Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Wright, Farnsworth

(1888-1940) US writer and editor, best-known as editor of Weird Tales for 179 issues (November 1924-March 1940). He allowed relatively free rein to his writers, although he could be both discouraging and encouraging with equal lack of logic. This particularly applied to H P Lovecraft, whose best works emerged in the early 1930s at longer lengths which FW discouraged, preferring shorter fiction. Nevertheless FW developed WT from a relatively routine horror pulp Magazine to create what has become a legend. His wide tastes allowed for an extravagance of fiction, whether the development of Sword-and-Sorcery under Robert E Howard, the cosmic fiction of Lovecraft, the Occult-Detective stories of Seabury Quinn, the Chinoiseries of E Hoffmann Price and Frank Owen, the terror tales of Paul Ernst (1899-1985) or the space operas and pandimensional adventures of Edmond Hamilton (1904-1977) and Nictzin Dyalhis. He also bravely decorated the magazine with the risqué Illustrations of Margaret Brundage (1900-1976), and encouraged and developed the work of Hannes Bok and Virgil Finlay.

FW's mother taught music and inspired in FW his zeal for the Classics and for art; he loved poetry and encouraged its appearance in WT, one of the few pulp markets for verse. His first job was as a reporter, but he was drafted into the US Army in 1917 and served in the infantry in WWI. His health deteriorated in the 1920s when he contracted Parkinson's disease, which prematurely aged him. Although FW produced a few stories, they are unmemorable. His poetry is more delicate, but he limited its appearance. He anonymously compiled an anthology of WT stories as a subscription bonus: The Moon Terror (anth 1927), unfortunately representative of the worst of WT's early years. He edited WT's short-lived companion magazine Oriental Stories (14 issues 1930-1934; retitled The Magic Carpet Magazine from 1933) and attempted to launch Wright's Shakespeare Library in 1935 with a pulp-format edition of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Despite the illustrations by Virgil Finlay, the book flopped.

FW's nephew, David Wright O'Brien (1918-1944), was killed during WWII after a brief but prolific period as a contributor to the Ziff-Davis pulp magazines, including Fantastic Adventures, to which he contributed many humorous fantasies. [MA]

further reading: "Farnsworth Wright" by E Hoffmann Price in The Ghost #2 (July 1944).

Farnsworth Wright

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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.