Donald A. Wollheim

(1 October 1914 – 2 November 1990)

Don Wollheim was one of the founders of fandom, a BNF, editor, publisher, and writer. He was a founding member of the Futurians, and was a major influence on the early development of fandom. He found sf in 1927 through Amazing. He became active in the International Stf Guild in the Spring of 1934 and locally in the New York City branch of the ISA.

While the Futurians were by far the most influential, he was also involved in many other clubs. He was VP and editor of the TFG, treasure and last president of the ISA, and chairman of the CPASF.

Wollheim published and edited many fanzines including Fanciful Tales of Space and Time, and Bolide. His deep importance to early fandom is described in The Immortal Storm by Sam Moskowitz and in The Futurians by Damon Knight. He helped organize the first science fiction convention in 1936 in Philadelphia.

In 1937, he helped found the Fantasy Amateur Press Association and in 1938, he helped found the Futurians. In 1943, Wollheim married fellow Futurian Elsie Balter.

Throughout this period he was right in the center of fannish controversy as one of the Quadrumvirs and leader of the Wollheimists. He read the infamous Michel speech "Mutation or Death!" at the Third Eastern Science Fiction Convention and was one of the fans excluded from the First Worldcon. He invented Dawnish.

He was one of the founders of FAPA and served as both president and OE.

Wollheim's first story, "The Man from Ariel," was published in the January 1934 issue of Wonder Stories. He was not paid for the story, and he learned that other authors hadn't been paid either and said so in the Bulletin of the Terrestrial Fantascience Guild and finally sued Gernsback, who expelled him from the New York Science Fiction League for being a "disruptive influence".

During the 40s and 50s he became a moderately successful, though minor, SF writer, but his real professional influence was as an editor and publisher. Robert Silverberg said that Wollheim was "one of the most significant figures in 20th century American science fiction publishing….A plausible case could be made that he was the most significant figure — responsible in large measure for the development of the science fiction paperback, the science fiction anthology, and the whole post-Tolkien boom in fantasy fiction."

Before World War II, he edited two prozines, Stirring Science Stories and Cosmic Stories, and in 1943 he edited the first science fiction anthology to be mass-market published, The Pocket Book of Science Fiction. In 1945 he edited the first hardcover anthology from a major publisher and the first sf omnibus, The Viking Portable Novels of Science as well as in 1947 the first anthology of original sf, The Girl With the Hungry Eyes.

He published the fanzines Adulux Beskan, FAPA Fan, Flabbergasting Stories, Futurian Amateur, Futurian Fan, The International Observer of Science and Science Fiction, Ktaogmm, La Vie Arisienne, Mentator, Ray, Science Fiction Bard, Science Fiction Progress, and Vertigo.

From 1947 to 1951 he was the editor at the pioneering paperback publisher Avon Books. In 1952, he left Avon for Ace where he edited the new paperback publisher Ace Books which remains a major publisher of SF to this day.

He may have singlehandedly created the modern fantasy market by bringing out the unauthorized US paperback edition of Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings which triggered enormous controversy and probably caused the fantastically successful Houghton Mifflin paperback LotRs to be published.

In 1971, he left Ace to found DAW (from Donald A Wollheim) Books with his wife Elsie Wollheim. It was later under their daughter Betsy Wollheim. He also edited and published the popular "Annual World's Best Science Fiction" anthology from 1971 until his death in 1990.

As a pro, he was GoH at Nolacon II, though, sadly, he was never honored as a Worldcon's Fan Guest of Honor. He was the subject of a Founding Member article by Jon D. Swartz in the December, 2015 issue (Volume 74, Number 12) of The National Fantasy Fan.

Other Awards, Honors and GoHships: