l. Gordon Wasson, The Mushroom Man


Gordon Wasson
1996, 43 min 09 sec

In addition to being a legendary mushroom expert, Robert Gordon Wasson was an author and Vice President for Public Relations at JP Morgan & Company.1 He studied at the Columbia School of Journalism and then the London School of Economics after receiving the first Pulitzer Traveling Scholarship. After teaching English at Columbia University from 1921-22, he became a reporter for the New Haven (Connecticut) Register. By 1925, he was living in New York City and writing a financial column for the New York Herald Tribune. Wasson joined the JP Morgan Company in 1934 where he pioneered the field of banking public relations. He served as vice president from 1943-1963 when he retired.

Wasson’s introduction to mushrooms came from his wife Valentina Pavlovna Guercken. On their honeymoon in New York’s Catskill Mountains in 1927, Valentina found mushrooms similar to the ones she had known in her native Russia. This discovery sparked both their interest and they went on to study and incorporate mycology with other disciplines such as religion, art, history, and linguistics.