Introduction:

by Roger C. Schlobin


A Primary and Secondary Bibliography pt. 1

 

GK Hall, 0-8161-8044-X, 1980

re-printed (1994) Andre Norton: A Primary and Secondary Bibliography
Edited by Roger C. Schlobin and Irene R. Harrison
Published by NESFA Press, 0-915-368-64-1, PB, $12.50, 92pg

  {This articled continued from the home page intro: The "Grande Dame" of Science Fiction and Fantasy}

 

      Andre Norton is one of the best known authors of contemporary science fiction and fantasy.

     A number of her works in the Ace paperback editions have sold over one-million copies (Locus, December 1977, pp. 1, 2), and many of her novels regularly remain in print for long periods of time. Scarface has sold over thirty-thousand copies, an amazingly high number for a juvenile novel. Six other novels have been reprinted by various book clubs, and librarians and book dealers are well aware of the popularity of Ms. Norton's books with both young and old. Her works have been published in nine Foreign languages----French, Spanish, German, Japanese, Italian, Hungarian, Russian, Arabic, and Portuguese----and two books, Star Rangers and The Sword is Drawn, have been reproduced as talking books for the blind. The former has also been published in Braille.

 

      To classify Ms. Norton as strictly a science-fiction and fantasy writer or as a juvenile author would be an error. Her genres range far beyond the confines of only a few types of literature. Her canon includes mysteries, westerns, gothic fiction, historical novels, adventure stories, a biography, poetry, and non-fiction (see titles by genre), as well as science fiction and fantasy. [Webmaster's note: the "titles by genre" link takes you to the list created for this site which is based off of lists by Roger C. Schlobin and others, combined.]

 

     Recently, and as this bibliography indicates, Ms. Norton's works have been receiving unusual attention. In 1977 Gregg Press reissued seven of the works in her Witch World series in their first hardback appearances----Witch World, Web of the Witch World, Year of the Unicorn, Three Against the Witch World, Warlock of the Witch World, Sorceress of the Witch World, and Spell of the Witch World---with a long introduction by Sandra Miesel. In 1978 the same publishing firm has reissued seven of her earlier novels in hardcover: Sargasso of Space, The Crossroads of Time, Plague Ship, Secret of the Lost Race, Voodoo Planet, The Sioux Spaceman, and Star Hunter, again with an introduction by Sandra Miesel. In addition, Fawcett Books has recently paid $336,000 (not $393,000 as incorrectly reported in Locus, December 1977, p. l) for the paperback rights to eighteen of her earlier novels that were originally published by Harcourt, Brace and last owned by Ace Books.

 

     Despite her popularity and the range of her fiction, she has never received the critical acclaim that might be expected in the case of so creative and prolific a writer. Both Barry McGhan ("Andre Norton: Why Has She Been Neglected?", Riverside Quarterly, 4 [January 1970] pp. 128-131) and Donald A. Wollheim ("Introduction" The Many Worlds of Andre Norton. Ed. Roger Elwood, Radnor, PA: Chilton, 1974) have examined this unexpected phenomenon. McGhan speculates that the reasons for this neglect are the general critical disinterest in fantasy, and the classification of Ms. Norton's works as escapist and juvenile literature. While also noting that her books have been restrictively labeled as “young adult,” Wollheim points to more concrete concerns: Ms. Norton’s works have rarely appeared in the popular science-fiction magazines, and her poor health has prevented her from promoting herself, as many authors do, at the numerous science-fiction conventions that are regularly held throughout the country each year. In addition to the reasons advanced by these two critics, another may be suggested: she is a superb storyteller, and her command of the narrative form is at times so effective that even the most critical reader becomes too enthralled to reflect and analyze.

 

     Yet, while Ms. Norton's work has generally escaped critical attention until very recently, her career has not gone unrecognized or unrewarded. As early as 1944, The Sword is Drawn was a Literary Guild choice, and in 1946 it received a special award from the Dutch government. In 1966 Moon of Three Rings was a Junior Literary Guild selection. Her edition of Malcolm Jameson’s Bullard of the Space Patrol received the Boys' Clubs of America Medal in 1951, and the same group awarded her a Certificate of Merit for Night of Masks in 1965.

 

     Ms. Norton’s awards have been especially noteworthy since she has been the first of her gender to receive certain of them. In 1963, at Westercon XVI, a major gathering of science-fiction fans designated her as the first woman to be presented with the Invisible Little Man Award for sustained excellence in science fiction. Southern fandom made her the first female recipient of the Phoenix Award for overall achievement in 1976, and she was the first woman writer inducted into the late Lin Carter’s Swordsmen and Sorcerers’ Guild of America “S.A.G.A.,” the group that regularly contributes to Carter’s Flashing Swords anthologies (Lin Carter, Imaginary Worlds: The Art of Fantasy [New York: Ballantine Books, 1973], p. 149).

 

     Indeed, world-wide science-fiction fans and readers have paid tribute to Ms. Norton by nominating Witch World and Wizard's Worlds(ss) for the prestigious Hugo Awards in 1964 and 1968, respectively. It was just recently, in 1977, that the same group gave her writing its highest tribute. She followed J. R. R. Tolkien, Fritz Leiber, and L. Sprague de Camp as the fourth writer and the first woman to be honored by a special award on the Hugo ballot, the Gandalf. This memorial to J. R. R. Tolkien honors Ms. Norton for her lifetime achievement in fantasy. The award is clearly the single most significant tribute that a fantasy writer can receive.

 

     Even in light of the mystery of the critical neglect as opposed to her popular acclaim, a more challenging enigma is inherent in Ms. Norton’s enormous range and output. What kind of a person and author can generate eighty-seven novels and twenty-eight short stories to date in a sustained career of over forty-four years and show no signs of creative exhaustion?

 

     Andre Norton was born Alice Mary Norton in Cleveland, Ohio, on February 17th, 1912, to Adalbert Freely Norton and Bertha Stemm Norton. She was a late child, born seventeen years after her sister. An apparent result of this was that she never developed close relationships with her siblings or her contemporaries and was influenced primarily by her parents. Her early family life was dominated by her mother’s strong literary interests, and before Ms. Norton could read herself; her mother would read to her and recite poetry as she went about various household chores. Ms. Norton was first introduced to literature by gifts of most of Howard Roger Garis’ Uncle Wiggley books and the legacy of a copy of The Swiss Family Robinson. Later, good grades in school were rewarded by copies of Ruth Plumly Thompson’s Oz books, and her young imagination was also stimulated by playing with the miniature animals that were about the house, an occupation that clearly is a foreshadowing of the delightful animal creations that fill many of her works. The maternal influences continued well into Ms. Norton's career, as her mother did all her proofreading and served as a critic-in-residence. This influence was appropriately honored in 1969 when Ms. Norton completed her late mother’s autobiographical novel, Bertie and May.

 

     The Norton family’s commitment to reading and literature was fortified by a strong sense of family history. Both Gary Alan Ruse’s and Paul Walker’s interviews ("Algol Profile: Andre Norton" [Algol, 29, Summer-Fall 1977, pp. 15-17] and "An Interview with Andre Norton" [Luna Monthly No. 40, September 1972, pp.1-4]) point out the importance of this heritage in Ms. Norton’s development. Her mother’s family had been Bounty Land settlers in Ohio, and her great-grandfather had married a Wyandot, named Elk Eyes, to fully ratify his land claim. In fact, theirs was the first such union between a Caucasian and an Indian in the territory. Her father's fascination with westerns and accounts of the early trail drives can be traced to his birth in the Indian territory that is now Nebraska, to his witnessing the Indian uprising of 1866, and to the fact that he lived in Ellsworth, Kansas, shortly after the time of Wyatt Earp. Another member of Ms. Norton’s father's family had the dubious distinction of being a witness in the Salem witch trials. In addition, three of her mother’s uncles had served in the Civil War: one of them was imprisoned in Andersonville, and another died at Gettysburg. It was this rich family history that inspired Ms. Norton's early historical novels, such as Follow the Drum, Ride Proud Rebel!, Stand to Horse, and Rebel Spurs. Rebel Spurs is based on the actual life of a rancher who fortified his ranch, allied himself with the Pima Indians, and stood off numerous Apache attacks. Ride Proud, Rebel! is derived from the Civil War diary of one John Smith, and the period of early feminine rule in colonial Maryland is the source For Follow the Drum.

 

     Ms. Norton’s writing career began while she was attending Collingwood High School in Cleveland, Ohio. Under the tutelage and guidance of an English teacher, Miss Sylvia Cochrane, she edited and contributed to the high school publication, The Collingwood Spotlight. A solitary teenager, she devoted much of her extracurricular time to editing and writing, and it was during this early formative period that she wrote Ralestone Luck, which was later rewritten and published as her second novel in I938.

 

     After graduating from high school, Ms. Norton attended Flora Stone Mather College of Western Reserve University (now Case Western Reserve) for a year from the fall of 1930 to the spring of 1931, with the intention of becoming a history teacher. The depression quickly put an end to the luxury of a full-time college education. She was forced to find work and help support the household. For the remainder of her college education, Ms. Norton had to be content to exhaust the evening courses in journalism and writing that were offered by Cleveland College, the adult division of Western Reserve University. She was soon employed by the Cleveland Library System and concentrated on children’s literature. Her involvement in the children’s story hour would later bear fruit. Rogue Reynard, based on the medieval beast fables; Huon of the Horn, based on a medieval French romance entitled Boke of Duck Huon of Burdeax; and Steel Magic. Based on the Arthurian legends, were the results of stories she had prepared for the children.

 

     While much of her time was spent as an assistant librarian in the children’s section of the Nottingham Branch Library in Cleveland, she became something of a trouble-shooter for the entire system and worked in thirty-eight of the forty branches at one time or another. In the eighteen years from 1932 to 1950 that she worked for the library system, her lack of a degree prevented her from advancing as her ability might have dictated, and the lack of employment opportunities during the depression forced her to stay and endure a number of discomforts that made her tenure unpleasant. Nevertheless, despite financial difficulties and the excessive responsibilities of the library position, in 1934 she published her first novel, The Prince Commands, a historical fantasy, and went on to publish eight more novels and two short stories before she left the library system in 1950.

 

     It was when she published her first novel that Ms. Norton began to legally use the name Andre, and she has continued to use it exclusively. Thus the citation of “Andre“ as a pseudonym for her given name, Alice Mary, in a number of bibliographies, biographies, and critical accounts is in error. In actuality the only pseudonym Ms. Norton has ever used is Andrew North, (She did use “Allen Weston” once when collaborating with Grace Allen Hogarth---See Murders for Sale.) This name change was implemented primarily because she expected to be writing for young boys, and she felt that the change would increase the marketability of her work in this traditionally male market. This was an added asset when she entered the masculine-dominated science-fiction field.

 

     During Ms. Norton's one brief absence from the Cleveland Library, she owned and managed a book store and lending library called the Mystery House in Mount Ranier, Maryland, in 1941. While the bookstore was a failure, it was at much the same time, 1940 to 1941, that she engaged in an activity of greater importance. During this period, she worked as a special librarian in the cataloging department of the Library of Congress. She was specifically involved in a project related to alien citizenship. The project was abruptly terminated by the beginning of World War II, but the skills learned augmented and developed the meticulous research that characterizes all Ms. Norton's fiction. In addition, her experience in the Library of Congress later was valuable background for the association with the World Friends‘ Club in Cleveland that resulted in her fourth novel, The Sword is Drawn, in 1944. This espionage novel chronicles the activities of the Dutch underground during World War II and was written at the request of the World Friends‘ Club. It was so successful that the Dutch government awarded Ms. Norton an enamel plaque [see; awards] in 1946 for the book's authenticity and for its portrayal of the valiant efforts of the underground. Additional research, letters supplied by the Dutch, and over two hundred photographs supplied by one of the leaders of the underground led to the publication in 1949 of a second novel focusing on Dutch history in the Indies and Nazi and Japanese war holdouts in the islands, Sword in Sheath. A third novel in the series, At Swords Point, was published in 1949. It draws on Ms. Norton’s fascination with jewelry and its often bloody history. The novel centers on the noble efforts of a young man to solve the mystery of his brother's death, is also set in the Netherlands, involves the active remnants of the World War II underground, and focuses on the recovery of a set of jeweled miniatures of knights in armor. A fourth novel in the series, Sword Points South, set in South America and drawing on the activities of the emerald trade, remains unfinished and unpublished. [Webmaster’s Note: At the time this article was being created Andre told Dr. Schlobin the title was Sword Points South, however the recovered manuscript of the fourth Swords book is titled Trouble in Mayapan and is listed as such on this website.]

 

     While Ms. Norton did leave the Dutch setting and history behind, the elements of mystery and intrigue that are the strongest aesthetic features of the three published novels in the Sword series continue as major characteristics in her later work. Her fascination with jewels and talismans, and with their histories and occult properties, continues as principal images in The Zero Stone, the Witch World series, Wraiths of Time, and her gothic novels, particularly The White Jade Fox and The Opal-Eyed Fan. Often these jewels or talismans are the sources of unusual power. Strange black stones and cloudy crystals generate life and power in The Zero Stone and its sequel, Uncharted Stars. In Ms. Norton’s justifiably heralded Witch World series, special cloudy crystals are used by the matriarchal witches to focus their sorcerous powers, and in one of the short stories in this series, Dragon Scale Silver(ss) a magically conceived silver bowl is the link between two twins. Throughout Ms. Norton's work, such objects almost always have special significance.

 

     After Ms. Norton left the Cleveland Library System in 1950, she worked as a reader for Martin Greenberg at Gnome Press until 1958. Her most striking memory of these eight years is of her reading the manuscript of Murray Leinster's The Forgotten Planet (1954).

 

     Most importantly, it was during this period that Ms. Norton wrote her first science-fiction novel, Star Man's Son 2250 A.D. Her beginning was auspicious. Donald A. Wollheim, the publisher of the novel, explains in The Universe Makers: Science Fiction Today (New York: Harper & Row, l971) that the novel had sold over one million copies in the Ace paperback edition as of 1970. However, this was not, as many believe, her first excursion into science-fiction and fantasy. Early in her career, in 1947, she had published a short story in a short-lived pulp magazine, Fantasy Book, entitled People of the Crater(ss). This story was later included as Garin of Tav(ss) in one of her most successful collections, Garan the Eternal. In addition, in 1949 she had edited the first of four science-fiction anthologies, for the World Publishing Company in Cleveland. This first being a collection of Malcolm Jameson’s stories, Bullard of the Space Patrol.

 

     It was the freedom afforded by her position with Gnome Press that allowed Ms. Norton to concentrate more fully on her writing career, and in 1954 alone she published six novels and another edited anthology, Space Pioneers. When she left Gnome in 1958, she had written twenty-three novels. After that, the increased income from her book sales and her relationship with Ace Books, as described by Lin Carter Andre Norton: A Profile and in Imaginary Worlds, allowed her to write on a full-time basis. This she has done with marked enthusiasm. In the period from 1958 to 1978, she added sixty-seven novels, three short story collections, five edited anthologies, and twenty-three short stories (a genre she professes no special skill in) to her already extensive canon.

 

     In November of 1966, her uncertain health necessitated a move to Florida. She now lives there with her cats, large library, and figurines. She spends much of her time writing and reading, and her active mind and excellent hospitality belie any thought that she will yield to her family's encouragement that she retire.

 

     Andre Norton quickly contends that her life has not been interesting. Yet, the richness of her writing seems to contradict that self-evaluation. Her life does seem devoid of great adventures, but it has obviously generated a wealth of material for her creative abilities. Part of the answer to this apparent contradiction can be clarified by recalling John Keats‘ “On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer.” Keats‘ “negative capability”--the ability to project the mind into art---successfully captures the quality of Ms. Norton’s vicarious experience while also touching on her fascination with history:

Much have I traveled in the realms of gold,

And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;

Round many western islands have I been

Which bards in Fealty to Apollo hold.

Oft of one wide expanse had I been told

That deep-brow'd Homer ruled as his demesne;

Yet did I never breathe its pure serene

Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:

Then felt I like some watcher of the skies

When a new planet swims into his ken;

Or like stout Cortex when with eagle eyes

He star'd at the Pacific--and all his men

Look’d at each other with a wild surmise—

Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

 

     So too, Ms. Norton has spent a lifetime industriously extending herself into reading and researching, and her excellent memory has let little of this information escape. She candidly expresses this enthusiasm in her introduction to C. J. Cherryh’s Gate of Ivrel:

     There are those among us who are compulsive readers--who will even settle a wandering eye on a scrap of newspaper on the bus floor if nothing better offers. Books flow in and out of our lives in an unending stream. Some we remember briefly, others bring us sitting upright, tense with suspense, our attention enthralled until the last word on the last page is digested. Then we step regretfully from the world that author has created, and we know that volume will be chosen to stand on already too tightly packed shelves to be read again and again (p. 7).

 

     Ms. Norton's home is indeed filled to overflowing with books on a wide range of subjects, and one of her leisure time activities is perusing book catalogs for additional titles that pique her varied interests. A quick survey of her “too tightly packed shelves” reveals books on such subjects as the English longbowman; Victorian architecture and gardens; speculative archaeology, especially the works of T. C. Lethbridge; folk tales, including Stith Thompson's multi-volume index to folk tales; the occult and witchcraft; cats; general history; and Icelandic and Anglo-Saxon sagas.

 

     Despite her insistence that she keeps only titles she wants to read more than once, her collection of fantasy, science fiction, and general fiction is imposing. Among her admired authors are H. Beam Piper, James H. Schmitz, Susan Cooper, Edgar Rice Burroughs, David Mason, Alan Garner, C. J. Cherryh, A. Merritt, Cordwainer Smith, H. Rider Haggard, J. R. R. Tolkien, Evangeline Walton, Poul Anderson, Dornford Yates, Roger Zelazny, Richard Adams, Ruth Plumly Thompson, L. Sprague de Camp, Keith Laumer, Anne McCaffrey, and William Hope Hodgson. Some of her selections reflect admiration and pleasure. Others--most notably Haggard, Piper, Yates, Thompson, Mundy, and Hodgson---constitute sources and influences. All demonstrate a considerable range of interests that makes the study of her sources a journey into a kaleidoscope.

 

     Her debt to Burroughs, Haggard, Merritt, and Mundy lies in her aesthetic commitment to the value of a clear, fast-moving plot. Contributing to this commitment to the value of strong narrative was her discovery of the works of Henry Fielding, Daniel Defoe, Tobias Smollett, and Samuel Richardson while she was attending Western Reserve University, an event she retells vividly even though some forty-seven years have passed since its occurrence. In the same vein, her mother’s collection of nineteenth-century American and Victorian novelists also made a marked contribution to her narrative development, and it was her mother's library and her own affections that generated her scholarly study of the works of Maria Susanna Cummings, Mary ]ane Holmes, Emma Dorothy Eliza Nevitte (“E.D.E.N.”) Southworth, Elizabeth Wetherell (pseudonym for Susan Bogart Warner), and Augusta Jane Wilson, the nineteenth-century American novelists whom Nathaniel Hawthorne, envious of their financial success, called “those damned scribbling women." (Unfortunately, the only manuscript of this book was loaned to a college professor some years ago and never returned.) [Webmaster Note: The manuscript mentioned was recovered and appears on this site as The Scribbling Women.]

 

     More specifically, William Hope Hodgsorn’s The Night Land, a book Ms. Norton was instrumental in having included in Lin Carter’s Ballantine Adult Fantasy Series, is the direct source for Night of MasksNight of Masks resulted from her fascination with Hodgson’s dark world, and her setting and characters benefit from the innovative concept of a world lit by an infrared sun. Dark Piper is based on the folk tale of the Pied Piper of Hamelin, and Year of the Unicorn, part of the shape-changer subdivision of the Witch World series, is derived from the tale of Beauty and the Beast. John Rowe Townsend has correctly pointed out that Star Guard is a retelling of Xenophon’s Anabasis ("Andre Norton", A Sense of Story: Essay on Contemporary Writers for Children, J. P. Lippencott, p. 145). The strange outsized ring in The Zero Stone was inspired by a description of an odd piece of jewelry, meant to be worn with armor, in an off-beat book called The Hock Shop (1954) by Ralph R. Simpson, and the Time Trader novels had their inception in the minimal historical information concerning the Bronze Age Beaker Traders as described in Paul Herrmann’s Conquest by Man (1954).

 

     The Jargoon Pard, another novel focusing on the Witch World shape-changers, can be accounted for by Norton's aforementioned fascination with jewelry, and the protagonist’s characteristics are the result of a special reading of the Tarot cards. Shadow Hawk, a historical fantasy set in Ancient Egypt, emerged from Ms. Norton's reading of the works of Joan Grant, specifically Winged Pharaoh, Eyes of Horus, and Lord of the Horizon. Scarface, a juvenile adventure story, is based on the diary of a Dutch physician who was captured by pirates, and it draws heavily on the life of Henry Morgan as well. To change a western into a science-fiction novel and write The Beast Master and its sequel, Lord of Thunder---novels that describe the poignant quest for self and home by a Navaho Indian after Terra has been destroyed---Ms. Norton obtained Navaho phrase books and linguistic studies from the Government Printing Office in Washington, DC.

 

     Ms. Norton’s Magic series is an example of her ability to derive structure as well as content from her sources, and each volume in the series uses a single, central image to unify and generate the action. In Steel Magic, the utensils in a picnic basket become the talismans of Arthurian Britain and the means of entry into a fantasy world. Octagon Magic uses an elaborate doll house to propel the heroine into a world of historical conflict. Lavender-Green Magic uses a maze; Dragon Magic, a puzzle; Red Hart Magic, a peep show that Ms. Norton discovered in a picture of an Elizabethan inn in a history of the period; and Fur Magic, an Indian medicine bag and the Indian legend of the changer.

 

Continued with Introduction A Primary and Secondary Bibliography ~ by Roger C. Schlobin pt.2