Daniel Keyes

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Daniel Keyes
Born Daniel Keyes
(1927-08-09) August 9, 1927 (age 86)
New York City
Occupation Fiction writer
Nationality American
Period 1952–present
Genres Science fiction
Notable work(s) Flowers for Algernon (1959)
The Minds of Billy Milligan (1981)
Notable award(s) Hugo Award (1960)
Nebula Award (1966)
Kurd Lasswitz Award (1986)
Locus Award (1998)

Daniel Keyes (born August 9, 1927) is an American author who is well known for his Hugo award-winning short story and Nebula award-winning novel Flowers for Algernon. Keyes was given the Author Emeritus honor by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America in 2000.


Early life and career[edit]

Keyes was born in New York City, New York.[1] He attended New York University briefly before joining the United States Maritime Service at 17, working as a ship's purser on oil tankers.[1] Afterward he returned to New York and in 1950 received a bachelor's degree in psychology from Brooklyn College.[1] A month later, he joined publisher Martin Goodman magazine company, Magazine Management.[1]

There he eventually became editor of the pulp magazine Marvel Science Stories (cover-dated Nov. 1950 – May 1952) for editor Robert O. Erisman,[2] and began writing for the company's comic-book lines Atlas Comics, the 1950s precursors of Marvel Comics. After Goodman ceased publishing pulps in favor of paperback books and men's adventure magazines, Keyes became an associate editor of Atlas[citation needed] under editor-in-chief and art director Stan Lee. Circa 1952, Keyes was one of several staff writers, officially titled editors, who wrote for such horror and science fiction comics as Journey into Unknown Worlds, for which Keyes wrote two stories with artist Basil Wolverton.[3]

As Keyes recalled, Goodman offered him a job under Lee after Marvel Science Stories ceased publication:

Since my $17.25-a-month rent was almost due, I accepted what I considered a detour on my journey toward a literary career. Stan Lee ... let his editors deal with the scriptwriters, cartoonists, and lettering crew. Writers turned in plot synopses, Stan read them, and as a matter of course, would accept one or two from each of the regulars he referred to as his "stable." As one of his front men, I would pass along comments and criticism. ... Because of my experience editing Marvel and because I'd sold a few science fiction stories by then, Stan allowed me to specialize in the horror, fantasy, suspense, and science fiction comic books. Naturally, I began submitting story ideas, getting freelance assignment, and supplementing my salary by writing scripts on my own time.[4]

One story idea he wrote but did not submit to Lee was called "Brainstorm", the paragraph-long synopsis of which would evolve into Flowers for Algernon. It begins: "The first guy in the test to raise the I.Q. from a low normal 90 to genius level ... He goes through the experience and then is thrown back to what was." Keyes recalled, "[S]omething told me it should be more than a comic book script."[5]

From 1955–56, Keyes wrote for the celebrated EC Comics, including its titles Shock Illustrated and Confessions Illustrated,[3] under both his own name and the pseudonyms Kris Daniels, A.D. Locke and Dominik Georg.[citation needed]

Flowers for Algernon[edit]

The short story and subsequent novel, Flowers for Algernon, is written as progress reports of a mentally disabled man, Charlie, who undergoes experimental surgery and briefly becomes a genius before the effects tragically wear off. The story was initially published in the April 1959 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction and the expanded novel in 1966. The novel has been adapted several times for other media, most prominently as the 1968 film Charly, starring Cliff Robertson (who won an Academy Award for Best Actor) and Claire Bloom. He also won the Hugo Award in 1959 and the Nebula Award in 1966.

Later career[edit]

Keyes went on to teach creative writing at Wayne State University, and in 1966 he became an English and creative writing professor at Ohio University, in Athens, Ohio, where he was honored as a professor emeritus in 2000.[6][7]

A 1988 edition of his novel Flowers for Algernon states he was a member of the English department at Yale University, in New Haven, Connecticut, circa that year. This was an error in a special leatherbound collector's edition.

Keyes' other books include The Fifth Sally, The Minds of Billy Milligan, The Touch, Unveiling Claudia, and the memoir Algernon, Charlie, and I: A Writer's Journey.

According to the author's website, a new novel by Keyes, The Asylum Prophecies, was published in 2009 by Dorchester Publishing.


  • Flowers for Algernon (short story) (1959)
  • Flowers for Algernon (novel) (1966) (adapted to cinema as Charly, 1968)
  • The Touch (1968)
  • The Fifth Sally (1980)
  • The Minds of Billy Milligan (1981) (adapted to cinema as The Crowded Room, 2008)
  • Unveiling Claudia (1986)
  • Daniel Keyes Collected Stories (Japan, 1993)
  • The Milligan Wars: A True-Story Sequel (Japan, 1994)
  • Until Death (1998)
  • Algernon, Charlie, and I: A Writer's Journey (2000)
  • The Asylum Prophecies (2009)





  1. ^ a b c d Chambers, Robert, ed. (1993). The Play of Daniel Keyes' Flowers for Algernon. Heinemann. p. vii (Introduction). ISBN 978-0435232931. 
  2. ^ Ashley, Michael (2005). Transformations: Volume 2 in the History of Science Fiction Magazine, 1950–1970. Liverpool University Press. p. 42. ISBN 978-0853237693. 
  3. ^ a b Daniel Keyes at the Grand Comics Database
  4. ^ Keyes, Daniel (1999). Algernon, Charlie, and I: A Writer's Journey. Boca Raton, Florida: Challcrest Press Books. pp. 79–80. ISBN 978-0547564081. 
  5. ^ Keyes, Algernon, Charlie, and I, p. 80
  6. ^ http://www.ohio.edu/ohiotoday/fall00/departments/wall/algernon.html
  7. ^ http://academic.depauw.edu/aevans_web/HONR101-02/WebPages/Fall2009/Rae/Daniel%20Keyes's%20Flowers%20for%20Algernon/pages/keyes_biography.htm

External links[edit]