Van Tassel Sutphen

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William Gilbert van Tassel Sutphen
Born (1861-05-11)May 11, 1861
Died 1945
Nationality United States
Occupation Writer, editor

William Gilbert van Tassel Sutphen (1861–1945) was an American playwright, librettist, novelist, and editor, an authority and author of publications on golf, and, eventually, an Episcopalian minister.

Sutphen was born in Philadelphia on 11 May 1861.[1] His parents were the Rev. Morris Crater Sutphen and Eleanor (Brush) Sutphen.[2] He went to Princeton University and graduated in 1882.[3]

Sutphen wrote several novels, the most famous of which was The Doomsman, a science fiction novel in the post-apocalyptic subgenre. The scholar Mike Davis has suggested that Sutphen "purloined" ideas and scenes for this book from an earlier post-apocalyptic novel, After London, by the English writer Richard Jeffries.[4]

In his own time, Sutphen was probably more famous as an authority on golf than for his novels. He was the first editor of Golf magazine, published by Harper Brothers.[5] He also coined the term "the 19th hole". He gave the library at Princeton a collection of 75 books about golf.[6]

Sutphen worked for many years as a reader[7] and editor,[2] for the publishers Harper Brothers, working on novels by Theodore Dreiser among others.[8] At some point he became a brother-in-law of (the second) Joseph Harper.[9][10] As a leading figure at Harpers, Sutphen attended Mark Twain's 70th birthday celebrations in New York.[11]


In 1914 Sutphen was Chairman of the Publicity Committee of the New York Center of the Drama League.[12] He was also a member of the Esperanto Society,[13] and was listed in the New York Social Register.[14]


  • First Aid to the Injured: A Farce in One Act (1896)
  • The Cardinal’s Rose: A Novel (1900)
  • The Amateur and the Automobile (Saturday Evening Post, 11 May 1901, p 431 - 432)
  • The Official Golf Guide for 1902 (edited and compiled)
  • The Gates of Chance (1904)
  • The Doomsman (1906)
  • Narragansett Pier: An Original Comic Opera in Two Acts (1909)
  • The Eve of Grace: A Cantata for Christmas and Epiphany Season (1914)
  • In Jeopardy (1922)
  • The Sutphen Family (1926)
  • King’s Champion (1927)
  • I, Nathanael, Knew Jesus (1941)


  1. ^ Biographical Directory of the State of New York, 1900. New York: Biographical Directory Co. 1900. p. 479. 
  2. ^ a b Who’s Who Among North American Authors. Los Angeles: Golden Syndicate Publishing Company. 1921. p. 344. 
  3. ^ The Encyclopedia Americana: A Library of Universal Knowledge (Volume 26). New York. 1920. p. 103. 
  4. ^ Mike Davis, “Golden Ruins/Dark Raptures: The Literary Destruction of Los Angeles” in Dark Raptures: Mark Davis's LA, Doreen B. Townsend Center for the Humanities, University of California at Berkeley (1 September 1997)
  5. ^ Harvey (ed.), George B. M. (1900). The North American Review. New York. 170 (4-6): 592 Retrieved 20 January 2011.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. ^ Biblia (PDF). Friends of the Princeton Library. 8 (1): 15. March 1937 Retrieved 20 January 2011.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. ^ Harper, J. Henry (1912). The House of Harper. New York: Harper & Brothers. p. 280. 
  8. ^ Lingeman, Richard (1990). Theodore Dreiser: At the Gates of the City, 1871-1907. Putnam. p. 81. 
  9. ^ Howard, June (2001). Publishing the Family. Duke University Press. p. 82. 
  10. ^ Exman, Eugene (2010). The House of Harper: One Hundred Fifty Years of Publishing. HarperCollins. 
  11. ^ "Celebrate Mark Twain's Seventieth Birthday". Mark Twain Quotations, Newspaper Collections, and Related Resources. Barbara Schmidt. Retrieved 20 January 2011.  (Quoting the New York Times 6 December 1905)
  12. ^ Sutphen, Van Tassel (24 May 1914). "Work Done by Drama League" (PDF). The New York Times. The New York Times. Retrieved 20 January 2011. 
  13. ^ Harvey (ed.), George B. M. The North American Review. New York. 186.  Missing or empty |title= (help);
  14. ^ Social Register, New York. Social Register Co. May 1920. p. 682. 

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