Wilma Shore was a writer and teacher most active between the 1940s and the 1960s. She lived at various times in Los Angeles and New York City, settling finally in New York City. A feminist, much of her fiction focused on the lives of working women. She also wrote speculative fiction. Blacklisted along with her husband Louis Solomon, a television producer, they spent those years in Europe before returning to New York City.
In 1929, at age sixteen, Wilma Shore went to Paris to study painting. Leo Stein, Gertrude Stein’s brother, declared her a leading talent of her generation. Years later, this prediction came true, but in another artistic area: Shore became a writer.
Wilma Shore was born in New York City on October 12, 1913, to William J. Shore, an engineer, and Viola Brothers Shore, a fiction and screen writer. Raised in an assimilated Jewish home, she was educated at the Walden School in New York and in high schools in California and attended the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles.
In 1932, Shore married Charles Hancock, an unemployed actor, had a daughter, Hilary, and abandoned her painting career. Following the dissolution of her marriage, she returned to New York City and married writer Lou Solomon in 1935. They moved to California in 1940, and in 1942, her daughter Dinah was born.
As talented a writer as she was a painter, Shore’s second story The Butcher was included in The Best Short Stories of 1941, and she continued to receive their honor call mention in subsequent years. Shore published widely in magazines, including The New Yorker, Cosmopolitan, Story Magazine, The Saturday Evening Post, The Writer, Ladies’ Home Journal, The Antioch Review, McCalls, and The Nation. In 1950, her story “The Cow on the Roof” was included in the O. Henry Awards Prize Stories and in 1965, Women Should Be Allowed, a collection of short stories, was published by E.P.Dutton. Shore also wrote for television, was commissioned to write a song for Carol Channing, and was included in the anthology Best From Fantasy and Science Fiction in 1965 and 1973. A children’s picture book, Who in the Zoo? was published in 1976 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. Shore also published autobiographical pieces in the New York Times Sunday Magazine and the Women’s Studies Quarterly. "Goodbye Amanda Jean," originally published in GALAXY and reprinted in Robert Silverberg's ALPHA 2, has been compared with Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery."
A dedicated teacher, Shore taught at the League of American Writer’s School from 1942 to 1944 and at the People’s Education Center until its dissolution. She then taught from her home. At the turn of the 1950s, she helped produce The California Quarterly, a politically progressive publication. This work and other left-wing political activity caused her and her husband to be blacklisted during the House Committee on Un-American Activities hearings. She wrote an unpublished journal about their years in Europe.
Shore and her husband returned to New York in 1954. Wilma Shore passed away in New York on May 12, 2006.
“The Butcher.” In The Best Short Stories of 1941, edited by Edward J. O’Brien. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1941.
“The Cow on the Roof.” In O. Henry Awards Prize Stories. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Co., 1950.
Women Should Be Allowed. New York: Dutton, 1965.
Radio playlet: “Something’s going to happen to Henry,” by Wilma Shore and Louis Solomon for The Orson Welles Almanac, December 1, 1941.
Contemporary Authors. Vol. 16 (1975); Vaughn, Robert. Only Victims (1972).
Obituary, New York Times, May 12, 2006.