Charles Fort

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Charles Hoy Fort (August 6, 1874 – May 3, 1932) was an American writer and researcher into anomalous phenomena. Today, the terms Fortean and Forteana are used to characterize various such phenomena. Fort's books sold well and are still in print today.



Charles Hoy Fort was born in 1874 in Albany, New York, of Dutch ancestry. He had two younger brothers, Clarence and Raymond. His grocer father was something of an authoritarian: Many Parts, Fort's unpublished autobiography, relates several instances of harsh treatment – including physical abuse – by his father. Some observers (such as Fort's biographer Damon Knight) have suggested that Fort's distrust of authority has its roots in his father's treatment. In any case, Fort developed a strong sense of independence in his youth.

As a young man, Fort was a budding naturalist, collecting sea shells, minerals, and birds. Curious and intelligent, the young Fort did not excel at school, though he was quite a wit and full of knowledge about the world – yet this was a world he only knew through books.

So, at the age of 18, Fort left New York on a world tour to "put some capital in the bank of experience". He travelled through the western United States, Scotland, and England, until falling ill in Southern Africa. Returning home, he was nursed by Anna Filing, a girl he had known from his childhood. They were later married on October 26, 1896. Anna was four years older than Charles and was non-literary, a lover of films and of parakeets. She later moved with her husband to London for two years where they would go to the cinema when Charles wasn't busy with his research. His success as a short story writer was intermittent between periods of terrible poverty and depression.

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