benefit least from them. The folklore and beliefs of Mountain Whites serve as background to "A Death Crown for Mr Hapworthy" (1948 WT), where a lump of feathers appears in the death pillow of a good person, "The Unwanted" (1950 WT), where a childless woman creates dream children, and "The Tree's Wife" (1950 WT), where the spirit of a young man appears in a Tree. An undisguised longing for the antebellum South is visible in such tales as "The Shot-Tower Ghost" (1949 WT) and "The Green Window" (1949 WT). At her best, MEC was a capable regionalist whose use of the fantastic enhanced her familiar themes. [RB]

other works: African Yesterdays (coll 1977 chap), a collection of jungle stories from the pulps; New Lamps for Old (coll 1978 chap), a vol of mostly new stories; The Face of Fear and Other Poems (coll 1984 chap) ed Steve Eng (1940-    ), with intro by Joseph Payne Brennan.

Mary Elizabeth Counselman


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.