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Encyclopedia > Edgar Pangborn

Edgar Pangborn (February 25, 1909February 1, 1976) was an American mystery, historical, and science fiction author. February 25 is the 56th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar. ... Year 1909 (MCMIX) was a common year starting on Friday (see link for calendar). ... February 1 is the 32nd day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar. ... 1976 (MCMLXXVI) was a leap year starting on Thursday. ... Science fiction is a form of speculative fiction principally dealing with the impact of imagined science and technology, or both, upon society and persons as individuals. ...



Edgar Pangborn was born in New York City on February 25, 1909, to Harry Levi Pangborn, an attorney and dictionary editor, and Georgia Wood Pangborn, a noted writer of supernatural fiction. Along with his older sister Mary, Edgar was homeschooled until 1919 and then educated at Brooklyn Friends School. He began music studies at Harvard University in 1924, when he was still only 15 years old, and left in 1926 without graduating. After that he studied at the New England Conservatory of Music, but did not graduate from that school, either. On leaving he publicly abandoned music, shifting his creative focus to writing. His first novel, a mystery called A-100: A Mystery Story, was published under the pseudonym "Bruce Harrison" in 1930. It was not an auspicious or notably successful debut, and showed none of the emotional or stylistic characteristics that became the hallmark of his later work. Nickname: Big Apple, Gotham, NYC, City That Never Sleeps, The Concrete Jungle, The City So Nice They Named It Twice Location in the state of New York Coordinates: Country United States State New York Boroughs The Bronx Brooklyn Manhattan Queens Staten Island Settled 1676 Government  - Mayor Michael Bloomberg (R) Area... Brooklyn Friends School is a Quaker school in New York City. ... Harvard University (incorporated as The President and Fellows of Harvard College) , is a private university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. One of the eight Ivies, it was founded in 1636. ... New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. ...

Over the next 20 years he wrote numerous stories for the pulp detective and mystery magazines, always under pseudonyms. He also spent three years (1939-1942) farming in rural Maine, and three years (1942-1945) doing his World War II military service in the Pacific with the U. S. Army Medical Corps. Combatants Allied powers: China France Great Britain Soviet Union United States and others Axis powers: Germany Italy Japan and others Commanders Chiang Kai-shek Charles de Gaulle Winston Churchill Joseph Stalin Franklin Roosevelt Adolf Hitler Benito Mussolini Hideki Tōjō Casualties Military dead: 17,000,000 Civilian dead: 33,000...

It was not until the early 1950s that Edgar "suddenly appeared" within the science fiction and mystery fields, publishing a string of high-quality, high-profile stories under his own name in prominent magazines like Galaxy, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, and Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine. His work helped to firmly establish a new "humanist" school of science fiction, and inspired a subsequent generation of writers, including Peter S. Beagle and Ursula K. LeGuin. (Ms. LeGuin has credited Edgar Pangborn and Theodore Sturgeon with convincing her that it was possible to write worthwhile, humanly emotional stories within science fiction and fantasy.) NGC 4414, a typical spiral galaxy in the constellation Coma Berenices, is about 17,000 parsecs in diameter and approximately 20 million parsecs distant. ... F&SF April 1971, special Poul Anderson issue. ... Ellery Queens Mystery Magazine is a monthly digest size fiction magazine specializing in crime fiction, particularly detective fiction. ... Peter Soyer Beagle (born in 1939) is an American fantasist and author of novels, nonfiction, and screenplays. ... Theodore Sturgeon (February 26, 1918 Staten Island, New York – May 8, 1985) was an American science fiction author. ...

In the 1960s Edgar also began painting semi-professionally in oils, and exhibited portraits, nudes, and landscape paintings at local and regional art shows.

He continued to write in all genres until he died in Bearsville, New York on February 1, 1976. 1976 (MCMLXXVI) was a leap year starting on Thursday. ...

27 years later, in 2003, he was named winner of that year's "Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award."


Mr. Pangborn came from a writing family. His mother, Georgia Wood Pangborn, was a noted writer of ghost stories that appeared regularly in such popular mainstream periodicals as Scribner's, Harper's Monthly, The Woman's Home Companion, and others. His father, Harry Levi Pangborn, worked as an editor of Webster's Dictionary. Words and literature were a part of the Pangborn household from the very beginning. As children, Edgar and his sister Mary carried on the tradition by writing an extensive series of fanciful, handwritten storybooks, often collaborating on these with each other and also their mother.

For the first 20 years of Edgar's writing career, which started when he was 21, Edgar wrote what he referred to as "literary hackwork" for the pulp magazines. His serious work began in 1951, with the publication of his first science fiction story, "Angel's Egg," in Galaxy magazine. It is considered a classic of the field, and has been translated into six languages and reprinted more than twenty times. By 1954 Edgar was well-known and his second science fiction novel, A Mirror for Observers won the International Fantasy Award. This book is told from the point of view of a "Salvayan" (Martian) observer on Earth, who struggles with another Martian over the fate of a gifted young man. From there Edgar continued writing in science fiction and in other genres as well, including the historical novel Wilderness of Spring and the contemporary courtroom drama The Trial of Callista Blake. Galaxy Science Fiction magazine was the creation of noted pulp magazine editor Horace Leonard Gold, generally known as H. L. Gold. ... The International Fantasy Awards were given out in 1951--1955 and in 1957. ... A Martian is a hypothetical or fictional native inhabitant of the planet Mars. ...

1964 saw publication of Edgar's best-known book, the Hugo-nominated Davy. It is a picaresque bildungsroman set in a repressive post-apocalyptic future, a world that eventually became the backdrop for most of Edgar's stories, including his Hugo-nominated "Longtooth," his Nebula finalist "Mount Charity," and his last novel, The Company of Glory. A bildungsroman (IPA: /, German: novel of education or novel of formation) is a novel which traces the spiritual, moral, psychological, or social development and growth of the main character from (usually) childhood to maturity. ...

Because of his educational background and early interests, Edgar's works often deal with musical themes: in both Davy and A Mirror For Observers music plays a crucial role. Edgar's works are also known for being humane and poignant in a way that nevertheless allows for some dark themes and raunchy humor.

In his introduction to Edgar's posthumous story collection Still I Persist In Wondering, Spider Robinson called Edgar a "writer's writer," and observed "Edgar Pangborn said again and again in his books that love is not a condition or an event or even a state of mind — that love is a country, which we are sometimes privileged to visit." Spider Robinson (born November 24, 1948 in New York City) is a Canadian science fiction writer. ...


Edgar never discussed his early musical training in detail with anyone in the science fiction, fantasy, or mystery fields. It was known that he studied the piano and violin, but that was all. In 2003, however, a large stack of handwritten music manuscripts were discovered in the attic of the Bearsville house in which Edgar died. These manuscripts included original string quartets, sonatas, nocturnes, and other orchestral forms written by Edgar during his music conservatory days.

The scores are now being converted to digital notation files that will allow MIDI playback, so they can finally be heard.

The Rediscovery of Edgar Pangborn

Throughout his life, Edgar Pangborn maintained extensive correspondences with other writers, and he became particularly close to the American fantasy author Peter S. Beagle. After Edgar's death that connection was maintained by Edgar's sole heir, his older sister Mary.

During the last years of Mary's own life, Peter S. Beagle served as one of her trustees, and when Mary died in February 2003 she bequeathed the entire Pangborn estate to him, including all of Edgar's literary work. Over 50 boxes of manuscripts and papers were moved out to California for sorting, filing, digitizing, and cross-correlating with the papers in the permanent Edgar Pangborn collection at Boston University. For the unrelated Jesuit university in Chestnut Hill, see Boston College. ...

The final planned result is a series of definitive hardcover editions that will bring all of Edgar's works back into print in the form he intended; and, in addition, release some long-rumored manuscripts for the first time.

In 2001, Old Earth Books published an authorized reissue of Edgar's first science fiction novel, West of the Sun. In 2004, forgetting that their contract had lapsed, Old Earth Books followed that up with unauthorized hardcover releases of Davy and A Mirror For Observers. This error has since been corrected. When the existing inventory sells out these editions will not be reprinted.

Published Works

Mystery Fiction

  • A-100: A Mystery Story (1930)
  • The Trial of Callista Blake (1961)

Historical Fiction

  • Wilderness of Spring (1958)

Science Fiction (Davy series)

  • Davy (1964)
  • The Judgment of Eve (1966)
  • The Company of Glory (1975)
  • Still I Persist in Wondering (1978) (collection)

Science Fiction (stand alone)

  • West of the Sun (1953)
  • A Mirror for Observers (1954)
  • Good Neighbors and Other Strangers (1972) (collection)

External link

  Results from FactBites:
An Edgar Pangborn Bibliography (598 words)
Edgar Pangborn was born in New York City on February 25, 1909, the son of Harry Levi Pangborn and Georgia Wood Pangborn, a noted writer of supernatural fiction.
Edgar lived his later years in upstate New York, writing stories set in his future history series.
Edgar Pangborn was named winner of the third Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award on August 31, 2003, at the 61st World Science Fiction Convention.
  More results at FactBites »



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