An archive of materials from the estate of David H. Keller (1880–1966), a Philadelphia-area psychiatrist and mid-20thcentury pulp magazine writer of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Thought to be the first psychiatrist to write for the genre, Keller pioneered a new type of science fiction story in which the focus shifted away from the gadgets and technological trappings of the future toward the humanity and psychological depth of the characters, according to Hugo Gernsback, creator of such publications as Amazing Stories and Science Wonder Stories. These "Kelleryarns" were extremely popular with readers, and Keller himself became a respected figure to the burgeoning culture of science fiction fandom. Most often, he published as David H. Keller, MD, but he was also known by the pseudonyms Monk Smith, Matthew Smith, Amy Worth, Henry Cecil, Cecilia Henry, and Jacobus Hubelaire.

Keller was also an early scholar of H.P. Lovecraft, publishing occasional works on Lovecraft from 1948 to 1965. Most notably, he was the first to suggest, in 1948, the influential but erroneous idea that Lovecraft could have inherited syphilis from his parents. Lovecraft publisher Arkham House published many books in the fantasy and horror field throughout the 1950s, including Keller’s Tales from Underwood (1952). “However, intense competition from the SF (science fiction) small presses as well as slow sales of certain titles put August Derleth in a precarious bind. Only a generous loan from Dr David H. Keller prevented Arkham from going bankrupt during a previous of cash flow problems” (Robert Weinberg, Science Fiction Collections).

These materials were collected by a science fiction artist who was friends with Keller: Russell Swanson, who is credited as the cover artist for a collection of Keller’s stories, Life Everlasting and Other Tales of Science, Fantasy and Horror (Avalon, 1947). Swanson illustrated other science fiction stories in the 1940s and ‘50s. In 1947, he became a founder and the first president of the Washington Science Fiction Association. At the time, he was in the Army, stationed at Fort Myer, Virginia. He was discharged and returned to his home in Haddam, Connecticut, in December of that year, leaving the club temporarily rudderless, according to Fancyclopedia. He attended Philcon. An artist, he designed the Interplanetary Stamps for Philcon II.

Among the materials is a specially bound 404-page typescript for a story that Keller wrote titled “Through the Back Door (Life with the Abnormals)”. Keller wrote a note at the front of the volume indicating it was one of three existing copies of the unpublished story: “The material in this is all truly autobiographical – though part of the tale sounds like fiction this is simply a proof that often ‘truth is stranger than fiction.’”

Swanson added his own handwritten forward to the story, praising Keller as an outstanding writer in his field. “With his work as a healer of the mentally ill, it has given him an insight on human nature to write a book like ‘The Sign of the Burning Hart’ and stories like the ‘Stenographers Hands,’ ‘The Thing in the Cellar’ and many others. But I think that ‘Through the Back Door’ is one of the best of his works.”

The other manuscript material includes:

113-page manuscript of the story “The Gentle Pirate” written in 1924 under the pseudonym Henry Cecil. Written in blue ink on ruled lined paper, the manuscript contains several pencil corrections. It does not appear this story was ever published.

162-page typescript for “The Abyss”, written in July 1942

91-page typescript for “The Solitary Hunters – A Fantastic Study of Crime and Punishment”. Undated, the cover indicates the story is being offered for sale by Keller. This story and “The Abyss” were collected in a 1948 publication from New Era Publishers.

A brown file folder labeled The Golden Bough, which contains:

Two different two-page synopsis for “The Solitary Hunters”, accompanied by two letters from Weird Tales editor Farnsworth Wright, who offered to purchase the story for $350 and provided editorial advice regarding the story in a subsequent letter. According to a handwritten cover note paperclipped to the materials, the story was published by Weird Tales in the January, February, and March 1934 issues.

20-page typescript for “The Golden Bough” with a handwritten note paperclipped to the front indicating it was published in Marvel Tales, Volume 1, Number 3; Weird Tales, November 1942 and in Garden of Fear, 1945.

A brown file folder labeled The Colonel’s Last Ride, which contains:

A handwritten receipt for materials purchased at the 5th World Science Fiction Convention on September 1, 1947, including “The Colonel’s Last Ride”

1949 postcard from “The Kellers” to Russell Swanson, whom the above receipt is made out to

12-page typescript for “The Colonel’s Last Ride” with a handwritten note attached by a paperclip indicating it was published by Fantasy Fan in July 1934 under the name Riders by Night

9-page typescript for “No Other Man” (incomplete) with a handwritten cover note indicating in was published by Weird Tales in December 1929

A legal-size manila envelope addressed to Private Russell Swanson containing the 114-page typescript for “The Gentle Pirate” by Henry Cecil. Below Cecil, Keller has written his name. The story is dated 1924.

A manilla envelope containing the 52-page typescript for “The Big Hole”, with a few holographic corrections in pencil and Keller’s name written in ink on the first page. Accompanied by a handwritten cover note on Keller’s stationary, which is dated April 22, 1948 and addressed to Swanson: “It gives me great pleasure to give you this copy of ‘The Big Hole’ for your collection of Keller Ephemera.” An address label for Forest Ackerman is affixed to the final page of the typescript.

A torn brown package containing a 233-page typescript for “Dawn of Flame and Black Flame” by S.G. Weinbaum with some holographic corrections.

The collection also includes several a small selection of books by Keller:

WOLF HOLLOW BUBBLES: A Taine of San Francisco Story. Jamaica, New York: The ARRA Printers, [1934]

LA GUERRE DU LIERRE. Issy-les-Moulineaux, Seine: La Fenetre Ouverte, 1936. Signed by Keller, and additionally inscribed by him to Swanson.

THE FINAL WAR. Portland, Oregon: Perri Press, 1949. Inscribed by Keller to Swanson.

THE ETERNAL CONFLICT. Philadelphia: Prime Press, 1949. Limited to 400 copies signed by Keller, with a typed letter signed (TLS) from publisher Donald M. Grant tipped in on the front endpaper.

THE LADY DECIDES. Philadelphia: Prime Press, 1950. Limited to 400 copies signed by Keller.

Keller’s personal papers were donated by his family to Swarthmore College in 1980. Item #74701

Price: $10,000.00

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