Leslyn Heinlein, ca. 1933.

     Leslyn Heinlein, ca. 1933.

As I understand it (my information on this point is a little iffy), Robert A. Heinlein was married at least three times, maybe more. The only early wife I know anything about, though, was the one just before Ginny. Her name was Leslyn.

What I know about Leslyn is really just two things. First, she must have been a pretty nice person, because John Campbell and his then wife Dona named one of their daughters after her. Second, a few years after Robert had divorced Leslyn and married Ginny, I began to receive sad, wistful, lonesome letters from Leslyn reminding me over and over of the wonderful times she and Bob and I and other local science-fiction writers and fans had had sitting around her kitchen table in the old days.

This worried me. You see, it had never happened. I had never been in her kitchen, nor indeed had I met Leslyn anywhere else, either. The woman clearly was not in close touch with reality. I could think of nothing to do about it other than to reply to her letters as pleasantly and noncommittally — and briefly — as I could.

But I did, and still do, wonder what it did to a person with as hypertrophied a sense of duty as Heinlein’s to have been unable to save the woman he had vowed to love and protect.

To be continued. . . .

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  1. Ken Houghton says:

    Someone at Tor: please send Mr. Pohl that first volume of the Heinlein biography you’re publishing later this year. The subject is addressed there.

  2. Edward Kmett says:

    Perhaps she just had you confused with another author/editor?

  3. RBH says:

    I see a NASA history (largish PDF) that says that Leslyn was RH’s second wife.

  4. Robert Nowall says:

    I’m thinking maybe she remembered hanging out with the Los Angeles SF community of 1939 / 40 / 41, where the Heinleins are reported to have lived at the time…maybe she’s just a little confused on who was actually there…maybe not so far out as some, but not completely out of touch.

    About all I know of Leslyn Heinlein is what Asimov said in his two memoirs…chiefly an incident where Asimov freaked her out with his disgusting eating habits…that and some comments about politics…

    I look forward to picking up that Heinlein biography, too. I learned about it right here, several entries ago…I think I would’ve stumbled across it anyway, when it came out, but who knows, for sure?

  5. Gary Farber says:

    To be blunt, Leslyn Heinlein declined into severe alcoholism, along with other mental health issues; it’s a very sad story.

    (I’ve read early versions of Bill Patterson’s forthcoming biography.)

    And, yes, she was Heinlein\’s second wife. I shouldn’t get into any trouble by quoting Wikipedia, which I can verify is true: “In 1929, he married Eleanor Curry of Kansas City in Los Angeles, Calif.[8] but this marriage lasted only about a year.[4] He soon married his second wife, Leslyn Macdonald, in 1932.”

    And, yes, Bill does have much more detail.

  6. Michael Walsh says:

    Yes, Bill Paterson has lots more details in his bio of RAH about Curry, the marriage, and much more.

    Well worth ordering in advance from your favorite bookseller.

  7. Red Emma says:

    “To be blunt, Leslyn Heinlein declined into severe alcoholism, along with other mental health issues; it’s a very sad story.”

    Sounds like the protagonist’s wife in Door Into Summer.