Greyhaven

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Greyhaven is a house in California, famous for being a center and home to a number of science fiction and fantasy writers, as well as many social and literary events.

A fan in 1978 recounted: "I attend the meetings, readings, parties, etc. that are held in Berkley -- otherwise known as "Berzerkley" at Greyhavens -- we've got another one this weekend [where] Randall Garrett is doing a reading of his new story, "The Horror Out of Time"... [1]

"Greyhaven" was also the inspiration for a book ("Greyhaven: An Anthology of Fantasy"), one which muddied the waters regarding who actually really lived there.

This house is not the same house as "Greenwalls," which is Bradley and Walter Breen, and later Elisabeth Water's house. In 1983, Bradley wrote: "Greenwalls is a kind of overflow from Greyhaven -- a single old house on Regent Street once sheltered us all." [2]

Greyhaven, artist is uncredited, perhaps Diana Paxson

Inspiration for a Book

Marion Zimmer Bradley wrote in 1983:

From the back of the book: "Somewhere in Northern California there is a house where all the dimensions of time and space and distant worlds come together: This house, whose exact location is known to a very special few, is called Greyhaven. Though technically the home of Marion Zimmer Bradley, it is the spiritual home of an ever-growing 'family' of imaginative writers. Diana Paxson, Paul Edwin Zimmer, Susan Schwartz, Elisabeth Waters, Randall Garrett, Patricia Mathews, and a host of others are part of this high-fantasy circle. Let Marion Bradley guide you through its rooms, help you join in spirit the amazing group of world-builders, and feed your appetite on the stunning products of their Darkover-born imaginations. 'Greyhaven' is a fantasy anthology unlike any other!"
About three years ago, sitting at afternoon tea in the big dining room at Greyhaven, we were counting up the numberof professional and semi-professional writers whom we looked on as "family" and one of us said, "Good heavens, we're a literary movement all by ourselves!" Someone else quipped, "who needs to go to a writer's conference? We've got one right here around this table!"

It's true; several "literary movements" have begun with fewer poeple than the writers who gather around the Greyhaven or Greenwalls table at teatime on Sunday, or at one of the "Bardic Revels" given at Greyhaven. It seemed inevitable that we should turn out an anthology of writers whom we regard as "family".

The family that writes together stays together? I hope so. Inevitably, some day, I suppose some eager doctoral candidate -- now that Speculative Fiction is regarded as a serious academic concern -- will do a thesis or dissertation on the Greyhaven School of writers through the sixties, seventies and eighties. This may provide him, or her, with a place to start. But even more, I hope it will give you a picture of what it's like to be a member of a big household and instant family whose members all share an overwhelming common interest. Greyhaven is, therefore, a state of mind; and a wonderful place to write. And as the oldest, and so far, the most successful in the family, I have the priviledge of introducing my writing family.[3]

Description by Marion Zimmer Bradley

On a purely physical level, Greyhaven is a huge, grey-shingled house in the Claremont district of the Berkeley hills. On a subtler level, it is a household, an extended family, a state of mind. On still another level, it is the center on a circle, a literary school of writers, both in Berkeley and through the world of fantasy and science fiction.

It began with a sister, and her two brothers, one by blood, one by adoption-- all three of whom were aspiring writers. It was the sister -- myself, Marion Zimmer Bradley -- who first became known as a professional writer. The two brothers married women who were college friends; one wife became a selling author in her own right, the other began a small literary agency, being possessed of a talent even more rare than writing skill; the ability to tell where a given story falls short and what should be done to fix it.

Time went on. Children were born to all three marriages. The family outgrew even the enormous house called Greyhaven, and established House Greenwalls. Through the two households passed a great number of young people -- as friends, visitors, babysitters and what have you -- and since like attracts like, a large number of these people passing through turned out also to be aspiring writers, who were given houseroom, and even more importantly, writing space, use of typewriters, encouragement, and the company of their peers.

About three years ago, sitting at afternoon tea in the big dining room at Greyhaven, we were counting up the number of professional and semi-professional writers whom we looked on as “family” and one of us said, “Good heavens, we’re a literary movement all by ourselves!” Someone else quipped, “who needs to go to a writer’s conference? We’ve got one right here around this table!”

It’s true; several “literary movements” have begun with fewer poeple than the writers who gather around the Greyhaven or Greenwalls table at teatime on Sunday, or at one of the “Bardic Revels” given at Greyhaven. It seemed inevitable that we should turn out an anthology of writers whom we regard as “family”.

The family that writes together stays together? I hope so. Inevitably, some day, I suppose some eager doctoral candidate — now that Speculative Fiction is regarded as a serious academic concern — will do a thesis or dissertation on the Greyhaven School of writers through the sixties, seventies and eighties. This may provide him, or her, with a place to start. But even more, I hope it will give you a picture of what it’s like to be a member of a big household and instant family whose members all share an overwhelming common interest. Greyhaven is, therefore, a state of mind; and a wonderful place to write. And as the oldest, and so far, the most successful in the family, I have the priviledge of introducing my writing family. [4]

Another Description

From Stopping by Greyhaven; WebCite by Bruce Byfield (2015).

“We can put you up, but you’ll have to stay in the dojo with six witches from Denver.”

That is not the start of a dirty joke, but the words with which we were invited to stay at Greyhaven, a communal house of writers in the Claremont district of Berkeley. There actually was a martial arts gym in the basement, and we did share it with six neopagans from Denver (and their harps), but that was the least of our experiences at Greyhaven.

Crowded with fantasy and poetry books, full of people coming and going, Greyhaven in its heyday was at the crossroads of half a dozen subcultures, including the Society for Creative Anachronism, Bay Area poets, Regency dancing, fantasy writing, roleplaying games, and paganism. You might risk your health in the squalor of the bathrooms, but you would never be bored at Greyhaven. On some visits, there were entire days when we never got out of the house. You didn’t have to leave the house to see the sights – they came to you at Greyhaven, in the form of people of every conceivable description.
When Greyhaven threw its annual party — “Charlie,” as it was called – or celebrated the Winter Solstice, you never knew whom you might meet. Catholic monks, Unitarian ministers, transvestite nuns, street poets like Vampyre Mike, fantasy writers like Fritz Leiber or Poul Anderson, academics, musicians – like the Roman forum, if you stayed at Greyhaven long enough, you would eventually see the whole world pass by. You might even meet a few conventional people, although you couldn’t count on it.

Some Inhabitants

It is difficult to determine who "officially" lived at Greyhaven, due to the nature of the time and its fluid reality, but this is a list of some writers who are mentioned as having lived there:
At Greyhaven’s twentieth anniversary party in 1992, a list of other residents on the wall included over forty names, and, even then, no one was sure it was complete. No wonder we had trouble with names and relationships. They were so confusing that when the children of the house had been asked to do family trees in school, everyone in the house pulled together to create a fictious family tree that wouldn’t shock the teachers. [5]

Note that the book "Greyhaven" muddies the waters regarding actual residents; Marion Zimmer Bradley wrote as if she lived there with her children, but this was, according to Diana L. Paxson, a story created for Bradley's 1983 book:

Because the current discussion has led to confusion about where Marion lived, I’d like to provide some background.

In 1971 I and my family bought a large house in Berkeley which we called Greyhaven. In addition to me, my husband and our son, the family included Marion’s mother and Marion’s younger brother and his wife and daughter. Since my husband had been unofficially adopted into the Zimmer family, I thought of Marion as my sister-in-law.

In 1973 Marion’s family moved into a house about a mile away which they called Greenwalls. Marion and her family never lived at Greyhaven. They did come here regularly for holidays and Sunday afternoon tea. The confusion between the two households arose because in 1983 Marion edited an anthology featuring stories by many of the people who used to come to discuss their writing around the tea table, and called it Greyhaven, since that was where the discussions took place. [6]

Some information regarding residents is here: Residents of Greyhaven – Grendelheim, Archived version

Some of the residents:

Further Reading

References

  1. from a letter of comment by Amy Falkowitz to the May 1978 issue of "Science Fiction Review"
  2. Bradley in Darkover Newsletter #27
  3. from the introduction to "Greyhaven: A Fantasy Anthology," published in 1983
  4. from the introduction to "Greyhaven: A Fantasy Anthology," published in 1983: What is Greyhaven? – Grendelheim, Archived version
  5. Stopping by Greyhaven, Archived version (2007)
  6. a 2014 statement by Diana L. Paxson, Archived version
  7. "...once a long-term guest at Greyhaven" -- Bradley's statement in Darkover Newsletter #27