Price, E[dgar] Hoffmann
- (1898–1989)Pulp writer and correspondent of HPL (1932–37). HPL may have been influenced by Price’s work years before he ever met him: “The Horror at Red Hook” (1925) makes reference to a devil-worshipping sect, the Yezidis, which was probably borrowed from Price’s “The Stranger from Kurdistan” ( WT,July 1925). HPL’s first encounter (indirect) with Price was unfavorable: “after due deliberation & grave consultation with E. Hoffmann Price, [Farnsworth] Wright has very properly rejected my ‘Strange High House in the Mist,’ as not sufficiently clear for the acute minds of his highly intelligent readers” (HPL to Donald Wandrei, [August 2, 1927]; ms. JHL). HPL first met Price in New Orleans on June 12, 1932, when Robert E. Howard telegraphed Price of HPL’s presence there. HPL spent at least another week in New Orleans, much of it in Price’s company. (A curious myth has emerged that Price took HPL to a brothel, whereupon HPL was purportedly amused to discover that several of the women were readers of his stories in WT. This story—apocryphal or not—applies to Seabury Quinn.) An extensive correspondence, mostly dealing with pulp fiction, ensued. Price, having lost a regular job in May 1932, was compelled to write all manner of work for the pulps and defended the practice against HPL’s condemnation of pulp fiction as formulaic hackwork. HPL thought enough of Price’s letters to preserve them in full (they are now at JHL). In late August 1932 Price wrote a sequel to “The Silver Key,” entitled “The Lord of Illusion” (first published in CryptNo. 10 : 47–56), hoping that HPL would revise it and allow it to be published as a collaboration. HPL was reluctant to undertake the task, but finally, in April 1933, completed his extensive revision of it, retitling it “Through the Gates of the Silver Key.” In a letter to Price (October 3, 1932; SL4.74–75) HPL spoke of the need to revise the story radically to bring it in line with the original “Silver Key,” but in the end he kept as many of Price’s conceptions as possible, as well as some of his language. The story was initially rejected by WTbut later accepted, appearing in July 1934. Price visited HPL in Providence in June–July 1933; it was on this occasion that Price and Harry Brobst brought a six-pack of beer, prompting HPL to query, “And what are you going to do with so muchof it?” Price went on to write many stories for the pulps; late in life he wrote several novels. His best tales were collected in Strange Gateways (Arkham House, 1967); another selection of his tales is found in Far Lands, Other Days (Carcosa, 1975). Price wrote a substantial memoir, “The Man Who Was Lovecraft” (in Cats;rpt. LR), along with several slighter pieces, including “The Sage of College Street” ( Amateur Correspondent,May–June 1937), “H.P.Lovecraft the Man” ( Diversifier,May 1976), and several astrological analyses of HPL.
An H.P.Lovecraft encyclopedia. S.T. Joshi, David E. Schultz.