American writer (1910-1992). Full name: Fritz Reuter Leiber, Jr. Born in Chicago, Leiber's father was a noted Shakespearean actor who appeared in several movies. He received his Bachelor of Philosophy degree in biological sciences from the University of Chicago and attended the Episcopal General Theological Seminary.

Leiber worked as an Episcopal minister, an actor (he has small roles in George Cukor's "Camille" in 1936 with Greta Garbo and James Whale's "The Great Garrick" in 1937 with Olivia de Havilland, Lionel Atwill, and Lana Turner), a book editor, a speech and drama instructor, and a precision inspector for Douglas Air Craft Company while writing a number of short stories, including "Smoke Ghost" and several of his fantasy tales of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. (In fact, Leiber is believed to be the first person to tag heroic fantasy with the term "swords and sorcery") He published his first novel, "Conjure Wife," in 1944 as a serial in a magazine called "Unknown."

Leiber's first published book arrived in 1947. "Night's Black Agents" was a collection of his short stories published by August Derleth's Arkham House. After "You're All Alone" was cut down to a novella in 1950, then padded back out to novel-length with the addition of someone else's soft porn, he got "Conjure Wife," "The Green Millennium," and "Gather Darkness" published in 1953, followed by "Destiny Times Three" and "Two Sought Adventure" in 1957. In 1958, Leiber left his job as associate editor of "Science Digest" to become a full-time writer. The books that followed over the next few years included "The Silver Eggheads," "The Big Time," "The Wanderer," and "A Spectre is Haunting Texas." He also wrote a lot of stories that were cat-focused, particularly the stories that became known as his "Gummitch" stories.

His wife Jonquil died in 1969 after mixing alcohol and sleeping pills, and Leiber spent the next several years drunk. When he finally (mostly) kicked the booze and returned to writing, his first novel was one of his best -- the semi-autobiographical dark fantasy "Our Lady of Darkness." He wrote novels less often after that, and the stories he produced were often darker and more autobiographical than they'd been in previous decades. Thanks to his grittier, more adult attitudes toward heroic fantasy, his Fafhrd and Gray Mouser stories continued to grow in popularity, and Leiber was pleased to continue to write them, leading up to the publication of "The Knight and Knave of Swords" in 1988. (Little known fact: Fafhrd was actually based on Leiber himself, while the Gray Mouser was based on Leiber's friend Harry Fischer)

Leiber married Margo Skinner, an old friend who had recently been diagnosed with cancer, in 1992. But he died just four months later after collapsing from exhaustion while on a cross-country trip by train.

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