"Life is sad, believe me, Missy, when you’re born to be a sissy, without the vim and verve . . ."
"I could show the dinosaurus who's king around the forest, and a king they’d better serve . . ."
Chip's favorite camp counsel-or at Camp Woodland, Mary Davies, later of The Jewel Box Revue.
Chip Delany in Herbert Haufrecht's Boney Quillen.
Camp friend Serena Rachels in the above (with choker), who shortly went to Bronx Science with Chip:
Dalton friend who moved on to Bronx Science:
The first three boys below were in Delany's Freshman homeroom, with Chuck Abrahamson behind him and Danny to the right. Gene, Mike, and Leo ran against Delany for student council (SO) rep—Delany won.
After a year at the Bronx Science Annex, Delany (and Marilyn Hacker) moved into the main building of the Bronx High School of Science (1957), a building with swimming pool and auditorium with a balcony and stage.
Only students from the class of '60 attended all three buildings of the Bronx High School of Science. The new building leaked torrentially, wasted thousands of dollars on an ineffectual computer system, the new auditorium could not accommodate the entire student body, and the students struck against the ideas of the new principal, Alexander Taffel.
The new building of the Bronx High School of Science, which Delany attended for a year—but Hacker had already been an early admission student to NYU.
Breadloaf bus com-
panion to New York,
The Jewels of Aptor appeared, and Ian brought Chip the Analog, with P. Schyler Miller's review, to 739 E. 6th
St. Stogol, a bank accountant, regularly visited Delany at 6th St. and again at 82nd St. until he, his wife Marlene, and his foster family moved to Florida, where he died of diabetic complications. Once, he brought his foster son, Frank, to visit Delany.
Geoffrey Heyworth was a high school friend, who went to Harvard and returned to New York's Lower East Side, now a sculptor, who invented the "sculpture game."
See §23.34 in The Motion of Light in Water.
A meeting with Joseph Albers at Yale convinced Heyworth to abandon math and take up sculpture, which he did for the rest of his life, during much of which Geoff was homeless.
Heyworth '86, '87? terra-cotta form.
Above is the illustration of "the oldest throne in Europe" at the Temple of Knossos on Krete from his childhood My Book House volumes—and below is the restored temple, following the fresco revamping of Piet de Jong, which had not been completed when Delany first visited, but he sat on the throne itself, which was extremely small—even with the difference in size, it was probably a royal child's chair.
J. F. Kennedy assassinated
November 22, 1963:
80 La Salle St. at Morningside Gardens, which would become the model for The Labrys Apartments in Dhalgren
Russell FitzGerald's original painting for
the Feb. '68 Magazine of F & SF for
"We, in Some Strange Power's Employ . . ."
Three of four Quarks
Here is the site of 739 E. 6th St. Delany's file cabinet drawers had been stored in the basement, containing the carbon copies of Voyage, Orestes!, the top copy of which had been lost in a carton of manuscripts when my agent moved from West 20th St. to West 10th St. in spring 1974, which contained as well several other novel-length manuscripts by Delany . . .
. . . all of which were permanently lost.
Giani Siri, New York Tarot, c. 1982, Riverside Playground
Riverside Park, c. 1996
Barbara Wise and Chip Delany read
The Tale of Plagues and Carnivals in Wellfleet.
After 10 months in Philadelphia on Pine St., Delany buys the apartment at 1123 Spruce St. from English professor Carolyn Karcher
Ursula, Chip, Katherine MacLean, and Trina Robbins at WisCon, May 26–29, 2006
(For key, click image.)
San Jose, May 2014: Chip Delany receives his Grand Master Award for Science Fiction
The "Hermit of Houston" wins a Locus Award for 2018, best novelette.
April 1, 1942: At 7:20 in the morning, Samuel Ray Delany, Jr., is born at Harlem Hospital on Lenox Avenue to Margaret Cary Boyd, a court stenographer, and Samuel Ray Delany, Sr., a black New York undertaker.
1948: "The first play I was ever taken to see was 𝘞𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦'𝘴 𝘊𝘩𝘢𝘳𝘭𝘦𝘺, starring Ray Bolger, in 1948. My Aunt Virginia took me—I was five years old. The music was by Frank Loesser, the choreography was by George Balanchine. The plot turns on a transvestial jape (all in the name of good, respectably heterosexual love, but even at five, I could tell that's not what most of the audience was appreciating or enjoying.) I loved it. And I have always remembered the proud force with which Bolger—dressed as Charley's aunt Donna Alverez—delivered the line, 'I'm from Brazil—where the nuts come from . . .?' almost as if he were bragging and daring anyone to say he didn't have the right to do it and enjoy it along with everyone in the theater."
1950: "My next play was Peter Pan, with Jean Arthur in the title role. By now I was seven. Not for a moment did I ever think of Arthur as a boy; still less when, during her annual Christmas performances on TV, did the aging Mary Martin seem male. Only in the Disney cartoon with Bobby Driscol voicing Pan was the character a believable boy.
"On the stage when Arthur demanded of the audience, 'Do you believe in fairies . . .?' even as I was deeply moved, by then I knew the word had two meanings. Friends had already pointed out fairies on the street so that I knew transvestites were real—and Martin's live-TV performance of Sabina/Lilith in Thorton Wilder's Skin of Our Teeth (1955) was as wonderful as her Peter Pan was puerile."
1945–1950: "As an April Fool's child, one street joke I often endured was: 'Your mother wanted a boy; your father wanted a girl—but they got you! April Fools!' Probably this helped make me firmly cisgender (if not make me wonder if I wasn't a sissy . . .) A block up 7th Ave. at 2274 was another funeral home called Sterrett's; his son, Johnny, was another light-skinned black child whose birthday was also April 1st, but I never played with him because that would have meant crossing 133rd St., and that was something my father forbid."
Delany attended Camp Hill and Dale, a black summer camp run by Sara Teasdale, for the month of July, a retired teacher.
"My first year, I played The Cowardly Lion in a parents' day performance of The Wizard of Oz: 'Life is sad, believe me, missy, / When you're born to be a sissy / Without the vim and verve. / But I could change my habits, / Nevermore be scared of rabbits, / If I only had the nerve . . .'
"But there was that word again, now coming from my own mouth, under the dark green canvas of the army tent in which we performed.
"In my second or third year, in the same tent, I played Prince Charming in Sleeping Beauty.
"My older cousin Dorothy Savoy had attended the same camp. A number of campers came from the Jack and Jill of America, a black social club that our parents had joined on my and my sister's behalf when I was two- or three-years-old. Regularly, my sister and I attended Jack and Jill parties and, later, dances, though most of this came through my mother's side of the family rather than my dad's."
1945–1956: In NYC, Delany attends Horace Mann Kindergarten and, in Poughkeepsie, NY, The Vassar Summer Institute for Gifted Children. He is four years old. Vassar is about 10 miles away from Hopewell Junction, where the family had its four-room, attic, and basement summer house designed and "built" by Delany's father shortly before his birth. At five, Delany transfers to the Dalton School, at 308 East 89th Street, between Park Avenue and Lexington Avenue. He writes about his first day in The Motion of Light in Water (q.v.).
1948—"At six, possibly seven, while I lay between the beds in the front room of the second floor, and grandma Sara sat by the front window, I was rubbing myself absently on the rug when I had my first orgasm. It was incredibly powerful and it scared me to death. Had I made any noise . . . ? Or perhaps grandma had not heard me panting . . .? When I got my witts back and looked around, it seemed she hadn’t noticed where she sat in the window light across the room, crocheting."
Unsure whether it was weeks or months later, he was lying on a pile of clothes, somewhere in the house, and was looking at a book and rubbing in the same way. His mother found him and must have realized what he was doing. She stopped him, and told him to go wash his face with cold water—and he would feel better.
"I stopped, and got up—but I didn’t wash or do anything else. But I resolved to do this only in my own bed when no one was around."
1949[?] Around this time his Aunt Laura and Uncle Ed, with his older cousins Edward, Nanny, and younger cousin Bill—the same age as his sister—moved out of the third floor and up to the Bronx at 335 Fish Avenue. Uncle Ed was a quiet man, a black parole officer, who had done some studying in Germany. Aunt Laura was a teacher. Their family seemed far more pacific than his.
A relative of his grandfather's, Margaret White, also lived with them at the time, although very shortly she moved out and, I assume, found her own place to stay. She was much darker than any other of his other relatives.
Another family took over the third floor. Finally a Mr. Vaughan (one syllable), and his daughter, Miss Vaughan, took it over. (Samuel Sr. owned both the building *and* the land it occupied.) The Vaughans were only there a short time, but they were friendly. Soon the Vaughans moved out, and the Delanys then moved upstairs as well and took over the third floor. The upstairs kitchen became a storage room. Unlike the second floor, the bathroom was somehow at the end of a hallway, at the back of the house. His parents had the large back bedroom, Chip had the small front bedroom, and his sister the larger of the two front bedrooms.
“I never had any direct sex education. My mother did buy a book for me, which eventually I remember reading. It had minimal illustrations and a blue cover. At one point, I read a passage explaining that babies came about when 'a man and a woman 'lay side by side, facing one another'; then somehow 'the man’s penis enters the woman’s vagina' and the result is the woman gets pregnant. There was no mention of hands or orgasms, pleasure, or anything else.
“We had two dogs. Butch first and then Dash: the first was a furry black terrier, and the second a sleek, smaller creature. I never got to walk either of them. Dash, however, would come up to my room on the third floor and, on my bed, he would lick my mouth and I would lick his back, while I masturbated him. He very much seemed to enjoy it: so did I.
"Eventually, Dash was replaced by a cat—with whom I had no sexual play at all. Years later, before my singing group Heavenly Breakfast got well underway, my friend Steve Greenbaum (eventually Steve Weizeman, when he decided to take his father’s name) told me he’d had a similar relationship with his own dog as a child. Also, at one point—in our early 20s—Steve himself went to bed with me and set an alarm clock so that he wouldn't overstay (this was after I got back from Europe); later he apologized profusely for the lack of sensitivity. I really hadn’t minded, though. Basically, I liked the sense of safety with men and the affection—which was never quite there with women. You can find references to this time in 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘔𝘰𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘰𝘧 𝘓𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵 𝘪𝘯 𝘞𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘳 (2004).”
1950—When he was 8, a new grocery store owner moved into Pete’s, a butcher & grocery on the south-east corner of 133rd St. and 7th Ave. Eight-year-old Delany hand-delivered a note accusing the new owner of killing Pete: "'You killed Pete.' When this got back to my parents by dinner-time, I was told that I had been sending threatening letters, and it was a very bad thing to do." For some reason, however, there was no punishment.
c. 1951: Around this time he discovers, at Dalton School, and at Camp Woodland, that his primary sexual orientation is homosexual; at Woodland on the first day, he gives himself the nickname Chip, which endures to his day. [See Biography.]
“At the same time, I managed to acquire a neighborhood girlfriend, Laura Hunt, known on the block as Chee-chee. She had three older brothers, whom I recall as faces but only one by his name, Winifred, whom without ever being told, I knew was gay, and a younger sister named Michelle. Among my earliest sexual experiences, I remember making out with Chee-chee and my sister Peggy on the bed in my parents' bedroom, and I remember Chee-chee’s mother, who was very fat, fixing me some milk with vanilla in it, and, without any sugar, which I probably had in it before, finding it too bitter. Chee-chee’s apartment was small, cramped, and dark—ours was, by comparison, roomy and light—though my mother felt it was the neighborhood itself that made the place so dirty. Eventually, when I was 14, I started a singing group, with David Litwin, Ana Parez, Laura Hunt, and myself (and for a while Judith Leiberman, who then played the flute and went on to Radcliffe and also played the electric violin, but never for us), and which was the first of my singing groups, The Harbor Singers, when I felt that there was as much chance of my becoming a singer as a writer.
“Chee-chee remained a telephone friend of mine and my sister’s well into the middle 1980s. I remember getting a call at UMass, Amherst from her, once, during which she explained that her daughter was now at Amherst College, one of the Five-Colleges that were roped together. The young woman, Laura's daughter, indeed came to my office, as I had invited her, to say hello. I wish I could remember the daughter's name—whether her mother was still Laura Hunt, or what. (David Litwin tells me he remembers having a crush on Laura when she was a member of the group—of which I was totally unaware of.)
“Regularly—once a year—Laura would call me and my sister for a long catch-up talk: then, as so often happens, the calls stopped.” Neither of us knows what happened to her, whether she moved, lost our number, or died.
c. 1951(?) Delany had his single fight at Dalton with Arthur Pearson on the roof of the Dalton school. The cause of the fights remains a mystery: Arthur was a bully and thought fighting was fun. Delany's response was to try to become friends with him, though it was a pretty half-hearted attempt.
At this time, he read Cocteau's one-act play, The Infernal Machine, and recognized the story of Oedipus as its underlying source. At the same time, very soon he began to read widely in the Best Plays of the Year anthologies, edited by Louis Kronenberger, who happened to be the father of his school friend, Johnny Kronenberger.
“When I was eight, nine, or possibly even ten, my mother took me to meet my new tutor, a woman named Amanda Kemp. (She was not the first. There was a Mrs. McDougal at Dalton, whom I liked; as well there was a light-skinned guy who came a couple of times to the house, and taught me in the upstairs nursery, with skylight—the same room that Bill Anderson took the picture of me and my sister, that you can see us holding in as you scroll down the “biography” section on my website.) Miss Kemp, however, was a retired teacher who lived in a small, dark apartment—not unlike the hunts—on Edgecombe Avenue. When I got there, I remember saying that it smelled like gas, and Miss Kempe went to check the knobs on her ancient stove—the one like the one in our upstairs kitchen—and came back to tell us that, no, she didn’t think any gas had been leaking. (But when we were leaving, I remember my mother telling me that she too thought there’d been gas leaking, and once she tightened the knobs, it went away.) I went to Miss Kemp’s weakly for quite a while—or quite a while for someone my age.
I remember we did exercises, and she told me she had worked with Countee Cullen, and when our three or four months together were over, she gave me a signed copy of his book of children’s tales, 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘓𝘰𝘴𝘵 𝘡𝘰𝘰 . The illustrations were strange, and I don’t remember any of the tales, but the book itself and its feel and its heft are there in my memory. I wish I still had it.
Later, my mother told me, “She said we should read to you. And I must have read to you till my tongue was hanging out.”
Odd, other than mother goose tales, and perhaps a few fairy tales, I don’t remember my mother reading to me except perhaps some of the Barnabee Book we had in the country, and a couple of oversized books with “Little Black Sambo” in it and Maybe Dumbo and Dr. Suez’s 𝘉𝘢𝘳𝘵𝘩𝘰𝘭𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘸 𝘊𝘶𝘣𝘣𝘪𝘯𝘴—though I do recall my dad’s reading of 𝘏𝘶𝘤𝘬𝘭𝘦𝘣𝘦𝘳𝘳𝘺 𝘍𝘪𝘯𝘯 (one of my very few pleasant memories of him), but I do recall I was tested a lot as a child, and I quickly learned I was a very bad speller. At twenty-one, I learned the word “dyslexic” which, not so much for reading, but rather the version today called “dysgraphia” was what I had.
“As well, today I know, at least from my own experience, it gets worse and worse . . . which I confess seems, at least for a writer, something of a very bad joke on the part of the gods Fortuna and Hermes. (Probably that’s why I’m an atheist.)”
c. 1952: His father reads Delany all of 𝘏𝘶𝘤𝘬𝘭𝘦𝘣𝘦𝘳𝘳𝘺 𝘍𝘪𝘯𝘯, two or three chapters an evening while Delany is in bed, during the late summer. This is one of the few positive memories he has of his father.
Delany did not pass the entrance exam for The Bronx High School of Science. His father spoke to his Uncle Hubert, who was acquainted with the principal, Dr. Morris Meister, who moved Delany to the top of the waiting list. Since he had passed the test to the Brooklyn Polytechnic High School, Delany argued with father since he wanted to go to the place he had honestly been accepted at. His father had already spoken to his uncle, however, and refused to renege on the offer. Thus Delany and his mother went up to the Bronx High School of Science on Orientation Day. There he first noticed Chuck Abrahamson, who would end up in his Freshman homeroom and become a life-long friend.
Another student from Dalton, who had introduced Chip to the music of Tom Lehrer, Michael Held, also went to the Bronx High School of Science that year.
September 1956: Delany began as a student at the Bronx High School of Science in a building known as the "Bronx High School of Science Annex." It was shared with an elementary school, containing all the incoming freshman and sophomores, including Marilyn Hacker.
That summer, he spends his last year at Camp Woodland's work camp in Phoenecia, NY, a small town not far from Woodstock. The campgrounds were across a small stream called the Esopus Creek. The Simpson ski slope was on one side; across a small bridge and a highway was the road up to the campsite—the work camp first on the right, then the junior camp, and then middle camp past the main house, the library, and the social/dining hall, with the road taking a sharp right turn and on to the girls' bunks for senior camp, a small barn called Brooklyn College, a small rise called the Knoll, and into the boys' senior camp tent colony, which also had a board-walled bathroom and shower-house.
On his return from camp, Delany and his sister Peggy now moved from 2250 7th Ave. to 80 LaSalle St. into a co-op development of six buildings called Morningside Gardens. They live in apartment 4F. Other school friends in that first year include Stokely Carmichael, Gene Dennis from Woodland, and Daniel Auerbach. (Chuck, Danny, and Chip form a close trio of friends.) Sheldon Brivic, whom Chip would eventually befriend at Temple University, was also in Chip's freshman class.
September 1957: Delany and Hacker transferred to the main building of the Bronx High School of Science. His older cousin Nanny Murrell had graduated the previous year, but occasionally he meets her younger brother Edward in the top-floor dining space, who is now a senior. In his first days in the main building, he meets Sheldon Novick, a camper from Woodland. Murray Wasserman is the first high school student with whom Chip discusses his own homosexuality. At this point, on weekends, Chip is going down to the Village to play his guitar in Washington Square and starts to think of the neighborhood, with its bookstores and coffee shops, as part of his life. For the summer of 1958, he is chosen to attend Camp Rising Sun, in Rhinebeck, New York, an international scholarship camp for boys. As interesting as the campers are, Delany is not impressed with the camp's philosophy or its relationship or its neighbors, which is what made Woodland such a positive experience.
1958: Hacker has now gone on to NYU as an early admission student from Bronx Science at the end of her junior year. She is 15 and has won a four-year scholarship to the school. At Science, Delany has just turned 16 and has entered the "new building," receiving a four-year scholarship to NYU as the winner of that year's NYU Prose Writers contest. Marilyn is not happy with NYU, however. As a result, Delany turns down his scholarship to go instead to CCNY (not yet SUNY). Meanwhile in her NYU French class, Marilyn has met a young painter and sculptor, David Logan, who urges Delany to meet Bernard K. Kay (and his wife Iva), who lives at 845 West End Ave. in a second-floor apartment. Bernie—Bunny to his contemporaries—was a psychologist, and at vaarious times had been an actor, theater director, writer, and musician, who has recently moved there from an apartment on Gramercy Park South and boasted a list of theatrical friends including Marlon Brando and Elayne Stritch, José Fahrar, and Uta Haggan, Larry Fuller (Bernie had played Cassio with Haggan and Fahrar in the second cast of the famous Paul Robeson production of 𝘖𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘭𝘭𝘰 at the old Metropolitan Opera House at 47th St. and Broadway), and Earle Hyman.
When Delany gets back from Camp Rising Sun, for the first summer, the Delany family does not have its annual barbecue, though they take a young Puerto Rican friend of Delany's named Louis up to Hopewell Junction. (Here, Delany realizes his father likes Louis more than he likes Chip.) Delany's father is now first suspected to have a “lung disease.” Delany is regularly seeing a psychologist during this time named Dr. Harold Esterson. That Autumn, Delany goes to see Bergman’s 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘚𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘩 𝘚𝘦𝘢𝘭 with his father at the Thalia Theater. Delany enjoys it; his father dislikes it, finding it bewildering. It drives a wedge between father and son, which only grows broader. An exploratory operation discovers lung cancer. One lung is removed. Delany senior does not want to know the results. But his mother and son do, and it makes life very difficult for them. Delany is very active among the teenagers both in Morningside Gardens and in the General Grant community center on the other side of Amsterdam Ave, where he taught a remedial reading class and choreographed a dance for the center's theater group.
July 1960: Margaret Marshall—editor at Harcourt Brace and friend of Marie Ponsot—secures Chip Delany a scholarship to the Bread Loaf Writers Conference that summer, where he works as a waiter, meets Robert Frost, John Ciardi, and Gloria Oden, as well X. J. Kennedy, and Mr. and Mrs. William Sloan. He is assigned a room in the waiters' cabin with another black writer, Herbert Woodward Martin. (Later, he will write about the workshop as an example of "networking" that did not lead to publication in his 1999 essay Times Square Red / Times Square Blue [§3.21].) After the first day’s novel workshop, run by William Sloan of William Sloan associates, Delany becomes something of a star. Sloan had chosen Delany’s “Those Spared by Fire” to read from on the first day, as the only one of the novel entries “that had something to interest me as an editor.” It was a sequence where a white adolescent, Paul Bherens, plays the drums at a community center with the musical skill of a black man.
Delany rides home sitting in the bus in the back seat with the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Advise and Consent. At that point, Delany had no notion that the author was, like himself, gay.
When he arrives home, at 80 LaSalle St., his father gets up from his sick-bed in his blue pajamas and Chip regales his mother and father with stories about the summer, till in the middle, his father, tired but seemingly pleased, gets up and goes back into the back to get back into the bedroom, and Chip realizes how sick his father is.
October 6th, 1960: Samuel Ray Delany Sr. dies at Harlem Hospital c. 4 o’clock in the afternoon, of lung cancer. He has been ill for a year and a half. "My sister and I had been to see him earlier that afternoon." See the account in The Motion of Light in Water ("Sentences: An Introduction").
Sept 1960-June 1961: attends City College in New York. At the end of the year, he drops out and cuts all his final exams.
At his mother’s request, Delany moves out of 80 LaSalle St. to stay with Bob Aaronberg, at the St. Marks Arms, a student rooming house on West 113 St., just off Amsterdam. That’s where he had an affair with a man down the hall, and actually goes to bed with Marilyn Hacker for the first time—his first completed sexual act with a woman. (Hacker has had several sexual encounters before with Victor Arwas [an English grad student from NYU], a married Puerto Rican grad student name Christopher (with a wife named Barbara), both of whom visit Delany and Hacker once they are married and living at 629 East 5th St.
August 21, 1961: married Marilyn Hacker, in Detroit, Michigan. They take the Greyhound Bus to Detroit, wander over the bridge to Winsor Canada, and then return home. That night they stay in separate Y’s.
Back in NY, Chip's first job is as a cashier on Broadway just below 86th St., at a small barbecue chicken spot on the East side of the street. David Litwin had recommended him for the job but shortly he lost it because he could not make change fast enough.
Delany’s next job was as a clerk at Barnes & Noble (on 18th and Fifth Ave), for the September textbook rush, where he spent only a day on the cash registers and, because of his clumsiness at making change, was qucikly transferred to the stock rooms, from which he brought books to the front. At that, he did pretty well, and with John Hetland, Rose Marion, and Susan Sholley, he was kept on after the rush was over. All three had a part in Delany and Hacker’s later life. He writes the text of a children's story called Prismatika.
1962: His first published novel The Jewels of Aptor was accepted in April. Copies appear in November. He is living at 629 on the dead-end of East 5th on New York’s Lower East Side. Official publication date December ’62 (the date by which copies must be in bookstores).
"On Monday nights, for several years, Marilyn and I would walk across the Williamsburg Bridge to visit Dick and Alice Entin. Dick was a 35-year-old playwright when we met him and, during that whole time, was working on a single play called 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘛𝘺𝘳𝘢𝘯𝘵. Each week Dick would write anywhere from three to 12 lines of the play, and Alice would dissect it endlessly. During this time, I completed The Jewels of Aptor, which he eventually read, and said, not that he liked it, but that there were some passages in it that were “surprisingly beautiful.” We would talk for a couple of hours, Alice (who was our age) would cook shrimp and rice [dinner was almost always the same] and make a salad, and we would eat and talk about literature. Friday nights, we would go up to Marilyn’s mother’s in the Bronx for dinner. Often these visits were as painful as the ones out to Brooklyn, over the Williamsburg Bridge, in the shadow of the Jehovah's Witnesses tower, were fun. Indeed, we were still going to meet them when I completed Nova in 1967. Between months and a year later, Dick gave me the manuscript of a play called Left, Right, which Dick himself had not thought much of but which seemed to Delany to be as good or better than The Tyrant."
1963: By May, Out of the Dead City was first published by Ace Books with its title changed to Captives of the Flame. Moved from 629 E. 6th St. to 739 E. 7th St. On the night of November 21st, Chip finishes five years of work on his novel, Voyage, Orestes!, (he'd written the first pages while at Breadloaf), and he had arranged to take it into Bobbs-Merrill publishing the next afternoon at 1 PM. In the St. Mark's Place subway stop, from a portable radio playing on the counter at a news kiosk, he learns of the assassination minutes before he enters. At Bobbs-Merrill, where the office is in chaos, he delivers the news that the president is dead and leaves his MS with Cade Ware, his editor's young assistant.
November 1963–1965: Met Bobby Folsom at Bernard Kay’s. "Bob came to dinner and moved in with us that night, basically for the next three months." (See The Motion of Light in Water for details and Hacker's 10-part series, "The Navigators.") Possibly just before that time, Delany entered Mt. Sinai for two weeks, which was extended for a third week because for their Day/Night Program, by the end of two weeks, he was still hearing voices in other rooms. (His nights are spent at home on 7th St.) In 1964, The Towers of Toron is released by Ace Books under its proper title. As soon as it's finished, he starts City of a Thousand Suns, the first draft of which is finished fairly easily, just before his 21st birthday. (The Ballad of Beta-2 is written between volumes two and three of The Fall of the Towers.)
Delany starts writing Babel-17 after having gone through a period he describes as the "happiest in his life," though things quickly became complex for all three, Marilyn, Bob, and Delany. Delany and Folsom hitchhike to Aransas Pass, TX. Marilyn flew Chip back, and they learned that Folsom was again in jail for drunken-disorderly. Chip borrowed $200 from his cousin, Dr. Barbara Paige Randall, which Marilyn sent off to bail Folsom out, and he was flown back to New York. (See section VI of "The Navigators.") Delany attempted to start another threesome with a young man he had picked up at the Old Reliable bar, Layford Mott, one of a pair of very self-destructive twins from Saint Gabriel in Baton Rouge, which was a disastrous failure: Marilyn just didn’t like him . . . Marilyn may have gone back to her mother's or with friends. Delany is unclear on exactly where she was, but—
October 18, 1965: Delany quickly writes Empire Star and, after making a not-very-concerted attempt to start another affair with a young man he no longer remembers, leaves for Luxembourg on an Icelandic flight with Ron Helstrom, whom he had met on Captain Elmer's shrimp boat in Aransas Pass. The plane departs on Oct. 18th. En route to Luxembourg, they connect with Bill Balousiac, a young Canadian, who stays with them for several months in Europe. (Ron is basically straight, though he confesses to Chip, at one point, he once went to beauty school to learn how to style women's hair. Bill is just a young, bumptious, Canadian tourist.) Their trip takes them through Venice, across the Adriatic, through the Gulf of Corinth, to the Pireas, and after a spate on Milos, they end up, for another month, on winter-time Mikeanos, where, for $35, they rent a two-story house for the month before returning to Athens. First Bill, then Ron return respectively to Canada and New Jersey.
Chip visits Krete and hitchhikes to Lasithe, the birthplace of Zeus, returns to Athens, and, playing in the Plaka, begins living with Heidi Muller (whom he writes Marilyn about), is forced to leave Greece, and, first by car and then by thumb with Gerry Mulqueen, visits Istanbul, then returns, where the events in "Citra et Trans" occur, just before he returns home.
April 15, 1966: Chip returns to New York, and again takes up residence 739 East 7th Street. When walks in the door, he finds Marilyn living with Bill MacNeill, who is getting ready to move out. A month to six weeks later, Hacker moves to a new apartment on Hudson St., downstairs, in the same building as painter William McNeill. This is a lengthy separation, though he goes to Marilyn's House warming. Beat artist Robert LaVigne is living in same apartment and most likey got the space for McNeil. MacNeil is happy for Marilyn to live in the same building as long as they don't share the share the same apartment.
December 20, 1966, to January 10, 1967: Delany returns to London, where he stayed with John and Majorie Brunner at their Hampstead home.
1967: Wins his first Nebula Award, for Babel-17 back in New York.
February 10th, contracts signed for Nova. The Einstein Intersection appears in March. Nebula Awards is April 25th, and the book is completed that May.
1967–68: He is a member of the rock group Heavenly Breakfast, which is chronicled in his memoir on urban communes, Heavenly Breakfast: An Essay on the Winter of Love. For this period, he is partnered with Susan Schweers, singer, musician, and tape editor (see photo, Kay), who will become the model for Lanya Coleson in Dhalgren.
1968: March 16, Delany is awarded his second and third Nebula for his novel, The Einstein Intersection, and his short story, “Aye, and Gomorrah.” The awards are presented at Del Pezzo restaurant on West 47th St. (On the same street as the Blue Ribbon Bar.) Delany attended the banquet that night with Marilyn, his mother Margaret, his sister Peggy, and a young albino friend, Whit Whitman, who wore a black denim suit, and whom Delany had gone to bed with once. Basically he is a friend of Marilyn’s.
Other attendees included Damon Knight, Kate Wilhelm, Jack and Phoebe Gaughan, Terry Carr, Roger Zelazny, Harlan Ellison, Barry Malzberg, James Sallis, Isaac Asimov, Virginia Kidd, Lawrence Ashmeed, Mark Heafele, George Ernstberger, and numerous others. Robert Silverberg was master of ceremonies.
Fredrick Pohl gave an after-dinner speech berating the New Wave, which seemed to single-out Delany (and possibly Zelazny). Delany relates one small incident—among several not recounted—in the very complex evening in his essay “Racism and Science Fiction.”
On December 29th, he flies to San Francisco, and begins a round of New Year's Eve parties, with Marilyn, Paul Caruso, and Bill Brodecky (William Alvin Moore), with Joseph Cox driving. Marilyn had inherited Nemi Frost’s old floor-through on the second floor of 1067 Natoma St., just off the junction of Market and Van Ness.
1969: In Berkeley, CA, Delany wins his fourth Nebula Award for his long story “Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones.” Other awards that night go to Harlan Elison and Ursula Le Guin.
1969-1971—With Marilyn Hacker publishes the journal Quark, out of San Francisco. Gets deeply into his correspondence with Joanna Russ.
1972--Visiting writer at Wesleyan University’s Center for the Humanities, run by Igor Gourevitch.
In New York, at a brunch at painter William McNeil’s, Barbara Wise invites him to make a film that she will produce and which her young son, David Wise, will act as camera man. Delany now is living at the Albert Hotel, and he edits the film on an old “chatter-box” editor in his hotel room.
Shortly after the film is completed, Marilyn Hacker phones from London to invite him to have a child. On Christmas Eve, 1973, he flies to London and comes home to his new flat in 21 Paddington St., over an Indian restaurant, and beside Paddington Park, an old London graveyard. The first encounter with John Sims and Marilyn
for dinner does not go well, but soon things settle down.
Jan 14, 1974—Daughter Iva Alyxander Hacker-Delany is born in London at Queen Charlotte’s Maternity Hospital in Hammersmith.
In London, dinners over the two years include Ann Lauterbach, Ted Berrigan and (the highly pregnant) Alice Knotley, Michael and Hillary Moorcock, and John and Margorie Brunner, and Landry Family, David Landry and his two wives, Liz and Judith, as well as John Heathcoat Williams and Diana Senior. (Their daughter, China, is one of the dedicatees of Hacker’s first book, Presentation Piece, the title for which had been suggested by Russell FitzGerald.)
1975—At the invitation of the famed literary critic Leslie Fiedler, he takes his first (visiting) academic position as Visiting Butler Chair Professor of English, at SUNY Buffalo.
In New York, Presentation Piece wins the National Book Award. (Viking forgets to include Marilyn in the quarter-page congratulatory advert; and then—after a letter from Delany, pointing this out—Viking runs a much smaller ad congratulating “Marilyn Hacker” but fails to state the title of the book or its category. At the award ceremony proper, at the New York State Theater, in her acceptance speech, Marilyn called the place “Alice Tully Hall.” The Lincoln Center complex was very young at that point and no one had really gotten used to it.) Chip takes Iva back to SUNY Buffalo, on the plane—and Marilyn has failed to put a bottle in with Iva’s stuff: Iva cries in hunger the whole flight.
At the second floor of the motel where he is staying, with Iva, while Marilyn continues a reading tour, Ted Berrigan comes to give a reading. Chip and Ted sit up the night, while Iva sleeps in the bathtub on a heap of blankets, talking about the feelings of the St. Marks school about Women Poets.
Ted explains that most of them felt that because Marilyn has won her major award and writes the way she does, she would not be interested in most of them. He goes on to explain why Anne Waldman was not in the ALL STARS anthology: because Louis was nowhere nearly as good as Anne, and since they didn’t want to include him, they didn’t include Anne so he wouldn’t feel bad. This, by the way, was the identical logic I had seen used against Marilyn in 1962 when she had shared an office with Ed Book back at Ace: You can’t promote the woman over the man because the man will feel bad. (When Marilyn was first invited to the editorial conferences because of her proposed publishing plan for public domain classics, Book was also invited so that he wouldn’t feel bad because a woman had been promoted over him.)
1976: With the audit of Ace Books by the SFWA, they were found to have embezzled $23,000 from me. My agent, Henry Morrison, made them a deal: return the rights of all eight of my Ace Books to us, and we'll call it even, so that’s what we did. Within a month or two, the paperback rights to all the books were sold to Bantam, who also bought the rights to Tides of Lust and Hogg. Shortly, Bantam released my entire backlist in several forms.
And till 1986, with eight different titles, including a boxed set of three (Galaxies), with the largest mass-market distributor in New York—its offices filling at least four floors of 666 Fifth Avenue (as a paperback original author, I never got beyond the first)—I was a Bantam Books author . . .
1977: Meets Frank Romeo on a rainy Bastille Day at the Variety Photoplays theater, when Iva is around three. Just before then, he was invited to be a senior fellow at the Center for Twentieth-Century Studies at the University of Wisconsin; publishes his first critical book, The Jewel-Hinged Jaw: Notes on the Language of Science Fiction. All through the next decade, he retains his residence in his eight-room, book-filled apartment on the fifth floor at 184 West 82nd Street.
1978: Writer in residence at SUNY-Albany.
1980: Is divorced from Marilyn Hacker after being separated since 1975.
1983: Delany goes to see Ethyl Eichelberger's play, Ruth, Ruth, possibly at the Theater for the New City, with Eichelberger playing one Ruth and Agosto Machado playing the other. Others in the cast included Harvey Perr, John D. Brockmeyer, Steven Burkick, Jack Mallory, Ivan Smith, and his friend Barbara Wise as Lamby-Pie. An "ovary-ture" was listed on the program as by Evan Lurie.
1985: On January 3rd, Delany asks Frank Romeo to move out by the end of the month. Delany leaves the apartment on the last day to let Frank move his stuff downstairs to Judy Ratner's apartment, and when he returns, Frank has destroyed the upstairs apartment and left an Ace of Spades beneath one of the lamps as a goodbye message. See two letters written to Robert Bravard at the time and a much later letter written to Frank himself, recounting the incident.
Honored with the Pilgrim Award from the Science Fiction Research Association for lifetime achievement in science-fiction scholarship.
1986: Delany spends the autumn term as a senior fellow at Cornell University's Society for the Humanities under the directorship of Jonathan Culler. For the term, he lives at Telluride House, flying back and forth to New York. Here, he first meets David Goldfarb and, at a school talk, Kenneth James.
1988: Delany accepts his first tenured position as a professor in the Comparative Literature Department at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
1989: Wins his second Hugo Award for his autobiography The Motion of Light in Water, is included by Lambda Book Report among its "Fifty Men and Women Who Have Done Most to Change Our Attitudes Toward Gayness in the Last Hundred Years," wins the lifetime achievement award from the Dark Room, the black students’ collective at Harvard University.
1991: Delany begins living with a previously homeless street vendor Dennis Rickett; their relationship (which endures to this day) is the subject of the autobiographical graphic novel Bread & Wine: An Erotic Tale of New York (drawings by Mia Wolff) 1995/2012.
1993: Receives the William Whitehead Memorial Award for lifetime achievement in gay and lesbian writing.
1993-2007 Takes visiting academic positions at the University of Michigan's Humanities Center, the University of Kansas, the University of Idaho, the University of Minnesota, the Honors College of Michigan State University, the Atlantic Center for the Arts, and the Naropa Institute Summer Writing Program at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics.
March 2nd, 1995: Margaret Delany dies. She is in a hospital in Queens, where she’s been transferred from Park Shore Manor Nursing Home, where she has been for eight years. Delany is at Brown University at the home of Robert Scholes. His sister calls him the next morning to tell him. He cries briefly as he tells Mrs. Scholes that his mother has died. She gives him a hug.
July 27th-30th, 1995: San Diego Comic Con. Delany is there with Mia Wolff, promoting Bread & Wine.
August 24th-28, 1995: Is guest of honor at the World Science Fiction Convention in Glasgow, Scotland. (At the convention, John Brunner died—on the afternoon of the 25th of August.)
February 11, 1996: New York Times coverage of 53-year-old Samuel R. Delany.
1997: Honored with the Kessler Award from the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies at the City University of New York.
1998: Leaves the University of Massachusetts for a tenured professorship in the Poetics Program of the English Department at SUNY-Buffalo.
2000: Leaves Buffalo to take his current academic position as a professor of English and creative writing at Temple University in Philadelphia.
2000: 1984: Selected Letters appears from Voyant Press, with an introduction by Kenneth R. James.
2000: At Yaddo for three weeks that fall he meets Ned Rorum, Steven Watson, David Del Tredice, and Maggy Penley as well as Kenny Fries. He stays in the Trask mansion, which inspires his vision of the Kyle Mansion, that figures in Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders (2012).
January, 2001: Began teaching at Temple as a professor of English and creative writing.
2002: Inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame.
2005: Lambda Pioneer Award
2006: WisCon, Maddison, WI, May 26–29.
January 8, 2010 Mog Decarnin (b. 1948) dies.
April 1, 2010: Jay Scheib's Bellona: Destroyer of Cities premiers at New York's Kitchen. Delany and Scheib converse afterward about the play for the audience. Delany does this with Scheib for two of the productions. Before that, he has also observed several of the rehearsals, one with Walter Mosley, and he attends another of the productions with Junot Díaz and his cousin. Bellona Destroyer of Cities on Vimeo
July 22nd-25th, 2010: San Diego Comic Con.
November 17, 2010: Fiction judge for that year’s National Book Awards. The voting was done that afternoon at Boule, and the award was that night at Cipriani Wall Street. There’s a picture on Delany’s website.
February 16. 2011: Finishes one of several versions of his Paris Review #197 interview with Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah in New York and Philadelphia.
September, 2011: Peggy Delany retires as executive secretary at the Shubert Organization. A lunch and party in her honor is held at Sardi’s Restaurant. The entire staff of the Shubert Organization came out in her honor. Delany attends with his partner, Dennis Rickett.
APRIL 20, 2012: University of Maryland, Delany-at-70 Conference at the University of Maryland, for three days., on the appearance of THROUGH THE VALLEY OF THE NEST OF SPIDERS.
October 17th, 2012 at 5:00pm: First of two Brudner Prize lectures delivered at Yale to an audience of undergraduates, graduates, faculty after an introduction by Professor GerShun Alvilez. He presented it in Sudler Hall (2nd Floor). The Brudner Prize is conferred by the Yale LGBT Studies Committee.
October 18th, 2012: This was the second of his two Brudner Prize Lectures, which he delivered in New York City, October 18th, 2012, at 7:00 p.m., at Club Quarters Midtown, 40 West 45th Street, after a 6:00 p.m. reception, to a gathering largely of Yale Alumni and friends, after Introductions by Professor George Chauncey and Professor GerShun Alvilez.
2013: Delany was named the 31st Damon Knight Memorial Foundation Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, with four other award-winners, one of whom, Nalo Hopkinson, was once his student.
April 15th, 2015: Retired from Temple University as a Professor Emeritus.
September 10, 2015: Moved to Wynnewood, PA from 184 W. 82nd St., New York, NY.
Summer 2016: Kicked out of Wynnewood, PA. Lost 4/5ths of library. Moved to 1123 Spruce St. Dennis joins him a week later.
November 2016: Bill Wood begins working with Delany at 1123 Spruce St., Philadelphia.
January 2017:  begins his reign.
September 2017: Moved to 2601 Pennsylvania Ave., Apt. 402
July 2018: Republishes Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders in a self-published edition in an ebook and two-volume paperback.
May 17–19, 2019: Delanymania film festival at The Metrograph in New York, where Delany was present, along with Bill and Fred Barney Taylor. Three Delany films were shown, FBT’s Polymath, as well as This Island Earth and The Boy with Green Hair.
March 2020: COVID-19
June 16, 2020: Publishes Shoat Rumblin on Amazon.
March 2021: Biden begins presidency. Chip and Dennis receive their COVID vaccinations.
April 5, 2021: Receives the Anisfield-Wolf Award for Lifetime Achievement.
June 7, 2021: The picture to the left, taken May 20, appeared in the June New Yorker: The “Carte Blanche” film series at NYC's MoMA, programmed by Delany, concluded this week with Taylor’s Polymath and Delany's Orchid, which blend street theatre and eroticism with, in Taylor's case, international locations, and, in Delany's, ingenious effects. Neither filmmaker attended.