Guy Murchie

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Headshot photograph of Guy Murchie

Guy Murchie (Jr.) (25 January 1907 – 8 July 1997) was a writer about science and philosophy: aviation, astronomy, biology, and the meaning of life. He was, successively, a world traveler; a war correspondent; a photographer, staff artist, and reporter for the Chicago Tribune; a pilot and flight instructor; a teacher; a lecturer; an aerial navigator; a building contractor; and founder and director of a summer camp for children. He was a practising member of the Bahá'í Faith. His books included Men on the Horizon (1932), Song of the Sky (1954), Music of the Spheres (1961), and The Seven Mysteries of Life (1978). The latter three books were chosen for promotion by the Book of the Month Club.[1] He illustrated his books with etchings and woodcuts of his own design.

Early life[edit]

Murchie was the son of Ethel A. Murchie—who designed the interior of a seaplane for Sikorksy Aircraft[2]—and Guy Murchie, Sr.:[3][4] a graduate of Harvard Law School, a former member of Theodore Roosevelt's Rough Riders, a U.S. Marshall, and a prominent Boston attorney[5] who at one time served as attorney to Winston Churchill.[6] Sitting President Theodore Roosevelt and his wife attended Guy Jr.'s christening.[7] His parents held him to high standards.

Murchie, who as an adult stood 6'6" tall and weighed 225 lbs.,[4][8] was raised as an Episcopalian,[9] attended Kent School—which at the time was just "for boys"—and graduated from Harvard in 1929.[10] But from this heritage of privilege and physical capacity he instead turned to traveling and making his own way, never to return to the arena of Bostonian privilege. Instead he left before receiving his credentials on a trip headed to the Far East. Murchie returned to the States in 1930. From the experience, he gained a deep-seated appreciation for the basic commonality of humanity across any divide of culture,[9] and in 1932 he published his first book (with his own illustrations)—Men on the Horizon—in Boston[11] and London,[12] dedicating it to his mother. In the same year he married Eleanor Forrester Parker Cushman,[4][10] who was some 26 years his senior. Although the marriage eventually failed, Murchie dedicated his book The Seven Mysteries of Life to her after her death in 1960.

Men on the Horizon[edit]

Richard E. Byrd wrote the foreword on the heels of his first Antarctic expedition - and wrote of first being interested in the "clean man" of Murchie, and did not take sides in Murchie's views on the governments of the day but was very struck by the encounter with people.[11]

Murchie traveled as a "common man" from Boston to Panama, San Francisco, Alaska, Hawaii, and then down the orient side of the Pacific to Japan, the Philippines, and China working as an able seaman.[13] From China he traveled inland into Russia where he passed as a peasant and back to Korea and then all the way to Moscow and then into Poland as a laborer. He was struck by the generosity of the poor.[9] While in the Orient he studied Buddhism and found it generally spiritual.

The book was generally well received in America,[14] United Kingdom,[15] Australia,[16] and New Zealand.[17]


A newspaper story of his was published in the "Winnipeg Tribune" in 1934,[18] and a piece in New Zealand in 1935,[19] but his steady job was at the Chicago Tribune. Some 37 news stories were then printed in the Chicago Tribune under his name.[20] The first story under his name at the Chicago Tribune was in 1934, followed by three in 1935, 1 in 1936, (the same year he earned his pilot's license,)[4] none in 1937, and two in 1938. Some stories of his were noted in other newspapers.[21] He co-wrote Soldiers of Darkness with Thomas R. Gowenlock, published in 1937.[22][23]

Murchie's further interest in the religion began in this period when he was tasked with writing an article about the Bahá'í House of Worship at Wilmette, Illinois around 1938,[4][24][25] and then officially joined the religion 1939.[26] He had been impressed with the unique qualities of the temple being a blend of east and west styles, and extended his interest when his insights of the biological unity of humanity was raised to a spiritual affirmation.[4]

Then he began coverage of World War II with five stories printed in 1939,[20] actually went overseas with fourteen in 1940, (the year he was also unjured in an air raid,)[27] three in 1941, five in 1942. Then he was back in the States.

Aviator, camp founder, and teacher[edit]

In 1942 Murchie left the Tribune to work as a flight instructor and aerial navigator.[1][4] His mother Ethel died in Florida in 1943[3] and he inherited the "Fairways Manor house" in Saint Andrews, New Brunswick, Canada.[3][28] A relative tried to visit him in January 1944 back in the States but he had already moved.[29] In 1944 Murchie married Barbara Cooney; during the three years of their marriage they had two children (Gretel and Barnaby).[30] In 1946 the Murchie family moved to Pepperell, Massachusetts and worked with the high school.[31] In 1947 the book Saint Croix, the Sentinel River was published[32] and it is likely that this was written during time spent in St. Andrews at the house,[3] while Cooney and Murchie divorced in 1947.[30] Afterwards Murchie set up Apple Hill Camp, an international summer place for children in New Hampshire, operating it for 11 years[1] during which he married Katie Rautenstrauch and both also worked as teachers.[33] Holocaust survivor Alex Levy recalls working for Murchie at the camp.[34]

Saint Croix, the Sentinel River[edit]

Named and about the history of the Saint Croix River today forming part of the border between Maine and New Brunswick. Saint Croix, the Sentinel River was well received academically[35] and popularly[36] at the time. However it continues to be of relevance as it was noted in the 1970s[37] and then cited in post-2000 work on the internet.[38]

Writer and Bahá'í[edit]

While the Chicago Tribune then printed a couple more stories of his in 1954 and 1961[20] most of his work was either published in relationship to the Bahá'í Faith or books that would mention it.

Song of the Sky[edit]

From his experience and investigations as an aviator and flight instructor Murchie published the Song of the Sky in 1954 but the book spoke of spiritual issues as well.[39] In it he noted Bahá'u'lláh, founder of the Bahá'í Faith.[40] The American Museum of Natural History awarded him the John Burroughs Medal in 1956 for Song of the Sky.[41] It was, apparently unintentionally, plagiarized in 1994.[42]


In 1954 Murchie toured Iran visiting several cites holy to Bahá'ís.[43] Diary notes of his travels became the basis of a series of articles in the 1960s and later. But starting in 1955 he began to be more public with his choice of religion[44] - several news stories in the wider media noted it which were closely followed by Bahá'ís.[45] However it wasn't until the passing of his father in 1958[5] that he became even more public - not least was his own public statement in 1958 in the Chicago Tribune I am a Bahá'í.[9] In referencing "the guardian" it may have been written before 1957, the year of the passing of Shoghi Effendi. This publicity was again noted by the Bahá'ís,[46] reportedly caused a boost in visitors to the Bahá'í House of Worship in Wilmette, Illinois,[47] and liked so much that it was then released as a pamphlet,[48] as well as in letters to the editors for correction.[49] In it he noted the impressive history of the Báb, Tahirih, the encounter of Edward G. Browne with Bahá'u'lláh, the position and example of `Abdu'l-Bahá and appointed Guardian, and the religion's presence in the life of historically notable people like Marie of Romania and was close to President Wilson.[9] Selections from it were used in a foreign language primer.[50]

Murchie would be visible aiding various Bahá'í talks and classes of study on the religion occasionally from the 1960s into the 1980s,[51] and would publish many more articles related to the religion printed in Bahá'í News:

  • A visit to Persia across 5 issues[43]
  • Nayriz - Scene of Vahid's Heroism,[52]
  • The House of Quddus in Mashhad,[53]
  • Journey through Northern Iran,[54]
  • Máh-Kú and Tabriz - Imprisonment and Martyrdom.[55]
  • The Flowering of the Planet (in 1974)[56]

Music of the Spheres[edit]

Originally published in 1961[57] it was revised and printed in 1967[58] and then reprinted in 1979.[59] The Society of Midland Authors awarded one of its "Thormond Monsen" to Murchie's Music of the Spheres which, as he was then residing in Spain, the managing director of the US Baha'i Publishing trust accepted the award on his behalf.[60] It was generally positively reviewed.[61]

Of it Isaac Asimov is noted saying "One can only stand amazed at the breadth of Mr. Murchie's understanding and his ability to put the facts and speculations of science into colorful and nontechnical language."[1] Kurt Vonnegut has noted his indebtedness to it as well.[62]

The Seven Mysteries of Life[edit]

In 1978 he published The Seven Mysteries of Life;[63] it was reprinted in 1981[64] and 1999.[65] Parts of the book appeared in Bahá'í News as well as other periodicals like the Old Farmer's Almanac. The "Seven Mysteries" are: "The Abstract Nature of the Universe", "The Interrelatedness of All Creatures", "The Omnipresence of Life", "The Polarity Principle", "Transcendence", "The Germination of Worlds", and "Divinity". The book discusses senses, super-organism, language, properties of the mind, and individual consciousness. His review of literature identifies some 32 senses, as noted online.[66] In it he quotes a Serbian proverb which is seen as part of the heritage of the idea put forth as We are made of star stuff: "Be humble for you are made of dung. Be noble for you are made of stars."[67]

Last years[edit]

In January 1990 the Toronto newspaper The Globe and Mail published a string of articles by Murchie - a couple new[68] and eight reprints from 1978.[69] Murchie died 1997 in Fullerton, California.[1][70]



  1. ^ a b c d e Heise, Kenan (July 11, 1997). "Guy Murchie, WWII Correspondent". Chicago Tribune. Chicago, Illinois. Retrieved Dec 29, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Woman decorator busies herself on airplane job". The Post-Crescent. Appleton, Wisconsin. Jul 16, 1931. p. 4. Retrieved Dec 31, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c d "History of The Fairways Manor House Bed and Breakfast". The Fairways Manor House. 2005. Archived from the original on Nov 2, 2006. Retrieved Dec 29, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Hayden, Barbara (Oct 2, 1955). "To Write an Adventure Book He Ran a N. H. Camp". Daily Boston Globe. Boston, Massachusetts. p. 75. 
  5. ^ a b Louis D. Brandeis (1975). Letters of Louis D. Brandeis: Vol. 2. SUNY Press. p. 27. ISBN 978-1-4384-2258-9. 
  6. ^ Robert W. Schneider (1 January 1976). Novelist to a Generation: The Life and Thought of Winston Churchill. Popular Press. p. 59. ISBN 978-0-87972-116-9. 
  7. ^ "Are quartered with friends" (PDF). Duluth Evening Herald. Duluth, Minnsesota. Feb 27, 1907. p. 1. Retrieved Dec 31, 2014. 
  8. ^ * "Like most miracles absurdly simple". The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, New York. 22 Jun 1928. p. 29. Retrieved Dec 31, 2014. 
  9. ^ a b c d e Guy Murchie (July 13, 1958). "I am a Bahá'í". Chicago Tribune. Chicago, Illinois. pp. 38, 40, 62. Retrieved Dec 29, 2014. 
  10. ^ a b James Karman (12 October 2011). The Collected Letters of Robinson Jeffers, with Selected Letters of Una Jeffers: Volume Two, 1931–1939. Stanford University Press. p. 1795. ISBN 978-0-8047-8172-5. 
  11. ^ a b Guy Murchie Jr (1932). Men on the Horizon (PDF). Cambridge Massachusetts: Riverside Press, Houghton Mifflin Co. 
  12. ^ Guy Murchie (1932). Men on the Horizon, Etc. London, UK: Jonothan Cape. 
  13. ^ "Excellent book on travels is written". The Charleston Daily Mail. Charleston, West Virginia. Jul 3, 1932. p. 19. Retrieved Dec 29, 2014. 
  14. ^ * "Guy Murchie Jr.,…". The Salt Lake Tribune. Salt Lake City, Utah. Jan 17, 1932. p. 43. Retrieved Dec 29, 2014. 
  15. ^ *D. H. N. Caley (July 27, 1932). "Life in the raw". Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer. West Yorkshire, England. p. 6. Retrieved Dec 31, 2014. 
  16. ^ * "Literary Notes; Mr. Guy Murchie, of New York…". The Australasian. Melbourne, Victoria. October 15, 1932. p. 6. Retrieved Dec 31, 2014. 
  17. ^ "Japanese Customs". Evening Post. CXIV (122). Wellington, New Zealand. November 19, 1932. p. 19. Retrieved Dec 31, 2014. 
  18. ^ "Graft is key to murder, suicide, riot in Stravinsky mystery". The Winnipeg Tribune. Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Jun 16, 1934. p. 33. Retrieved Dec 29, 2014. 
  19. ^ "Flying blink on beams". Auckland Star. LXVI (272). Auckland, New Zealand. November 16, 1935. p. 7. Retrieved Dec 31, 2014. 
  20. ^ a b c "Search for "by Guy Murchie" in Chicago Tribune Archive". Chicago Tribune. 2014. Retrieved Dec 29, 2014.  plus the "I am a Baha'i" story Guy Murchie (July 13, 1958). "I am a Bahá'í". Chicago Tribune. Chicago, Illinois. pp. 38, 40, 62. Retrieved Dec 29, 2014. 
  21. ^ * "Rock Rabbit, or Coney, a relative of Elephant". The Kingston Daily Freeman. Kingston, New York. Nov 17, 1937. p. 8. Retrieved Dec 29, 2014. 
  22. ^ Thomas Russell Gowenlock; Guy Murchie (jr) (1937). Soldiers of Darkness ; Gowenlock, Thomas R[ussell] ; Thomas R. Gowenlock with Guy Murchie, Jr. Doubleday, Doran. 
  23. ^ "Soldiers of Darkness". `The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, New York. Sep 26, 1937. p. 39. Retrieved Dec 29, 2014. 
  24. ^ "Baha'i in the news". Bahá'í News. September 1961. pp. see pp 13–14. Retrieved Dec 29, 2014.  note the article referred to in the Kent State newspaper is not yet online - see "Daily Kent Stater, May 1961". Daily Kent Stater. Digital Library Consulting. 2013. Retrieved Dec 29, 2014. 
  25. ^ Rev John Evans (April 29, 1955). "47th annual Baha'i meeting attracts 200". Chicago Tribune. Chicago, Illinois. p. 34. Retrieved Dec 29, 2014. 
  26. ^ The Bahá'í World: A Biennial International Record. Bahá'í Pub. Committee. 1997. p. 276. 
  27. ^ * "Dangerous Job". The Independent Record. Helena, Montana. Sep 12, 1940. p. 6. Retrieved Dec 29, 2014. 
  28. ^ * "William Howard on trip East". The Times. San Mateo, California. Jul 6, 1937. p. 6. Retrieved Dec 29, 2014. 
  29. ^ "Useless journey". Dunkirk Evening Observer. Dunkirk, New York. Jan 3, 1944. p. 8. Retrieved Dec 29, 2014. 
  30. ^ a b "Barbara Cooney 1917-2000". biography for beginners. Skidompha Public Library. 2001. Archived from the original on Feb 16, 2003. Retrieved Dec 29, 2014. 
  31. ^ * "New voters". Fitchburg Sentinel. Fitchburg, Massachusetts. Jan 25, 1946. p. 7. Retrieved Dec 29, 2014. 
  32. ^ Guy Murchie (1947). Saint Croix: The Sentinel River ; Historical Sketches of Its Discovery, Early Conflicts and Final Occupations by English and American Settlers, with Some Comments on Indian Life. Duell, Sloan and Pearce. 
  33. ^ "Landhaven faculty students increase". Portland Sunday Telegram And Sunday Press Herald. Portland, Maine. Oct 19, 1949. p. 25. Retrieved Dec 31, 2014. 
  34. ^ * Alex Levy (April 2, 2011). "From Higley Hill to Apple Hill". Alex Levy. Retrieved Dec 31, 2014. 
  35. ^ Kenneth C. M. Sills (March 1948). "Reviewed Work: Saint Croix: The Sentinel River by Guy Murchie". The New England Quarterly. 21 (1): 128–129. JSTOR 361168. 
  36. ^ * "Canada's Sentinel River". The Bridgeport Post. Bridgeport, Connecticut. Nov 23, 1947. p. 23. Retrieved Dec 29, 2014. 
  37. ^ * Rev. Charles M. Smith (Oct 17, 1974). "Piskahegan's Pioneer Days". Saint Croix Courier. Saint Stephen, New Brunswick. Retrieved Dec 31, 2014. 
  38. ^ * Francis M. Carroll (2001). A Good and Wise Measure: The Search for the Canadian-American Boundary, 1783-1842. University of Toronto Press. p. 313. ISBN 978-0-8020-8358-6. 
  39. ^ * "Exploring the limitless sky above: One man's love of the sea of space". The Lincoln Star. Lincoln, Nebraska. Dec 19, 1954. p. 40. Retrieved Dec 29, 2014. 
    • W. G. Rogers (Dec 21, 1954). "Books in Review". Delaware County Daily Times. Chester, Pennsylvania. p. 6. Retrieved Dec 29, 2014. 
    • "Guest appearances". The San Bernardino County Sun. San Bernardino, California. Dec 19, 1954. p. 54. Retrieved Dec 29, 2014. 
  40. ^ Murchie, Guy (1954). Song of the Sky (3rd ed.). Cambridge Mass: Riverside Press Cambridge. p. 421. 
  41. ^ "John Burroughs Medal Award List". Awards. John Burroughs Association. 2008. Retrieved Dec 30, 2014. 
  42. ^ "Author of 1954 book pursues plagiarism suit". The Index-Journal. Greenwood, South Carolina. Mar 3, 1995. p. 21. Retrieved Dec 31, 2014. 
  43. ^ a b * Guy Murchie (March 1965) [1954]. "A visit to Persia". Bahá'í News. 6 (408): 4–6. ISSN 0195-9212. Retrieved Dec 29, 2014. 
  44. ^ "Novelist to speak here Sunday night". The Portsmouth Herald. Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Jun 11, 1955. p. 2. Retrieved Dec 31, 2014. 
  45. ^ * "Baha'i in the news". Bahá'í News. 4 (287): 4–5. January 1955. ISSN 0195-9212. Retrieved Dec 29, 2014. 
  46. ^ "Chicago Tribune publishes proclamation of faith by well-known author". Bahá'í News. 4 (331): 6–7. September 1958. ISSN 0195-9212. Retrieved Dec 29, 2014. 
  47. ^ "Baha'i publishing trust". Bahá'í News. 4 (337): 14. March 1959. ISSN 0195-9212. Retrieved Dec 29, 2014. 
  48. ^ Guy Murchie (1958). "I am a Baha'i". Baha'i Publishing Trust. 
  49. ^ "Reaction to Nixon article". The Bridgeport Post. Bridgeport, Connecticut. Nov 27, 1960. p. 66. Retrieved Dec 31, 2014. 
  50. ^ "Baha'i in the news; A Finnish-English exercise book…". Bahá'í News. 5 (390): see p. 8. September 1963. ISSN 0195-9212. Retrieved Dec 29, 2014. 
  51. ^ * "Baha'is to mark anniversary". Nashua Telegraph. Nashua, New Hampshire. May 21, 1960. p. 5. Retrieved Dec 31, 2014. 
  52. ^ Guy Murchie (September 1965) [1954]. "Nayriz - Scene of Vahid's Heroism". Bahá'í News. 6 (414): 5–7. ISSN 0195-9212. Retrieved Dec 29, 2014. 
  53. ^ Guy Murchie (April 1966) [1954]. "The House of Quddus in Mashhad". Bahá'í News. 6 (421): 4–6. ISSN 0195-9212. Retrieved Dec 29, 2014. 
  54. ^ Guy Murchie (May 1966) [1954]. "Journey through Northern Iran". Bahá'í News. 6 (422): 4–5. ISSN 0195-9212. Retrieved Dec 29, 2014. 
  55. ^ Guy Murchie (July 1966) [1954]. "Máh-Kú and Tabriz - Imprisonment and Martyrdom". Bahá'í News. 6 (424): 4–6. ISSN 0195-9212. Retrieved Dec 29, 2014. 
  56. ^ "150th anniversary of the Birth of Bahá'u'lláh is observed". Bahá'í News. 8 (523): 13–19. October 1974. ISSN 0195-9212. Retrieved Dec 29, 2014. 
  57. ^ Guy Murchie (1961). Music of the spheres. Houghton Mifflin. 
  58. ^ Guy Murchie (1967). Music of the Spheres: The Material Universe. The Macrocosm. Dover publications. 
  59. ^ Peter Austerfield (Nov 8, 1979). "Review; Music of the spheres - the Seven Mysteries of life". New Scientist. London, UK. 84 (1180): 450. ISSN 0028-6664. Retrieved Dec 31, 2014. 
  60. ^ "Literary award results in unusual publicity for Faith". Bahá'í News. 5 (376): 15. July 1962. ISSN 0195-9212. Retrieved Dec 29, 2014. 
  61. ^ * Ira C. Tilton (Jun 10, 1961). "One worlders are asked to ponder story". The Vidette-Messenger. Valparaiso, Indiana. p. 4. Retrieved Dec 31, 2014. 
  62. ^ Altomare, Francis C (2010). Strange time: Block universes and strange loop phenomena in two novels by Kurt Vonnegut (Thesis). Florida Atlantic University. p. 8. 
  63. ^ Guy Murchie (1978). The seven mysteries of life: an exploration in science & philosophy. Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 978-0-395-26310-5. 
  64. ^ The Seven Mysteries of Life: An Exploration in Science & Philosophy. Houghton Mifflin. 1 January 1981. ISBN 978-0-395-30537-9. 
  65. ^ Guy Murchie (1999). The Seven Mysteries of Life: An Exploration in Science & Philosophy. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 0-395-95791-5. 
  66. ^ * Murchie Jr, Guy (2011). "32 Senses of Perception". This Magic Sea. Retrieved Dec 31, 2014. 
    • Michael J. Cohen (July 29, 2013). "The Multi-sensory Person". The Way Of Light. Sherman R. Buck. Retrieved Dec 31, 2014. 
    • "Sensory knowing". joyful wellness. EcoPlace for wellness in Columbia Gorge. September 25, 2012. Retrieved Dec 31, 2014. 
  67. ^ Garson O’Toole (June 22, 2013). "We Are Made of Star-Stuff". Quote Investigator. Retrieved Dec 31, 2014. 
  68. ^ * Guy Murchie (Jan 17, 1990). "The Reading Edige: The entire universe must in some sense be alive". The Globe and Mail. Toronto, Ontario. p. a.7. 
    • Guy Murchie (Jan 31, 1990). "The Reading Edige: Along the path to the ignition point". The Globe and Mail. Toronto, Ontario. p. a.7. 
  69. ^ * Guy Murchie (Jan 17, 1990) [1978]. "The Reading Edige: Mysteries of life: the ripening Earth". The Globe and Mail. Toronto, Ontario. p. a.7. 
    • Guy Murchie (Jan 18, 1990) [1978]. "The Reading Edige: The Seven Mysteries Of Life: Faster and faster, the germination of worlds". The Globe and Mail. Toronto, Ontario. p. a.7. 
    • Guy Murchie (Jan 22, 1990) [1978]. "The Reading Edige: The Seven Mysteries Of Life: From flight to computers". The Globe and Mail. Toronto, Ontario. p. a.7. 
    • Guy Murchie (Jan 23, 1990) [1978]. "The Reading Edige: The Seven Mysteries Of Life: The rise of wealth". The Globe and Mail. Toronto, Ontario. p. a.7. 
    • Guy Murchie (Jan 24, 1990) [1978]. "The Reading Edige: The Seven Mysteries Of Life: To liberate the slaves". The Globe and Mail. Toronto, Ontario. p. a.7. 
    • Guy Murchie (Jan 25, 1990) [1978]. "The Reading Edige: The Seven Mysteries Of Life: Getting the world together". The Globe and Mail. Toronto, Ontario. p. a.7. 
    • Guy Murchie (Jan 26, 1990) [1978]. "The Reading Edige: The Seven Mysteries Of Life: Evolution of the spirit". The Globe and Mail. Toronto, Ontario. p. a.7. 
    • Guy Murchie (Jan 30, 1990) [1978]. "The Reading Edige: The Seven Mysteries Of Life: Riding a wild steed". The Globe and Mail. Toronto, Ontario. p. a.7. 
  70. ^ "Guy Murchie, Author and Aviator, 90". The New York Times. New York, NY. July 13, 1997. Retrieved Dec 29, 2014.