|SPIDER >> CREATORS >> NORVELL PAGE|
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Background art by John Newton Howitt
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Norvell W. Page
Norvell W. Page (1906-1961) grew up in Richmond, Virginia, the son of an executive at the Wirlitzer Music Company, and the great-grandson of the Governor of Williamsburg. He attended William & Mary College in Virginia, where he met his future wife, Audrey Rohr. He had already started his career as a newspaperman at 18, working for The Cincinnati Post, then The Norfolk Virginia-Pilot; After college he moved to New York where he worked for the Herald Tribune, the Times, and finally the World Telegraph (until 1934).
In order to help support his family which was ruined in the stock market crash, he needed to supplement his newspaper salary, so he turned to pulp writing in 1930. He was soon writing for Western Trails, Black Mask, Dime Mystery, and Ten Detective Aces (where he memorably contributed the Ken Carter character). In 1933, with Arthur J. Burks, he founded the American Fiction Guild, a national association of pulp authors, and became president of the New York chapter.
It was also in 1933, at the age of 27, that he was picked to write The Spider under the house name "Grant Stockbridge," starting with the third issue. Page was selected for one important reason: He wrote really quickly. It's estimated that he churned out between 100,000 and 120,000 words a month for the pulps, approximately 60,000 going to The Spider. He received $500 for each Spider story at first, then later $600, and $700 by the end of the series.
Page also wrote under two other pseudonyms: As "Randolf Craig" he wrote the cult-favorite "Dr. Skull" stories in the single-issue Octopus and Scorpion pulps; As "N. Wooten Poge" he contributed to Spicy Detective Stories and Detective-Dragnet.
When The Spider ended its run in 1943, Page left the Pulps behind and joined the war effort, copywriting for the Office of War Information in Washington, DC. After the war, he continued in government work, ending up at the Atomic Energy Commission's Public Information Division in 1949, where he worked until he died in 1961 at the age of 57 due to complications from an earlier surgery. His New York Times obituary says of his pulp career only that he had written "more than 100 detective novels."