When Cryptozoology Had Soule

Posted by: Loren Coleman on March 27th, 2012

Do you remember when cryptozoology had Soule?

During the late 1950s and 1960s, needless to say, there were a few popular writers specializing in what we would call today “cryptozoology.”  But articles and books about “monsters,” to begin with, were few and far between.  It follows that the number of authors were a rarity too. The low number of good works published during those midcentury days were ones that have naturally become classics.

As I mentioned recently, the graphic art with the December 1957 Popular Science article “Science Closes In on ‘Wild Man’ of Everest” is vaguely recalled by some folks. The article with the art was by a sparse but steady writer of cryptozoology pieces. The author’s name is Gardner Soule. (December 1957 Popular Science cover is shown below.)

Readers of Popular Science might remember the Soule name from the 1957 article, or the one that was published almost five years later, in the June 1961 issue of Popular Science, “From The Loch Ness Monster to the Giant Squid.”

Gardner Soule also penned “The World’s Most Mysterious Footprints,” in the December 1952 issue of Popular Science, and “Everest’s Conquerer Tracks Abominable Snowman,” in the September 1960 issue of Popular Science. But finding any further magazine output from him is difficult.

In the days before the Internet and instant biographical searches on Wikipedia, Google, and Yahoo, knowing anything about an author like Gardner Soule was difficult.  His name might be recognized, but the readers were often left wondering as much about who “Gardner Soule” is or was as they would about the Abominable Snowmen or Nessies in his magazine contributions.

In that era, how did we learn of the biographies of the lesser known cryptozoology authors (i.e. the second tier writers who were not at the level of Ivan T. Sanderson and Bernard Heuvelmans)?  Usually, the only way to find out anything about them was from the “About the Author” blurbs found in the back of their books.

So what did one such thumbnail profile say about “Gardner Soule”?

“Gardner Soule is a diligent searcher who has fascinated millions of readers with his newspaper and magazine features on unusual and mythological creatures. A former magazine editor, he now devotes most of his time and energy to culling from museums, explorers, and other sources of natural lore all factual information gathered on the vast number of creatures which stir a man’s curiosity or credulity. Mr. Soule lives in New York City.”

Gardner Soule was a mysterious character, who never was pictured on his books.  Sometimes I wondered if the name might have been a pseudonym adopted by a well-known writer like Ivan Sanderson or John Keel, who wasn’t suppose to sell articles to Popular Science for contractual reasons.  But I later rejected such theories, mostly due to the difference in style and because Sanderson and Keel had little reason to hide their identities as they published popular cryptozoology efforts of their own.

I am troubled I’ve never been able to find a full biography, obituary, or death notice for Gardner Soule.  Maybe he is still alive?  I would like to know more about Gardner Soule, and add him more properly to the history of cryptozoology. Does anyone know anything more about him? Is he really 99 years old, and living as a recluse in Vermont? (Apparently not. See new information and updates at the end.)

Brad Steiger has denied he was ever “Gardner Soule,” and there has never been an overlap between “Eric Norman” and “Gardner Soule.”

It is a mystery why Soule disappeared as an author from the popular cryptozoology scene.

Besides the articles noted above, Soule also wrote at least four adult cryptozoology books:

The Maybe Monsters, New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1963;

The Mystery Monsters, New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1965 (later a successful Ace Paperback);

Trail of the Abominable Snowman, New York: G. P. Putnam’s, 1966; and

Mystery Monsters of the Deep, New York: Franklin Watts, 1981.

Soule also wrote various, lesser-known, juvenile weird animal works, including Remarkable Creatures of the Seas and Mysterious Creatures of the Jungle.

More hints (thanks, schreiberosa) have revealed that with a bit more research I could develop this additional list of Boys’ Life contributions:

SOULE, GARDNER (Bosworth) (1913- )
“Monster in the Loch,” February 1961, February 1961;
“Nandi Bear,” Boys’ Life, December 1961;
“The South American “Didi,” Boys’ Life, July 1962;
“The Spotted Lion,” Boys’ Life, March 1963;
“Bigfoot,” Boys’ Life, November 1963;
“Flathead Lake Monster,” Boys’ Life, October 1964;
“Soay Beast,” Boys’ Life, November 1964;
“Mystery Animals,” Boys’ Life, November 1965; and
“The Abominable Snowman,” Boys’ Life, February 1966.

More new info coming in on Gardner B. Soule:

Connecticut Death Index, 1949-2001
Death Date: October 26 2000 Race: White
Death Place: Bridgeport, Fairfield, Connecticut Sex: Male
Spouse: MARY Age: 86 Years
Birth Place: Texas Residence: Bridgeport, Fairfield, Connecticut
Birth Date: 16 December, 1913 Address: 3030 PARK AVE,
Occupation: AUTHOR State File #: 21539
Connecticut Marriage Index, 1959-2001
Residence: , New York
Race: White
Age: 80
Residence: Essex, Middlesex, Connecticut
Race: White
Age: 79
Place of Marriage: Essex, Middlesex, Connecticut
Marriage Date: 23 April, 1994 (?).

The midcentury had a few good second-tier cryptozoology authors. That’s part of why the field had Soule in the 1950s and 1960s.

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

4 Responses to “When Cryptozoology Had Soule”

  1. springheeledjack responds:

    Who knew? The 50’s were definitely before my time and the 60’s began my time, so I guess it’s not hard to believe I didn’t know this guy. I didn’t get into cryptozoology until Junior high when I first came across Monsters, Giants and Little Men from Mars by Daniel Cohen in the library. Of course I wasn’t a stranger to Loch Ness or Bigfoot from the sparse occasional TV shows back then, but after that book I started to look for those kinds of things whenever I could. Back then it was stuff like the Night Stalker series, In Search Of, and my favorite of all cartoons: Johnny Quest–which was about as crypto relevant as they got with things like lost dinosaurs, loup garou and an episode with a sea monster.

    Then when cable tv came around (I know, yes, there was a time when there were only three stations available…shock of all shockers), opportunity expanded.

    Thanks Loren–I’ll check into those if I can find them:)

  2. schreiberosa responds:

    Besides the publications you mention in your piece on Gardner Soule, he also wrote a couple (at least) on cryptids for Boys Life magazine, which grabbed my attention at the time back in the 1950s or early 60s. His articles were always a must read, too!

  3. djwcaw responds:

    The Maybe Monsters was one of my favorite books to check out of the local library when I was a kid. Also the Cohen material. I always headed straight to that first bookshelf in the library 001 Dewey Decimal for all those mysterious and fun books.

  4. Champ Voucher responds:

    Thanks Loren. Found a copy of Maybe Monsters online. Haven’t read it since grade school. A book worthy of plunging any youngster into the world of the Cryptid. SHJack – did you ever see a scientist as versatile as Dr. Benton Quest ? He knew about everything !

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