Miriam Allen deFord

Miriam Allen deFord (August 21, 1888 – February 22, 1975) was an American writer best known for her mysteries and science fiction. During the 1920s, she wrote for a number of left-wing magazines including The Masses, The Liberator, and the Federated Press.[1] Her short story "A Death in the Family" appeared on Night Gallery's second season appearing in Episode Two segment One with Desi Arnez Jr.

Miriam Allen deFord
Miriam Allen deFord

(1888-08-21)August 21, 1888
DiedFebruary 22, 1975(1975-02-22) (aged 86)


Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. DeFord studied at Wellesley College and Temple University. She later studied at the University of Pennsylvania.[2] DeFord worked as a newspaper reporter for a time. DeFord later described herself as a "born feminist"; she became active in the Women's suffrage movement before 1920, and was also a campaigner and disseminator of birth control information to women.[2] DeFord was a member of the Socialist Party of America from 1919 to 1922.[2] Her feminist work is documented in From Parlor to Prison: Five American Suffragists Talk About Their Lives, edited by Sherna B. Gluck. During the 1930s, deFord joined the Federal Writers' Project and wrote the book They Were San Franciscans for the Project.[3] Interviewed for the League of American Writers pamphlet Writers Take Sides about the Spanish Civil War, DeFord expressed strong support for the Spanish Republic. DeFord added "I am unalterably and actively opposed to fascism, Nazism, Hitlerism, Hirohitoism, or whatever name may be applied to the monster".[4]

She spent perhaps the most energy in mystery fiction and science fiction. Hence she did several anthologies in mystery and crime writing. In 1968, she wrote The Real Bonnie and Clyde.

She also wrote The Overbury Affair, which involves events during the reign of James I of Britain surrounding the murder of Sir Thomas Overbury. For the latter work she received a 1961 Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for Best Fact Crime book. She worked for Humanist magazine and she was one of the signers of the Humanist Manifesto.[5]

However, in 1949, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction began with Anthony Boucher as editor. Anthony Boucher wrote science fiction and fantasy but also garnered attention in the mystery field as well. This gave his magazine some cross-over appeal to mystery writers like Ms. deFord. Hence much of her science fiction first appeared in Boucher's magazine. Her stories there dealt with themes like nuclear devastation, alienation, and changing sexual roles. Her two collections are Elsewhere, Elsewhen, Elsehow and Xenogenesis. She also edited an anthology of stories mixing science fiction with mystery called Space, Time, and Crime.

DeFord was also a passionate Fortean, a follower of Charles Fort, and did fieldwork for him. DeFord is mentioned in Fort's book Lo! Shortly before her death in 1975, Fortean writer Loren Coleman visited Ms. deFord frequently and interviewed her about her earlier interactions with Fort and her trips to Chico, California, to investigate the case of a poltergeist rock-thrower on Fort's behalf.

DeFord died February 22, 1975, aged 86, at her longtime home, the Ambassador Hotel at 55 Mason Street in San Francisco.

In 2008, The Library of America selected deFord's story of the Leopold and Loeb trial for inclusion in its two-century retrospective of American True Crime.

Personal lifeEdit

DeFord's first marriage was to Armistead Collier in 1915. The couple divorced in 1920.[2] She was married to Maynard Shipley from 1921 until his death in June 1934.[6]



Science Fiction:

  • Xenogenesis (1969)
  • Elsewhere, Elsewhen, Elsehow (1971)


  • The Theme is Murder (1967)
  • La Maison fantastique (1988)

Anthologies containing stories by Miriam Allen deFordEdit

  • The Lyrics West, Volume 1 (1921)
  • The Queen's Awards: Series 4 - prize-winning detective stories from EQMM (1949)
  • Star Science Fiction Stories, No. 4 (1958)
  • Star Science Fiction Stories, No. 6 (1959)
  • The Lethal Sex: The 1959 Anthology of the Mystery Writers of America (1959)
  • Tales for a Rainy Night: 14th Mystery Writers of America Anthology (1961)
  • The Fifth Galaxy Reader (1962)
  • The Quality of Murder: 300 Years of True Crime (1962)
  • Rogue Dragon (1965)
  • Alfred Hitchcock's Monster Museum: Twelve Shuddery Stories for Daring Young Readers (1965)
  • Best Detective Stories of the Year: 20th Annual Collection (1965)
  • Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Stories Not For the Nervous (1965)
  • Dangerous Visions (1967)
  • Gentle Invaders (1969)
  • Crime Prevention in the 30th Century (1969)
  • Boucher's Choicest : A Collection of Anthony Boucher's Favorites from Best Detective Stories of the Year (1969)
  • With Malice Toward All (1970)
  • Worlds of Maybe: 7 Stories of Science Fiction (1970)
  • 15 Science Fiction Stories - a subset of Dangerous Visions reprinted in German (1970)
  • Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Scream Along With Me (1970)
  • New Dimensions 2: Eleven Original Science Fiction Stories (1972)
  • Two Views of Wonder (1973)
  • The Alien Condition (1973)
  • Alfred Hitchcock Presents: More Stories Not For the Nervous (1973)
  • Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Stories to be Read With the Lights On (1973)
  • Omega (1974)
  • Strange Bedfellows (1974)
  • The Venus Factor (1977)
  • Terrors, Torments and Traumas (reprint, 1978)
  • Nature's Revenge: Eerie Stories of Revolt Against the Human Race (1978)
  • Spirits, Spooks and Other Sinister Creatures (reprint, 1984)
  • Killer Couples: Terrifying True Stories of the World's Deadliest Duos" (1987)
  • Trois saigneurs de la nuit - (Vol. 3, 1988)
  • The Lady Killers: Famous Women Murderers (1990)
  • New Eves: Science Fiction About the Extraordinary Women of Today and Tomorrow (1994)
  • Women Resurrected: Stories from Women Science Fiction Writers of the 50s (2011)
  • Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives: Stories from the Trailblazers of Domestic Suspense (2013)

Magazines containing stories by Miriam Allen deFordEdit

Fact Crime/True CrimeEdit

  • The Overbury Affair (1960)
  • The Real Bonnie and Clyde (1968)
  • The Real Ma Barker (1970)

Little Blue Book SeriesEdit

  • Little Blue Book No. 197: What Great Frenchwomen Learned About Love (1926)
  • Little Blue Book No. 832: The Life and Poems of Catullus (1925)
  • Little Blue Book No. 867: Cicero As Revealed in His Letters (1925)
  • Little Blue Book No. 895: Astronomy for Beginners (1927)
  • Little Blue Book No. 896: The Augustan Poets of Rome (1925) (editor)
  • Little Blue Book No. 899: Rome As Viewed by Tacitus and Juvenal (1925)
  • Little Blue Book No. 999: Latin Self-Taught (1926) (editor)
  • Little Blue Book No. 1009: Typewriting Self-Taught (1926)
  • Little Blue Book No. 1087: The Facts About Fascism (1911)
  • Little Blue Book No. 1088: The Truth About Mussolini (1926)
  • Little Blue Book No. 1174: How To Write Business Letters (1927)
  • Little Blue Book No. 1847: The Meaning of All Common Given Names (1947)



  • Love-Children: A Book of Illustrious Illegitimates (1931)
  • Facts You Should Know About California (1941)
  • California (1946)
  • They Were San Franciscans (1947)
  • Psychologist unretired: the life pattern of Lillien J. Martin (1948)
  • Up-Hill All The Way: The Life of Maynard Shipley (1956)
  • Stone Walls: Prisons from Fetters to Furloughs (1962)
  • Penultimates (1962)
  • Murderers Sane and Mad: Case Histories in the Motivation and Rationale of Murder (1965)
  • Thomas Moore - Twayne's English Authors Series (1967)


  • Space, Time and Crime (1964) - anthology of science fiction


  1. ^ De Leon, Solon (1925). The American Labor Who's Who. New York: Hanford Press. p. 57.
  2. ^ a b c d Eric Leif Davin, Partners in Wonder: Women and the Birth of Science Fiction, 1926-1965. Lexington Books, Lanham, MD 2006 ISBN 0739112678, (pp. 130. 378-379).
  3. ^ Katherine H. Adams, Michael L. Keene Women, Art and the New Deal. McFarland; Jefferson, NC. 2015 ISBN 9781476623665 (p.39)
  4. ^ Writers take sides: letters about the war in Spain from 418 American authors. League of American writers, New York, 1938. (p.18-9).
  5. ^ "Humanist Manifesto II". American Humanist Association. Archived from the original on October 20, 2012. Retrieved October 8, 2012.
  6. ^ Dangerous Visions, page 115. (2011)


External linksEdit