Mary Kornbluth Death Revealed

C.M. Kornbluth biographer Mark Rich has disclosed that the author’s wife, Mary Kornbluth, died on June 1, 2007, a fact kept secret at the behest of her son until the passing of Fred Pohl the other day.

The son wrote to Rich in 2009 —

“Can you keep this secret? Don’t tell anybody. She died on June 1, not this year. She died at the age of 86, June 1 in 2007, and she did not want Fred to know about it. She did not want him to know. Then he would come out with these condescending remarks. Quite frankly, the way the country is going I don’t think most people are fit to comment on the weather.”

Her maiden name was Mary G. Byers. She was born September 23, 1920, in Clark City, Ohio.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter and Gordon Van Gelder for the story.]

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3 thoughts on “Mary Kornbluth Death Revealed

  1. I hate to disillusion Rich about his big revelation, but Fred Pohl was well aware that Mary Kornbluth had died, as were many other people. I don’t know when Fred found out, although I’d guess it was soon after her death, which was apparently marked by the usual death notices, regardless of what her son told Rich, who seems to be somewhat gullible.

    Certainly he knew it well before Rich’s book came out and at the time he wrote the reminiscence about her that appeared on his blog. It begins by referring to her in the past tense.

    The date of Mrs. Kornbluth’s death is public knowledge, readily available to anybody who looked it up, as I did when routinely fact checking Fred’s blog post, part of my role as blogmaster and copy editor of The Way the Future Blogs..

    Fred’s posts about Mrs. Kornbluth were among a number of stories, he told me, that he’d left out of the original edition of his autobiography, “The Way the Future Was,” because he didn’t feel it appropriate to write so candidly about living people. At the time of his death, Fred was finishing an expanded version of that memoir, as well as a subsequent volume, to be published by Tor, which contain more explicit details than the original.

  2. Mark Rich’s biopgraphy is unusual in my view. He manages to do what Dana Andrews did in the film LAURA: he fell in love with a deceased person. I liked his book but the odd tone kind of amused me. I don’t mind a biographer having an interest in their subject, but the attacks on Fred Pohl seemed out of place.

  3. Many thanks for posting about my blog entry.

    As to the first reply: Some fact-checking would have made clear that I knew I was revealing little concerning Mary’s death, in terms of its having factually occurred.

    Noticing that no official announcement had been made, I took it upon myself to make that announcement. I owed my prior silence to John; I owed my blog posting to the genre community.

    All the same, many readers had been unaware that she had died—which I know because they asked me about it. Up until now I had felt bound to answer neither yes nor no.

    In response to the second comment: I fell in love with C.M. Kornbluth’s fiction. About Cyril and Mary themselves I still hope to gain more understanding.

    About Fred: My book contains the results of textual comparisons and research in his own archives. If these results seem attacks to a reader, the reader may simply be sensing the difference between what has appeared in print before now and what became evident to me, as critic and historian, during my research. I footnoted heavily so that others may go on and pursue research of their own. The facts are available to the public.

    Cheers …

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