Virgina Kidd

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Virginia Kidd
Mildred Virginia Kidd

(1921-06-02)June 2, 1921
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
DiedJanuary 11, 2003(2003-01-11) (aged 81)
Milford, Pennsylvania
Known forLiterary Agency

Virginia Kidd (June 2, 1921 – January 11, 2003) was an American literary agent, writer and editor, who worked in particular in science fiction and related fields. She represented science fiction American authors such as Ursula K. Le Guin, R.A. Lafferty, Anne McCaffrey, Judith Merril, and Gene Wolfe. Wolfe modeled Ann Schindler, a character in his 1990 novel Castleview, in large part on Kidd.[1]

Life and career[change | change source]

Kidd was born Mildred Virginia Kidd[2] in the Germantown district of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was the youngest daughter of Charles Kidd, a printer, and Zetta Daisy Whorley. She had polio at age 2. She was paralyzed for a year from the chest down. Growing up she attended the Berlitz School of Languages where she developed fluency in Spanish, Latin, Italian, French, and German. Kidd discovered science fiction at age 9. She became an active science fiction fan. She was a Futurian and, in 1941, became one of the founding members of the Vanguard Amateur Press Association.[3] She did not attend college, saying "because I couldn't go to the University of Chicago, and I wouldn't go to any other."[4] She married opera singer Jack Emden in 1943. They divorced in 1947. She then married the writer James Blish. They were married until 1963. She had four children: Karen Anne Emden (born 1944), Asa Benjamin Blish (born and died 1947), Dorothea Elisabeth Blish (born 1954), and Charles Benjamin Blish (born 1956).[5]

Kidd successfully worked as a freelance writer, ghost writer, and proofreader. She is well known for her work in the feminist science fiction literary movement. She helped marginalized authors.[4] She was a successful businesswoman who worked with major companies such as Ace Publishing and Parnassus Books.[6] She was also a poet, and published Kinesis, a little magazine for poetry. She helped to start the careers of writers including Sonya Dorman.[7]

Her short stories included "Kangaroo Court", published in 1966 in Damon Knight's Orbit 1. She edited or co-edited several science fiction anthologies. She edited two with her client and friend, Ursula K. LeGuin, Interfaces: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction (1980) and Edges: Thirteen New Tales from the Borderlands of the Imagination (1980). Kidd won the 12th Locus Award in 1979 for Millennial Women.[8]

Virginia Kidd Literary Agency[change | change source]

In 1965, she founded her Virginia Kidd Literary Agency. The agency was at her home, Arrowhead, in Milford, Pennsylvania. Soon, she had many clients from the science fiction community. She was the first female literary agent in speculative fiction.[9] Her clients included David R. Bunch, Juanita Coulson, George Alec Effinger, Alan Dean Foster, Richard E. Geis, Ursula K. Le Guin, Zach Hughes, Laurence Janifer, R. A. Lafferty, Anne McCaffrey, Judith Merril, Ward Moore, Christopher Priest, Frank M. Robinson, Joanna Russ, and Gene Wolfe.[4]

She stopped managing the agency in the mid-1990s because of health problems from diabetes.[10] She died in 2003, but the agency still exists.

The Milford Method[change | change source]

Along with author Damon Knight and husband James Blish, Kidd developed a method of critique known internationally as the Milford Method.[11]

Publications[change | change source]

Works[change | change source]

  • “Suburban Harvest.” 1952
  • “Assignment Christmas Spirit.” 1966
  • “Happily Ever Once Upon (A Play)” 1990
  • “Ok, O Che.” Aberrations, 1995
  • “A King of King.” With All of Love: Selected Poems, 1995
  • “Kangaroo Court.” Orbit I, 1996
  • “Argument.” Weird Tales 55, Fall 1998

Books edited[change | change source]

  • McCaffrey, Anne. Dragonflight. New York: Ballantine, 1968.
  • Le Guin, Ursula K. The Eye of the Heron. New York: Victor Gollancz Ltd, 1982.

Anthologies edited[change | change source]

  • Saving Worlds: A Collection of Original Science Fiction Stories. New York: Doubleday & Company, 1973. (Republished as The Wounded Planet. New York: Bantam Books, 1974.)
  • The Best of Judith Merril. New York: Warner Books, 1976.
  • Millennial Women. New York: Delacorte, 1978.
  • Edges: Thirteen New Tales from the Borderlands of the Imagination. New York: Pocket Books, 1980.
  • Interfaces: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction. New York: Ace Books, 1980.

Translations[change | change source]

“The Monster in the Park.” Gérard Klein (translated from French by Virginia Kidd). The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Vol. 21, No. 3, 1961

References[change | change source]

  1. Gene Wolfe, "My Agent," Locus, March 2003, p. 80.
  2. Blish genealogical database
  3. Davin, Eric (2006). Partners in Wonder: Women and the Birth of Science Fiction, 1926-1965. Lexington Books. p. 87. ISBN 0739112678.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Reginald, R. (September 2010). Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature - Volume 2. ISBN 9780941028783.
  5. "Kidd, Virginia". Penn State Center for the History of the Book. Archived from the original on 15 May 2013. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
  6. "Virginia Kidd Obituary". Locus. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  7. Frazier, Robert (2005). The Alchemy of Stars. Wildside Press LLC. p. 164. ISBN 7770048109.
  8. Kelly, Mark R. (2000–2007). "1979 Locus Awards". The Locus Index to SF Awards. Locus Publications. Archived from the original on 2015-04-13. Retrieved 2013-11-14.
  9. Latham, Rob (March 2009). "Review of Galactic Suburbia: Recovering Women's Science Fiction by Lisa Yaszek". Science Fiction Studies. 36 (1): 175. JSTOR 25475223.
  10. [1] Hartwell, David G., "Those Now Gone: NYRSF Editorial 175," New York Review of Science Fiction 175 (March 2003)
  11. Strelecki, Lori (2009). Pike County. Arcadia Publishing. p. 110. ISBN 978-0738565620.

More reading[change | change source]

  • Kidd, Virginia, "Agent First, Anthologist Sometimes, Writer in the Cracks," in Women of Vision, edited by Denise DuPont. St Martin’s Press: 1988.
  • The Futurians: the Story of the Science Fiction "Family" of the 30'S That Produced Today's Top Sf Writers & Editors (1977) by Damon Knight.

Other websites[change | change source]