Anthony Boucher (/ˈbaʊtʃər/; born William Anthony Parker White; August 21, 1911 – April 29, 1968) was an American author, critic, and editor, who wrote several classic mystery novels, short stories, science fiction, and radio dramas. Between 1942 and 1947 he acted as reviewer of mostly mystery fiction for the San Francisco Chronicle. In addition to "Anthony Boucher", White also employed the pseudonym "H. H. Holmes", which was the pseudonym of a late-19th-century American serial killer; Boucher would also write light verse and sign it "Herman W. Mudgett" (another of the murderer's aliases).
|Born||William Anthony Parker White|
August 21, 1911
Oakland, California, United States
|Died||29 April 1968 (aged 56)|
Oakland, California, United States
|Pen name||H. H. Holmes|
After a friend told him that "William White" was too common a name, he used "H. H. Holmes" to write and review mysteries and "Anthony Boucher" for science fiction. He pronounced Boucher phonetically, "to rhyme with voucher".
Boucher (as he was more commonly known) wrote mystery, science fiction, and horror. He was also an editor, including science fiction anthologies, and wrote mystery reviews for many years in The New York Times. He was one of the first English translators of Jorge Luis Borges, translating "The Garden of Forking Paths" for Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine. He helped found the Mystery Writers of America in 1946 and, in the same year, was one of the first winners of the MWA's Edgar Award for his mystery reviews in the San Francisco Chronicle. He was a founding editor (with J. Francis McComas) of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction from 1949 to 1958, and attempted to make literary quality an important aspect of science fiction. He won the Hugo Award for Best Professional Magazine in 1957 and 1958. Boucher also edited the long-running Best from Fantasy and Science Fiction anthology series, from 1952 to 1959.
Among Boucher's critical writing was also contributing annual summaries of the state of speculative fiction for Judith Merril's The Year's Best SF series; as editor, he published the volumes in E. P. Dutton's The Best Detective Stories of the Year annual volumes published in 1963-1968, succeeding Brett Halliday and followed, after his death, by Allen J. Hubin in that task.
Boucher wrote short stories for many fiction magazines in America, including Adventure, Astounding, Black Mask, Ed McBain's Mystery Book, Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, Galaxy Science Fiction, The Master Detective, Unknown Worlds and Weird Tales.
His short story "The Quest for Saint Aquin" was among the stories selected in 1970 by the Science Fiction Writers of America as one of the best science fiction short stories of all time. As such, it was published in The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume One, 1929–1964.
Boucher was the friend and mentor of science-fiction writer Philip K. Dick and others. His 1942 novel Rocket to the Morgue, in addition to being a classic locked room mystery, is also something of a roman à clef about the Southern California science fiction culture of the time, featuring thinly veiled versions of personalities such as Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard and rocket scientist/occultist/fan Jack Parsons.
Boucher also scripted for radio and was involved in many other activities, as described by William F. Nolan in his essay "Who Was Anthony Boucher?":
The 1940s proved to be a very busy and productive decade for Boucher. In 1945 he launched into a spectacular three-year radio career, plotting more than 100 episodes for The Adventures of Ellery Queen, while also providing plots for the bulk of the Sherlock Holmes radio dramas. By the summer of 1946 he had created his own mystery series for the airwaves, The Casebook of Gregory Hood. ("I was turning out three scripts each week for as many shows," he stated. "It was a mix of hard work and great fun.")
With respect to his scripting of the Sherlock Holmes radio dramas, Nigel Bruce, who played Dr. Watson, said that Boucher "had a sound knowledge of Conan Doyle and a great affection for the two characters of Holmes and Watson."
Boucher left dramatic radio in 1948, "mainly because I was putting in a lot of hours working with J. Francis McComas in creating what soon became The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. We got it off the ground in 1949 and saw it take hold solidly by 1950. This was a major creative challenge and although I was involved in a lot of other projects, I stayed with F&SF into 1958."
Throughout his years with the magazine, Boucher was involved in many other projects. He wrote fiction for the SF and mystery markets (primarily short stories). He taught an informal writing class from his home in Berkeley. He continued his Sunday mystery columns for the New York Times Book Review, while also writing crime-fiction reviews for The New York Herald Tribune as Holmes (he also reviewed SF and fantasy (as H. H. Holmes) for the Herald Tribune) and functioning as chief critic for Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine. He edited True Crime Detective, supervised the Mercury Mystery Line and (later) the Dell Great Mystery Library; hosted Golden Voices, his series of historical opera recordings for Pacifica Radio, and served (in 1951) as president of Mystery Writers of America.
As part of his reviews of mystery novels, he published a list of Best Crime Fiction of the Year from 1949 to 1967, listing from 12 to 15 titles each year. He published his list as Anthony Boucher.
Boucher was a devoted poker player, a political activist, a rabid sport fan (football, basketball, track, gymnastics and rugby), an active Sherlockian in The Baker Street Irregulars and a spirited chef.
Boucher died of lung cancer on April 29, 1968, at the Kaiser Foundation Hospital in Oakland.
Bouchercon, the "Anthony Boucher Memorial World Mystery Convention," was named in his honor. Descriptions of those conventions from the first, in 1970, until that in 2004, appear in Marvin Lachman's The Heirs of Anthony Boucher.
[These three volumes were later published in one volume.]
The 16th World Science Fiction Convention, also known as Solacon, was held August 29–September 1, 1958, at the Alexandria Hotel in Los Angeles, California, United States. Solacon was physically in Los Angeles, but (by mayoral proclamation) technically in South Gate, California, to fulfill their longtime bid slogan (since 1948) of "South Gate in '58."Superfan Rick Sneary had a cardboard sign at this convention that read "We'll do it again in 2010" that he carried to numerous future Worldcons. His death in 1990 laid that dream to rest and the 2010 Worldcon happened in Melbourne, Australia.
Solacon's chair was Anne S. Moffatt. The guest of honor was Richard Matheson. The toastmaster was Anthony Boucher. Total attendance was 322.22nd World Science Fiction Convention
The 22nd World Science Fiction Convention, also known as Pacificon II, was held September 4–7, 1964, at the Hotel Leamington in Oakland, California, United States.
Pacificon was combined with Westercon, the annual West Coast Science Fantasy Conference, sharing guests of honor and chairmen. The chairmen were J. Ben Stark and Al haLevy. The guests of honor were Leigh Brackett and Edmond Hamilton (pro), and Forrest J Ackerman (fan). The toastmaster was Anthony Boucher. Total attendance was approximately 523.8th World Science Fiction Convention
The 8th World Science Fiction Convention, also known as NorWesCon, was held September 1–4, 1950, at the Multnomah Hotel in Portland, Oregon, United States. The supporting organization was the Portland Science-Fantasy Society. The chairman was Donald B. Day.The guest of honor was Anthony Boucher. The toastmaster, listed as the "Entertainment Master of Ceremonies", was Theodore Sturgeon. Total attendance was approximately 400. Special note: an advance preview screening of George Pal's science fiction film Destination Moon was held at a nearby local theater for NorWesCon members.Bouchercon
Bouchercon, the Anthony Boucher Memorial World Mystery Convention, is an annual convention of creators and devotees of mystery and detective fiction. It is named in honour of writer, reviewer, and editor Anthony Boucher, and pronounced the way he pronounced his name, rhyming with "voucher".It is held annually in the fall, each year being hosted in a different city by a different group of volunteers. The convention typically starts on Thursday and finishes on Sunday.
Each year, Bouchercon nominates and votes the Anthony Awards for excellence in crime fiction, including: Best Novel, Best First Novel, Best Short Story, Best Critical Non-Fiction, and Best Paperback Original.
People who attend are fans, authors, agents, booksellers, publishers and other people who read and enjoy mystery and crime fiction. The first one was held in Santa Monica, California in 1970. The guest of honor was Robert Bloch of Psycho fame.
Registered attendees of each Bouchercon are designated as 'members', and vote at the annual business meeting (held during the convention) on necessary business items. Bouchercon's governing body is its Standing Committee, which changes year to year, being made up of people who have hosted and will host the convention, and three at large members who are elected by the membership.Bouchercon XIX
Bouchercon is an annual convention of creators and devotees of mystery and detective fiction. It is named in honour of writer, reviewer, and editor Anthony Boucher; also the inspiration for the Anthony Awards, which have been issued at the convention since 1986. This page details Bouchercon XIX and the 3rd Anthony Awards ceremony.Bouchercon XVII
Bouchercon is an annual convention of creators and devotees of mystery and detective fiction. It is named in honour of writer, reviewer, and editor Anthony Boucher; also the inspiration for the Anthony Awards, which have been issued at the convention since 1986. This page details Bouchercon XVII and the inaugural Anthony Awards ceremony.Bouchercon XVIII
Bouchercon is an annual convention of creators and devotees of mystery and detective fiction. It is named in honour of writer, reviewer, and editor Anthony Boucher; also the inspiration for the Anthony Awards, which have been issued at the convention since 1986. This page details Bouchercon XVIII and the 2nd Anthony Awards ceremony.Bouchercon XX
Bouchercon is an annual convention of creators and devotees of mystery and detective fiction. It is named in honour of writer, reviewer, and editor Anthony Boucher; also the inspiration for the Anthony Awards, which have been issued at the convention since 1986. This page details Bouchercon XX and the 4th Anthony Awards ceremony.J. Francis McComas
Jesse Francis McComas (June 9, 1911 – April 19, 1978) was an American science fiction editor. McComas wrote several stories on his own in the 1950s using both his own name and the pseudonym Webb Marlowe.
He entered publishing in 1941 as a salesman and editorial representative, spending two years in New York with Random House. He returned to California in 1944, working as the Pacific Coast editorial representative for Henry Holt and Company. For Simon & Schuster he became their Northern California sales manager and general editorial representative.
McComas was the co-editor, with Raymond J. Healy of one of the first major American anthologies of science fiction, Adventures in Time and Space (1946). Within a few years, he was the co-founding editor, with Anthony Boucher, of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. He edited the magazine from its inception in 1949 as The Magazine of Fantasy. In the fall of 1954 he left the magazine as an active editor but continued in the role of advisory editor until 1962.
During the 1950s, McComas reviewed science fiction for The New York Times.He left to the San Francisco Public Library his collection of 3,000 volumes of fiction and 92 science fiction magazines dating from the 1920s.Mystery Writers of America
Mystery Writers of America (MWA) is an organization of mystery and crime writers, based in New York City.The organization was founded in 1945 by Clayton Rawson, Anthony Boucher, Lawrence Treat, and Brett Halliday.
It presents the Edgar Award, a small bust of Edgar Allan Poe, to mystery or crime writers every year. It presents the Raven Award to non-writers, who contribute to the mystery genre. The category of Best Juvenile Mystery is also part of the Edgar Award, with such notable recipients as Barbara Brooks Wallace having won the honor twice, for The Twin in the Tavern in 1994 and Sparrows in the Scullery in 1998, and Tony Abbott for his novel The Postcard, which received critical accolades in 2009.The Heirs of Anthony Boucher
The Heirs of Anthony Boucher is a book written by Marvin Lachman and published by Poisoned Pen Press on 1 August 2005, which later went on to win the Anthony Award for Best Critical Nonfiction in 2006.