From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
|L. Ron Hubbard|
|Hubbard in Los Angeles, 1950|
|Born||Lafayette Ronald Hubbard|
March 13, 1911
Tilden, Nebraska, U.S.
|Died||January 24, 1986 (aged 74)|
Creston, California, U.S.
|Education||George Washington University (dropped out)|
|Occupation||Author, religious leader|
|Known for||Founder of Scientology and its church|
|Notable work||Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health|
|Criminal charge(s)||Petty theft (in 1948),|
Fraud (in absentia, 1978)
|Criminal penalty||Fine of ₣35,000 and four years in prison (unserved)|
|Spouse(s)||Margaret “Polly” Grubb (1933–1947)|
Sara Northrup Hollister (1946–1951)
Mary Sue Whipp (1952–1986)
|Children||7:With Margaret Grubb:L. Ron Hubbard Jr.* (d. 1991)Katherine May Hubbard*With Sara Hollister:Alexis Hubbard*With Mary Sue Whipp:Quentin Hubbard (d. 1976)Diana HubbardSuzette HubbardArthur Hubbard** Estranged from family|
|Relatives||Jamie DeWolf (great-grandson)|
Lafayette Ronald Hubbard (March 13, 1911 – January 24, 1986) was an American author of science fiction and fantasy stories who founded the Church of Scientology. In 1950, Hubbard authored Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health and established a series of organizations to promote Dianetics. In 1952, Hubbard lost the rights to Dianetics in bankruptcy proceedings, and he subsequently founded Scientology. Thereafter Hubbard oversaw the growth of the Church of Scientology into a worldwide organization.
Born in Tilden, Nebraska, in 1911, Hubbard spent much of his childhood in Helena, Montana. After his father was posted to the U.S. naval base on Guam, Hubbard traveled to Asia and the South Pacific in the late 1920s. In 1930, Hubbard enrolled at George Washington University to study civil engineering but dropped out in his second year. He began his career as a prolific writer of pulp fiction stories and married Margaret “Polly” Grubb, who shared his interest in aviation.
Hubbard was an officer in the Navy during World War II, where he briefly commanded two ships but was removed from command both times. The last few months of his active service were spent in a hospital, being treated for a variety of complaints.
Scientology became increasingly controversial during the 1960s and came under intense media, government and legal pressure in a number of countries. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, Hubbard spent much of his time at sea on his personal fleet of ships as “Commodore” of the Sea Organization, an elite quasi-paramilitary group of Scientologists.
Hubbard returned to the United States in 1975 and went into seclusion in the California desert after an unsuccessful attempt to take over the town of Clearwater, Florida. In 1978, Hubbard was convicted of fraud after he was tried in absentia by France. In the same year, eleven high-ranking members of Scientology were indicted on 28 charges for their role in the Church’s Snow White Program, a systematic program of espionage against the United States government. One of the indicted was Hubbard’s wife Mary Sue Hubbard, who was in charge of the program; L. Ron Hubbard was named an unindicted co-conspirator.
Hubbard spent the remaining years of his life in seclusion in a luxury motorhome on a ranch in California, attended to by a small group of Scientology officials. He died at age 74 in January 1986. Following Hubbard’s death, Scientology leaders announced that his body had become an impediment to his work and that he had decided to “drop his body” to continue his research on another plane of existence. Though many of Hubbard’s autobiographical statements have been found to be fictitious, the Church of Scientology describes Hubbard in hagiographic terms and rejects any suggestion that its account of Hubbard’s life is not historical fact.
Main article: Early life of L. Ron Hubbard
L. Ron Hubbard was born in 1911 in Tilden, Nebraska, the only child of Ledora May (née Waterbury), who had trained as a teacher, and Harry Ross Hubbard, a former United States Navy officer. After moving to Kalispell, Montana, they settled in Helena in 1913. Hubbard’s father rejoined the Navy in April 1917, during World War I, while his mother worked as a clerk for the state government.
During the 1920s the Hubbards repeatedly relocated around the United States and overseas. Hubbard was active in the Boy Scouts in Washington, D.C. and earned the rank of Eagle Scout in 1924, two weeks after his 13th birthday.
In April 1927, Hubbard’s father was posted to Guam, and that summer, Hubbard and his mother traveled to Guam with a brief stop-over in a couple of Chinese ports. He recorded his impressions of the places he visited and disdained the poverty of the inhabitants of Japan and China, whom he described as “gooks” and “lazy [and] ignorant”.
In September 1927, while living with grandparents, Hubbard enrolled at Helena High School, where he contributed to the school paper. On May 11, 1928, Hubbard was dropped from enrollment at Helena High due to failing grades. Hubbard left Helena and rejoined his parents in Guam in June 1928.
Between October and December 1928, Hubbard’s family and others traveled from Guam to China. Upon his return to Guam, Hubbard spent much of his time writing dozens of short stories and essays. Hubbard failed the Naval Academy entrance examination.
In September 1929, Hubbard was enrolled at the Swavely Preparatory School in Manassas, Virginia, to prepare him for a second attempt at the examination. During his first semester at Swevely, Hubbard complained of eye strain and was diagnosed with myopia; this diagnosis precluded any enrollment in the Naval Academy. As an adult, Hubbard would write to himself: “Your eyes are getting progressively better. They became bad when you used them as an excuse to escape the naval academy”.
He was instead sent to Woodward School for Boys in Washington, D.C. to qualify for admission to George Washington University without having to sit for the entrance examination. He successfully graduated from the school in June 1930 and entered the University the following September.
University education and Caribbean trip
On September 24, 1930, Hubbard began studying civil engineering at George Washington University’s School of Engineering, at the behest of his father. Academically, Hubbard did poorly: his transcripts show he failed many courses including atomic physics, though later in life he would claim to have been a nuclear physicist. In September 1931, he was placed on probation due to poor grades, and in April 1932 he again received a warning for his lack of academic achievement. During his first year, Hubbard helped organize the university Glider Club and was elected its president.
During what would become Hubbard’s final semester at GWU, he organized an ill-fated trip to the Caribbean for June 1932 to explore and film the pirate “strongholds and bivouacs of the Spanish Main” and to “collect whatever one collects for exhibits in museums”. Amid multiple misfortunes and running low on funds, the ship’s owners ordered it to return to Baltimore. Hubbard failed to return to University the following year.
After his father volunteered him for a Red Cross relief effort, on October 23, 1932 Hubbard traveled to Puerto Rico. En route, Hubbard apparently “decided to abandon the Red Cross”, instead opting to accompany a mineral surveyor in a futile bid to find gold.
First marriage and early literary career
See also: Written works of L. Ron HubbardHubbard’s “Yukon Madness” was originally published in the August 1935 issue of New Mystery AdventuresIllustration by Edd Cartier for Hubbard’s story “Fear“Hubbard’s novella “The Kingslayer” was reprinted in Two Complete Science-Adventure Books in 1950 after its original publication in a 1949 Hubbard collection
Hubbard returned from Puerto Rico to D.C. in February 1933. He struck up a relationship with a fellow glider pilot named Margaret “Polly” Grubb. The two were married on April 13. She was already pregnant when they married, but had a miscarriage shortly afterwards; a few months later, she became pregnant again. On May 7, 1934, she gave birth prematurely to a son who was named Lafayette Ronald Hubbard, Jr., whose nickname was “Nibs”. Their second child, Katherine May, was born on January 15, 1936. The Hubbards lived for a while in Laytonsville, Maryland, but were chronically short of money.
Hubbard became a well-known and prolific writer for pulp fiction magazines during the 1930s. His literary career began with contributions to the George Washington University student newspaper, The University Hatchet, as a reporter for a few months in 1931. Six of his pieces were published commercially during 1932 to 1933. The going rate for freelance writers at the time was only a cent a word, so Hubbard’s total earnings from these articles would have been less than $100 (equivalent to $1,975 in 2019). The pulp magazine Thrilling Adventures became the first to publish one of his short stories, in February 1934. Over the next six years, pulp magazines published many of his short stories under a variety of pen names, including Winchester Remington Colt, Kurt von Rachen, René Lafayette, Joe Blitz and Legionnaire 148.
Although he was best known for his fantasy and science fiction stories, Hubbard wrote in a wide variety of genres, including adventure fiction, aviation, travel, mysteries, westerns and even romance. Hubbard knew and associated with writers such as Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Sprague de Camp and A. E. van Vogt.
In the spring of 1936 they moved to Bremerton, Washington. They lived there for a time with Hubbard’s aunts and grandmother before finding a place of their own at nearby South Colby. According to one of his friends at the time, Robert MacDonald Ford, the Hubbards were “in fairly dire straits for money” but sustained themselves on the income from Hubbard’s writing.
His first full-length novel, Buckskin Brigades, was published in 1937. He became a “highly idiosyncratic” writer of science fiction after being taken under the wing of editor John W. Campbell, who published many of Hubbard’s short stories and also serialized a number of well-received novelettes that Hubbard wrote for Campbell’s magazines Unknown and Astounding Science Fiction. These included Fear, Final Blackout and Typewriter in the Sky.
Dental procedure, near-death experience, and Excalibur
Main article: Excalibur (L. Ron Hubbard)
In April 1938, Hubbard reportedly underwent a dental procedure and reacted to the drug used in the procedure. According to his account, this triggered a revelatory near-death experience. Allegedly inspired by this experience, Hubbard composed a manuscript, which was never published, with working titles of The One Command or Excalibur.
Arthur J. Burks, who read the work in 1938, later recalled it discussed the “one command”: to survive. This theme would be revisited in Dianetics. Burks also recalled the work discussing the psychology of a lynch mob. Hubbard would later cite Excalibur as an early version of Dianetics.
According to Burks, Hubbard believed that Excalibur would “revolutionize everything” and that “it was somewhat more important, and would have a greater impact upon people, than the Bible.” According to Burks, Hubbard “was so sure he had something ‘away out and beyond’ anything else that he had sent telegrams to several book publishers, telling them that he had written ‘THE book’ and that they were to meet him at Penn Station, and he would discuss it with them and go with whomever [sic] gave him the best offer.” However, nobody bought the manuscript.
Hubbard’s failure to sell Excalibur depressed him; he told his wife in an October 1938 letter: “Writing action pulp doesn’t have much agreement with what I want to do because it retards my progress by demanding incessant attention and, further, actually weakens my name. So you see I’ve got to do something about it and at the same time strengthen the old financial position.” He went on:
Sooner or later Excalibur will be published and I may have a chance to get some name recognition out of it so as to pave the way to articles and comments which are my ideas of writing heaven … Foolishly perhaps, but determined none the less, I have high hopes of smashing my name into history so violently that it will take a legendary form even if all books are destroyed. That goal is the real goal as far as I am concerned.
Forrest J Ackerman, later Hubbard’s literary agent, recalled that Hubbard told him “whoever read it either went insane or committed suicide. And he said that the last time he had shown it to a publisher in New York, he walked into the office to find out what the reaction was, the publisher called for the reader, the reader came in with the manuscript, threw it on the table and threw himself out of the skyscraper window.” In 1948, Hubbard would tell a convention of science fiction fans that Excalibur‘s inspiration came during an operation in which he “died” for eight minutes.
Hubbard realized that, while he was dead, he had received a tremendous inspiration, a great Message which he must impart to others. He sat at his typewriter for six days and nights and nothing came out. Then, Excalibur emerged.
The manuscript later became part of Scientology mythology. An early 1950s Scientology publication offered signed “gold-bound and locked” copies for the sum of $1,500 apiece (equivalent to $15,940 in 2019). It warned that “four of the first fifteen people who read it went insane” and that it would be “[r]eleased only on sworn statement not to permit other readers to read it. Contains data not to be released during Mr. Hubbard’s stay on earth.”
Hubbard joined The Explorers Club in February 1940 on the strength of his claimed explorations in the Caribbean and survey flights in the United States. He persuaded the club to let him carry its flag on an “Alaskan Radio-Experimental Expedition”. The crew consisted of Hubbard and his wife aboard his ketch Magician.
The trip was plagued by problems and did not get any further than Ketchikan. The ship’s engine broke down only two days after setting off in July 1940. Having underestimated the cost of the trip, he did not have enough money to repair the broken engine. He raised money by writing stories and contributing to the local radio station and eventually earned enough to fix the engine, making it back to Puget Sound on December 27, 1940.
Main article: Military career of L. Ron HubbardHubbard and Thomas S. Moulton in 1943
After returning from Alaska, Hubbard applied to join the United States Navy. His friend Robert MacDonald Ford, by now a State Representative for Washington, sent a letter of recommendation describing Hubbard as “one of the most brilliant men I have ever known”.[This quote needs a citation] Ford later said that Hubbard had written the letter himself: “I don’t know why Ron wanted a letter. I just gave him a letter-head and said, ‘Hell, you’re the writer, you write it!'”
Hubbard was commissioned as a lieutenant junior grade in the United States Naval Reserve on July 19, 1941. By November, he was posted to New York for training as an intelligence officer. On December 18, he was posted to the Philippines and set out for the posting via Australia. While in Melbourne awaiting transport to Manilla, Hubbard was sent back to the United States. The U.S. naval attaché reported, “This officer is not satisfactory for independent duty assignment. He is garrulous and tries to give impressions of his importance. He also seems to think he has unusual ability in most lines. These characteristics indicate that he will require close supervision for satisfactory performance of any intelligence duty.”
After a brief stint censoring cables, Hubbard’s request for sea duty was approved and he reported to a Neponset, Massachusetts, shipyard which was converting a trawler into a gunboat to be classified as USS YP-422. On September 25, 1942, the commandant of Boston Navy Yard informed Washington that, in his view, Hubbard was “not temperamentally fitted for independent command.” Days later, on October 1, Hubbard was summarily relieved of his command.
Hubbard was sent to submarine chaser training, and in 1943 was posted to Portland, Oregon, to take command of a submarine chaser, the USS PC-815, which was under construction. On May 18, PC-815 sailed on her shakedown cruise, bound for San Diego. Only five hours into the voyage, Hubbard believed he had detected an enemy submarine. Hubbard spent the next 68 hours engaged in combat, until finally receiving orders to return to Astoria. Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher, commander of the Northwest Sea Frontier, concluded: “An analysis of all reports convinces me that there was no submarine in the area.” Fletcher suggested Hubbard had mistaken a “known magnetic deposit” for an enemy sub.
The following month, Hubbard unwittingly sailed PC-815 into Mexican territorial waters and conducted gunnery practice off the Coronado Islands, in the belief that they were uninhabited and belonged to the United States. The Mexican government complained and Hubbard was relieved of command. A report written after the incident rated Hubbard as unsuitable for independent duties and “lacking in the essential qualities of judgment, leadership and cooperation”.[This quote needs a citation] The report recommended he be assigned “duty on a large vessel where he can be properly supervised”.
Hospitalizations and “discovery” of sabotage attempt
USS PC-815, Hubbard’s second and final command
After being relieved of command of PC-815, Hubbard began reporting sick, citing a variety of ailments, including ulcers, malaria, and back pains. Hubbard was admitted to the San Diego naval hospital for observation—he would remain there for nearly three months. Years later, Hubbard would privately write to himself: “Your stomach trouble you used as an excuse to keep the Navy from punishing you. You are free of the Navy.”
In 1944, Hubbard was posted to Portland where USS Algol was under construction. The ship was commissioned in July and Hubbard served as the navigation and training officer. Hubbard requested, and was granted, a transfer to the School of Military Government in Princeton. The night before his departure, the ship’s log reports that “The Navigating Officer [Hubbard] reported to the OOD [Officer On Duty] that an attempt at sabatage [sic] had been made sometime between 1530–1600. A coke bottle filled with gasoline with a cloth wick inserted had been concealed among cargo which was to be hoisted aboard and stored in No 1 hold. It was discovered before being taken on board. ONI, FBI and NSD authorities reported on the scene and investigations were started.”
Hubbard attended school in Princeton until January 1945, when he was assigned to Monterey, California. In April, he again reported sick and was re-admitted to Oak Knoll Naval Hospital, Oakland. His complaints included “headaches, rheumatism, conjunctivitis, pains in his side, stomach aches, pains in his shoulder, arthritis, hemorrhoids”. An October 1945 naval board found that Hubbard was “considered physically qualified to perform duty ashore, preferably within the continental United States”. He was discharged from the hospital on December 4, 1945, and transferred to inactive duty on February 17, 1946. Hubbard would ultimately resign his commission after the publication of Dianetics, with effect from October 30, 1950.
Occult involvement in Pasadena
Hubbard’s life underwent a turbulent period immediately after the war. According to his own account, he “was abandoned by family and friends as a supposedly hopeless cripple and a probable burden upon them for the rest of my days”. His daughter Katherine presented a rather different version: his wife had refused to uproot their children from their home in Bremerton, Washington, to join him in California. Their marriage was by now in terminal difficulties and he chose to stay in California.
In August 1945 Hubbard moved into the Pasadena mansion of John “Jack” Whiteside Parsons. A leading rocket propulsion researcher at the California Institute of Technology and a founder of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Parsons led a double life as an avid occultist and Thelemite, follower of the English ceremonial magician Aleister Crowley and leader of a lodge of Crowley’s magical order, Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO). He let rooms in the house only to tenants who he specified should be “atheists and those of a Bohemian disposition”.
Hubbard befriended Parsons and soon became sexually involved with Parsons’s 21-year-old girlfriend, Sara “Betty” Northrup. Despite this Parsons was very impressed with Hubbard and reported to Crowley:
[Hubbard] is a gentleman; he has red hair, green eyes, is honest and intelligent, and we have become great friends. He moved in with me about two months ago, and although Betty and I are still friendly, she has transferred her sexual affection to Ron. Although he has no formal training in Magick, he has an extraordinary amount of experience and understanding in the field. From some of his experiences I deduced that he is in direct touch with some higher intelligence, possibly his Guardian Angel. He describes his Angel as a beautiful winged woman with red hair whom he calls the Empress and who has guided him through his life and saved him many times. He is the most Thelemic person I have ever met and is in complete accord with our own principles.
Hubbard, whom Parsons referred to in writing as “Frater H”, became an enthusiastic collaborator in the Pasadena OTO. The two men collaborated on the “Babalon Working“, a sex magic ritual intended to summon an incarnation of Babalon, the supreme Thelemite Goddess. It was undertaken over several nights in February and March 1946 in order to summon an “elemental” who would participate in further sex magic. As Richard Metzger describes it,
Parsons used his “magical wand” to whip up a vortex of energy so the elemental would be summoned. Translated into plain English, Parsons jerked off in the name of spiritual advancement whilst Hubbard (referred to as “The Scribe” in the diary of the event) scanned the astral plane for signs and visions.
The “elemental” arrived a few days later in the form of Marjorie Cameron, who agreed to participate in Parsons’s rites. Soon afterwards, Parsons, Hubbard and Sara agreed to set up a business partnership, “Allied Enterprises”, in which they invested nearly their entire savings—the vast majority contributed by Parsons. The plan was for Hubbard and Sara to buy yachts in Miami and sail them to the West Coast to sell for a profit. Hubbard had a different idea; he wrote to the U.S. Navy requesting permission to leave the country “to visit Central & South America & China” for the purposes of “collecting writing material”—in other words, undertaking a world cruise. Aleister Crowley strongly criticized Parsons’s actions, writing: “Suspect Ron playing confidence trick—Jack Parsons weak fool—obvious victim prowling swindlers.” Parsons attempted to recover his money by obtaining an injunction to prevent Hubbard and Sara leaving the country or disposing of the remnants of his assets. They attempted to sail anyway but were forced back to port by a storm. A week later, Allied Enterprises was dissolved. Parsons received only a $2,900 promissory note from Hubbard and returned home “shattered”. He had to sell his mansion to developers soon afterwards to recoup his losses.Hubbard and second wife Sara
The more complete story of Hubbard is that he is now in Fla. living on his yacht with a man-eating tigress named Betty-alias-Sarah, another of the same kind … He will probably soon thereafter arrive in these parts with Betty-Sarah, broke, working the poor-wounded-veteran racket for all its worth, and looking for another easy mark. Don’t say you haven’t been warned. Bob [Robert Heinlein] thinks Ron went to pieces morally as a result of the war. I think that’s fertilizer, that he always was that way, but when he wanted to conciliate or get something from somebody he could put on a good charm act. What the war did was to wear him down to where he no longer bothers with the act.
On August 10, 1946, Hubbard bigamously married Sara, while still married to Polly. It was not until 1947 that his first wife learned that he had remarried. Hubbard agreed to divorce Polly in June that year and the marriage was dissolved shortly afterwards, with Polly given custody of the children.
During this period, Hubbard authored a document which has called the “Affirmations” (also referred to as the “Admissions”). They consist of a series of statements by and addressed to Hubbard, relating to various physical, sexual, psychological and social issues that he was encountering in his life. The Affirmations appear to have been intended to be used as a form of self-hypnosis with the intention of resolving the author’s psychological problems and instilling a positive mental attitude. In her book, Reitman called the Affirmations “the most revealing psychological self-assessment, complete with exhortations to himself, that [Hubbard] had ever made.” Among the Affirmations:
- “Your eyes are getting progressively better. They became bad when you used them as an excuse to escape the naval academy. You have no reason to keep them bad.”
- “Your stomach trouble you used as an excuse to keep the Navy from punishing you. You are free of the Navy.”
- “Your hip is a pose. You have a sound hip. It never hurts. Your shoulder never hurts.”
- “Your foot was an alibi. The injury is no longer needed.”
- “You can tell all the romantic tales you wish. … But you know which ones were lies … You have enough real experience to make anecdotes forever. Stick to your true adventures.”
- “Masturbation does not injure or make insane. Your parents were in error. Everyone masturbates.”
Request for psychiatric treatment
After Hubbard’s wedding to Sara, the couple settled at Laguna Beach, California, where Hubbard took a short-term job looking after a friend’s yacht  before resuming his fiction writing to supplement the small disability allowance that he was receiving as a war veteran. Working from a trailer in a run-down area of North Hollywood, Hubbard sold a number of science fiction stories that included his Ole Doc Methuselah series and the serialized novels The End Is Not Yet and To the Stars. However, he remained short of money and his son, L. Ron Hubbard Jr, testified later that Hubbard was dependent on his own father and Margaret’s parents for money and his writings, which he was paid at a penny per word, never garnered him any more than $10,000 prior to the founding of Scientology. He repeatedly wrote to the Veterans Administration (VA) asking for an increase in his war pension.
In October 1947 he wrote to request psychiatric treatment:
After trying and failing for two years to regain my equilibrium in civil life, I am utterly unable to approach anything like my own competence. My last physician informed me that it might be very helpful if I were to be examined and perhaps treated psychiatrically or even by a psychoanalyst. Toward the end of my service I avoided out of pride any mental examinations, hoping that time would balance a mind which I had every reason to suppose was seriously affected. I cannot account for nor rise above long periods of moroseness and suicidal inclinations, and have newly come to realize that I must first triumph above this before I can hope to rehabilitate myself at all. … I cannot, myself, afford such treatment.
Would you please help me?
The VA eventually did increase his pension, but his money problems continued. On August 31, 1948, he was arrested in San Luis Obispo, California, and subsequently pleaded guilty to a charge of petty theft, for which he was ordered to pay a $25 fine (equivalent to $266 in 2019).