Fritz Leiber

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Fritz Reuter Leiber, Jr. (December 24, 1910 – September 5, 1992) was an American writer of fantasy, horror and science fiction. He was also an expert chess player and a champion fencer.



Leiber (first syllable sounds like "lie") was born December 24, 1910, in Chicago, Illinois, to the actors Fritz Leiber, Sr. and Virginia Leiber, and, for a time, he seemed inclined to follow in his parents' footsteps. (Theater and actors were prominently featured in his fiction.) He spent 1928 touring with his parents' Shakespeare company before studying philosophy at the University of Chicago, whence he graduated with honours (1928–32). In 1932 he studied at general theological seminary and worked for a time as a lay preacher. In 1934 he toured with his parents' acting company, Fritz Leiber & Co.

He married Jonquil Stephens on January 16, 1936, and their son Justin Leiber was born in 1938. Jonquil's death in 1969 precipitated a move to San Francisco, California, and a three-year drunk, but he returned to his original form with a fantasy novel set in modern-day San Francisco, Our Lady of Darkness.

In the last year of his life, Leiber married his second wife, Margo Skinner, a journalist and poet with whom he had been friends for many years. Many people believed that Leiber was living in poverty on skid row. He seems to have suffered periods of penury; Harlan Ellison has written of his anger at finding that the much-awarded Leiber had to write his novels on a manual typewriter that was propped up over the sink in his apartment. But other reports suggest that Leiber preferred to live simply in the city, spending his money on dining, movies and travel. In the last years of his life, royalty checks from TSR, the makers of Dungeons and Dragons, who had licensed the mythos of the Fafhrd and Gray Mouser series, were enough in themselves to ensure that he lived comfortably.

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