Browsing around the web the other day, reading up about the old pulps, I came across the Pulp Magazine Project. Here were several complete pulps available for download–mainly older ones that are in the public domain. Surprisingly, this story, Chiquita of the Legion, turned up in the Adventure magazine from October 1915. So I felt that this HAS to be the monthly pulp for June because to my knowledge I think this is probably the earliest if not the first Foreign Legion story to be published in a “pulp” magazine. Maybe I’m wrong but in all of my research I’ve not seen anything short-story/pulp-wise that pre-dates this one. (Pulpdom #46 says that A Soldier of the Legion by C. N. & A. M Williamson was originally serialized in a 1911 All Story magazine but I can’t verify that and it doesn’t pop up as such anywhere else.) To put this in perspective, in 1915 the Great War had been raging for over a year. Many Americans and others from different countries had rushed to France to help them fight the Hun. Most of these volunteers were put into the Foreign Legion and sent to the front to fight alongside veteran Legionnaires from Africa. So the Foreign Legion was beginning to become somewhat more familiar to folks at this time. Also, in popular culture, the number of written fictional works featuring the Foreign Legion (in English) was just starting to pick up. Here is my timeline of these works and where this story fits in.
- Garrison Tales from Tonquin (short stories/autobiographical) by James O’Neill was published in 1895.
- The Truants (fiction) by Alfred Edward Woodley Mason was published in 1904.
- A Soldier of the Legion, by George Manington was published in 1907.
- Erwin Rosen had published his popular account of his short time in the Legion (In the Foreign Legion) in 1911.
- Life in the Legion, by Frederick Martyn, was published in 1911.
- I. A. R. Wylie published her novel, The Red Mirage, in 1914 and in 1915 the movie based on this work called The Unknown is released.
- A Soldier of the Legion by C. N. & A. M Williamson was published in 1914.
- Chiquita of the Legion appears in Adventure Magazine, October 1915
- P. C. Wren’s written Wages of Virtue was written in 1913 but not published in 1916 and this was followed by Stepsons of France in 1917.
- Georges Surdez published his first Legion story, The Yellow Streak, for Adventure magazine 10 October 1922.
- J. D. Newsom published his first Legion story, The Legionnaire, for The Frontier magazine in April of 1925.
The story is not so much an action story as it is a romance. It all takes place in Sidi Bel Abbes with not a single enraged Berber warrior to be found. The author is Donald Francis McGrew, a writer with extensive military experience with the U.S. Army in the Philippine Islands. He wrote numerous other short military stories with many of them taking place in the Philippines. His stories appeared in various pulps such as The Argosy, The All Story, The Popular Magazine as well as some of the more mainstream magazines. One interesting aspect of this story is that McGrew seems to have lifted at least one of Rosen’s anecdotes about the legion specifically the corvée performed by legionnaires which involved cleaning out the local prison’s sewers.
I’m going to look very closely at the early Munsey’s Magazine to see if any earlier Legion stories might have slipped by me. I’ll also look around the pre-1915 indexes at Fictions Magazines Index webpage. If I find one I’ll make a revision to this post.
Note: Illustration was from an old Liberty Magazine cover. Not related to this story although I thought it was pretty close.
Revision: I did find that the story “A Soldier of the Legion” (by C. N. & A. M Williamson) was actually serialized in Munsey’s pulp magazine “All Story Cavalier Weekly starting in the 31 October 1914 issue and not in 1911. The cover can be seen here. So, technically the Williamson story is the earliest Foreign Legion piece that I am aware of that appeared in the pulps.