A former Port Washington resident, Daisy Bacon is known as one of the highest-paid editors in New York City during the 1930s. Bacon’s professional trajectory includes being the editor of many pulp fiction magazines in the 1940s inspiring other women with her career and feminist activism to speak out against discrimination.
Bacon was born on May 23, 1898, in Union City, PA. During the 1930s, she moved to Manhattan to pursue her career in writing and quickly moved up to become the editor of many pulp magazines, which are fictitious magazines that were very popular during the late 1950s. The term pulp comes from the cheap wood pulp paper, which was what the magazines were printed on. Love Story Magazine was one of Bacon’s most appraised pulp magazine publications, which she worked on until 1947. The magazine circulated 2,000 to 3,000 readers a month with tremendous popularity.
Bacon was known as a “lucky” editor for giving opportunities to new writers. She would receive and read unsolicited manuscripts each year to attend to aficionado writers. During World War II, Bacon was able to work with various media companies. She became an advice columnist for Street & Smith Publications, a New York City-based publisher that specialized in paperback books and magazines often called dime novels, along with pulp fiction magazines. Bacon also edited Detective Story Magazine, The Shadow and Doc Savage during their last year in publication.
Bacon retired in the 1950s and worked on Love Story Writer, a guide on how to successfully sell romance in publications. She later moved to Baxter Estates. In the 1960s, Bacon began her own publishing imprint, Gemini Books. Bacon and younger sister Esther Ford Robinson set up a scholarship fund in Bacon’s name, which continues to benefit local Port Washington High School students who wish to pursue a career in journalism. Bacon passed away on Mar. 1, 1986 at home at the age of 87. Upon her death, Bacon’s next-door neighbors, Nora and Bill Haagenson, collected her personal papers and stored them for 25 years.
In 2016, Nora Haagenson, former mayor of Baxter Estates, along with her husband, dedicated an entire exhibit to honor Bacon located in Baxter Estate Village Hall. The exhibit contains Bacon’s desk, manuscripts, typewriter and some photographs from the time.
Laurie Powers, a writer, photographer and pulp fiction enthusiast, got in contact with the Haagenson’s to review Bacon’s personal papers. Powers released her book, The Queen of the Pulps: The Reign of Daisy Bacon and Love Story Magazine, on Oct. 8.
Powers developed a particular interest in pulp fiction publications when she found out that her paternal grandfather, Paul S. Powers, had been a successful writer. He had appeared in many magazines, such as Weird Tales, Wild West Weekly, Western Story Magazine and Real Detective Tales.
“I learned that the most popular pulp fiction magazine was one that printed love stories and not the detective, adventure and horror stories people always think about when they think about pulp fiction,” Powers said.
Powers grew interested in Bacon’s story because of her ability to stand out during a time in which women were still seen as inferior to men. Bacon was an advocate for young women as she always mentioned the importance of young women establishing a career first instead of committing to marriage.
“She was the editor of a romance magazine, but she never married herself. I thought that was very ironic and I wanted to find out more,” Powers said about her initial interest in Bacon’s legacy.
Powers describes Bacon as a brilliant businesswoman, feminist and editor. Most who have met Bacon during her years in Port Washington most likely only knew her as a quiet woman who loved cats, but many locals may not be aware that she was once a well-known woman. Anyone who picked up a newspaper during the 1930s and 40s may have seen one of Bacons articles.
“It’s safe to say that Queen of the Pulps is not only a biography, it’s also a love story,” Powers said. “A love story within a love story, if you will.”
Power’s book contains exclusive access to Bacon’s personal papers, which tell the story behind the woman who has inspired many to pursue independence in their careers and in their relationships. The Queen of the Pulps: The Reign of Daisy Bacon and Love Story Magazine is available for purchase on Amazon.com or McFarlandBooks.com.