Today’s Birthday Boy 4/7

Henry Kuttner

Henry Kuttner

By Stephen Haffner: [Reprinted with permission.] One hundred years ago today (April 7, 1915) Henry Kuttner was born in Los Angeles, the youngest
of thee sons of Henry Kuttner, Sr. and Annie Levy. Kuttner was five years old when his father died and he relocated to San Francisco.

A reader of the early fantasy magazines, he had letters published in issues of  Air Wonder Stories and Weird Tales. Prior to completing high school, he returned to Los Angeles and eventually worked as a reader for the literary agency of his uncle Laurence D’Orsay.

During his correspondence with H.P.Lovecraft, he sold his first story, “The Graveyard Rats”, to Weird Tales in early 1936 (preceded in print by the poem “Ballad of the Gods” in WT, Feb. ’36). Kuttner continued to sell prolifically to the pulp magazines, appearing in Thrilling Mystery, Weird Tales, Marvel Science Stories, Strange Stories and more under a plethora of pseudonyms. Before moving to New York in 1939, he mentored two future giants: Leigh Brackett and Ray Bradbury.

Following brief visits—and a lengthy correspondence—with Indianapolis-based Catherine L. Moore, the two were married in New York on June 7, 1940. Singly, and in collaboration with Moore, this marks the beginning of Kuttner’s longest sustained output of high-quality work with: “The Twonky,” “Mimsy Were the Borogoves,” “Nothing But Gingerbread Left,” “Housing Problem,” “Call Him Demon,”; the “Gallagher series,” the “Baldy” series, the “Hogbens” series, and novel-length works such as Fury, Earth’s Last Citadel and The Dark World.     

When World War II saw Robert A. Heinlein depart for Philadelphia, the Kuttners rented the Heinlein’s Hollywood home. In 1942, Kuttner entered the Army Medical Corp (serving at Fort Monmouth, NJ until 1945) and Catherine lived in nearby Red Bank, NJ. After Kuttner’s discharge, they lived in Hastings-on-Hudson, NY until moving to Laguna Beach, CA in 1948.

Feeling burned-out with their prolific fiction output for the pulps, they branched out into novels starting with The Brass Ring (Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1946). In 1950, Kuttner & Moore curtailed their fiction writing to focus on their new academic efforts at the University of Southern California. Kuttner earned his bachelor’s degree in 3½ years and Moore completed hers in 1956 (she earned her master’s in 1963). Kuttner was working on his master’s thesis on the works of H. Rider Haggard at the time of his death from heart failure on February 4, 1958.

It was while working on their degrees that Kuttner & Moore added teaching at USC to their resumés, as well as their first screenplay work at Warner Bros. on Rappaccini’s Daughter. Following Kuttner’ death, Moore took over Kuttner’s teaching duties, as well as handling screenwriting jobs for Maverick, Sugarfoot and 77 Sunset Strip. Some of this under the eye of former Amazing Stories editor, Howard Browne.

[Editor’s Note: And now that you’re thinking about Henry Kuttner, here’s a great opportunity to read a batch of Kuttner stories. Quoting from the press release….]

Haffner Press is very pleased and proud to be able to collect and re-present the work of Henry Kuttner (DETOUR TO OTHERNESS, TERROR IN THE HOUSE, THUNDER IN THE VOID) and we hope to have you with us we continue to publish the work of this excellent writer: THE MICHAEL GRAY MYSTERIES, HOLLYWOOD ON THE MOON/MAN ABOUT TIME and  . . .


Coming later this year is the long-awaited follow-up to TERROR IN THE HOUSE: THE EARLY KUTTNER, VOLUME ONE is the second volume of early Kuttner: THE WATCHER AT THE DOOR.

Legendary fan Robert A. Madle handles the foreword to this 700-page collection of 30 (count ’em!) Kuttner Koncoctions from the pages of Weird Tales, Thrilling Mystery, Strange Stories, Fantastic Adventures, Science Fiction, Startling Stories, and more.

We are taking preorders now for this title. Even better for those of you that missed on getting a copy of Volume One: for a limited time, we are offering the out-of-print TERROR IN THE HOUSE as a combo with preorders of THE WATCHER AT THE DOOR. It won’t be cheap, but it will be easy. See the homepage for the combo offer at

17 thoughts on “Today’s Birthday Boy 4/7

  1. Every morning lately I’ve almost dreaded looking at File 770. But to see an article on the wonderful Henry Kuttner brought me out of Hugo Award angst and made me proud to be a fan of science fiction. Thank you so much Stephen for your wonderful work in bringing the works of this neglected master back in print. Now time to go order this book.

  2. I am only too happy to share a birthday with a fine writer like Henry Kuttner. In my case, though, I was born in 1935, twenty years after the writer’s birth. At least, being 80 years old today, I am still here. (Well, I was, the last time I looked.)

  3. I had never been aware Kuttner served at Fort Monmouth, NJ. I spent about five months there in 1972 for my Army AIT, training to be a Photographic Laboratory Technician. I subsequently spent a grand total of one day actually working as a PLT, and ended up as a company clerk for most of my enlistment. If serving on an Army base can be said to be enjoyable, Fort Monmouth was enjoyable. I remember picking up the very first DAW titles from the drugstore right outside the base gates; the science fiction was kept next to the porn. Fort Monmouth was decommissioned a few years ago; some of its old property has been converted into a business park and other uses.

  4. I wonder how they handle the issue of sorting stories written by Kuttner from ones written by him and Moore but credited to him and ones written by her and credited to him? As I recall, he got a better word rate and the couple cheerfully miscredited word to take advantage of that.

  5. If you know which stories those are you can compare your list to the table of contents for the collection, which is posted on the Haffner Press site. Let me know if you do that and write about it on More Words, Deeper Hole — I will link.

    (Or I’d be happy to have you report your findings here, but as a blogger I know we’re reluctant to bury a perfectly good post as a comment somewhere else….)

  6. Haffner Press greatly welcomes any and all accurate information that helps determine and establish proper authorship for stories written by Henry Kuttner and Catherine L. Moore. Currently, the stories collected in THE WATCHER AT THE DOOR: THE EARLY KUTTNER, VOLUME TWO are credited solely to Kuttner.

  7. Oh, I have no idea who wrote what! The unsourced anecdote I heard was they’d leave unfinished pages in their typewriter and whoever had an interesting idea would add a bit.

  8. Ah! But they collaborated formally as early as 1937 (“Quest of the Starstone” in WEIRD TALES, Nov. ’37)—three years before their marriage. So, it’s still a mug’s game trying to be definitive based on publication dates (or bylines).

  9. Quest of the Starstone is the hilarious cross over between Jirel and Northwest Smith, right? The one where she greets his ‘I’m cute!’ with a derisive snort…

  10. It used to be recorded that Kuttner was born in 1914. When and how was that corrected to 1915?

  11. Fantastic Fiction still has 1914. Wikipedia and IMDB have 1915. James’s Gunn’s The Science of Science Fiction Writing (pub 2000) has 1914. No idea which is right.

  12. DB: An interesting question that I don’t know the answer to.

    Karen Anderson’s HENRY KUTTNER: A MEMORIAL SYMPOSIUM claims his birth year as 1914 as does Sam Moskowitz’s SEEKERS OF TOMORROW: MASTERS OF MODERN SCIENCE FICTION.
    However, the online California Birth Index shows April 7, 1915:
    Also, the 1920 census shows that the census-taker on January 3, 1920 noted Henry Kuttner, Jr.’s age as ” 4-8/12.” I assume this means young Kuttner was born 4 years and 8 months prior to 1-3-1920. Thus: (1920 – 4 = 1916) – 8 months = April 1915.
    Screen cap here:

    For now, I stand by the 1915 date. Damn, there’s never a Proud Robot when you need one. :/

Comments are closed.