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A seldom seen autobiographical note by RAH 
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Post A seldom seen autobiographical note by RAH
Quote:
"Someday I expect to Go to the Moon" Robert A. Heinlein

I don't remember a time when I was not interested in the idea of space flight. My earliest recollection of the idea of worlds other than ours has to do with an eclipse of the moon which my eldest brother explained to me when I was about five.

I was born in 1907 in Butler, Missouri, but I attended school in Kansas City. As soon as I learned to read, I combed the Public Library for books about space flight and read Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, and many others. Determined to become an astronomer, I read everything I could on that subject and tried to build a telescope and map the stars.

At the Central High School in Kansas City a group of boys, including myself formed a science club, my pattern for the Galileo Club in Rocket Ship Galileo. Like that club, the Newton Club had no official connection with the school, for the school had its own science club and we belonged to that, too. But we needed more elbow room. Our club raised money to buy a fairly powerful telescope and other scientific equipment. We had basement laboratories – radio, chemistry, biology, and so on. We had no rocket-testing range, but a boy’s club in Glendale, California, does have one now.

My book, Rocket Ship Galileo, shows a true picture of what teenage boys can do and are doing in rocket research.

I never got to be an astronomer. Instead, I received an appointment to the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis. When I graduated, I went into the fleet as a line officer. I was disabled while serving on a destroyer and was retired. In the meantime, I had married Leslyn MacDonald, a Hollywood girl. So when the Navy put me on the shelf, we settled in her home town.

In 1939 I tried writing a science-fiction short story and sent it to a magazine. They bought it! I looked wildly around and said, “How long has this been going on?” I wrote another and sold it, too. I was hooked. I continued writing such stories until World War II involved us and I took time out for the war. Nothing heroic – back to naval engineering. I spent the war cooped up in the laboratories at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, doing aviation engineering development and research. My wife was there, too, working in the Naval Aircraft Factory.

After the war I started writing again, and my first piece of fiction was my book Rocket Ship Galileo.

Someday I expect to go to the moon – not, as my boys do, in romantic adventure but on a scheduled, licensed flight by rocket ship. Some of you may get there before me, for it’s coming soon. The scientific research is all but complete. The techniques are at hand. Only the job of development, experimentation, and testing remains. But we’re going to reach out to the planets, and it’s you – today’s younger generation – who’ll do it.


In Writing Books for Boys and Girls ed by Helen Ferris. Doubleday & Co, Garden City, NY, 1952. pp 223-224. Previously published in Young Wings: The Magazine of the Boys' and Girls' Book Club.

Is there any public mention of Leslyn by RAH after this?


Sun Mar 15, 2009 1:31 pm
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Post Re: A seldom seen autobiographical note by RAH
Nice find, and one I really should assign a NHOL number.

Bill, were you aware of this? It rings a faint bell as something once mentioned but I'd certainly lost the note.

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Sun Mar 15, 2009 3:48 pm
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Post Re: A seldom seen autobiographical note by RAH
A neat find, thanks!

I'm particularly pleased by the background info on Rocket Ship Galileo: in my opinion, a generally undervalued novel.

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Sun Mar 15, 2009 4:16 pm
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Post Re: A seldom seen autobiographical note by RAH
I find it surprising that he discussed Leslyn in 1952. What an excellent find.

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Sun Mar 15, 2009 4:28 pm
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Post Re: A seldom seen autobiographical note by RAH
It's possible that Heinlein wrote the essay for Young Wings magazine years before it was included in the 1952 collection. If he'd just completed Rocket Ship Galileo, as implied, this would indicate 1947 or perhaps late '46, when he was still married to Leslyn. Is there a date for the Young Wings version?


Sun Mar 15, 2009 6:45 pm
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Post Re: A seldom seen autobiographical note by RAH
JJGarsch wrote:
It's possible that Heinlein wrote the essay for Young Wings magazine years before it was included in the 1952 collection. If he'd just completed Rocket Ship Galileo, as implied, this would indicate 1947 or perhaps late '46, when he was still married to Leslyn. Is there a date for the Young Wings version?


Good suggestion.

http://books.google.com/books?client=safari&id=rXouk7g0j3sC&q=%22some+day+i+expect+to+go+to+the+moon%22&pgis=1

I see a fragment of a contents page and a page bearing the title of Heinlein's essay.

I love puzzles.

Can anyone interrogate Google Books in a way that tells us the date of this issue of Young Wings?

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Sun Mar 15, 2009 8:00 pm
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Post Re: A seldom seen autobiographical note by RAH
beamjockey wrote:
Can anyone interrogate Google Books in a way that tells us the date of this issue of Young Wings?


Found it a different way. January, 1948. Cover by Dr. Seuss.

From the John W. Knott, Jr., Bookseller catalogue of ephemera:

Quote:
(Seuss, Dr.; Heinlein, Robert, ). Ferris, Helen, (ed.). YOUNG WINGS. Garden City, New York: The Junior Literary Guild, 1948. Pictorial wrappers. First edition. Twenty page promotional booklet issued to the members of The Junior Literary Guild book club. Two of the books featured in this issue are McElligot's Pool by Dr. Seuss and Rocket Ship Galileo by Robert A. Heinlein. The front cover is an illustration by Seuss from McElligot's Pool. Interior includes some other Seuss material, including a two page article by Helen P. Geisel (Mrs. Seuss) titled "Dr. Seuss Was Born an Artist." Heinlein contributes with a one and one half page article title "Some Day I Expect to Go to the Moon" with a picture of Heinlein and his family included, there is also an article by Thomas Voter who illustrates Rocket Ship Galileo. A near fine copy in wrappers, brown stain to lower right corner throughout. Uncommon.

[Book #11842] Price: $750.00


Thomas Voter? I thought it had scratchboards by Clifford Geary. Maybe I've only seen later editions.

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Sun Mar 15, 2009 8:12 pm
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Post Re: A seldom seen autobiographical note by RAH
beamjockey wrote:
Thomas Voter? I thought it had scratchboards by Clifford Geary. Maybe I've only seen later editions.


Oops, I was thinking of Space Cadet. Maybe I should go to sleep now.

Voter also illustrated All about Dinosaurs by Roy Chapman Andrews.
http://www.vintageavatars.com/index.php?Action=thumbsheet&Parameter=All%20About%20Dinosaurs

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Sun Mar 15, 2009 8:21 pm
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Post Re: A seldom seen autobiographical note by RAH
Google Books was where I originally found the reference to this piece. It doesn't contain any more info than has already been posted here, and the metadata it posts for serials is notoriously unreliable.

WorldCat lists no copies of the periodical version anywhere near me, nor of the book version which I quoted. However, I spent last week at WPAFB in Dayton, OH on business, and the library of Antioch College in nearby Yellow Springs (where Stephen Jay Gould went to school, as did Rod Serling) has a copy of the book and was close enough by that I stopped there Friday on the way to the Cincinnati Airport and copied the relevant pages of the book.

Google Books does host a "snippet view" of both versions of the article. For the one found in Young Wings, the next to last paragraph says "my first piece of fiction was our [sic] book Rocket Ship Galileo." The book version I quote above changes that to "my book Rocket Ship Galileo." I don't want to read too much into what is probably the correction of a typo, but what did he mean by "our" book -- did he consider either Leslyn or Virginia to be of such substantial help he thought of her as a co-author? And was this in fact his first piece of fiction after the war? (Sorry, Jim G., I don't have a copy of your book handy right now.)


Sun Mar 15, 2009 8:38 pm
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Post Re: A seldom seen autobiographical note by RAH
And while we're on the subject of uncataloged works by RAH, Handbook of Technical Communication by John Mitchell (1962) states in the preface:
Quote:
the author wishes to acknowledge a debt to the following, who have releasesd copyrighted material or made positive contributions: . . . Robert A. Heinlein


There is nothing from Heinlein obviously quoted in the book, but I've only scanned it, and not read it thoroughly. I'll attempt to do so someday. Any idea why Mitchell wanted to acknowledge Heinlein?


Sun Mar 15, 2009 9:30 pm
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