Manly Wade Wellman was born on this day in 1903. He’s best known for his stories of John the Balladeer, a minstrel who wandered the southern mountains with his silver stringed guitar. Other series characters include the occult detective John Thunstone and Hok,
I don’t recall when I first became aware of Wellman, but it had to be in junior high or early high school. Quite possibly a John The Balladeer story in an anthology. We moved in the middle of my sophomore year, and the small town we moved to had a little second hand book shop. Among the treasures I found there (Green Lantern #1) was an almost complete run of F&SF from the mid 70s to the early 80s. Of course I bought them all.
These issues had a number of short stories by Wellman, many of them stand-alones. I devoured them over that summer between my sophomore and junior years. Wellman’s incorporation of Southern and mountain folklore was unlike anything I’d read. I’ve kept my eye out for his work ever since. Later, when Nightshade published its five volume collection of Wellman’s work, I bought those.
So tonight, after everyone goes to bed, I’ll raise a glass in Wellman’s memory and read some of his work.