Volume 74, Number 28 | November 17 - 22, 2004


Howard Schoenfeld, 89, fantasy writer and pacifist

Howard Schoenfeld, a writer, editor and a Village resident for more than 50 years, died in St. Vincent’s Hospital on Sept. 26 at the age of 89.

He had a history of liver disease, said his wife, Dorothy Brigstock Schoenfeld.

A pacifist, Howard Schoenfeld joined a group led by David Dellinger that refused to register for the draft in 1940 prior to the U.S. entering World War II. With other draft-resisters, he sued the federal government, charging that peacetime conscription was unlawful. For refusing military service, he spent 11 months in federal prison and then seven months on parole in a Quaker work camp for conscientious objectors.

Schoenfeld’s account of his prison experience, “The Danbury Story,” appeared in The Nation and was included in the anthology “The Pacifist Conscience.” He also wrote a political column for the pacifist newspaper The Conscientious Objector and other essays on nonviolence.

He was a prolific author of fantasy/science fiction and wrote award-winning stories for Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, which were frequently reprinted. One story, “Built Up Logically,” was dramatized and is often broadcast on the radio station WBAI. A collection of his short stories, “True and Almost True Stories,” was published in September. His novel, “Let Them Eat Bullets,” a takeoff on the hard-boiled detective genre, sold more than a million copies in paperback, according to his wife.

During the 1950s he spent a few years in California and worked on an early science fiction television show, “Atom Squad.”

“He was a familiar presence in Washington Sq. during the 1960s and early 1970s where he often played burnout, a fast game of catch, with Villagers like Bob Dylan, the poet Delmore Schwartz and the painter Brian Adam,” his wife said.

Schoenfeld grew up in Hot Springs, Ark., and came to New York City for the first time in 1933 from Syracuse University for the Christmas holidays. A year or so later, he returned and settled in the Village. During his early years in New York he worked as an editor for See, a photo newsmagazine, as public relations counsel for the Workers’ Defense League and as associate editor for the newsletter Uncensored

In addition to his wife, a writer and editor, a son, Jason, also survives. A memorial party will be announced later.

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