C. L. Moore

Catherine Lucille Moore (January 24, 1911 – April 4, 1987) was an American science fiction and fantasy writer, who first came to prominence in the 1930s writing as C. L. Moore. She was among the first women to write in the science fiction and fantasy genres, though earlier woman writers in these genres include Clare Winger Harris, Greye La Spina, and Francis Stevens, amongst others. Nevertheless, Moore's work paved the way for many other female speculative fiction writers.

Moore married her first husband Henry Kuttner in 1940, and most of her work from 1940-1958 (Kuttner's death) was written by the couple collaboratively. They were prolific co-authors under their own names, although more often under any one of several pseudonyms.

As "Catherine Kuttner", she had a brief career as a television scriptwriter from 1958 to 1962. She retired from writing in 1963.

C. L. Moore
BornCatherine Lucille Moore
January 24, 1911
Indianapolis, Indiana, US
DiedApril 4, 1987 (aged 76)
Hollywood, California, US
Pen name
  • Lawrence O'Donnell
  • C. H. Liddell
  • Lewis Padgett
GenreScience fiction, fantasy
  • Henry Kuttner (1940–1958, his death)
  • Thomas Reggie (1963–1987, her death)


Early life

Moore was born on January 24, 1911 in Indianapolis, Indiana. She was chronically ill as a child and spent much of her time reading literature of the fantastic. She left college during the Great Depression to work as a secretary at the Fletcher Trust Company in Indianapolis.

Writing career

The Vagabond, a student-run magazine at Indiana University, published three of her stories when she was a student there. The three short stories, all with a fantasy theme and all credited to "Catherine Moore", appeared in 1930/31.[1] Her first professional sales appeared in pulp magazines beginning in 1933. Her decision to publish under the name "C.L. Moore" stemmed not from a desire to hide her gender, but to keep her employers at Fletcher Trust from knowing that she was working as a writer on the side.

Her early work included two significant series in Weird Tales, then edited by Farnsworth Wright. One features the rogue and adventurer Northwest Smith wandering through the Solar System; the other features the swordswoman/warrior Jirel of Joiry, one of the first female protagonists in sword-and-sorcery fiction. Both series are sometimes named for their lead characters.[2] One of the Northwest Smith stories, "Nymph of Darkness" (Fantasy Magazine (April 1935); expurgated version, Weird Tales (Dec 1939)), was written in collaboration with Forrest J Ackerman.[3]

The most famous Northwest Smith story is "Shambleau", which was also Moore's first professional sale. It originally appeared in the November 1933 issue of Weird Tales,[2] netting her $100, and later becoming a popular anthology reprint.

Weird Tales October 1934
Cover of Weird Tales, October 1934, featuring "The Black God's Kiss" by Moore (painting by Margaret Brundage)

Her most famous Jirel story is also the first one, "Black God's Kiss", which was the cover story in the October 1934 issue of Weird Tales, subtitled "the weirdest story ever told" (see figure).[2] Moore's early stories were notable for their emphasis on the senses and emotions, which was unusual in genre fiction at the time.

Moore's work also appeared in Astounding Science Fiction magazine throughout the 1940s. Several stories written for that magazine were later collected in her first published book, Judgment Night (1952)[4][2][a] One of them, the novella "No Woman Born" (1944), was to be included in more than 10 different science fiction anthologies including The Best of C. L. Moore.[5]

Included in that collection were "Judgment Night" (first published in August and September 1943), the lush rendering of a future galactic empire with a sober meditation on the nature of power and its inevitable loss; "The Code" (July 1945), an homage to the classic Faust with modern theories and Lovecraftian dread; "Promised Land" (February 1950) and "Heir Apparent" (July 1950), both documenting the grim twisting that mankind must undergo in order to spread into the Solar System; and "Paradise Street" (September 1950), a futuristic take on the Old West conflict between lone hunter and wilderness-taming settlers.

Marriage to Henry Kuttner and literary collaborations

Moore met Henry Kuttner, also a science fiction writer, in 1936 when he wrote her a fan letter under the impression that "C. L. Moore" was a man. They soon collaborated on a story that combined Moore's signature characters, Northwest Smith and Jirel of Joiry: "Quest of the Starstone" (1937).

Moore and Kuttner married in 1940 and thereafter wrote many of their stories in collaboration, sometimes under their own names, but more often using the joint pseudonyms C. H. Liddell, Lawrence O'Donnell, or Lewis Padgett — most commonly the latter, a combination of their mothers' maiden names. Moore still occasionally wrote solo work during this period, including the frequently anthologized "No Woman Born" (1944). A selection of Moore's solo short fiction work from 1942 through 1950 was collected in 1952's Judgement Night. Moore's only solo novel, Doomsday Morning appeared in 1957.

The vast majority of Moore's work in the period, though, was written as part of a very prolific partnership. Working together, the couple managed to combine Moore's style with Kuttner's more cerebral storytelling. They continued to work in sf and fantasy, and their works include two frequently anthologized sf classics: "Mimsy Were the Borogoves" (February 1943), the basis for the film The Last Mimzy (2007), and "Vintage Season" (September 1946), the basis for the film Timescape (1992). As "Lewis Padgett" they also penned two mystery novels: The Brass Ring (1946) and The Day He Died (1947).

Career after Kuttner's death

After Kuttner's death in 1958, Moore continued teaching her writing course at the University of Southern California but permanently retired from writing any further literary fiction. Instead, working as "Catherine Kuttner", she carved out a short-lived career as a scriptwriter for Warner Brothers television, writing episodes of the westerns Sugarfoot, Maverick, and The Alaskans, as well as the detective series 77 Sunset Strip, all between 1958 and 1962. However, upon marrying Thomas Reggie (who was not a writer) in 1963, she ceased writing entirely.

Moore was the author guest of honor at Kansas City, MO's fantasy and science fiction convention BYOB-Con 6, held over the U. S. Memorial Day weekend in May, 1976.

In 1981, Moore received two annual awards for her career in fantasy literature: the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement, chosen by a panel of judges at the World Fantasy Convention, and the Gandalf Grand Master Award, chosen by vote of participants in the World Science Fiction Convention.[6] (Thus she became the eighth and final Grand Master of Fantasy, sponsored by the Swordsmen and Sorcerers' Guild of America, in partial analogy to the Grand Master of Science Fiction sponsored by the Science Fiction Writers of America.)

Moore was an active member of the Tom and Terri Pinckard Science Fiction literary salon and a frequent contributor to literary discussions with the regular membership, including Robert Bloch, George Clayton Johnson, Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, Norman Spinrad, A. E. van Vogt, and others, as well as many visiting writers and speakers.

Later life

She developed Alzheimer's disease but that was not obvious for several years. She had ceased to attend the meetings when she was nominated to be the first woman Grand Master of the Science Fiction Writers of America; the nomination was withdrawn at the request of her husband, Thomas Reggie, who said the award and ceremony would be at best confusing and likely upsetting to her, given the progress of her disease.[7] That caused dismay among the former SFWA presidents, for she was a great favorite to receive the award. (Former presidents and current officers select a living writer as Grand Master of SF, no more than one annually.)[8]


Moore died on April 4, 1987 at her home in Hollywood, California after a long battle with Alzheimer's.[9]


The Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame inducted Moore in 1998, its third class of two deceased and two living writers.[10]

Selected works

Fantastic Novels cover July 1950
Earth's Last Citadel was reprinted in the July 1950 edition of Fantastic Novels.
  • Earth's Last Citadel (with Henry Kuttner; 1943)
  • "Vintage Season" (novella written with Henry Kuttner, as "Lawrence O'Donnell"; 1946). It was filmed in 1992 as Timescape.[11]
  • The Mask of Circe (with Henry Kuttner; 1948, Illustrated by Alicia Austin; 1971)
  • Beyond Earth's Gates (1949)
  • Judgment Night (stories, 1952)
  • Shambleau and Others (stories, 1953)
  • Northwest of Earth (stories, 1954)
  • No Boundaries (with Henry Kuttner; stories, 1955)
  • Doomsday Morning (1957)
  • Jirel of Joiry (Paperback Library, 1969); Black God's Shadow (Donald M. Grant, 1977)—the five Jirel stories collected; the latter a limited edition with color plates, signed, numbered, and boxed
  • The Best of C. L. Moore, edited by Lester Del Rey (Nelson Doubleday, 1975)—includes a biographical introduction by Lester Del Rey, which is carefully noncommittal about the influence of her personal life on her writing, and an autobiographical afterword by Moore
  • Black God's Kiss (Paizo Publishing, 2007; ISBN 978-1-60125-045-2)—the five Jirel stories collected
  • Northwest of Earth: The Complete Northwest Smith (Paizo Publishing, 2008; ISBN 978-1-60125-081-0)—the thirteen Northwest Smith stories collected


  1. ^ In 1951 Gnome had published Tomorrow and Tomorrow and the Fairy Chessmen, the omnibus edition of two short novels by Moore & Kuttner as Lewis Padgett, which had been two-part serials in Astounding during 1947 and 1946. Judgment Night comprised five stories by Moore alone—none from the Northwest Smith and Jirel series, which Gnome collected in part one year later.[2]


  1. ^ The Many Names of Catherine Lucille Moore
  2. ^ a b c d e C. L. Moore at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database (ISFDB). Retrieved 2013-04-20. Select a title to see its linked publication history and general information. Select a particular edition (title) for more data at that level, such as a front cover image or linked contents.
  3. ^ Forrest J. Ackerman, Ackermanthology: 65 Astoníshing, Rediscovered SF Shorts. LA: General Publishing Co, 1997, pp. 255-270.
  4. ^ Moore, C.L. (1952). Judgment Night. Gnome Press.
  5. ^ No Woman Born title listing at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database (ISFDB). Retrieved 2012-04-20.
  6. ^ "Moore, C. L." Archived 2012-10-16 at the Wayback Machine. The Locus Index to SF Awards: Index of Literary Nominees. Locus Publications. Retrieved 2013-03-26.
  7. ^ Nicoll, James Davis (2018-08-13). "A Survey of Some of the Best Science Fiction Ever Published (Thanks to Judy-Lynn Del Rey)". Tor.com. Retrieved 2019-01-02.
  8. ^ "Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master" Archived 2011-07-01 at the Wayback Machine. Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). Retrieved 2013-03-26.
  9. ^ "The Many Names of Catherine Lucille Moore | Kirkus Reviews". Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved 2017-01-29.
  10. ^ "Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame" Archived May 21, 2013, at the Wayback Machine. Mid American Science Fiction and Fantasy Conventions, Inc. Retrieved 2013-03-26. This was the official website of the hall of fame to 2004.
  11. ^ https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0104362/

Further reading

Bleiler, E.F. "Fantasy, Horror...and Sex: The Early Stories of C.L. Moore". Scream Factory (1988): 41-47

External links

39th World Science Fiction Convention

The 39th World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon), also known as Denvention II, was held September 3–7, 1981, at the Denver Hilton Hotel in Denver, Colorado, United States.

The chairmen were Suzanne Carnival and Don C. Thompson. The guests of honor were Clifford D. Simak (pro), C. L. Moore (pro), and Rusty Hevelin (fan). Extra special guest was Robert Heinlein who had been the guest of honor at the 1941 Worldcon, the first to be held in Denver. The toastmaster was Ed Bryant. Total attendance was 3,792.

Dark Agnes de Chastillon

Dark Agnes de Chastillon (also known as Agnes de Chastillon, Dark Agnes, Agnes de la Fere and The Sword Woman) is a fictional character created by Robert E. Howard and the protagonist of three stories set in 16th Century France, which were not printed until a long time after the author's death.

The character of Agnes was beaten by her father and almost forced into an arranged marriage. She avoids this by killing the bridegroom and running away. She meets Etienne Villiers, who at first attempts to sell her to a brothel, and Guiscard de Clisson, a mercenary captain who trains her as a swordswoman. When de Clisson is killed, Agnes heads for Italy with Villiers.

Like the later character Red Sonja, who was based on another Howard character, Red Sonya of Rogatino, Agnes has red hair and a short temper. But while Red Sonja's skill in the handling of swords is a divine gift, Agnes's skill is a mixture of innate talent and training.

The character may be partially based on Novalyne Price. Fictional prototypes include Jirel of Joiry, created by C. L. Moore. Moore was enthusiastic about the first of Howard's stories:

My blessings! I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed “Sword-Woman”. It seemed such a pity to leave her just at the threshold of higher adventures. Your favorite trick of slamming the door on a burst of bugles! And leaving one to wonder what happened next and wanting so badly to know. Aren’t there any more stories about Agnes?

Fantastic Novels

Fantastic Novels was an American science fiction and fantasy pulp magazine published by the Munsey Company of New York from 1940 to 1941, and again by Popular Publications, also of New York, from 1948 to 1951. It was a companion to Famous Fantastic Mysteries. Like that magazine, it mostly reprinted science fiction and fantasy classics from earlier decades, such as novels by A. Merritt, George Allan England, and Victor Rousseau, though it occasionally published reprints of more recent work, such as Earth's Last Citadel, by Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore.

The magazine lasted for 5 issues in its first incarnation, and for another 20 in the revived version from Popular Publications. Mary Gnaedinger edited both series; her interest in reprinting Merritt's work helped make him one of the better-known fantasy writers of the era. A Canadian edition from 1948 to 1951 reprinted 17 issues of the second series; two others were reprinted in Great Britain in 1950 and 1951.

Gandalf Award

The Gandalf Awards, honoring achievement in fantasy literature, were conferred by the World Science Fiction Society annually from 1974 to 1981. They were named for Gandalf the wizard, from the Middle-earth stories by J. R. R. Tolkien. The award was created and sponsored by Lin Carter and the Swordsmen and Sorcerers' Guild of America (SAGA), an association of fantasy writers. Recipients were selected by vote of participants in the World Science Fiction Conventions according to procedures of the older Hugo Awards.The awards were presented in two categories, for life achievement and for a book published during the preceding year. Their primary purpose continues to be fulfilled by two of the once-rival World Fantasy Awards, first presented in 1975—specifically the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement and World Fantasy Award for Best Novel.

Gnome Press

Gnome Press was an American small-press publishing company primarily known for publishing many science fiction classics. Gnome was one of the most eminent of the fan publishers of SF, producing 86 titles in its lifespan — many considered classic works of SF and Fantasy today. Gnome was important in the transitional period between Genre SF as a magazine phenomenon and its arrival in mass-market book publishing, but proved too underfunded to make the leap from fan-based publishing to the professional level. The company existed for just over a decade, ultimately failing due to inability to compete with major publishers who also started to publish science fiction. In its heyday, Gnome published many of the major SF authors, and in some cases, as with Robert E. Howard's Conan series (published in six books from 1950 – 1955) and Isaac Asimov's Foundation series (published in three books from 1951 – 1953), was responsible for the manner in which their stories were collected into book form.

Henry Kuttner

Henry Kuttner (April 7, 1915 – February 3, 1958) was an American author of science fiction, fantasy and horror.

Jirel of Joiry

Jirel of Joiry is a fictional character created by American writer C. L. Moore, who appeared in a series of sword and sorcery stories published first in the pulp horror/fantasy magazine Weird Tales. Jirel is the proud, tough, arrogant and beautiful ruler of her own domain — apparently somewhere in medieval France. Her adventures continually involve her in dangerous brushes with the supernatural.

These stories are the first to show the influence of Robert E. Howard on sword and sorcery; they also introduced a female protagonist to the genre.Moore's Jirel stories include the following:

"Black God's Kiss" (October 1934)

"Black God's Shadow" (December 1934)

"Jirel Meets Magic" (July 1935)

"The Dark Land" (January 1936)

"Quest of the Starstone" (November 1937), with Henry Kuttner

"Hellsgarde" (April 1939)These stories, except for "Quest of the Starstone", appear in the collection Jirel of Joiry (1969), and in the Gollancz Fantasy Masterworks compendium Black Gods and Scarlet Dreams (2002). All six appear in a collected edition under Paizo Publishing's "Planet Stories" imprint, compiled under the title Black God's Kiss.

Lewis Padgett

Lewis Padgett was the joint pseudonym of the science fiction authors and spouses Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore, taken from their mothers' maiden names. They also used the pseudonyms Lawrence O'Donnell and C. H. Liddell, as well as collaborating under their own names.

Writing as 'Lewis Padgett' they were the author of many humorous short stories of science fiction in the 1940s and 1950s. Among the most famous were:

The "Gallegher" series of stories, collected in Robots Have No Tails (Gnome, 1952):

"The Proud Robot"

"Gallegher Plus"

"The World Is Mine"

"Ex Machina"

"Time Locker"

"Mimsy Were the Borogoves"

"The Twonky"

"What You Need"

Mimsy Were the Borogoves

"Mimsy Were the Borogoves" is a science fiction short story by Lewis Padgett (a pseudonym of American writers Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore), originally published in the February 1943 issue of Astounding Science Fiction Magazine. It was judged by the Science Fiction Writers of America to be among the best science fiction stories written prior to 1965 and included in the anthology The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume One, 1929–1964. In 2007, it was loosely adapted into a feature-length film titled The Last Mimzy. The title of the original short story was directly inspired by a verse from “Jabberwocky,” a poem found in the classic novel Through the Looking-Glass by author Lewis Carroll.

Northwest Smith

Northwest Smith is a fictional character, and the hero of a series of stories by science fiction writer C. L. Moore.

Realms of Wizardry

Realms of Wizardry: An Anthology of Adult Fantasy is an American anthology of fantasy stories, edited by American writer Lin Carter. It was first published in hardcover by Doubleday in December 1976 as the second of two such anthologies continuing a series of nine assembled by Carter for the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series.

The book collects sixteen tales and excerpts from novels by various fantasy authors, with an overall introduction and notes on the individual authors by Carter. The collection is a companion volume to Carter's earlier anthology Kingdoms of Sorcery (1976).

Robots Have No Tails

Robots Have No Tails is a 1952 collection of science fiction short stories by Lewis Padgett (pseudonym of American writers Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore). It was first published by Gnome Press in 1952 in an edition of 4,000 copies. The stories all originally appeared in the magazine Astounding Stories.

It has been reprinted in 1973 by Lancer books with an introduction by C.L. Moore; in 1983 in the UK by Hamlyn Books as The Proud Robot with an introduction by Peter Pinto; and lastly in 2009 in the US by Paizo Publishing LLC's Planet Stories Line of books, with an additional introduction (to the one of Catherine Moore) by F. Paul Wilson. Both later editions credit Henry Kuttner as being the author, as does the introduction by C.L. Moore in the 1973 and 2009 editions.


"Shambleau" is a short story by American science fiction and fantasy writer C. L. Moore. Though it was her first professional sale, it is her most famous story. It first appeared in the November 1933 issue of Weird Tales and has been reprinted numerous times. It features one of Moore's best-known heroes, Northwest Smith, a gun-toting spacefarer, and is a retelling of the Medusa myth; it looks at themes of sexuality and addiction.

Strange Stories

Strange Stories was a pulp magazine which ran for thirteen issues from 1939 to 1941. It was edited by Mort Weisinger, who was not credited. Contributors included Robert Bloch, Eric Frank Russell, C. L. Moore, August Derleth, and Henry Kuttner. Strange Stories was a competitor to the established leader in weird fiction, Weird Tales. With the launch, also in 1939, of the well-received Unknown, Strange Stories was unable to compete. It ceased publication in 1941 when Weisinger left to edit Superman comic books.

The Green Hills of Earth (short story collection)

The Green Hills of Earth is a collection of science fiction short stories by American writer Robert A. Heinlein, published in 1951, including short stories published as early as 1941. The stories are part of Heinlein's Future History. The title story is the tale of an old space mariner reflecting upon his planet of birth. According to an acknowledgement at the beginning of the book, the phrase "the green hills of Earth" is derived from a story by C. L. Moore.

The Last Mimzy

The Last Mimzy is a 2007 American science fiction adventure drama film directed by Robert Shaye and loosely adapted from the 1943 science fiction short story "Mimsy Were the Borogoves" by Lewis Padgett (the pseudonym of husband-and-wife team Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore). The film features Timothy Hutton, Joely Richardson, Rainn Wilson, Kathryn Hahn, Michael Clarke Duncan, and introducing Rhiannon Leigh Wryn as seven-year-old Emma Wilder and Chris O’Neil as ten-year-old Noah.

The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume Two

The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume Two is an English language science fiction two-volume anthology edited by Ben Bova and published in the U.S. by Doubleday in 1973, distinguished as volumes "Two A" and "Two B". In the U.K. they were published by Gollancz as Volume Two (1973) and Volume Three (1974). The original U.S. subtitle was The Greatest Science Fiction Novellas of All Time.

Twenty-two novellas published from 1895 to 1962 were selected by vote of the Science Fiction Writers of America, as that body had selected the contents of The Science Fiction Hall of Fame Volume One, 1929-1964, a collection of the best-regarded short stories. SFWA had been established in 1965 and that publication year defined its first annual Nebula Awards. Introducing the collected novellas, Bova wrote, "The purpose of the Science Fiction Hall of Fame anthologies is to bestow a similar recognition on stories that were published prior to 1966 [sic], and thus never had a chance to earn a Nebula."The selection process generated both a top ten stories and a top ten authors.

Although the original publication dates ranged from 1895 to 1962, only two stories were published before 1938, "The Time Machine" by Wells (1895) and "The Machine Stops" by Forster (1909).

Theodore Sturgeon reviewed the anthology favorably, praising the decision to issue it in two volumes rather than scale back the contents.

Bova's introduction thanks Doubleday science fiction editor Larry Ashmead for that.

Timescape (1992 film)

Timescape, released on video as Grand Tour: Disaster in Time, is a 1992 American science fiction film directed by David Twohy and starring Jeff Daniels and Ariana Richards. Featuring a cameo appearance by Robert Colbert, one of the co-stars of Irwin Allen's 1960s TV series The Time Tunnel, it is based on the novella Vintage Season by Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore.

What You Need (The Twilight Zone)

"What You Need" is episode 12 of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone. It is based on the short story of the same name by Lewis Padgett (Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore).

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