Image of Lester Del Rey


Lifetime: 1915 - 1993 Passed: ≈ 30 years ago


Writer, Editor


United States

Lester Del Rey

Lester del Rey was an American science fiction author and editor. He was the author of many books in the juvenile Winston Science Fiction series, and the editor at Del Rey Books, the fantasy and science fiction imprint of Ballantine Books, along with his fourth wife Judy-Lynn del Rey.

Del Rey often told people his real name was Ramon Felipe Alvarez-del Rey (and sometimes even Ramon Felipe San Juan Mario Silvio Enrico Smith Heartcourt-Brace Sierra y Alvarez del Rey y de los Uerdes ). However, his sister has confirmed that his name was in fact Leonard Knapp. He also claimed that his family was killed in a car accident in 1935. In reality, the accident only killed his first wife.

During a period when del Rey's work was not selling well, he worked as a short order cook at the White Tower Restaurant in New York. After he married his second wife, Helen Schlaz, in 1945, he quit that job to write full-time.

In 1952 his first three novels were published in the Winston juvenile series, one of which (Rocket Jockey) appearing in an Italian-language edition in the same year. In the 1950s, del Rey was one of the main authors writing science fiction for adolescents (along with Robert A. Heinlein and Andre Norton). During this time some of his fiction was published under multiple pseudonyms, including "Philip St. John" and "Erik van Lhin".

He continued publishing novels, as well as short fiction, both under his primary pseudonym Lester del Rey as well as a number of other pen names, at a fast pace through the 1950s and the early sixties. His novel writing slowed down toward the end of the sixties, with his last novel, Weeping May Tarry (written with Raymond F. Jones) appearing from Pinnacle Books in 1978.

Del Rey was awarded the 1972 E. E. Smith Memorial Award for Imaginative Fiction (the "Skylark") by the New England Science Fiction Association for "contributing significantly to science fiction, both through work in the field and by exemplifying the personal qualities that made the late "Doc" Smith well-loved by those who knew him". He also won a special 1985 Balrog Award for his contributions to fantasy, voted by fans and organized by Locus Magazine. The Science Fiction Writers of America named him its 11th SFWA Grand Master in 1990, presented 1991.

Lester del Rey died on May 10, 1993 at New York Hospital at the age of 77 after a brief illness.

Books by Lester Del Rey

Badge of Infamy Cover image

Badge of Infamy

Science Fiction Novel
Stars Earth Mars

Badge of Infamy is a juvenile science fiction novel written by American writer Lester del Rey. It was published by Galaxy Science Fiction Novels in 1963.

Let'em Breathe Space Cover image

Let'em Breathe Space

Science Fiction
Space Planets Saturn

The old space freighter Wahoo is all Dr. Pietro can afford for his expedition to the rings of Saturn. Although built for a crew of 6 the good doctor crams 19 people into the Wahoo, and after 5 months they are really getting on each other’s nerves. Th...