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SEABURY QUINN
Author of Roads

Seabury Grandin Quinn was born in 1889 in Washington D.C., where he grew up and attended law school at the National University (now part of George Washington University), graduating in 1910. After serving in the Army during World War I, Quinn moved to New York and began writing, editing and teaching in the field of medical jurisprudence, specializing in mortuary law. (His comprehensive reference title A Syllabus of Mortuary Jurisprudence was published in 1933, and among the many publications he edited was the trade magazine Casket and Sunnyside.)

He also began a second career in fiction writing, contributing stories to the burgeoning new medium of pulp magazines and specializing in horror and the supernatural. His first published story, “The Stone Image,” appeared in the May 1, 1919 issue of The Thrill Book and marked the first appearance of a character named Dr. Towbridge. Six years later, Quinn updated the Doctor’s name to Trowbridge and teamed him with a psychic French detective named Jules de Grandin in the October 1925 Weird Tales story “The Horror on the Links.” This was the beginning of what would prove to be one of Weird Tales’ most popular features — one which cemented Quinn’s life-long association with the magazine that had first published his work two years earlier (October 1923’s “The Phantom Farmhouse”). From 1925 to 1951, Quinn wrote 93 supernatural mysteries starring de Grandin and Trowbridge for Weird Tales, and their popularity at the time far surpassed the work of his contemporaries Robert E. Howard and H.P. Lovecraft. In total, Quinn’s work appeared in 165 of the 279 issues in Weird Tales’ original run, easily making him the magazine’s most prolific contributor.

Quinn moved back to Washington in 1937 to represent a chain of trade magazines, and he spent the duration of World War II working as a government lawyer. He continued writing for the pulps throughout this period, as well as contributing a series of nonfiction pieces under the pen name Jerome Burke for The Dodge Magazine, an undertakers’ trade journal published by mortuary supplies manufacturer the Dodge Company. Based on the reminiscences of funeral directors he had known over the years, these anecdotes were later reissued in the three-volume collection This I Remember: The Memoirs of a Funeral Director.

When Roads was released by Arkham House in 1948, it was Quinn’s first book of fiction to be published, though some of his stories had already been included in printed anthologies of pulp material. March of 1952 saw the final issue of Weird Tales to feature his work, as a series of strokes forced him into semiretirement. His final pulp story, “Master Nicholas,” was published in 1965 in the Winter issue of The Magazine of Horror. Quinn passed away on Christmas Eve of 1969, one week shy of his 80th birthday.


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