Charles G. Finney

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Charles G. Finney
Born Charles Grandison Finney
(1905-12-01)December 1, 1905
Sedalia, Missouri, U.S.
Died April 16, 1984(1984-04-16) (aged 78)
Pima, Arizona, U.S.
Occupation Writer
Genre Fantasy

Charles Grandison Finney (December 1, 1905 – April 16, 1984) was an American news editor and fantasy novelist, the great-grandson of evangelist Charles Grandison Finney. His first novel and most famous work, The Circus of Dr. Lao, won one of the inaugural National Book Awards: the Most Original Book of 1935.[1][2]


Finney was born in Sedalia, Missouri and served in China with the U.S. Army 15th Infantry Regiment (E Company) from 1927 to 1929.[3]

In his memoirs, he notes that The Circus of Dr. Lao was conceived in Tientsin during 1929. After the Army, he worked as an editor for the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson, Arizona from 1930 to 1970.[4]

Some of Finney's papers, with correspondence and photographs, are collected at the University of Arizona Main Library Special Collections, Collection Number: AZ 024, Papers of Charles G. Finney, 1959-1966. The archive includes typed manuscripts of "A Sermon at Casa Grande", "Isabelle the Inscrutable", "Murder with Feathers", ""The Night Crawler", "Private Prince", "An Anabasis in Minor Key", "The Old China Hands", and "The Ghosts of Manacle".


Finney's work, especially The Circus of Dr. Lao, has been influential on subsequent writers of fantasy. Ray Bradbury admired the novel and anthologised it in The Circus of Dr. Lao and Other Improbable Stories; Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes shares with Dr. Lao the setting of a supernatural circus. Arthur Calder-Marshall's The Fair to Middling (1959), Tom Reamy's Blind Voices (1978),[5] Peter S. Beagle's The Last Unicorn (1968)[6] and Jonathan Lethem's Chronic City (2009)[7] were all influenced by Finney's work. 7 Faces of Dr. Lao is the corresponding movie adaptation.

Selected works[edit]


Short stories[edit]

  • "The Iowan's Curse", Harper's Magazine, July 1958[8]
  • "The Life and Death of a Western Gladiator", Harper's Magazine, October 1958[9]
  • "The Gilashrikes", The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, October 1959
  • "The Night Crawler", The New Yorker, December 5, 1959.
  • "An Anabasis in Minor Key", The New Yorker, March 26, 1960.
  • "Private Prince", The New Yorker, June 24, 1961.
  • "A Sermon at Casa Grande", Point West, September 1963.
  • "Isabelle the Inscrutable", Harper's Magazine, 228:1367 (April 1964) pp. 51–58.
  • "Murder with Feathers", Harper's Magazine 232:1391 (April 1966) pp. 112–113.


  1. ^ "Books and Authors", The New York Times, 1936-04-12, page BR12. ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851-2007).
  2. ^ "Lewis is Scornful of Radio Culture: ...", The New York Times, 1936-05-12, page 25. ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851-2007).
  3. ^ Finney, Charles (1961). The Old China Hands. Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc. p59.
  4. ^ NYT obituary.
  5. ^ "Finney, Charles G." in Brian Stableford, The A to Z of Fantasy Literature. Scarecrow Press, 2005 (p.150).
  6. ^ Cathy Dunn MacRae. Presenting Young Adult Fantasy Fiction. Twayne Publishers, 1998 (p.324).
  7. ^ Renaud, Jeffrey. "Lethem Exits the Unknown with Omega", Comic Book Resources, 2008-07-18. Retrieved 2010-06-21.
  8. ^ Harper's Magazine archive
  9. ^ Harper's Magazine archive

Further reading[edit]

  • "Charles G. Finney" in Contemporary Authors, published by Thomson Gale.

External links[edit]