Posted by: Loren Coleman on March 27th, 2012
Do you remember when cryptozoology had Soule?
During the late 1950s and 1960s, needless to say, there were a few popular writers specializing in what we would call today “cryptozoology.” But articles and books about “monsters,” to begin with, were few and far between. It follows that the number of authors were a rarity too. The low number of good works published during those midcentury days were ones that have naturally become classics.
As I mentioned recently, the graphic art with the December 1957 Popular Science article “Science Closes In on ‘Wild Man’ of Everest” is vaguely recalled by some folks. The article with the art was by a sparse but steady writer of cryptozoology pieces. The author’s name is Gardner Soule. (December 1957 Popular Science cover is shown below.)
Readers of Popular Science might remember the Soule name from the 1957 article, or the one that was published almost five years later, in the June 1961 issue of Popular Science, “From The Loch Ness Monster to the Giant Squid.”
Gardner Soule also penned “The World’s Most Mysterious Footprints,” in the December 1952 issue of Popular Science, and “Everest’s Conquerer Tracks Abominable Snowman,” in the September 1960 issue of Popular Science. But finding any further magazine output from him is difficult.
In the days before the Internet and instant biographical searches on Wikipedia, Google, and Yahoo, knowing anything about an author like Gardner Soule was difficult. His name might be recognized, but the readers were often left wondering as much about who “Gardner Soule” is or was as they would about the Abominable Snowmen or Nessies in his magazine contributions.
In that era, how did we learn of the biographies of the lesser known cryptozoology authors (i.e. the second tier writers who were not at the level of Ivan T. Sanderson and Bernard Heuvelmans)? Usually, the only way to find out anything about them was from the “About the Author” blurbs found in the back of their books.
So what did one such thumbnail profile say about “Gardner Soule”?
“Gardner Soule is a diligent searcher who has fascinated millions of readers with his newspaper and magazine features on unusual and mythological creatures. A former magazine editor, he now devotes most of his time and energy to culling from museums, explorers, and other sources of natural lore all factual information gathered on the vast number of creatures which stir a man’s curiosity or credulity. Mr. Soule lives in New York City.”
Gardner Soule was a mysterious character, who never was pictured on his books. Sometimes I wondered if the name might have been a pseudonym adopted by a well-known writer like Ivan Sanderson or John Keel, who wasn’t suppose to sell articles to Popular Science for contractual reasons. But I later rejected such theories, mostly due to the difference in style and because Sanderson and Keel had little reason to hide their identities as they published popular cryptozoology efforts of their own.
I am troubled I’ve never been able to find a full biography, obituary, or death notice for Gardner Soule. Maybe he is still alive? I would like to know more about Gardner Soule, and add him more properly to the history of cryptozoology. Does anyone know anything more about him? Is he really 99 years old, and living as a recluse in Vermont? (Apparently not. See new information and updates at the end.)
It is a mystery why Soule disappeared as an author from the popular cryptozoology scene.
Besides the articles noted above, Soule also wrote at least four adult cryptozoology books:
The Maybe Monsters, New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1963;
The Mystery Monsters, New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1965 (later a successful Ace Paperback);
Trail of the Abominable Snowman, New York: G. P. Putnam’s, 1966; and
Mystery Monsters of the Deep, New York: Franklin Watts, 1981.
Soule also wrote various, lesser-known, juvenile weird animal works, including Remarkable Creatures of the Seas and Mysterious Creatures of the Jungle.
More hints (thanks, schreiberosa) have revealed that with a bit more research I could develop this additional list of Boys’ Life contributions:
SOULE, GARDNER (Bosworth) (1913- )
“Monster in the Loch,” February 1961, February 1961;
“Nandi Bear,” Boys’ Life, December 1961;
“The South American “Didi,” Boys’ Life, July 1962;
“The Spotted Lion,” Boys’ Life, March 1963;
“Bigfoot,” Boys’ Life, November 1963;
“Flathead Lake Monster,” Boys’ Life, October 1964;
“Soay Beast,” Boys’ Life, November 1964;
“Mystery Animals,” Boys’ Life, November 1965; and
“The Abominable Snowman,” Boys’ Life, February 1966.
More new info coming in on Gardner B. Soule:
Connecticut Death Index, 1949-2001
SOULE, GARDNER B
Death Date: October 26 2000 Race: White
Death Place: Bridgeport, Fairfield, Connecticut Sex: Male
Spouse: MARY Age: 86 Years
Birth Place: Texas Residence: Bridgeport, Fairfield, Connecticut
Birth Date: 16 December, 1913 Address: 3030 PARK AVE,
Father: SOULE Industry: SELF EMPLOYED
Occupation: AUTHOR State File #: 21539
Connecticut Marriage Index, 1959-2001
Groom: SOULE , GARDNER B
Residence: , New York
Bride: DOWNING , MARY M
Residence: Essex, Middlesex, Connecticut
Place of Marriage: Essex, Middlesex, Connecticut
Marriage Date: 23 April, 1994 (?).
The midcentury had a few good second-tier cryptozoology authors. That’s part of why the field had Soule in the 1950s and 1960s.