A.E. van Vogt, E. Mayne Hull, Lydia

Photographs shown in chronological order.

A.E. van Vogt: 1948
This picture was printed on the back of the 1948 first edition of Out of the Unknown, and was presumably taken around the same time.
photographer: unknown
date: 1948
E. Mayne Hull: 1948
This picture was printed on the back of the 1948 first edition of Out of the Unknown, and was presumably taken around the same time.
photographer: unknown
date: 1948
A.E. van Vogt: 1948?

This picture was printed on the back of the 1953 Signet edition of Destination: Universe!. Even a casual glance reveals the similarities with the photo from 1948, so this is undoubtedly another picture taken during the same photo-shoot.

I thought the write-up was rather interesting and certainly worth reproducing here since the picture was so small.

photographer: unknown
date: 1948?
A.E. van Vogt: 1954

I found this JPEG years ago on the website of Forest J. Ackerman's publishing company, Sense of Wonder Press.

It was originally taken at a convention around 1954 — Van is wearing the silvery futuristic suit that so impressed Philip K. Dick when he met him there. It was from this meeting that Dick chose van Vogt (mixed in with a dash of Robert A. Heinlein) to be the basis for the novelist character in his 1962 Hugo Award-winning novel The Man in the High Castle. (Thanks to Michael for identifying this picture.)

This is my favorite picture of Van. It was also the first picture of him I ever saw (on page 163 of James Gunn's Alternate Worlds, an illustrated history of the SF genre), and it's a very good one. He's not posing, giving a false smile at the camera — rather he is in action, clearly discussing something very interesting.

photographer: unknown
date: 1954?
A.E. van Vogt: 1957

This picture was printed on the back of the 1957 Shasta / Book Club edition of Empire of the Atom, and was presumably taken around the same time.

Van looks very young in this photo, certainly too young to have been writing novels for seventeen years!

photographer: unknown
date: 1957?
A.E. van Vogt: 1961

This is a scan from page 121 of Van's autobiography Reflections of A.E. van Vogt. The picture itself was taken during a lengthy interview in 1961, the text of which forms the basis for the book (which was published thirteen years later).

The full uncropped photo — which presumably no longer exists — includes the interviewer, Elizabeth Dixon. The photographer, working for a magazine, wanted to take her picture alongside the interviewee — she was to be the subject, with Van only an incidental inclusion. Ironically, Van's picture turned out so much better than hers — as well as all other pictures taken of him — that the prints were cropped to include only Van. Van's explanation for the success of this picture is that he was off-guard; it was intended that he would be cropped from the prints.

Van wrote that this is the only photo of himself that he likes, and that he looks nowhere near as good in real life. He picked it as the picture of himself he wished to preserve for posterity.

photographer: unknown
date: 1961
E. Mayne Hull: 1954?

This is a scan from page 122 of Van's autobiography Reflections of A.E. van Vogt, and comes right after the page with Van's favorite picture of himself. Indeed, both of them considered these two photos to be their "fantasy portraits," "our images [. . .] captured for posterity in a way that we should have wished to be the truth. The right angle, light and shading conceal the flaws; our expressions are idealized." Van writes that Mayne usually did not wear makeup, but "for this particular photograph, she decided to give a lot of time to shading her face, and her lips and eyes."

It's not known when this photo was taken, but a rough guess would be that it was in the 1950s. According to the credit next to the photo on the dust jacket of the original edition of Planets for Sale, the photographer was Autrey of Hollywood.

I have come across a handful of other pictures of her, but this is indeed the best one, and the only one to be widely circulated.

photographer: Autrey of Hollywood
date: 1954?
A.E. van Vogt: Ackermansion

This nice candid shot of A.E. van Vogt was taken at the Ackermansion some time in the 1970s.

The world-famous residence of Forrest J. Ackerman, the Ackermansion was filled to the brim with SF memorabilia spanning several decades, some of which can be seen in the background.

photographer: Al Satian
date: 1970s
A.E. van Vogt & Lydia: 1983

This picture was printed on the back of the 1983 Morrison, Raven-Hill edition of Unlock Your Money Personality.

This is an interesting photo. It's a lovely picture of Lydia, and a nice one of a subtly smiling van Vogt. I've been informed by the photographer himself that this is one of a large number of photos taken outside their house and Forest J. Ackerman's house, specifically to adorn the back cover of the book.

photographer: Brian L. Forbes
date: 1983
A.E. van Vogt & Lydia: 1994

This picture was taken by my father at a convention in Burbank on April 2nd, 1994. I am standing just beyond the right edge of the photo; Lydia is chatting with me while Van signs my books. Forrest J. Ackerman — SF collector and enthusiast extraordinaire, who was Van's agent for many years — can be seen sitting in the background.

A full account of the day I met van Vogt can be read in the Articles section.

photographer: Curtis Wilcott
date: April 2nd, 1994