Margaret St. Clair
St. Clair was born at Huchinson, Kansas, to US Representative George A. Neeley, but considered herself a native Californian. She married Eric St. Clair in 1932, whom she met while attending the University of California, Berkeley. In 1934 she graduated with a Master of Arts in Greek Classics. The St. Clairs lived in a house in the hills with a panoramic view above Richmond, California, where Margaret gardened and bred and sold dachshund puppies. Other interests included witchcraft, nudism, and feminism. She and her husband decided to remain childless.
St. Clair wrote that she "first tried my hand at detective and mystery stories, and even the so-called 'quality' stories," before finding her niche writing fantasy and science fiction for pulp magazines. "Unlike most pulp writers, I have no special ambitions to to make the pages of the slick magazines. I feel that the pulps at their best touch a genuine folk tradition and have a balladic quality which the slicks lack."
Beginning in the late 1940s, St. Clair wrote more than 100 short stories. Her early output included the Oona and Jick series of eight stories published from 1947 to 1949, chronicling the comic misadventures of "housewife of the future" Oona and her devoted husband Jick. The stories were ostensibly set in a idealized future but cast a satirical look at post-war domestic life, with its focus on acquiring labor-saving household devices and "keeping up with the Joneses."
She was especially prolific in the 1950s, producing such acclaimed and much-reprinted stories as "The Man Who Sold Rope to the Gnoles" (1951), "Brightness Falls from the Air" (1951), "An Egg a Month from All Over" (1952), and "Horrer Howce" (1956). She occasionally drew inspiration from her education in Classics and her knowledge of Greek myth, as in "Mrs. Hawk" (1950), a modern update of the Circe myth, and "The Bird" (1951), about a modern man's fateful encounter with the mythical phoenix. The Best of Margaret St. Clair (1985) is a representative sampler of her short fiction.
Three of her short stories were adapted for television. "Mrs. Hawk" was filmed as "The Remarkable Mrs. Hawk" for the 1961 season of Thriller, with Jo Van Fleet in the title role. "The Boy Who Predicted Earthquakes" (1950) and "Brenda" (1954) were filmed as segments of the 1971 season of Rod Serling's Night Gallery.
St. Clair also wrote nine novels. Of interest beyond science fiction is her 1963 novel Sign of the Labrys, for its overt early use of Wicca elements in fiction. These elements may have derived from her reading of Robert Graves's book The White Goddess and of the writings of Gerald Gardner, with whom Margaret and her husband were put in touch by Raymond Buckland. It was Buckland who initiated the St Clairs into Gardnerian witchcraft. They were also influenced by reading the novels of Dion Fortune.
She died at Santa Rosa, California, in 1995.
- The Green Queen (1956)
- Agent of the Unknown (1956)
- The Games of Neith (1960)
- Sign of the Labrys (1963)
- Three Worlds of Futurity (1964)
- Message from the Eocene (1964)
- The Dolphins of Altair (1967)
- The Shadow People (1969)
- The Dancers of Noyo (1973)
- Three Worlds of Futurity (1964)
- Change the Sky and Other Stories (1974)
- The Best of Margaret St. Clair (1985)
- "Presenting the Author" by Margaret St. Clair, Fantastic Adventures, November 1946, p. 2.
- Chas S. Clifton (June 1997). "Chasing Margaret". Letters From Hardscrabble Creek. Retrieved 2007-03-07.
- Margaret St. Clair at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database includes a lengthy bibliography
- Margaret St. Clair at The FictionMags Index includes some unique bibliographic entries
- Margaret St. Clair entry at Worlds Without End, includes a photo of the author
- Margaret St. Clair at IMDb
- Margaret St. Clair at The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction online edition
- "The Elusive Margaret St. Clair" by Andrew Liptak, posted at Kirkus Reviews, July 18, 2013
- Reviews by Timothy Mayer of several Margaret St. Clair books, and an article on collecting St. Clair ephemera
- The Best of Margaret St. Clair review by Todd Mason
- Change the Sky and Other Stories review by Ian Sales
- "Super Whost" an Oona and Jick short story by Margaret St. Clair
- Margaret St. Clair at UNZ.org
- Idris Seabright (pseudonym of Margaret St. Clair) at UNZ.org
- "Presenting the Author", Margaret St. Clair's autobiographical essay for Fantastic Adventures, November 1946, including a photo of the author
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