Daniel Keyes
Daniel Keyes
Daniel Keyes
Born(1927-08-09)August 9, 1927
New York City, U.S.
DiedJune 15, 2014(2014-06-15) (aged 86)
Boca Raton, Florida, U.S.
OccupationFiction writer
Alma materNew York University
Brooklyn College
GenreScience fiction
Notable worksFlowers for Algernon (1959)
The Minds of Billy Milligan (1981)
Notable awardsHugo Award (1960)
Nebula Award (1966)
Kurd Lasswitz Award (1986)
Seiun Award (1993)
Locus Award (1998)[citation needed]
SpouseAurea Georgina Vazquez

Daniel Keyes (August 9, 1927 – June 15, 2014) was an American writer who wrote the novel Flowers for Algernon. Keyes was given the Author Emeritus honor by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America in 2000.[1]


Early life and career

Keyes was born in New York City, New York.[2] His family was Jewish.[3][4] He attended New York University briefly before joining the United States Maritime Service at 17, working as a ship's purser on oil tankers.[2] Afterward he returned to New York and in 1950 received a bachelor's degree in psychology from Brooklyn College.[2]

A month after graduation, Keyes joined publisher Martin Goodman's magazine company, Magazine Management.[2] He eventually became an editor of their pulp magazine Marvel Science Stories[5] (cover-dated Nov. 1950 – May 1952) after editor Robert O. Erisman,[6] and began writing for the company's comic-book lines Atlas Comics, the 1950s precursors of Marvel Comics. After Goodman ceased publishing pulps in favor of paperback books and men's adventure magazines, Keyes became an associate editor of Atlas[1] under editor-in-chief and art director Stan Lee. Circa 1952, Keyes was one of several staff writers, officially titled editors, who wrote for such horror and science fiction comics as Journey into Unknown Worlds, for which Keyes wrote two stories with artist Basil Wolverton.[7]

As Keyes recalled, Goodman offered him a job under Lee after Marvel Science Stories ceased publication:

Since my $17.25-a-month rent was almost due, I accepted what I considered a detour on my journey toward a literary career. Stan Lee ... let his editors deal with the scriptwriters, cartoonists, and lettering crew. Writers turned in plot synopses, Stan read them, and as a matter of course, would accept one or two from each of the regulars he referred to as his "stable." As one of his front men, I would pass along comments and criticism. ... Because of my experience editing Marvel and because I'd sold a few science fiction stories by then, Stan allowed me to specialize in the horror, fantasy, suspense, and science fiction comic books. Naturally, I began submitting story ideas, getting freelance assignment, and supplementing my salary by writing scripts on my own time.[8]

One story idea Keyes wrote but did not submit to Lee was called "Brainstorm", the paragraph-long synopsis that would evolve into Flowers for Algernon. It begins: "The first guy in the test to raise the I.Q. from a low normal 90 to genius level ... He goes through the experience and then is thrown back to what was." Keyes recalled, "something told me it should be more than a comic book script."[8]

From 1955 to 1956, Keyes wrote for EC Comics, including its titles Shock Illustrated and Confessions Illustrated, under both his own name and the pseudonyms Kris Daniels and A.D. Locke.[7]

Flowers for Algernon

Main article: Flowers for Algernon

The short story and subsequent novel, Flowers for Algernon, is written as progress reports of a mentally disabled man, Charlie, who undergoes experimental surgery and briefly becomes a genius before the effects tragically wear off. The story was initially published in the April 1959 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction and the expanded novel in 1966.[9] The novel has been adapted several times for other media, most prominently as the 1968 film Charly, starring Cliff Robertson (who won an Academy Award for Best Actor) and Claire Bloom. Keyes also won the Hugo Award in 1959 and the Nebula Award in 1966 for the story.[1][10]

The inspiration for Flowers for Algernon came from Keyes's experiences as a teacher. When he was teaching at a high school, he taught both mentally gifted and challenged students. One particular experience with a boy in his mentally challenged class sparked the inspiration to begin writing Flowers for Algernon. He was wondering what would happen if it was possible for a person to gain intelligence.[11]

Later career

Keyes taught creative writing at Wayne State University, and in 1966 he became an English and creative writing professor at Ohio University, in Athens, Ohio, where he was honored as a professor emeritus in 2000.[5][12][13]


Keyes died at his home in Boca Raton on June 15, 2014, due to complications from pneumonia.[9][10][14][15] His wife Aurea Georgina Vazquez, whom he married in 1952, had died on May 14, 2013.[16] They had two daughters.[9]





This list is incomplete; you can help by adding missing items. (August 2020)


Short fiction

Title Year First published Reprinted/collected Notes
Flowers for Algernon 1959 Keyes, Daniel (April 1959). "Flowers for Algernon". F&SF. 16 (4). Keyes, Daniel (May 2000). "Flowers for Algernon". F&SF. 98 (5): 35–63. Expanded as a novel, 1966.



  1. ^ a b c d "In Memoriam – Daniel Keyes 1927–2014". Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. June 17, 2014. Retrieved June 17, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d Chambers, Robert, ed. (1993). The Play of Daniel Keyes' Flowers for Algernon. Heinemann. p. vii. ISBN 978-0-435-23293-1. Retrieved June 19, 2014.
  3. ^ The National Jewish Monthly, B'nai B'rith, vol. 82-83 (1967), p. 172
  4. ^ Research Studies, Washington State University, vol. 40 (1972), p. 53
  5. ^ a b Budrys, Algis (August 1966). "Galaxy Bookshelf". Galaxy Science Fiction. pp. 186–194.
  6. ^ Ashley, Michael (2005). Transformations: Volume 2 in the History of Science Fiction Magazine, 1950–1970. Liverpool University Press. p. 42. ISBN 978-0853237693. daniel Keyes marvel comics.
  7. ^ a b "Daniel Keyes". Grand Comics Database. Retrieved June 19, 2014.
  8. ^ a b Keyes, Daniel (1999). Algernon, Charlie, and I: A Writer's Journey. Boca Raton, FL: Challcrest Press Books. pp. 79–80. ISBN 978-0-547-56408-1.
  9. ^ a b c Slotnik, Daniel E. (June 17, 2014). "Daniel Keyes, a Novelist of the Mind, Dies at 86". The New York Times. Retrieved June 17, 2014.
  10. ^ a b Langer, Emily (June 18, 2014). "Daniel Keyes, author of the classic book 'Flowers for Algernon,' dies at 86". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 19, 2014.
  11. ^ "Meet American writer Daniel Keyes". Wayne State University. Retrieved May 5, 2023.
  12. ^ Winters, Rae (December 1, 2009). "Keyes Biography". Retrieved June 17, 2014.
  13. ^ Woodward, Dwight (Fall 2000). "'Algernon' lives on". Ohio Today. Ohio University. Archived from the original on September 15, 2016. Retrieved June 17, 2014.
  14. ^ "Daniel Keyes (1927–2014)". Locus Online. June 17, 2014. Retrieved June 17, 2014.
  15. ^ Sedensky, Matt (June 18, 2014). "Daniel Keyes, novelist whose "Flowers for Algernon" is a classroom staple, dies at 86". Toronto Star. Associated Press. Retrieved June 20, 2014.
  16. ^ https://www.legacy.com/us/obituaries/palmbeachpost/name/aurea-keyes-obituary?id=18237696
  17. ^ "1960 Hugo Awards". Hugo Awards. Archived from the original on May 7, 2011. Retrieved June 18, 2014.
  18. ^ "KLP 1986 Preisträger" (in German). Kurd-Laßwitz-Preis. Archived from the original on April 3, 2019. Retrieved June 18, 2014.
  19. ^ "sfadb: Seiun Awards 1993". www.sfadb.com. Retrieved October 15, 2015.
  20. ^ "1967 Hugo Awards". Hugo Awards. Archived from the original on February 11, 2012. Retrieved June 18, 2014.
  21. ^ a b "Edgar Award Winners and Nominees Database". Mystery Writers of America. Archived from the original on September 27, 2018. Retrieved June 18, 2014.
  22. ^ a b "Daniel Keyes: 40 Years of Algernon (excerpt)". Locus. June 1997. Retrieved June 18, 2014.
  23. ^ (film adaptation unproduced as of August 2014) The film adaptation of The Minds of Billy Milligan, originally announced as A Crowded Room (under James Cameron) then as The Crowded Room (under Joel Schumacher), was at some point announced for 2008, but did not materialize. As of August 2014, the film remains in limbo [1] and its IMDb entry ("in-development entry". IMDb. Archived from the original on November 29, 2010. Retrieved August 8, 2014.((cite web)): CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)) has been deleted.
  24. ^ Extract from: Keyes, Daniel (2000). Algernon, Charlie, and I : a writer's journey. Challcrest Press..