David Drake

Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer

Manly Wade Wellman

Manly Wade Wellman

Dave, Manly and Dave Shelton

Me, Manly Wade Wellman and Dave Shelton, 1971

On March 17, 1970, I met Manly for the first time, in his writing office above a drugstore in the center of Chapel Hill. According to my journal for the day:

Talked to Mr. Wellman (“My parents wrote my great-uncle Manly to say they were naming me after him. He wrote back ‘Forget about me; name him Wade Hampton!’ So I got the full load.”): heavy, iron-grey with a brush mustache, wearing a sport coat, dark blue shirt & tie.

continue reading…

Manly Wade Wellman, Reporter

Manly Wade Wellman

Manly Wade Wellman

In many respects, Manly was as much of a journalist as he was a fiction writer. He was close to his (two years older) brother Paul for all of their mutual lives. When Manly got out of college in the 1920s, Paul as editor of the Wichita Beacon gave Manly his first full-time job–as a reporter.

At the time, newspapers were generally the voice of a particular political party. (What you see today with Fox News on one side and National Public Radio on the other was even more strongly and generally the case of rival newspapers in Manly’s day.) When a Republican bought the Beacon, the entire staff marched down the street and were hired by the Wichita Eagle, whose Republican staff passed them going in the other direction because Democrats now owned the Eagle.

Manly’s job didn’t change, and he continued working directly under his brother. continue reading…

Vandy, Vandy

Manly traveled with Vance Randolph either during his time at Wichita University (now Wichita State University) or shortly after he graduated. He said that Randolph wanted him to settle in Arkansas. “Manly, you’ve got a hundred dollars. Half of it will buy you a fifty acre farm, and the other half will make you the richest man in the county.”

After Manly moved to North Carolina immediately after WW II, he met Bascom Lamar Lunsford at a folk festival at UNC. They became close friends, and Lunsford introduced Manly to people in the NC mountains, particularly in Madison County where Lunsford was born.

Among the people Manly met were banjo picker Obray Ramsey who, with his neighbor guitarist Dave Shelton, performed as White Lightning. Manly and his wife Frances (a music graduate from the University of Wichita) became close friends with Obray and his wife Billie. continue reading…