Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Farnham Bishop - Educator, Writer

[Farnham Bishop was a writer who collaborated with Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur on many short stories and novels for the pulps. He also wrote stories on his own, and wrote non-fiction books as well, writing a history of the submarine, a history of the Mexican-American war and a book on the Panama Canal. More after the break.]

Farnham Bishop c. 1918
Farnham Bishop c. 1918

Farnham Bishop was born on 17 January, 1886 in New York City. He was the son of Joseph Bucklin and Harriet Louisa (Hartwell) Bishop. Joseph Bucklin Bishop was a newspaperman at the time, and became an associate of Theodore Roosevelt later. In 1905, Joseph was made Executive Secretary of the Panama Canal Commission and in 1907, he went to Panama, where he would stay for the next seven years.
Meanwhile, Farnham Bishop had joined the Harvard Law School. In his second year, he failed his final exams. This would have made him drop out for a year, and return after passing the two exams he had failed. Otherwise he would have to drop out of the course. He had a frank discussion with the Dean of the Law School and decided to take up English as a major instead. In 1910, he delivered his M.A. dissertation, on the Panama Canal. He then took up a job teaching English at Brown University, but left it quickly. Sometime during this time, he met Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur, who was to be his best friend.
 In 1911, he took a course in playwriting in Harvard, and worked his way through college, correcting freshman papers and washing dishes. In the summer of 1911, he went to New York, where he shared a bachelor apartment with two other Harvard classmates, and began trying to sell articles to magazines. His first articles were on the Panama Canal, a subject he knew well because of his periodic trips to his father in Panama. He also started giving lectures on the Panama Canal, with films and slides to supplement his talk. In 1913, he published his first book, Panama, past and present.
By 1914, he had made a start, selling four articles on the Panama canal to magazines, and writing a one-act play, “The Scales and the Sword”. In 1916, he moved to Berkeley, California on the advice of Arthur Brodeur and enrolled at the University of California as a Ph.D. student. In 1916, he published two books, The story of the submarine and Our first war in Mexico. This was also the year of his first contribution to the pulps – a serialized novel, The grip of the Minotaur, in Adventure - that he co-authored with Arthur Gilchrist. With the World War in sight, he enrolled in the infantry at Fort McDowell, California. He was part of the first Motor Battery, National Guard, New York and became a second lieutenant.
With his teaching credentials, he became an instructor in the Officer Training School at Joseph E. Johnston Camp in Florida (now known as Naval Air Station, Jacksonville). On 19 February, 1918, he married Miriam Suplee, who was a native of California and had graduated from the University of California in 1912. 1918 was his peak as far as pulp stories went, with thirteen appearances in Adventure alone, all co-authored with Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur. He was writing in the 1920s as well, with a novel, The Altar of the Legion, being serialized in Adventure in 1925 and published in book form in 1926.
In 1928, Joseph Bucklin, his father passed away, leaving an unfinished biography of George Washington Goethals, the builder of the Panama Canal.  He completed this biography in 1930. He was suffering from pneumonia when he passed away on 16 February, 1930. His wife, Miriam, died on 19 February, 1930, leaving behind them two children, Brewster and Joseph.

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