Mildred Clingerman
Mildred Clingerman

Mildred McElroy Clingerman (1918-1997)  was born in Allen, Oklahoma, on March 14, 1918, and moved with her mother and sister to Tucson, Arizona in 1929. She was a graduate of Tucson High School, and attended the University of Arizona. She married Stuart Kendall Clingerman, a construction superintendent, in 1937 and they subsequently had two children, a son and a daughter. During World War II, she worked at a flight-training school while her husband was in the United States Army — the only job she said she ever had outside the home.

Most of her short stories were published in the 1950s in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, edited by Anthony Boucher. Boucher included her story “The Wild Wood” in the seventh volume (1958) of The Best from Fantasy and Science Fiction and dedicated the book to her, calling her the “most serendipitous of discoveries.” Her science fiction was collected as A Cupful of Space in 1961. She also published in mainstream magazines like Good Housekeeping and Collier’s. Her story “The Little Witch of Elm Street” appeared in Woman’s Home Companion in 1956. Since beginning to publish her shapely stories in February 1952 with “Minister without Portfolio” for The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction she was as strongly associated with that magazine as was Zenna Henderson. Her stories tend to wed a literate tone to subject matters whose ominousness is perhaps more submerged than the horrors under the skin made explicit in the work of Shirley Jackson, but equally as deadly. Married women are most vividly portrayed in stories like “The Wild Wood” (January 1957 F&SF) or “A Red Heart and Blue Roses” (original to her collection); they suffer constant violations of body space, male intrusiveness, the impostures of aliens, and allow this to happen, horrifically. “Stickeney and the Critic” (February 1953 F&SF) breaks from the overriding male-generated claustrophobia to dramatize hilariously the fate of a literary critic whose pratings are exactly to the taste of a hungry Monster.

Her stories have also appeared in several anthologies, including literature textbooks for middle and high school students. Mildred was a charter member and a founder of the Tucson Writer’s Club. She was also active in the Tucson Press Club, serving several terms on its Board of Directors. She was a collector of books of all kinds — especially those by and about Kenneth Grahame — and of Victorian travel journals.

She was awarded the Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award posthumously in 2014. A compilation of her work, The Clingerman Files, was released in November 2017.