The other day, a member of one of the yahoo groups I joined commented that he liked the fact that my grandfather's memoir, Pulp Writer, was written right after his career with the pulps had slowed down. Because he had written it in 1943, right when Wild West Weekly was closing up shop, his memory was still fresh and was able to include a lot of good detail about writing for the pulps, as well as events that occurred at the publisher Street & Smith.
The following question was then asked: what about other pulp writers who ended up penning their memoirs? We couldn't think of any that had written theirs so soon after the end of the pulps; as it is, there aren't that many memoirs of pulp writers, period. I guess many of them weren't that interested in that part of their life, were embarrassed that they had written pulp fiction, and/or hadn't gotten to the point where they could appreciate the importance of putting down their thoughts. I (and plenty of other people, especially those on these yahoo groups) wish they had.
Eventually some of them realized that a) they better write it down because there was a dearth of information about the pulps and 2) they weren't ashamed of being a pulp writer anymore. You get to a point in your life when you realize that what other people think isn't as important. Thank God for that, huh?
Here's a list that I'm starting. I know it's incomplete. If any of you out there want to add to the list, add a comment and I'll greatly appreciate it. Maybe we can start something here. Seems a little counterproductive - after all, I want people to buy Pulp Writer, not necessarily other writer's memoirs, but people are going to read what they want to read, regardless of what I say. And hey, we're all in this together, and the written information out there about pulp fiction writers and pulp fiction history is scattered to the four corners of the earth and sometimes very hard to compile. Some of these writers were some of the "big names," and others added to the list may not be as famous. But I and others are grateful that all of these were written.
Many of these were picked out of bibliographies of reputable history books I have in my library.
1. Probably the best known: Frank Gruber, "The Pulp Jungle." 1967.
2. Harold Hersey. "Pulpwood Editor." 1938. Yes, an editor, not a writer. But great information and a requirement for any pulp student.
3. Walt Coburn. "Walt Coburn: Western Word Wrangler: An Autobiography." 1973.
4. E. Hoffman Price, "Far Lands Other Days." 1975.
5. Clark Ashton Smith. "The Black Book of Clark Ashton Smith." 1979.
6. Jack Williamson. "Wonder's Child: My Life in Science Fiction." 1984.
Every single one of these, with the exception of "Pulpwood Editor" was written at least 20 years after the end of the pulps, most of them more. I know that after my grandfather wrote Pulp Writer in 1943, he submitted it to one publisher (that I know of) who returned it, saying they didn't think there was a market for it at that point. That was in 1943.
Funny how times change.