Donald A. Wollheim

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Donald Allen Wollheim (1 October 1914 – 2 November 1990) was an American science fiction writer, editor, publisher and fan. As an author, he published under his own name as well as under pseudonyms, including David Grinnell.[1]

A founding member of the Futurians, he was one of the leading influences on the development of science fiction and science fiction fandom in the 20th century United States.[1]

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Wollheim as fan

The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction calls Donald Wollheim, "one of the first and most vociferous sf fans." [2] He published numerous fanzines and co-edited the early Fanciful Tales of Space and Time. His importance to early fandom is chronicled in The Immortal Storm by Sam Moskowitz[3] and in The Futurians by Damon Knight.[4]

Wollheim organized the first science fiction convention. A group from New York met with a group from Philadelphia on October 22, 1936 in Philadelphia. The modern Philcon convention claims descent from this event. Out of this meeting, plans were formed for regional and national meetings, including the first Worldcon.[5]

Wollheim was also a member of the New York Science Fiction League, one of the clubs established by Hugo Gernsback to promote science fiction.[4] (When payment was not forthcoming for the first story he sold to Gernsback, Wollheim got together with several other authors and successfully sued. He was expelled from the Science Fiction League as "a disruptive influence "[5] but was later reinstated.)

In 1937, Wollheim founded the Fantasy Amateur Press Association. The first mailing was distributed in July of that year and included this statement from Wollheim: "There are many fans desiring to put out a voice who dare not, for fear of being obliged to keep it up, and for the worry and time taken by subscriptions and advertising. It is for them and for the fan who admits it is his hobby and not his business that we formed the FAPA." In 1938, with several friends, he formed the Futurians -- arguably the most well known of the science fiction clubs. At one time or another, the membership included Isaac Asimov, Frederik Pohl, Cyril Kornbluth, James Blish, Judith Merril, Robert A. W. Lowndes, Richard Wilson, Damon Knight, Virginia Kidd, and Larry T. Shaw.[5] In 1943, Wollheim married fellow Futurian Elsie Balter (1910–1996). It proved to be a lasting marriage and a publishing partnership.

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