C. M. Miller’s life is something of a mystery. In trying to research the man behind the prolific byline, the only solid fact we have uncovered is that his name is not a pseudonym. We know this because we have a check he received in payment for the Chinese Brady story “The Rotting Death” (Dare-Devil Aces, February 1936) cashed in Seattle in October 1935 in his own name, bearing his signature.
Most of Miller’s pulp contributions were WWI aviation stories. Going through this list of credits may provide an additional clue to who C. M. Miller might be. There is a story that appeared in Sky Birds (“Aces and Bosses,” December 1935) that is credited to a C. Menzies Miller. Is this the mysterious C. M. Miller, accidentally having his middle name published, or is it another person who used the Menzies to differentiate himself from a writer with a similar name? It seems more likely that the C. Menzies Miller from Sky Birds is our C. M. Miller.
If so, then there is an intriguing possibility as to who he was. There was a C(larence). Menzies Miller (1873-1944) raised in Brattleboro, Vermont by his wealthy mother. He was an accomplished golfer who was among a group of enthusiasts who founded the Brattleboro Golf Club in 1900. He travelled to Florida by train in the winters to compete in various golf tournaments, and in 1915 and 1916 was the champion of the Brattleboro Country Club tournament. Here is a picture of him posing (second from right) with other golfers in 1926.
C. Menzies Miller was an active member of his community, serving on the Brattleboro Library Board of Trustees, and joining the Vermont Society of Colonial Wars. He studied law and in the early Twenties passed the Bar. He moved to New York where he became a partner in a law firm. Eventually he moved back to Brattleboro where he practiced law until his death in 1944 at the age of 71.
Was this golfing lawyer also a secret pulp writer? There was no mention of any writing in his obituary. But, as early as 1909, there was a C. Menzies Miller publishing stories. In the anthology Golden Stories: a selection of the best fiction by the foremost writers, there is a contribution credited to him titled “Who Hath Loved Much – a story of the Malay Archipelago.” We haven’t turned up any other stories published by Menzies or M. until 1929. That one listed the author as C. M. Miller. This was how every one of the following stories was credited, with that one exception in Sky Birds.
There are some questions that would need explaining if we are to conclude that Clarence Menzies Miller of Brattleboro was the pulp writer C. M. Miller. First, why would a New York lawyer be cashing checks in Seattle? Second, although C. M. Miller stops having stories published in 1944, the same year as Clarence’s death, there are still two western stories credited to C. M. Miller, published years later, in 1953 and 1955.
If anyone has any information about any C. M. Millers, please contact Bill!