Thursday, October 12, 2017

D is for DENT

October 12, 1904 is a landmark day in Pulp history... it's the day that Lester Dent was born. 

Dent was the pulp-fiction author, who the superhuman scientist and adventurer Doc Savage. Savage appeared in over 181 novels written over 16 years. 

Born in 1904 in La Plata, Missouri, Dent was the only child of Bernard Dent, a rancher, and Alice Norfolk, a teacher. Dent’s family returned to Wyoming in 1906, working a ranch near Pumpkin Buttes, Wyoming.
Dent attended a local one-room school house, often paying for tuition with furs that he had caught. Around 1919, the Dents returned to La Plata, where Dent's father took up dairy farming. Dent completed his elementary and secondary education there.
In 1923, Dent enrolled in the Chillicothe Business College in Missouri, eventually picking a major in telegraphy. In 1924, Dent became a telegraph operator for Western Union in Carrollton, Missouri. In 1925, he moved to Ponca City, Oklahoma, working as a telegrapher for Empire Oil and Gas Company. Dent married Norma Gerling on August 9, 1925.
In 1926, the Dent moved to Chickasha, Oklahoma, working as a telegrapher for the Associated Press. 
Dent's first professional writing sale was entitled "Pirate Cay", and appeared in the September 1929 issue of Top Notch magazine. Shortly after, Dent was contacted by Dell Publishing in New York City who were willing to pay him $500 a month to write exclusively for their magazines. Dent relocated to New York in January 1, 1931 and quickly learned the trade of the pulp author. 
In 1932, Henry Ralston of Street and Smith Publications hired Dent for a new publication, following the success of the The Shadow magazine. Dent received $500 per novel, although they were published under the house name Kenneth Robeson.
Issue Number 1 of Doc Savage debuted in February 1933, quickly becoming one of the top-selling pulp magazines.
Over the next few years, Dent continued to study and learn new skills: he took courses in technology and the trades, earning both his amateur radio and pilot license, and was an avid mountain climber. In May 1934, Dent bought a 40-foot two-masted Chesapeake Bay "bugeye" schooner, Albatross that he and his wife lived on for several years, sailing up and down the eastern seaboard and even doing some sunken-treasure hunting in the Caribbean, before selling it in 1940.
Dent returned to La Plata for good in 1940, where he continued to write Doc Savage and other genres.
Doc Savage Magazine ceased publication in 1949. Of the 181 Doc Savage novels published by Street and Smith, all but twenty were written by Dent.
Dent suffered a heart attack in February 1959. He was hospitalized, but died on March 11, 1959. Dent is buried in the La Plata cemetery.

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