Gordon MacCreagh: The Men Who Make The Argosy


Between the issues of January 25, 1929 and January 24, 1942, The Argosy published profiles about 141 of its leading writers. However sketchy some of these autobiographical pieces are, they provide the only available information about many of the adventure writers who contributed to this magazine. Wherever possible, we'll add newly researched articles about certain writers, and develop bibliographies of their magazine stories and books.

Gordon MacCreagh
I can't lie about my age because it's in Who's Who, and it's older than I like to believe because I aim to go world tramping as soon as I can get money enough to leave my wife at home--if she'll let me. For the old days are gone--and wonder whether there might be eats and a camp cot wherever it might be that I would arrive.

That was the way I began. I was getting an education in a German university when I seconded a sap in a duel, and it turned out more serious than we had thought; so everybody concerned laid low for a while. Me, I had been writing to a man in Calcutta--where one shook the rupee trees and gathered wealth and glamour at the same time. This kind gentleman promised me a salary of 200 rupees per month if I would take a job in his barge business.

Well, barges were as good as anything else in the romantic East. I worked out as an under steward; and the kind gentleman gave me the job. But at the end of a month when I asked him for some rupees, he said, Oh, yes, he'd give me 200 of them per month--as soon as I head learned the barge business and was of some use to him.

So I had a fight with his son-in-law and got fired, and I took a train and went as far as it went. That was Darjeeling. I became a tea coolie driver and collected those marvelous Himalayan beetles and butterflies for a museum collector. I got into bigger stuff. Live animals form Jamrach, then the big Liverpool dealer. I understand during the war they ate them all up. I moved into the Maylay islands and sent in various leopards and tigers and things. But my specialty was big snakes and orang-utans.

The war came along. I went home and lost a lot of time in a Navy training station. In the Navy I met a god called Discipline.

A couple of years sped. I sold my outstanding worth to a scientific expedition that proposed to find new and uncharted ways across South America, over ghastly Andea passes and through the whole length of the Amazon valley, which is quite a large and a wet place.

Then a spell of writing it all up. Then quite a crazy dash into Abyssinia--because nobody seemed to know anything much about it.

But my face had descended upon me by this time; and she was crazy, too, and came long--and suffered for her temerity.

Thin tent walls out in the open bush and lion noises rasper her nerves all up. And drove her crazier; so she came again the next time.

That time took us further into the interiors of things. British East Africa and Uganda borders. And we bought some mules that had been scientifically inoculated against Tsetse fly so that we wouldn't have to bother with the hideous porter safari problem. And the tsetse flies killed off half the mules anyhow, and we struggled on into bad country, and lions ate up the rest. So we had our safari after all. And the safari was tsetse speckled and ran away in heaps. And we lost baggage and were sick and the rainy season came along and caught us out in the woods; and a good time was had by all. So we came home.

Third class on a French boat to Japan--and don't you every try that--and on to Seattle. Then we bought a used--very used--flivver and came across the continent via the auto camp routes. And we took in Columbia River Highway and Yellowstone Park and Jackson's Hole and Shoshone Canyon and Deadwood and Cody and Custer and all the places where we found all the names of our youthful reading to be honest to God true places--Dead Man's Gulch and Two Mile Bend and Snake River and Massacre Rocks and Poison Springs. And we got an awful kick out of it all.

Copyright 2001-2002 by Adventure Fiction.com

White Waters and Black by MacCreagh is currently in print an available from Amazon.com. Click here for more information.

To read an extensive biographical essay about MacCreagh and his adventures, found elsewhere on The Pulp Rack, please click here.

To check out a bibliography of MacCreagh's writings, please click here.

Posted by ds at January 19, 2003 06:27 PM

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