- Barlow, Robert H[ayward]
- (1918–1951)Short-story writer, poet, artist, sculptor, publisher, collector, scholar, and HPL’s literary executor. When Barlow began corresponding with HPL in 1931, he concealed from HPL the fact that he was only thirteen. Among his early fantasy writings are “Annals of the Jinns” ( Fantasy Fan,October 1933–February 1935), “The Slaying of the Monster” (1933), and “The Hoard of the Wizard-Beast” (1933); the first were gathered as Annals of the Jinns(Necronomicon Press, 1978); the latter two (revised by HPL) as The Hoard of the Wizard-Beast and One Other(Necronomicon Press, 1994). Other tales appeared in various magazines of the NAPA, which Barlow joined at HPL’s suggestion; “Eyes of the God” ( Sea Gull,May 1933) won the story laureateship for that year. Barlow attempted to bind and distribute HPL’s The Shunned House (1928), but bound only a few copies (HPL’s was in leather). He invited HPL to visit him at his home in De Land, Fla., in the summer of 1934, and HPL stayed from May 2 to June 21. At that time the two wrote the spoof “The Battle That Ended the Century” and two poems under the general title “Bouts Rimes,” and HPL drew his celebrated portrait of Cthulhu. HPL revised Barlow’s “‘Till A’ the Seas’” ( Californian,1935) in January 1935, when Barlow was visiting colleagues in New York. Barlow again invited HPL to Florida in the summer of 1935, and HPL remained from June 9 to August 18. At that time they wrote an unfinished parody, “Collapsing Cosmoses,” and set type for Frank Belknap Long’s poetry collection, The Goblin Tower, which Barlow issued from his Dragon-Fly Press. Barlow also typed HPL’s “The Shadow out of Time.” He wrote a superb HPL-influenced tale, “A Dim-Remembered Story” ( Californian,Summer 1936; rpt. Necronomicon Press, 1980), apparently without HPL’s assistance. He visited HPL in Providence in the summer of 1936; shortly thereafter they collaborated on “The Night Ocean” ( Californian,Winter 1936), although the recently discovered typescript of the story shows that the bulk of the tale is Barlow’s. In the mid-1930s he brimmed with ideas for literary projects: an edition of Henry S.Whitehead’s letters, to be entitled Caneviniana;a collection of C.L.Moore’s tales; a volume of Clark Ashton Smith’s poetry, Incantations;and booklets of HPL’s Fungi from Yuggoth and collected poetry. Although some of these projects were begun, none was completed; but in conjunction with Fungi from Yuggoth(which Barlow partially typeset), the sonnetcycle finally achieved its canonical form in the summer of 1936, with the addition of “Recapture” at Barlow’s suggestion. Barlow published two issues of an amateur magazine, The Dragon Fly(October 15, 1935, May 15, 1936), although neither contained work by HPL. For Christmas 1935 Barlow published HPL’s The Cats of Ultharin an edition of forty-two copies. Barlow aided significantly in the preservation of HPL’s manuscripts by typing texts in exchange for autograph manuscripts. HPL named him his literary executor in “Instructions in Case of Decease” (1936); Annie E.P.Gamwell formalized the relationship in a document drawn up on March 26, 1937. Barlow came to Providence to sort through HPL’s papers, taking some away (in accordance with the “Instructions”) and donating others to the John Hay Library of Brown University. He assisted August Derleth and Donald Wandrei in preparing O, but they ostracized him from the field, particularly Wandrei, who believed Barlow had stolen HPL’s papers. (HPL perhaps was more patient than Wandrei and Derleth with Barlow’s persistent requests for their manuscripts.) Barlow edited HPL’s Notes & Commonplace Book (1938), contributed to the Acolyte,and lent assistance to the first bibliography of HPL, by Francis T.Laney and William H.Evans (1943). He also edited two outstanding issues of the mimeographed fanzine Leaves(Summer 1937, 1938), containing rare works by HPL, A.Merritt, and other weird writers. He moved to Mexico around 1943, where he taught at several colleges, later becoming a professor of anthropology at Mexico City College and a distinguished anthropologist of Indian culture and poet ( Poems for a Competition , A View from a Hill ). He wrote a poignant memoir of HPL, “The Wind That Is in the Grass” (in Marginalia;rpt. LR). He committed suicide on January 1, 1951, in Mexico City, when threatened with exposure of his homosexuality.See On Lovecraft and Life (containing his journal of HPL’s 1934 visit and his 1940s autobiography), ed. S.T.Joshi (Necronomicon Press, 1992).See Lawrence Hart, “A Note on Robert Barlow,” Poetry 78 (May 1951): 115–16; George T.Smisor, “R.H.Barlow and Tlalocan,” Tlalocan3, No. 2 (1952): 97–102; Clare Mooser, “A Study of Robert Barlow: The T.E.Lawrence of Mexico,” Mexico Quarterly Review3, No. 2 (1968): 5–12; George T.Wetzel, “Lovecraft’s Literary Executor,” Fantasy Commentator 4, No. 1 (Winter 1978–79): 34–43; Kenneth W.Faig, Jr., “R.H.Barlow,” Journal of the H.P.Lovecraft Society No. 2 (1979): [7–36]; Kenneth W.Faig, Jr., “Robert H.Barlow as H.P. Lovecraft’s Literary Executor: An Appreciation,” Crypt No. 60 (Hallowmas 1988): 52–62; S.T.Joshi, “R.H.Barlow and the Recognition of Lovecraft,” Crypt No. 60 (Hallowmas 1988): 45–51, 32; S.T.Joshi, “Introduction” to Barlow’s On Lovecraft and Life (Necronomicon Press, 1992); Steven J.Jordan, “H.P.Lovecraft in Florida,” LSNo. 42 (Summer 2001): 34–48.
An H.P.Lovecraft encyclopedia. S.T. Joshi, David E. Schultz.