Harry Turner's Episodes of Personal History
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Banana Wings #37

It's also again the time, as it so often seems to be these days, when I have to note that we have lost another veteran British fan. Harry Turner has been a quiet presence for many decades and I suspect has not had the enduring recognition in recent years that he deserved.

Harry was a fan to whom Greg Pickersgill recommended we send our fanzine over a dozen years ago. He responded regularly, sending us artwork and letters under the banner of the Septuagenarian Fans Association, jazz recommendations, and reprint copies of the fanzine Now and Then which he had edited with Eric Needham and which featured some entertaining and faintly surreal fan writing of the sort that demonstrated that our fannish forebears were our kindred spirits but also managed to make it sound as though they were always having more fun. It also featured a regular selection of Widower's wonderful advertising jingles (which, judging by Dave Langford's heroic contributions for Cytricon V last year, may yet live on).

An example that departs slightly from the form, but is nonetheless one of my favourites for some reason, comes from Now and Then #2:
'The most intimate article of lingerie
Won't cause a moment's unease if
You secure your scanties, your briefs or your panties

It was also Harry who introduced me to the term – and thus articulated the concept with which I was all too familiar – of the Great Unread Pile.

Gradually we learned more about Harry's fannish career, which seemed almost impossibly extensive. This humorous genial correspondent who was sending us compelling geometric artwork here in the 1990s had apparently also been publishing fanzines over 50 years earlier (Zenith first appeared in 1941, over twenty years before the not-yet-eminent or enobled Peter Weston had hit upon the same title). And he hadn't exactly been twiddling his thumbs in the meantime; as well as his own fanzines he had produced art for quite a few others –including the cover of the 1974 Nova award-winning Zimri – and even while we were marvelling at Maureen Speller's ability to keep Gestetners running for nearly long enough to produce a black-and-white issue of one of our fanzines over a weekend it was rather humbling to see what Harry had been doing with his duplicator in the '40s and '50s; I particularly remember a 1953 copy of Zenith with a multicoloured cover that made me really appreciate his command of the technology as well as his flair for art.

We finally met Harry in person when the Eastercon came to Manchester in 1998. He went on to become a member of the Octogenarian Fans Association around the turn of the century, and five years later we learned that he had suffered a stroke; the letters kept corning but it was sobering to learn from them that Harry had lost sufficient precision in his drawing hand to be able to continue as an artist, as well as quite a lot of his memories of fandom. Over the past couple of years in particular we gathered that Harry's health was deteriorating, and then we heard from his son Philip that Harry died on 11 January at the age of 88. Philip Turner has set up a commemorative website (biography/obituary at http://homepage.ntlworld.com/farrago2/rafsite/het/hetobit.htm, with other pages showcasing Harry's artwork – including some of the 'impossible objects' we were delighted to use on our covers – and his writing, as well as scans of the first issue of Zenith ('the original: accept no imitations') and several early issues of Now and Then. We're glad to have known Harry at least a little, and indeed to be able to reprint some of his artwork in this issue, but check the website for more.

The memorial website describes Harry Turner as 'The Grand Old Man of British Science Fiction Fandom'; we really have too few of those left now.

– Claire

Banana Wings, edited by Claire Brialey & Mark Plummer, Issue #37, March 2009

File770 #155

Harry Turner
British artist Harry Turner died in January at the age of 88.
   While a teenager in the 1930s, Turner edited The Astronaut, journal of the Manchester Interplanetary Society — the only amateur society ever to launch rockets from English soil. Later he edited his own fanzine, Zenith.
   Turner joined the RAF in World War II. He once was stationed at the same place as Arthur C. Clarke. Later, Turner was sent out to India to serve at a radar installation.
   He resumed fanac after the war. Beginning in 1954, he produced Now & Then with the help of Eric Needham, a friend from the Manchester Interplanetary Society (and creator of the running gag about Widower's Wonderful range of products.)
   A talented artist, Turner's skills as a designer and graphic artist were in demand by advertisers. He eventually worked for the Manchester Guardian and Evening News as manager of the Evening News Advertising and Promotion Department.
   Turner renewed his connections with fanzine fandom in the 1970s, winning an award for a Zimri cover design. Unfortunately, he developed cataracts and his activity suffered accordingly.
   He suffered a stroke at age 85, and his health declined in his final two years.

File770, edited by Mike Glyer, Issue #155, April 2009

The British Journal of Russian Philately issue 100

It is sad to record that Harry Turner, a past member of the Society over many years, from Romiley, Cheshire, died on 11th January 2009, aged 88 years.

By profession, Harry was a layout artist, and for much of his working life was with the Manchester Guardian newspaper and latterly with the Manchester Evening News. A kind and generous man, he agreed to arrange the layout of our Journal from No. 62 (December 1985) until the Diamond Jubilee issue (No. 81) in 1996. He also took on the layout of several other handbooks written by individual members. All in all we are much indebted to him for all the work entailed during those years. Harry introduced the revised cover to the Journal featuring the picture of the Kremlin, a feature we still use, which he must have prepared back in 1985/86.

Philatelically, Harry's interests were diverse but included St. Petersburg cacellations apart from continental subjects such 1920s German ration period.

Apart from philately, he was greatly interested in record collecting – both classical music and modern jazz. He was also very keen on Modern Art, a subject on which he had assiduously amassed a large library of reference works.

To his family in Romiley we offer our sincere condolences on his death. ■

P.T. Ashford
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