Daniel Keyes

Daniel Keyes
Born (1927-08-09)August 9, 1927
Brooklyn, New York
Died June 15, 2014(2014-06-15) (aged 86)
Boca Raton, Florida
Occupation Fiction writer
Nationality American
Alma mater New York University, Brooklyn College
Period 1952–2014
Genre Science fiction
Notable works Flowers for Algernon (1959)
The Minds of Billy Milligan (1981)
Notable awards Hugo Award (1960)
Nebula Award (1966)
Kurd Lasswitz Award (1986)
Seiun Award (1993)
Locus Award (1998)
Spouse Aurea Georgina Vazquez
Children 2 daughters

Daniel Keyes (August 9, 1927 – June 15, 2014) was an American writer best known for his Hugo award-winning short story and Nebula award-winning novel Flowers for Algernon. Keyes was given the Author Emeritus honor by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America in 2000.[1]


Early life and career

Keyes was born in New York City, New York.[2] He attended New York University briefly before joining the United States Maritime Service at 17, working as a ship's purser on oil tankers.[2] Afterward he returned to New York and in 1950 received a bachelor's degree in psychology from Brooklyn College.[2]

A month after graduation, Keyes joined publisher Martin Goodman's magazine company, Magazine Management.[2] He eventually became editor of their pulp magazine Marvel Science Stories (cover-dated Nov. 1950 – May 1952) after editor Robert O. Erisman,[3] and began writing for the company's comic-book lines Atlas Comics, the 1950s precursors of Marvel Comics. After Goodman ceased publishing pulps in favor of paperback books and men's adventure magazines, Keyes became an associate editor of Atlas[1] under editor-in-chief and art director Stan Lee. Circa 1952, Keyes was one of several staff writers, officially titled editors, who wrote for such horror and science fiction comics as Journey into Unknown Worlds, for which Keyes wrote two stories with artist Basil Wolverton.[4]

As Keyes recalled, Goodman offered him a job under Lee after Marvel Science Stories ceased publication:

Since my $17.25-a-month rent was almost due, I accepted what I considered a detour on my journey toward a literary career. Stan Lee ... let his editors deal with the scriptwriters, cartoonists, and lettering crew. Writers turned in plot synopses, Stan read them, and as a matter of course, would accept one or two from each of the regulars he referred to as his "stable." As one of his front men, I would pass along comments and criticism. ... Because of my experience editing Marvel and because I'd sold a few science fiction stories by then, Stan allowed me to specialize in the horror, fantasy, suspense, and science fiction comic books. Naturally, I began submitting story ideas, getting freelance assignment, and supplementing my salary by writing scripts on my own time.[5]

One story idea Keyes wrote but did not submit to Lee was called "Brainstorm", the paragraph-long synopsis that would evolve into Flowers for Algernon. It begins: "The first guy in the test to raise the I.Q. from a low normal 90 to genius level ... He goes through the experience and then is thrown back to what was." Keyes recalled, "[S]omething told me it should be more than a comic book script."[5]

From 1955 to 1956, Keyes wrote for EC Comics, including its titles Shock Illustrated and Confessions Illustrated, under both his own name and the pseudonyms Kris Daniels and A.D. Locke.[4]

Flowers for Algernon

Main article: Flowers for Algernon

The short story and subsequent novel, Flowers for Algernon, is written as progress reports of a mentally disabled man, Charlie, who undergoes experimental surgery and briefly becomes a genius before the effects tragically wear off. The story was initially published in the April 1959 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction and the expanded novel in 1966.[6] The novel has been adapted several times for other media, most prominently as the 1968 film Charly, starring Cliff Robertson (who won an Academy Award for Best Actor) and Claire Bloom. Keyes also won the Hugo Award in 1959 and the Nebula Award in 1966 for the story.[1][7]

Later career

Keyes taught creative writing at Wayne State University, and in 1966 he became an English and creative writing professor at Ohio University, in Athens, Ohio, where he was honored as a professor emeritus in 2000.[8][9]


Keyes died at his home in Boca Raton on June 15, 2014, due to complications from pneumonia.[6][10][11] He is survived by two daughters, Leslie and Hillary, and his sister Gail Marcus. His wife Aurea Georgina Vazquez died in 2013.[6]






  1. 1 2 3 4 "In Memoriam – Daniel Keyes 1927–2014". Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. June 17, 2014. Retrieved June 17, 2014.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Chambers, Robert, ed. (1993). The Play of Daniel Keyes' Flowers for Algernon. Heinemann. p. vii. ISBN 978-0-435-23293-1. Retrieved June 19, 2014.
  3. Ashley, Michael (2005). Transformations: Volume 2 in the History of Science Fiction Magazine, 1950–1970. Liverpool University Press. p. 42. ISBN 978-0853237693.
  4. 1 2 "Daniel Keyes". Grand Comics Database. Retrieved June 19, 2014.
  5. 1 2 Keyes, Daniel (1999). Algernon, Charlie, and I: A Writer's Journey. Boca Raton, FL: Challcrest Press Books. pp. 79–80. ISBN 978-0-547-56408-1.
  6. 1 2 3 4 Slotnik, Daniel E. (June 17, 2014). "Daniel Keyes, a Novelist of the Mind, Dies at 86". The New York Times. Retrieved June 17, 2014.
  7. 1 2 Langer, Emily (June 18, 2014). "Daniel Keyes, author of the classic book 'Flowers for Algernon,' dies at 86". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 19, 2014.
  8. Winters, Rae (December 1, 2009). "Keyes Biography". Retrieved June 17, 2014.
  9. Woodward, Dwight (Fall 2000). "'Algernon' lives on". Ohio Today. Ohio University. Retrieved June 17, 2014.
  10. "Daniel Keyes (1927–2014)". Locus Online. June 17, 2014. Retrieved June 17, 2014.
  11. Sedensky, Matt (June 18, 2014). "Daniel Keyes, novelist whose "Flowers for Algernon" is a classroom staple, dies at 86". Toronto Star. Associated Press. Retrieved June 20, 2014.
  12. "1960 Hugo Awards". Hugo Awards. Retrieved June 18, 2014.
  13. "KLP 1986 Preisträger" (in German). Kurd-Laßwitz-Preis. Retrieved June 18, 2014.
  14. "sfadb: Seiun Awards 1993". www.sfadb.com. Retrieved 2015-10-15.
  15. "1967 Hugo Awards". Hugo Awards. Retrieved June 18, 2014.
  16. 1 2 "Edgar Award Winners and Nominees Database". Mystery Writers of America. Retrieved June 18, 2014.
  17. 1 2 "Daniel Keyes: 40 Years of Algernon (excerpt)". Locus. June 1997. Retrieved June 18, 2014.
  18. The film adaptation of The Minds of Billy Milligan, originally announced as A Crowded Room (under James Cameron) then as The Crowded Room (under Joel Schumacher), was at some point announced for 2008, but didn't materialize. As of August 2014, the film remains in limbo and its IMDb entry (in-development entry at the Wayback Machine (archived November 29, 2010)) has been deleted.

External links

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