Howard, Robert E[rvin]


Howard, Robert E[rvin]
   (1906–1936)
   pulp writer from Cross Plains, Tex., best known as the author of “sword and sorcery” tales of Conan, King Kull, Bran Mak Morn, and Solomon Kane, in which the supernatural, historical fiction, and adventure are mingled. When HPL’s “The Rats in the Walls” was reprinted in WT(June 1930), Howard detected in the story what he believed to be an unconventional theory regarding the early settlement of Britain; he accordingly wrote to editor Farnsworth Wright, who passed the letter on to HPL. Their correspondence lasted until the end of Howard’s life and was tremendously voluminous (an estimated 430,000 words — 279,000 by Howard — survive). Much of it was devoted to lengthy, even acrimonious, disputes over the relative merits of civilization and barbarism (Howard, scion of one of the pioneer settlers of Texas, Dr. I.M.Howard, saw in barbarism a freedom and vigor lacking in modern life), and the relative merits of intellectual and physical activity. Howard’s side survives largely intact, but HPL’s letters were inadvertently destroyed by Dr. Howard some years after Howard’s death; they now exist, only partially, in extensive transcripts prepared by Arkham House. Howard’s Selected Letters(Necronomicon Press, 1989–91; 2 vols.) includes many of his letters to HPL.
   Some of Howard’s horror stories are indebted to HPL; notable among them are “The Black Stone” ( WT,November 1931), “Worms of the Earth” ( WT,November 1932), and “The Fire of Asshurbanipal” ( WT,December 1936). Various items of Lovecraftian lore are mentioned in several stories. Most of Howard’s Lovecraftian tales are collected in Cthulhu(1987). HPL mentioned the serpentmen of Valusia (from Howard’s “The Shadow Kingdom” [ WT,August 1929]) and one of Conan’s forebears, the Cimmerian chieftain Crom-Ya, in “The Shadow out of Time” (1934–35). Howard invented an analogue to the Necronomicon: Nameless Cults (or the Black Book) by von Juntz (HPL supplied the author’s first names, Friedrich Wilhelm). August Derleth then coined the putative German title, Unaussprechlichen Kulten.Howard is one of the central characters in the spoof “The Battle That Ended the Century” (1934). HPL was shaken by Howard’s suicide in June 1936, and he wrote a poignant tribute, “In Memoriam: Robert Ervin Howard” ( Fantasy Magazine,September 1936); a shorter version, “Robert Ervin Howard: 1906–1936,” appeared in the Phantagraph,August 1936.
   See Glenn Lord, The Last Celt: A Bio-bibliography of Robert Ervin Howard (1976); L.Sprague de Camp, Catherine Crook de Camp, and Jane Whittington Griffin, Dark Valley Destiny: The Life of Robert E.Howard (1983); Don Herron, ed., The Dark Barbarian: The Writings of Robert E.Howard: A Critical Anthology (Greenwood Press, 1984); Marc A.Cerasini and Charles Hoffman, Robert E.Howard (1987); Robert M.Price, “Robert E.Howard and the Cthulhu Mythos,” LSNo. 18 (Spring 1989): 10–13, 29

An H.P.Lovecraft encyclopedia. .


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