Fritz Leiber  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Fritz Reuter Leiber Jr. (December 24, 1910 – September 5, 1992) was an American writer of fantasy, horror and science fiction. He was also an expert chess player and a champion fencer.

Leiber (first syllable sounds like "lie") was born Dec 24, 1910 in Chicago, Illinois to Fritz Leiber, Sr and Virginia Leiber, thespians (theater and actors feature heavily in his narrative) and, for a time, seemed inclined to follow in his parents' footsteps. He spent 1928 touring with his parents' Shakespeare company before studying philosophy at the University of Chicago, whence he graduated with honours (1928-32). In 1932 he studied at general Theological seminary and worked for a time as a lay preacher. In 1934 he toured with his parents' acting company, Fritz Leiber & Co.

He married Jonquil Stephens on January 16, 1936, and their son Justin Leiber was born in 1938. Jonquil's death in 1969 precipitated a three-year drunk, but he returned to his original form with a fantasy novel set in modern-day San Francisco, Our Lady of Darkness.

In the last years of his life, Leiber married his second wife, Margo Skinner, a journalist and poet with whom he had been friends for many years. Many people believed that Leiber was living in poverty on skid row. He seems to have suffered periods of penury; Harlan Ellison has written of his anger at finding that the much-awarded Leiber had to write his novels on a manual typewriter that was propped up over the sink in his apartment. But other reports suggest that Leiber preferred to live simply in the city, spending his money on dining, movies and travel. In the last years of his life, royalty checks from TSR, the makers of Dungeons and Dragons, who had licensed the mythos of the Fafhrd and Gray Mouser series, were enough in themselves to ensure that he lived comfortably.

Leiber's death occurred a few weeks after a physical collapse while traveling from a science fiction convention in London, Ontario with Skinner. The cause of his death was given as "organic brain disease."

He wrote a 100-page-plus autobiography, Not Much Disorder and Not So Early Sex, which can be found in The Ghost Light (1984).

Leiber's own literary criticism, including several ground-breaking essays on Lovecraft, was collected in the volume Fafhrd and Me (1990).

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Fritz Leiber" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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