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Inga Marie Stephens Pratt Clark (1906–1970) was an American artist and book illustrator, who, with her husband Fletcher Pratt, was at the center of a circle of New York literary figures during the 20th century.

Inga Marie Stephens Pratt Clark
Inga Marie Stephens

(1906-12-08)December 8, 1906
EducationAcadémie Colarossi, Art Students League of New York
Known forIllustration
Patent drawing by Inga Stephens Pratt (1906-1970) for U.S. patent 2883670, depicting her invention, a scarf.


Life and workEdit

Inga Stephens was born 8 December 1906 in Brookings, South Dakota. She studied art at the Académie Colarossi in Paris and at the Art Students League of New York.[1] On 1 July 1926, she married Fletcher Pratt, a prolific American author. They lived in New York City.[2] She illustrated several of Pratt's books, including Tales from Gavagan's Bar, Empire and the Sea, The Empire and the Glory, and A Man and His Meals. She also collaborated with him on at least two stories, and served as his literary executor. [3]

Under the names of "Inga Stephens", "Inga", and later "Inga Pratt", she was a freelance commercial artist, specializing in fashion. She collaborated with Tedi Berri on a textbook, Fashion Drawing.[4] Kay Hardy wrote: "Such artists as... Inga Pratt, of Bloomingdale's, have a style of work as definite as individual handwriting and no more to be imitated than the signature on a check." [5] She also collaborated in writing a couple of science fiction stories with her husband, for which she used the name I. M. Stephens.

She invented an improved scarf, for which she obtained a patent in 1959.[6]

Of her, Fletcher Pratt wrote: "She is a South Dakota Norwegian, brought up in Montana, where she learned to ride a horse before she was seven, and where she had a collection of pets, which included four eagles, one coyote, one bull-snake, and fourteen cats. She eats a very light breakfast. Her fashion drawings appear in the New York papers almost daily and in various magazines. She finds bridge a waste of time but has illustrated several books. She occasionally plays a recorder, knows how to drive a car, and spends weekends in the country."[7]

In the early 1950s, the Pratts hosted meetings of the Hydra Club, a social group of New York science fiction writers, in their Manhattan apartment at 32 West 58th Street. Hydra Club members included Frederik Pohl, Lester del Rey, David A. Kyle, Judith Merril, Martin Greenberg, Robert W. Lowndes, Philip Klass, Willy Ley, George O. Smith, Sam Merwin, and Harry Harrison.[8]

Later the Pratts purchased a sprawling home in Highlands, New Jersey, with over thirty rooms, nicknaming it the Ipsy-Wipsy Institute. It too became a gathering place for their literary friends.[9][10][11][12] Their guests included the Hydra Club members already mentioned, other science fiction and fantasy writers such as L. Sprague de Camp, Theodore Sturgeon, Isaac Asimov, and Laurence Manning, and notable mainstream authors and editors such as John Ciardi, Basil Davenport, Bernard DeVoto, and Eugenie Clark.

After Fletcher Pratt's death, Inga married the chemist and author John Drury Clark in 1962.[13] (At Clark's wedding to his first wife, in 1943, Inga had served as matron of honor.[14]) Clark dedicated his book Ignition! to her, writing: "This book is dedicated to my wife Inga, who heckled me into writing it with such wifely remarks as, 'You talk a hell of a fine history. Now set yourself down in front of the typewriter — and write the damned thing!'" [15]



  • Empire and the Sea, by Fletcher Pratt (1946)
  • A Man and His Meals, by Fletcher Pratt (1947)
  • The Empire and the Glory; Napoleon Bonaparte: 1800-1806, by Fletcher Pratt (1948)
  • Tales from Gavagan's Bar, a collection of stories by Fletcher Pratt and L. Sprague de Camp (1953, expanded 1978)


  • Fashion Drawing, with Fashion Drawings and Sketches by Inga Stephens, with Tedi Berri (Bridgman Publishers, Inc., 1936)

Stories as authorEdit

  • "The Pineal Stimulator", as I. M. Stephens, with Fletcher Pratt (Amazing Stories, November 1930)
  • "A Voice Across the Years", as I. M. Stephens, with Fletcher Pratt (Amazing Stories Quarterly, Winter 1932)


  1. ^ Who's Who of American Women, Marquis Who's Who, 1961, Volume 2, p. 797
  2. ^ Preface by David Madden to A Short History of the Civil War: Ordeal by Fire by Fletcher Pratt
  3. ^ Eric Leif Davin, Partners in wonder: women and the birth of science fiction, 1926-1965, p. 409
  4. ^ Tedi Berri, Fashion Drawing, with Fashion Drawings and Sketches by Inga Stephens, Bridgman Publishers, Inc., Pelham NY, 1936.
  5. ^ Kay Hardy, Costume Design, McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1948, p.257.
  6. ^ Scarf, U. S. patent number 2,883,670
  7. ^ Fletcher Pratt, quoted in "Personal and Otherwise," Harper's Magazine, vol.198, no. 1189, June, 1949 p.12.
  8. ^ David A. Kyle, "The Legendary Hydra Club," in Mimosa 25, edited by Richard and Nikki Lynch.
  9. ^ Frederik Pohl, The Way the Future Blogs, "Fletcher Pratt, Part 2: The Place Where Things Happened, 5 Jan 2011
  10. ^ Frederik Pohl, The Way the Future Blogs, "Fletcher Pratt, Part 3: The Lord of the Ipsy-Wipsies", 2 Feb 2011
  11. ^ Eric Leif Davin, Partners in wonder: women and the birth of science fiction, 1926-1965, p. 109
  12. ^ Frederik Pohl, The Way the Future Was, Ballantine Books, 1978, p. 193.
  13. ^ Locher, Frances C. and Evory, Ann (editors) Contemporary Authors - First Revision "John Drury Clark", p. 91
  14. ^ "Mildred Baldwin Bride: Opera Singer Wed to Dr. John D. Clark in Ceremony Here." New York Times, June 8, 1943, page 24.
  15. ^ Ignition! An Informal History of Liquid Rocket Propellants. Rutgers University Press. 1972. pp. vii. ISBN 0-8135-0725-1.

External linksEdit