1993 Notable Authors

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Fredric Brown
Virginia Kahl
Margaret Helen Scott

Fredric Brown, 1906-1972

Fredric Brown was born in Cincinnati, Ohio and attended the University of Cincinnati and Hanover College in Indiana. He served as a proofreader for eleven years on the staff of the Milwaukee Journal, during which time, in 1936, he published his first short story. Eventually, by 1947, he became a full time writer. Brown was recognized by the Mystery Writers of America with its Edgar Allan Poe Award in 1948 for best first novel, The Fabulous Clipjoint. He also contributed scripts to the Alfred Hitchcock series on television. Forced to leave the Midwest because of a chronic respiratory condition, he relocated to Tucson where he died in 1972.

Fred Brown began his literary career in "the pulps," the same short story market that created writing careers for such mystery luminaries as Erle Stanley Gardner and Raymond Chandler. His journalistic background fit well the writing style of the pulps where the emphasis was on action. Brown would write over 300 short stories and 29 novels, ranging from mysteries to science fiction, but sadly, the original sources are rare finds now and the collections in which they were republished were often short runs by small presses now long out of print.

The Fabulous Clipjoint was the first of a seven book series on the development of Ed Hunter who begins as a young man in search of his father and grows into a full-fledged partner in a private detective agency with his Uncle Am. As with all of Brown's books, the Ed and Am Hunter series is both serious and comic, each book offering a unique twist on some aspect of cross-genre writing. Using vampires or creatures from outer space, Brown can make his mysteries stretch into the realm of the bizarre, and yet The Fabulous Clipjoint can also be a novel recommended for young adults because its coming-of-age theme is still relevant.

Brown wrote to entertain and can be read with as much joy and interest today as in his own time.

Selected Writings:

The Ed and Am Hunter Series
The Fabulous Clipjoint (1947)
The Dead Ringer (1948)
The Bloody Moonlight (1949)
Compliments of a Fiend (1950)
Death Has Many Doors (1951)
The Late Lamented (1959)
Mrs. Murphy's Underpants (1963)

Science Fiction

What Mad Universe (1949)
The Lights in the Sky are Stars (1953)
Martians, Go Home (1955)

Virginia Kahl, 1919-

Virginia Kahl was born in Milwaukee. She graduated from Milwaukee Downer College and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Library School. She was a librarian at Milwaukee Public Library and Madison Public Schools. She served as Library Director at Maude Shunk Public Library in Menomonee Falls. From 1948-1955 she was a U.S. Army Special Services Librarian stationed in Berlin, Germany and Salzburg, Austria. She recently retired after more than 20 years of service from the Alexandria Public Library in Virginia. She remains active writing, volunteering, and participating in a variety of sports.

Virgnina Kahl has written and illustrated over a dozen picture books for children. She credits her experiences in Europe as influencing her writing and illustrating career. This is apparent in the illustrations depicting European settings and in the names she has chosen for the numerous picture book characters. Her humorous stories are exuberant, hilarious comedy. In her best known book, The Duchess Bakes a Cake, a bored duchess decides to bake a cake although she has limited culinary expertise. The cake rises to unexpected heights and although she "pushed it and pummeled it, punched it and pat on it, she poked it, pinched it -- and finally sat on it" she found herself among the clouds. The story continues as everyone tries to get her down. Finally the youngest of the thirteen daughters gets hungry and thereby discovers the solution. Kahl works successfully with a limited two or three colors; she draws simple illustrations to create a perfect melding of pictures and text. She frequently uses exaggerated rhymed verse which reinforces the comedy. Most of all Virginia Kahl understands what makes children laugh. The continued popularity of her books attests to their quality and readability.

Virginia Kahl has received honors for her works including the New York Herald Tribune's Spring Book Festival Award and the Lewis Carroll Book Shelf Award. The Duchess Bakes a Cake has been reproduced in filmstrip format by Miller-Brody.

Selected Writings:

Away Went Wolfgang
The Duchess Bakes a Cake
Giants, Indeed!
Whose Cat is That?
The Habits of Rabbits

Margaret Helen Scott, 1898-1994

The advice often given to aspiring writers is to "write about what you know." Margaret Scott has followed these words of wisdom as she has written nine books in the last 30 years, mostly about the people and places in her home area of Richland County, Wisconsin.

Miss Scott's interest in history and people was evident at an early age. She graduated from UW-Madison with a bachelor's degree in history in 1922. She then taught school in Wisconsin for seven years and later worked in Tougaloo College in Mississippi for the American Missionary Association of the Congregational Church.

Most of her working years were spent in Talladega College in Alabama where she was a librarian. In the late 1940's, she opened the doors of the college library to the local community. This ensured access to the black population which had been excluded from using the public library. At that time, Miss Scott also instituted a bookmobile service which provided reading materials for poor families in rural Talladega County. She retired in 1964 after working 25 years at Talladega College.

In her retirement, Miss Scott established a County History Room in the Brewer Public Library in Richland Center and supervised the project for 10 years. She received awards from the Wisconsin Council for Local History in 1973 and 1979 for "individuals who have made outstanding contributions in the collection, preservation, and dissemination of Wisconsin history."

A role model for writers of local history across the state, Miss Scott, at the age of 94, is currently working on a project involving the history of photography in Richland County.

Selected Writings:

Published

Richland Center: A History (1972)
Glory to Thy Name: The Story of a Church (1973)
Place Names in Richland County (1973)
Chapters in the History of Richland County (1973)
Say "Ah": The Story of One Hundred Years of Medicine in Richland County Wisconsin, 1840-1940 (1981)
Frank Lloyd Wright's Warehouse in Richland Center, Wisconsin (1984)

Unpublished

Rain on My Window: Poems (1975)
Miracles of Dixie (1977)
The History of Richland County Courthouse and Jail (1982)