Thursday, 17 December 2009

A. Hyatt Verrill and Sea Stories Magazine


A. Hyatt Verrill and Sea Stories Magazine (1923-1928)

A. Hyatt Verrill (1874-1954) began writing articles in magazines about 1896. Born in New Haven and with his father working in sea research studies, it is natural that he eventually wrote many ‘sea stories’. AHV was a prolific author, penning over 110 books and we have located another 110 articles in various periodicals over his lifetime.
Links in these pages go to most of his books and articles. The research on his life and work was started about five years ago. Now, the major missing documentation to his life work is down to one dozen submissions.
Each missing story, or collection, has some attribution that makes it unique to Verrill’s lifetime. So it is with these nautical tales from Sea Stories Magazine.

Sea Stories Magazine, a Street & Smith publication, appears to have been sold from 1922 to 1927, as a twice monthly publication at first. It was a pulp, made from inferior paper that deteriorates quickly. The online library catalogue, WorldCat, lists only four libraries worldwide with any copies of the magazine. Of course, photocopying of these magazines is out of the question at this time. Sea Stories magazine had limited artwork. Almost every story begins with a simple line sketch with the title. The magazine covers were significantly better paper and the artwork was very well done in colour. The magazine was priced at single copies for a quarter with a yearly subscription at $2.00. At one time the magazine appeared twice a month, later once a month.
We have been fortunate to find a library graduate student, Philip Bolton Jr. who was interested in a project to capture the adventures by Verrill as published in Sea Stories Magazine. The archival copies are bound series; Philip often had to resort to holding the book open with one hand while photographing with the other. The Camera was a Sanyo HD1 which has great resolution. Even at that, there was no way that my OCR converter could deal with the bent and bowed text that resulted from the pages being photographed, not scanned flat. Connections Clubhouse has provided a service typing the Verrill manuscripts.
One of these stories, ‘And a Little Child Shall Lead Them’ is the first story that I have located with mention of Nova Scotia. This story written during prohibition, is about rum running and includes many geographic references including Pictou and New Brunswick.
Although we know when these stories were published, we can only guess when they were written. They appeared during a time when Verrill resided in NYC. After most of his ‘jungle visits’ Verrill would return and live at a seedy hotel next to the National Museum of Natural History. The hotel was notorious as a residence for mobsters; now it is an upscale condominium, sharing its original name the Endicott.

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As an armed forces brat, we lived in Rockcliff (Ottawa), Namao (Edmonton), Southport (Portage La Prairie), Manitoba, and Dad retired to St. Margaret's Bay, NS.
Working with the Federal Govenment for 25 years, Canadian Hydrographic Service, mostly. Now married to Gail Kelly, with two grown children, Luke and Denyse. Retired to my woodlot at Stillwater Lake, NS, on the rainy days I study the life and work of A. Hyatt Verrill 1871-1954.