This website is dedicated to the American mystery and science fiction
author Amelia Reynolds Long (1904-1978). Long was born in Columbia, Pennsylvania on the
25th November, 1904. At a very early age Long moved with her family to the nearby town of
Harrisburg, where she lived for the rest of her life. Long attended the University of
Pennsylvania, from which she graduated in 1931. As a young writer, she wrote a
selection of superb short stories that were published in the science fiction and weird
pulp magazines of the 1930s, before turning her writing talent towards producing a series
of mystery novels - many of which appeared under a variety of pseudonyms - for which she
is perhaps better remembered. These include Death Wears A Scarab (1943) and The
Lady Is Dead (1951).
Little is known of this author, indeed there is virtually nothing on the
web about her. Her main period of published writing was almost exclusively the 1930s and
1940s. It is unfortunate that nobody ever brought out a collection of her science
fiction stories. Along with Clare Winger Harris and C. L. Moore, Amelia Reynolds Long was
one of the first female science fiction writers. It is sad that along with so many other
great authors writing in the mid-twentieth century, Long's fiction has fallen into
obscurity and is hardly remembered today. Her one-time literary agent, Forrest J.
Ackerman, is the man solely responsible for keeping some of her work in print. Ackerman
wrote in his anthology Gosh! Wow! Sense of Wonder Science Fiction (in which he
included the Long story "Omega") that he met Ms. Long in her home town of
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in the mid 1960s. He described her as "...a 50ish librarian
type, a kind of Andre Norton of any earlier era." However accurate this description
of Amelia Long really was, Ackerman has since been instrumental in the reprinting of other
stories by Long, such as "The Thought Monster," "A Leak in the Fountain of
Youth" and "The Box From the Stars."
Long's prose style was very direct. Her writing was sharp, witty and
punchy. With good dialogue and a sense of high speed adventure pervading her stories, it
is even more impressive how much of her science fiction and weird fantasy work still seems
fresh today. Reading the stories now, one can't help but marvel at the sheer explosion of
ideas that leap out from the pages. In "Omega" (1932), Long gives us a
tour-de-force of creativity in describing, step by step, a possible end of the world.
"Reverse Phylogeny" (1937), one of her finest stories, is a humorous time travel
yarn which the eminent science fiction editor Groff Conklin included in his 1953 "Science
Fiction Adventures in Dimension" anthology. Even with her tale "When the
Half Gods Go-" (1939), which has dated with time (carrier pigeons on Venus?!?), the
twist at the end still takes the reader by surprise and the writing is brilliant. Her
early short story, "The Thought Monster" (1930), was filmed as "Fiend
Without a Face," a 1958 horror movie directed by Arthur Crabtree. Great examples of
her fantasy work - published in Weird Tales magazine - include "The
Undead" (1931) and "The Magic Maker" (1930).
Around 1940, Long gave up writing science fiction. She then focused her
talents on writing a number of entertaining mystery novels. Long's mystery writing was
heavily influenced by Agatha Christie and was very much part of the traditional
"whodunit" genre as opposed to the hard-boiled "noir" school of
writing so popular at the time Long's books appeared throughout the 1940s. Her sleuths
were always very well written and as well as the ingenuity of her plotting, it was her
adeptness at drawing interesting, believable characters that made her mystery novels a
pleasure to read. At the start of the 1950s, Long stopped writing mysteries and
concentrated her energies on editing textbooks and writing poetry.
Long is remembered in her home state of Pennsylvania for her poetry work.
In 1977 she edited the poetry anthology Pennsylvania Poems, on behalf of the
Harrisburg Workshop, a chapter of The Pennsylvania Poetry Society. Her own poems were
often reflections on the past and illustrated Long's interest in American history. Other
poems penned by Long were delightful observations on the natural world. Her poetry often
dealt with the theme of mortality and there is to be found a spiritual, melancholic
aspect to many of her poems. Examples of her most beautiful poetry are "The Paxtang
Indian Path," "Lucifer's Reply," ""Our Ghosts Draw From the
Crowded Future"" and "I Dreamed of Long Dead Cities." Poetry, as
evidenced by her wonderful collections Counterpoint (1975) and Shreds and
Patches (1974), was a form of writing that Long immersed herself in during her later
years. She was active in the Pennsylvania and New Jersey Poetry Societies, where she
judged poetry contests and attended conventions. Her name lives on in the Pennsylvania
Poetry Society's Amelia Reynolds Long Memorial Award. In her later years Long was a
curator at the William Penn Museum in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. She continued to work
there as a volunteer after her retirement.
Amelia Reynolds Long
Graduation photo from the University of Pennsylvania, 1931.
Amelia Reynolds Long passed away at her home in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania,
on the 26th March, 1978. Her main legacy, for those who never knew her, is of course her
splendid writing, unjustly ignored for so long. It is her underrated literary work that
this website is dedicated to. It is hoped that those interested will be inspired to search
out her wonderful short stories, novels and poetry. Whether you are a fan of her work or
just curious, I hope you find this website informative. I am very interested in hearing
from anyone who has some knowledge to share whether it be biographic or bibliographic
information. There are some exciting additions to this website planned for the future and
I intend to add even more scanned images of cover artwork from her books and early pulp
magazine issues that contain her work, such as Weird Tales. So please bookmark
this site and come back soon. It is my ultimate wish to make this the foremost source of
information for the work of Amelia Reynolds Long.