Sci-Fi and Horror Master Manly Wade Wellman

Wade WellmanOn April 5, 1986, author Manly Wade Wellman died in Chapel Hill.

Born in 1903 in the African nation of Angola where his father was a medical officer, Wellman returned to the United States with his family when he was 6. After receiving degrees from what is now Wichita State University and Columbia Law School, he moved to North Carolina in 1947.

Wellman’s prolific career as a professional writer began in 1927 when he worked as a newspaper reporter and submitted stories to pulp fiction magazines. He primarily wrote historical nonfiction focusing on the Civil War but also penned historical crime and books in other genres. His fiction included juvenile historical adventures set in the Carolinas during the American Revolution and the Civil War, mysteries and science fiction.

Wellman’s best-regarded writings are in the genres of fantasy and horror. Their inspiration was often derived from Appalachian or Native American folklore. His best-known character was Silver John, a balladeer whose wanderings in the mountains brought him into conflict with various supernatural entities.

Wellman taught creative writing at the University of North Carolina in the 1960s. He received numerous awards for both his fiction and nonfiction. Following his death Wellman was cremated and his ashes scattered in his Chapel Hill yard.

For more on North Carolina writers, check out the North Carolina Literary Trails from the N.C. Arts Council.

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