“Family Man” Case from the Will Jenkins Exhibit
Image by Special Collections Research Center, Swem Library
Shown here is the entire layout of Case 1 for an exhibit on Virginia Author Will Jenkins, whose pen name was Murray Leinster, on display in the Read and Relax area on the first floor of Swem Library. The exhibit was created to celebrate the Virginia General Assembly designating June 27, 2009 as Will Jenkins Day in Virginia.
Case 1 is entitled "Family Man" and includes photos, clippings, and books documenting Jenkins and his family.
The following is from the main label text for this case:
William Fitzgerald Jenkins (who wrote many of his stories under the name Murray Leinster) was born in Norfolk, Virginia, on June 16, 1896, and died at the Francis N. Sanders Nursing Home in Gloucester on June 8, 1975. Although he lived elsewhere during his long career, he maintained his Virginia roots and kept a summer home in Gloucester, where he did much of his writing.
As an adolescent, he began selling stories to the Smart Set and other popular magazines, and at twenty-one was able to resign his position as a bookkeeper at Prudential Insurance in Newark, New Jersey to become a full-time writer.
In 1921 Will Jenkins married the former Mary Mandola; the couple subsequently had four daughters, one of whom lives with her husband at the Jenkins home in Gloucester. Mr. Jenkins served in both world wars: with the Committee of Public Information and the US Army in World War I, and with the Office of War Information in World War II.
The author’s formal education ended after the eighth grade, but his love of science– fueled by the success of contemporaries Thomas Edison and the Wright Brothers– served him well throughout his life. He loved to invent things and write about scanners, deflectors, coders and other forms of “advanced technology.” (His 1946 story ”A Logic Named Joe” predicts the existence of networked home computers, the ability to find information online, and the inherent problems of censorship, scams, and the invasion of privacy.) Mr. Jenkins was awarded two patents on the front-projection filming method in 1955, a technique first used in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey.
In his last interview in 1972, Will Jenkins remarked that he felt a kinship with Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek stories, that they were “his kind” of science fiction. *
Even though Will Jenkins cannot claim the Star Trek stories, according to his daughter Betty DeHardit, royalty checks are still coming in.
Ronald Payne, The Last Murray Leinster Interview (Richmond: Waves Press, 1982), 11.
The following is from a label in this case about how Will Jenkins became Murray Leinster"
“I know a man who writes very well….But he doesn’t sell—because he’d rather feel like a neglected genius than a well-nourished one."
Very early in his career, Mr. Jenkins was introduced to H. L. Mencken and George Jean Nathan, the editors of the very popular magazine Smart Set. They advised him to adopt a pen name when writing for pulp-fiction magazines in order to preserve his reputation. Murray Leinster was born. Mr. Jenkins also wrote as Louisa Carter Lee and William Fitzgerald. Later on the author reintroduced his real name, shortened to Will F. Jenkins, for more “respectable” publications, such as Collier’s, Good Housekeeping, and the Saturday Evening Post, but he never published science fiction under his own name.
* Will F. Jenkins, “What Do You Mean—Success in Writing?” Author & Journalist 22, no.5 (1937): 9.