Featured Novelist from Special Collections: Ferdinand Reyher

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NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month – occurs annually every November. Join us each Monday as we celebrate the life of a novelist represented in the University of Maryland Special Collections!

This week’s novelist is German-American Ferdinand Reyher. Ferdinand Reyher’s fiction includes The Man, the Tiger, and the Snake (1921), published by Putnam, and I Heard Them Sing (1946), published by Little, Brown.

I selected Reyher as this week’s novelist because of the vast breadth of his fascinating life and works, as well as his involvement with such incredible people. If you get a chance, visit Hornbake’s Maryland Room and request Series 6, Boxes 1 and 2 of the Ferdinand Reyher papers. These are the photographs, which, though under copyright and therefore not in this post, provide amazing insight into this author’s community.
– Sarah Espinosa, Student Assistant in Special Collections

Who is Ferdinand Reyher?
(from ArchivesUM)

Ferdinand Reyher was born to German immigrants Max and Lina Reyher on July 6, 1891, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He earned a master’s degree in English from Harvard University in 1913 and taught English for one year at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He then became a war correspondent in Europe from 1915 to 1916 for newspapers including the Boston Globe, the Boston Post, and the New York Evening Sun. After covering the war, Reyher moved back to the United States, settling in New York City.

A novelist, journalist, film doctor and screenwriter, playwright and poet, Ferdinand Reyher produced volumes of notes, research, and prose. He was interested in many topics, especially American folklore, and conceived many book projects, including a history of poker. Reyher was active in Hollywood at several studios, including RKO, MGM, and Paramount. Reyher died on October 24, 1967, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Interesting facts about Ferdinand Reyher
(from ArchivesUM)

  • In 1917, Ferdinand Reyher married Rebecca Hourwich, the head of the Boston and New York offices of the National Women’s Party, a prominent political and women’s rights activist, and author. The Reyhers’ marriage ended in divorce in 1934.

    Zhang Ailing/Eileen Chang

    Zhang Ailing/Eileen Chang (Wikipedia)

  • Reyher married Chinese writer and translator Eileen Chang (Zhang Ailing) in August 1956. Best known in America for her novels The Rice Sprout Song (1955) and The Rouge of the North (1967), Chang remains a popular author in China and Taiwan.
  • Ferdinand and Rebecca Hourwich Reyher’s only child, Faith, was born in 1919. After retiring as head mistress of the Academy of the Washington [D.C.] Ballet, Faith published Pioneer of Tropical Landscape Architecture: William Lyman Phillips in Florida (1997) and Meadow, Fugue and Descant, a novel (2002).

    Bertolt Brecht (Wikipedia)

  • Ferdinand Reyher was among those who helped to extricate German playwright, poet, and dramatic theorist Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956) and his family from Nazi Germany in 1941. He also actively promoted the translation and performance of Brecht’s work in the United States. Reyher and Brecht made attempts to collaborate on various works.
  • Reyher was an acquaintance of various literary figures such as James Joyce, Joseph Conrad, and Ezra Pound and corresponded with Ford Maddox Ford, Wallace Stevens, and Sinclair Lewis. Reyher also intereacted and corresponded with many prominent photographers of the twentieth century, including Ansel Adams, Berenice Abbott, Beaumont Newhall, and Todd Webb. Friends and correspondents from Reyher’s Hollywood years include actor and director John Huston and his wife Dorothy; actor and producer Paul Henreid; screenwriters Frank “Spig” Wead and Dale Van Every; and director Leopold Jessner. Other notable correspondents include journalist George Seldes, publisher John Rodker, musician George Antheil, and artists Lee Hersch and William and Marguerite Zorach.
Ferdinand Reyher papers at the University of Maryland, Special Collections: Literature and Rare Books Collections

Ferdinand Reyher papers at the University of Maryland, Special Collections: Literature and Rare Books Collections

UMD Resources related to Ferdinand Reyher

Archival material:
Ferdinand Reyher papers
Faith Reyher Jackson papers
Archives of the International Brecht Society (Unprocessed; contact Anne Hudak or Jason Speck)

Bertolt Brecht’s American cicerone : with an app. containing the complete correspondence between Bertolt Brecht and Ferdinand Reyher
UMCP HBK Maryland Room Archives, Reference
PT2603.R397 Z74594 1978

Zhang Ailing yu Laiya
UMCP McKeldin Library East Asia Chinese Language Stacks
PL2837.E35 Z98 1996

Agnes Moorehead: Queen of Horror, Suspense, and the Supernatural

Agnes Moorehead

Agnes Moorehead. Photo on cover of I Love the Illusion, by Charles Tranberg.

While researching materials for the Halloween display from the Mass Media and Culture collections, one name kept popping up: Agnes Moorehead (1900 – 1974). Her repertoire extends from the golden years of radio to popular television, from movies to the stage. She also had a special flair for horror, suspense, and the supernatural. Her work in radio drama included participation in Mercury Theater on the Air and a role as Margo Lane on The Shadow, co-starring with Orson Welles. In the CBS show Suspense, Moorehead’s greatest success was her incredible performance as Mrs. Stevenson in the quintessential horror, Lucille Fletcher’s “Sorry, Wrong Number.”

Spooky Special Collections Display, containing a feature of Agnes Moorehead's work in the realm of suspense and supernatural.

Spooky Special Collections Display, containing a feature of Agnes Moorehead’s work in the realm of suspense and supernatural.

Her role as Mrs. Stevenson later inspired director Douglas Heyes to cast Moorehead in an episode of The Twilight Zone, where she played an old woman attacked by miniature aliens. On stage, Moorehead played Donna Ana in Don Juan in Hell. Later, Moorehead was recruited to play Endora on the television comedy Bewitched. A versatile and respected actress, Moorehead succeeded across genres and performing-arts mediums, and especially made her mark on the world of the strange and supernatural.

Moorehead is just one of the many actresses and actors featured in the Mass Media and Culture collections. There are a lot of resources pertaining to spooky and otherworldly subjects; if you ever feel like researching terror in radio, television, or movies, or if you just want to revisit the history of your favorite shows, this is a great place to start!

Collage of films, radio, and television

What is your favorite horror or fantasy movie, radio program, or television show? Leave us a comment below!