J. Allan Dunn Bibliography


By J. Allan Dunn
Introduction by John Locke

        Outdoor Stories lasted a mere thirteen issues through 1927-28. Today, it’s one of the rarest pulp magazines. One of its best-known contributors was the prolific J. Allan Dunn. Presented in this volume are all three of his long-forgotten tales from Outdoor Stories which rank with his best work; gripping, fascinating adventures set in the exotic places of another day. The featured story is the novelette, “New Guinea Gold,” a savage, epic tale of friendship, survival and revenge. Also included is a history of Outdoor Stories, a biography of its editor, Edmund C. Richards, and an examination of Dunn’s role in the magazine.

                                                                              190 pages, $16 . . . available at Amazon

By J. Allan Dunn
Introduction by John Locke

        When J. Allan Dunn broke into the pulps in 1914, he drew upon his well-traveled past for inspiration. The Peril of the Pacific, a five-part serial from Street & Smith’s People’s magazine (July-November 1916), incorporates his experiences like no other story, taking for its settings the places in the west that Dunn knew best, San Francisco and California’s Central Coast.
        Reprinted for the first time since its original publication, Peril is a Japanese invasion epic. It’s the future history, set in 1920, of a war pitting a force of American irregulars against a relentless naval empire bent on conquest. In the Americans’ favor: iron will and a new generation of futuristic technology. At risk: the entire American west . . . and a beautiful young woman . . .

                                                                                                                                                168 pages, $14 . . . Amazon

The complete People’s serial


By J. Allan Dunn
Introduction by John Locke

        Three early novels from legendary pulp writer, J. Allan Dunn, all South Seas sagas published in Adventure magazine, 1915-16. These are the stories that made Dunn one of the magazine’s marquee names.
         They are stories of modern-day buccaneers—who behave a lot like their olden-day counterparts—smoothly-plotted tales, with high adventure, exotic locations, perilous predicaments, motley collections of characters, understated violence and heavy romance—the epitome of pulp adventure of the era.
         Includes: The Island of the Dead (April 1915), Dunn’s rousing first novel; The Gold Lust (November 1915), which follows a treasure from the Sierras to an uncharted island hideaway; and its sequel, Beyond the Rim (July 1916), which cemented Dunn as one of Adventure readers’ favorite authors.

                                                                                                                                        358 pages, $20 . . . Amazon

[J. Allan Dunn was a prolific pulp writer, playwright, poet, artist, explorer and movie writer, writing over a thousand stories from 1914 to 1941 of which many were published in book form and serialized in newspapers after their magazine publication. He specialized in South Seas and pirate stories, but wrote detective stories, science fiction and westerns as well. More after the jump]

J. Allan Dunn

Joseph Allan Elphinstone Dunn was born on 21 January 1872 in London into a wealthy Irish family. He was the son of Joseph Holdsworth/Hepworth/Hexworth (I found too many alternate spellings to be sure what the real name was) Dunn and Elizabeth Elphinstone (Miall) Dunn. He was educated at Winchester Public School and went to New College, Oxford, where he got his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1893. Subsequently, he also got the degree of Bachelor of Science. He was a tall (6’ 1’’) and handsome man.

He was interested in travel, adventure and writing, and became a journalist, travelling around the world. He covered the Spanish-American war of 1898 in the Caribbean and the Philippines, and the Russo-Japanese war of 1904. He was a friend of Jack London, and during the Russo-Japanese war they witnessed the Port Arthur bombardment and nearly got shot for breaking away from Tokyo against Japanese regulations.

 He had started on his travels, moving around the China Sea, Hawaii and the South Pacific, and was one of the first white explorers in New Guinea, claiming to have faced death from hostile tribes there. He said:

…White man’s magic saved the day. I traced the tribal totem – a tortoise – on my arm with a stick of soap. Then I set fire to jungle bark fibers with my burning-glass, rubbed the ashes over my arm, and lo, there was the turtle’s outline, showing my kinship with the tribe. Soon I was pressing on, my most thrilling adventure safely behind…

During this period, he got married for the first time, to Grace K. Buchanan, on 15 Dec 1900 in Honolulu. He was the associate editor of Austin’s Hawaiian Weekly at the time. While in Honolulu, he inherited around four thousand pounds from his uncle, the equivalent of half a million dollars today. He built his own yacht and sailed the seas, circumnavigating the world thrice. A description of him at the time from an actor friend of his who visited him:

Dunn lives in a little house, on the outskirts of Honolulu, that was once occupied by the late Robert Louis Stevenson. This is not remarkable, because, according to the Hawaiian landlords, everything on the island was once the home of the famous Scotsman. Dunn has a big wicker chair on his veranda that he occupies most of the time. His writing materials, paint boxes, cigars, canvases and prompt books are piled around within easy reach. He wears, in the privacy of his home, a costume that Is a combination of the native dress and certain portions of the Shakespearean wardrobe that he used while in Janet Waldorf’s company. He writes a bit, paints a bit, acts a bit and altogether enjoys himself mightily all the time.

By 1904-05, he had moved to San Francisco, with his wife, and was a member of society there, staging and acting in plays with his society friends. He was the editor of the Sunset magazine from 1906-07, and advertising manager for the San Francisco railroad. He continued to be a close friend of Jack and Charmian London during this time, staying at their home frequently.

In January 1913, he was caught after having pawned stolen jewellery from his friends and hosts, though no one prosecuted him. His thefts included some pyjamas from Jack London! He claimed that he did the thefts because the magazines he wrote for had delayed payments and he had run out of money.

He divorced his first wife the same year, remarried in September 1913, to Gladys Courvoisier, and moved to Greenwich village, New York. It was Glady’s third marriage; both prior marriages had ended in divorce for cruelty. He started his writing career the same year, starting with a couple of articles in the Saturday Evening Post. His writing career took off, and he was on his way to producing a million words a year.

Gladys Courvoisier Dunn c. 1918

He and Gladys had a son on March 13, 1916.  On August 11, 1918, he and Gladys quarreled, and Gladys threatened to kill herself and the child. She rushed to her room, took out a gun and held it to her head. When Dunn called to her, she turned around and discharged the revolver, hitting her son. The child died. She was sentenced to a year in prison. During the trial, and later, Dunn stood by her side. They were separated by 1926 and Dunn was paying her six hundred dollars a month alimony.

Dunn was a member of the American Expeditionary Forces in France during World War 1, and was thrice decorated for his actions, attaining the rank of major and staff officer. I could not verify this from military records, though.

I suspect Dunn remarried a third time, because in 1927 there is a news report of him disappearing and his wife searching for him. I cannot find any record of his marriage or the name of his wife at the time. The trigger for the disappearance seems to have been a telegram Dunn received, the message being “Book ordered stop. Not received. Awaiting instruction.”, signed “Given”, and without a return address. Dunn went away the same night, without waking his wife, and could not be found till at least November 4th. I could not find any reports of his return.

He got married one more time, on 30 October 1936, to Loyola Lee Sanford, his agent. He was a director of the Explorers Club, member and vice-president of the Adventurers club, member of the Circumnavigators club and the Advertising Club. He published more than forty novels, and more than two thousand stories in all. J. Allan Dunn died on March 25, 1941.

Bonus: J. Allan Dunn's signature

Link to J. Allan Dunn's books:

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