Tiffany Ellsworth Thayer (March 1, 1902 – August 23, 1959) was an American actor, author and founder of the Fortean Society.
Born in Freeport, Illinois, Thayer quit school at age 15 and worked as an actor, reporter, and used-book clerk in Chicago, Detroit, and Cleveland. When he was 16, he toured as the teenaged hero in the Civil War drama The Coward. Thayer first contacted American author Charles Fort in 1924. In 1926, Thayer moved to New York City to act, but soon spent more time writing.
In 1931 Thayer co-founded the Fortean Society in New York City to promote Fort's ideas. Primarily based in New York City, the Society was headed by first president Theodore Dreiser, an old friend of Fort who had helped to get his work published. Early members of the original Society in New York City included Booth Tarkington, Ben Hecht, Alexander Woollcott, and H. L. Mencken. The first 6 issues of Doubt, the Fortean Society's newsletter, were each edited by a different member, starting with Dreiser. Thayer thereafter took over editorship of subsequent issues. Thayer began to assert extreme control over the society, largely filling the newsletter with articles written by himself, and excommunicating the entire San Francisco chapter, reportedly their largest and most active, after disagreements over the society's direction, and forbidding them to use the name Fortean. During World War II, Thayer used every issue of Doubt to espouse his politics. He celebrated the escape of Gerhart Eisler, and named Garry Davis an Honorary Fellow of the Society for renouncing his American citizenship. Thayer frequently expressed opposition to Civil Defense, going to such lengths as encouraging readers to turn on their lights in defiance of air raid sirens. In contrast to the spirit of Charles Fort, he dismissed not only flying saucers as nonsense but also the atomic bomb as a hoax by the US government.
Thayer also wrote several novels, including the bestseller Thirteen Women which was filmed in 1932 and released by RKO Radio Pictures. Many of his novels contained elements of science fiction or fantasy, including Dr. Arnoldi about a world where no-one can die.
In the profile in Twentieth Century Authors, Thayer was described as "an atheist, an anarchist – in philosophy a Pyrrhonean – and regrets the legitimacy of his birth."He listed his hobbies as painting, fencing, and book collecting.
Towards the end of his life, Thayer had championed increasingly idiosyncratic ideas, such as a Flat Earth and opposition to the fluoridation of water supplies.[ citation needed ]
The Fortean Society Magazine (also called Doubt) was published regularly until Thayer's death in Nantucket, Massachusetts in 1959, aged 57, when the society and magazine came to an end. The magazine and society are not connected to the present-day magazine Fortean Times .
Writers Paul and Ron Willis, publishers of Anubis, acquired most of the original Fortean Society material and revived the Society as the International Fortean Organization (INFO) in the early 1960s. INFO went on to incorporate in 1965, publish a widely respected magazine, The INFO Journal: Science and the Unknown, for more than 35 years and created the world's first, and most prestigious, conference dedicated to the work and spirit of Charles Fort, the annual FortFest which continues to this day.
Thayer wrote genre romances that were disliked by contemporary literary critics.Dorothy Parker, in a New Yorker review of An American Girl, said "He is beyond question a writer of power; and his power lies in his ability to make sex so thoroughly, graphically, and aggressively unattractive that one is fairly shaken to ponder how little one has been missing." F. Scott Fitzgerald said "curious children nosed at the slime of Mr. Tiffany Thayer in the drug-store libraries." Kunitz and Haycraft cited an anonymous reviewer who described Thayer's work as "obviously meretricious, but disclosing a narrative gift which might be used to better purpose". William Tenn, recalling Dr. Arnoldi more than sixty years after he had read it, characterized it as "absolutely fascinating---and disgusting. . . . If you ever find a copy, give it to some sf fan you dislike. Your reward will be the baffled misery in his eyes after he's read it."
Thayer was married at least twice: beginning around 1931, to Tanagra (1898–1975), a well-known dancer, and later to Katherine McMahon (1914–1999).
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Eric Frank Russell was a British author best known for his science fiction novels and short stories. Much of his work was first published in the United States, in John W. Campbell's Astounding Science Fiction and other pulp magazines. Russell also wrote horror fiction for Weird Tales and non-fiction articles on Fortean topics. Up to 1955 several of his stories were published under pseudonyms, at least Duncan H. Munro and Niall(e) Wilde.
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The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction is a U.S. fantasy and science fiction magazine first published in 1949 by Fantasy House, a subsidiary of Lawrence Spivak's Mercury Press. Editors Anthony Boucher and J. Francis McComas had approached Spivak in the mid-1940s about creating a fantasy companion to Spivak's existing mystery title, Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine. The first issue was titled The Magazine of Fantasy, but the decision was quickly made to include science fiction as well as fantasy, and the title was changed correspondingly with the second issue. F&SF was quite different in presentation from the existing science fiction magazines of the day, most of which were in pulp format: it had no interior illustrations, no letter column, and text in a single column format, which in the opinion of science fiction historian Mike Ashley "set F&SF apart, giving it the air and authority of a superior magazine".
The Fortean Society was started in the United States in 1931 during a meeting held in the New York flat of American writer Charles Hoy Fort, in order to promote his ideas. The Fortean Society was primarily based in New York City. Its first president was Theodore Dreiser, an old friend of Charles Fort, who had helped to get his work published. Founding members of the Fortean Society included Tiffany Thayer, Booth Tarkington, Ben Hecht, Alexander Woollcott and many of New York's literati such as Dorothy Parker. But "Fort had his share of detractors. His friend H. L. Mencken said his head was filled with 'Bohemian mush'". Other members included Vincent Gaddis, Ivan T. Sanderson, A. Merritt, Frank Lloyd Wright and Buckminster Fuller. The first six issues of the Fortean Society's newsletter "Doubt" were each edited by a different member, starting with Theodore Dreiser. Tiffany Thayer thereafter took over editorship of subsequent issues. Thayer began to assert extreme control over the society, largely filling the newsletter with articles written by himself, and excommunicating the entire San Francisco chapter, reportedly their most active, after disagreements over the society's direction, and forbidding them to use the name Fortean. During World War II, for example, Thayer used every issue of "Doubt" to espouse his politics. Particularly, he frequently expressed opposition to Civil Defense, going to such lengths as encouraging readers to turn on their lights in defiance to air raid sirens. In contrast to the spirit of Charles Fort, he not only dismissed flying saucers as nonsense, but also dismissed the atomic bomb as a hoax.
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The Tulli Papyrus is claimed to be a transcription of an Egyptian papyrus dating from the reign of Thutmose III. The claim originated in a 1953 article published in Doubt, the Fortean Society magazine, by Tiffany Thayer. According to Thayer, the transcription was sent to him by Boris de Rachewiltz who supposedly found the original transcription of the papyrus among papers left by Alberto Tulli, a deceased Vatican museum director. References to "circles of fire" or "fiery discs" allegedly contained in the translation have been interpreted in UFO and Fortean literature as evidence of ancient flying saucers, although ufologists Jacques Vallee and Chris Aubeck have described it as a "hoax". According to Vallee and Aubeck, since Tulli had supposedly copied it during a single viewing of the original papyrus using an "Ancient Egyptian shorthand", and de Rachewiltz had never seen the original, the alleged text likely contained transcription errors, making it impossible to verify.
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