William Hamling (publisher)

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William Lawrence Hamling (born 1921) was a Chicago-based publisher active from the 1950s into the 1970s.[1]

Hamling's "Shadow of the Sphinx" was illustrated by J. Allen St. John
Hamling's "But the Patient Died" was the cover story for the January 1946 issue of Mammoth Detective

Hamling began as an author. His Shadow of the Sphinx is a horror novel about an ancient Egyptian sorceress. First published during the 1940s in Fantastic Adventures, it was described by Lin Carter as "the best story of its kind I read in many a moon. The character of Zaleikka was done to perfection. This is the type of yarn we have all too few of nowadays."

After work as an editor at Ziff-Davis, Hamling started his company, Greenleaf Publishing (which was at different times known as Greenleaf Classics, Reed Enterprises, Corinth Publications, Regency Publications, Blake Pharmaceuticals, Phenix Publishing and Freedom Publishing) in the early 1950s with Imagination. His wife, science fiction author Frances Deegan Yerxa Hamling, worked closely with him in the early years of his publishing company.

According to L. Sprague de Camp's 1953 Science-Fiction Handbook, Hamling was at that time a "slim, dark man who looks too young to be not only an independent publisher but also the father of five."[2]

In the late 1950s, he began Rogue, and in 1959, he launched Nightstand Books, an imprint for paperback original sex novels by authors working under house names. (Later imprints included Leisure Books, Ember Library, Midnight Readers, and others). From 1961 on his primary editor was Earl Kemp. Pseudonymous writers for Kemp/Hamling included Lawrence Block, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Harlan Ellison, Evan Hunter, Robert Silverberg, and Donald E. Westlake.[3]

Hamling helped finance the defense of bookstore clerk Robert Redrup. His appeal of his conviction on obscenity charges for selling two Greenleaf Books (Lust Pool and Shame Agent) in 1965 went to the Supreme Court of the United States, where it was overturned in Redrup v. New York in 1967.

During the Nixon Administration, Hamling published an illustrated edition of the Presidential Report of the Commission on Obscenity and Pornography. The book was "replete with the sort of photographs the commission examined."[4] Hamling and editor Kemp were hit with a one-year prison sentence for distributing the book (it has been suggested that this prosecution was in part retaliation for Hamling and Kemp's part in Redrup v. New York),[5] but served only the federal minimum of three months and one day. The story of their arrest and prison time was covered in Gay Talese's Thy Neighbor's Wife.[6][7]

Hamling published gay-themed books while at Greenleaf, one of the earliest publishers to do so.[8] Novelist Victor J. Banis, one of Hamling's authors, says that once Greenleaf proved how much of a market there was for erotic gay fiction, other publishers soon joined in.[9]


  1. ^ Malcolm Edwards and Peter Nicholls, "William L. Hamling", in Clute & Nicholls, Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, pp. 539–540.
  2. ^ de Camp, Science-Fiction Handbook, p. 116.
  3. ^ Dietz, Lawrence. "Notes on the Smut Renaissance," New York World Journal Tribune (October 16, 1966).
  4. ^ Pornography and Sexual Representation: A Reference Guide by Joseph W. Slade, Greenwood Press, 2000, page 119.
  5. ^ "An Interview with Earl Kemp of Greenleaf Classics" by Michael Hemmingson, Sin-A-Rama: Sleaze Sex Paperbacks of the Sixties edited by Brittany A. Daley, Hedi El Kholti, Earl Kemp, Miriam Linna, and Adam Parfrey. Feral House, 2004. page 36.
  6. ^ "William Henley Knoles: The Life and Death of Clyde Allison" by Lynn Munroe, e*I*1, Vol. 2 No. 2, April 2003, accessed Sept. 22, 2007.
  7. ^ Thy Neighbor's Wife by Gay Talese, Dell Publishing, 1981, page 459.
  8. ^ That Man from C.A.M.P.: Rebel Without a Pause by Victor J. Banis, Fabio Cleto, Haworth Press, 2004, page 329.
  9. ^ Victor J. Banis biography, Victor J. Banis website, accessed Sept. 22, 2007.


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