Search SFE    Search EoF

  Omit cross-reference entries  

Willis, Walt

Entry updated 3 November 2023. Tagged: Author, Fan.

Icon made by Freepik from


(1919-1999) Irish civil servant, editor and author, one of the most notable members of Irish and world Fandom, whose main period of activity ran from 1948 to the mid-1960s. He co-edited and wrote for two classic Fanzines, Slant and Hyphen, and was a highly regarded columnist under the regular title "The Harp That Once or Twice" in Quandry and other fanzines including Warhoon; these columns are collected in Warhoon #28 (see below) and as The Harp That Once or Twice (2023 ebook). His minor fanzine Pamphrey (7 issues 1951-1958) was produced for FAPA. Willis wrote a column on fan-related matters for Nebula Science Fiction, titled "The Electric Fan" in issues #1 to #12 (Autumn 1952-April 1955) and "Fanorama" from #14 (November 1955) to the final issue #41 (June 1959); these columns were eventually collected with additional material as Fanorama: Walt Willis' Fan Columns from Nebula Science Fiction (coll 1998 chap). His popularity among US fans brought him a sponsored trip to the 1952 Chicago Worldcon, chronicled as The Harp Stateside (1957 chap) and leading directly to the creation of the still-running TransAtlantic Fan Fund (see Fan Funds). A subsequent "Tenth Anniversary Willis Fund" brought him and his wife Madeleine Willis to the 1962 Worldcon, again held in Chicago.

With Bob Shaw he wrote The Enchanted Duplicator (1954 chap), an allegory – somewhat in the manner of John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress (1678; exp 1684), which neither author had then read – of the joys and aspirations of Fanzine publishing; this has been many times reprinted, notably as a November 1972-June 1973 magazine serialization in Amazing. Its long-delayed sequel, Beyond the Enchanted Duplicator: To the Enchanted Convention (1991 chap) with James White, had less impact. In 1958 Willis received a Hugo Award as "Most outstanding actifan" (active fan). A rare professional sf appearance is "Dissolute Diplomat" (January 1960 If) with Bob Shaw. The Improbable Irish (coll 1969) as by Walter Bryan is associational nonfiction but draws considerably on Willis's humorous fanzine work. The twenty-eighth issue of Warhoon (coll 1980) is a massive 614pp hardback collection of his best fanwriting, affectionately known in fandom as the "Willish" (Willis issue). [DRL]

see also: Fan Language; Science-Fiction Five-Yearly; Xero.

Walter Alexander Willis

born Ireland: 30 October 1919

died Northern Ireland: 20 October 1999




previous versions of this entry

This website uses cookies.  More information here. Accept Cookies