Phil Stong

Philip Duffield Stong (January 27, 1899 – April 26, 1957)[1][2] was an American author, journalist and Hollywood scenarist.[3] He is best known for the novel State Fair, which was adapted as a film three times (1933, 1945 and 1962) and as a Broadway musical in 1996.


Stong was born in Pittsburg, Iowa, near Keosauqua. His father operated the general store, which is now an antique store. The 1844 brick house where Stong was born is located adjacent to the store and is now a private residence. He attended Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.

Stong scored his first success in 1932 with the publication of his famous novel, State Fair, which was later adapted for the screen as the hit Rodgers and Hammerstein musical of the same name. In addition to his novels, his short stories were published in most of the leading national magazines of the time, and he wrote several screenplays.

About his writing career, he once said, "Fell while trying to clamber out of a low bathtub at the age of two. Became a writer. No other possible career."

Stong created a 466-page anthology published by Wilfred Funk in 1941, The Other Worlds, later issued with the descriptive subtitle 25 Modern Stories of Mystery and Imagination.[4] It was considered by Robert Silverberg (in the foreword to Best of the Best: 20 Years of the Year's Best Science Fiction) to be the first anthology of science-fiction. Compiling stories from 1930s pulp magazines, along with what Stong called "Scientifiction" it also contained works of horror and fantasy. The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction describes it as "about half sf and half horror" and observes that for science fiction the pulp magazines were a new source of material for hardcover reissue.[1]

In his essay How to Name a Dog, James Thurber reports that he met Stong's spaniel and learned, to its owner's embarrassment, that the dog's name was Thurber. He suggests, by way of revenge, that the reader name his dog Stong.[5]

Asked in 1951 to comment on humanism, Stong responded: "I’ve never gone deeply enough into any of the various definitions of “humanism” to be able to make any intelligent or instructive comment on the subject. When I read any of these tenuous expositions, they remind me (a) of the blind men and the elephant and (b) that I'd better have a glass of beer and get to bed. I don't see how you distinguish between the humanism of More and that of Dewey or of Aristophanes or Lackland or Chaucer or Bunyan or Saintsbury or Taine. The boys that practice it seem to me tremendously more effective than the ones who preach it from the varied pulpits."

Stong published more than forty books. He died at his home in Washington, Connecticut, on April 26, 1957.[1] He is buried at Oak Lawn Cemetery in Keosauqua.


State Fair and Marta of Muscovy were published as Armed Services Editions during WWII.


  1. "Stong, Phil". Revised July 9, 2014. The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction ( Retrieved 2014-09-20. Entry by 'PN', Peter Nicholls.
  2. Hassler, pp. 474–75.
  3. "Robert McCown on Stong's State Fair". Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  4. The Other Worlds title listing at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database. Retrieved 2014-09-20. Select a title to see its linked publication history and general information. Select a particular edition (title) for more data at that level, such as a front cover image or linked contents.
  5. Thurber, James. The Beast in Me and Other Animals. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1973.
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