What is Greyhaven?

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.

Marion Zimmer Bradley
-excerpted from the introduction to Greyhaven: a Fantasy Anthology, published 1983.

As she’s still the eldest and the most successful in the family, Marion has again introduced Greyhaven to the public, but much has happened in the past two decades, and there are many new family members, by birth, marriage, and adoption. But interspersed with joy, there is loss. In the last few years we have lost both Paul & Marion, two of the original “gang of five”. It’s certainly a less interesting world without them, and they will be missed.

Diana L. Paxson
Ian Grey