Archive for May, 2013

1957 09-05 OJF to GL

[Part 6 is here.]

On February 4, 1957, agent for the Howard heirs Oscar J. Friend wrote to Glenn Lord, acknowledging “payment of the remaining balance” for use of Howard’s poems; this payment “cover[ed] in full the royalties due on a limited edition of 350 copies based on a retail price of $2.50 each.” The letter goes on to discuss the pitfalls of publishing, recognizing that “printing costs are very high and that no publisher is likely to bring down the price very handily based on so limited an edition.” Friend closes by offering some advice on who to contact regarding methods of distribution. On February 25th, the contract for “The Collected Poetical Works of Robert E. Howard” was prepared and a copy sent to Lord for signing.

Included with the contract was a letter of the same date, in which Friend tells Lord that he has “been unable to establish contact with the defunct Weird Tales and [editor] Mrs. McIlwraith. Further, I have had no reply from the Howard estate on possible old pictures of Howard or any existing and heretofore unpublished mss.” He closes by suggesting that Lord “send me a break-down of all your figures [. . .] and let me get bids for you from a couple of New York publishers before you commit yourself.”

Lord responded on February 28, saying that he “would be very glad to get any lower bids on the publishing of the collection; the prices in Houston are outrageous.” He provides Friend with his publishing specifications and the following:

Contract received and apparently all right, so am enclosing one copy and the due $100. I presume the title of the collection does not necessarily have to be “The Collected Poetical Works”—I plan to use “Always Comes Evening.” The same either way but the latter seems a better title. Also I plan to slightly change titles of 2 of the unpublished poems you sent—“Chant of the White Beard” to “Pagan Chant”; and “Rune of the Ancient One” to “Rune.” Mean about the same and a lot less cumbrous. If you should hear from the Howard Estate about a picture or unpublished MSS will include them if usable. If not, I’ll go ahead with what I have. I am still short a few poems—have promise of aid, but have not received any as yet.

The two unpublished poems Lord mentions are both from the then-unpublished “Men of the Shadows” which de Camp had found in the Agency files (see end of Part 4).

And the business of putting the poetry collection together continued. On March 4, 1957, Friend sent Kuykendall a royalty check for the poetry collection, saying that when “the book is ready I will see that you get author copies of same.” Meanwhile, Lord had contacted Frank Utpatel about doing the cover for the volume. Utpatel responded on March 14, explaining that he charged Arkhan House $35 for black and white work, and as “your jacket would be in somewhat the same vein the terms would be the same.” And on March 31, Glenn finally received copies of the poems from The Fantasy Fan from Larry Farsace.

Lord sent Friend a progress report on May 3, saying that he was “still short several poems.” He was also apparently tired of waiting around:

Did you ever hear from the Howard Estate? If not could you furnish me with the address as I have about decided to go out to Brownwood and Cross Plains in June. At Brownwood, I intend to look through the Memorial Library at Howard Payne College—that is, if the Library is still in the college library. May be able to find a picture of Howard there also.

Sometime before May 5, Lord had discovered Howard’s listing in Who’s Who Among North American Authors. On that day he wrote to the publishers of the Coleman Democrat-Voice, which was mentioned in Howard’s entry, asking about Howard-related items. The publishers responded, saying that “Many of the old files are in the back, and we would be glad for you to take a look at them.” Shortly after May 6, Lord received a note from Oscar Friend saying, “No, I have not had a word from Dr. P. M. Kuykendall, Ranger, Texas, administrator of the Howard estate. And no picture of Robert Howard. And, certainly, you may write to him and definitely look through the library at Brownwood. The best of luck to you.” As with so many things when researching Howard, Glenn discovered that you needed a man on the ground, or a large travel budget.

Also that May, some of his contacts finally started paying off. On the 28th, former editor of The Phantagraph Donald A. Wollheim responded to one of Lord’s inquiries: “I was pleased to receive your letter and to hear that you are going to do the Robert E. Howard poems in a single book. It has been long overdue! A good many years have passed since he died and I do not honestly believe I have encountered a writer since with his particular verve and vigor—certainly none who can manage to get it into poetic form as well as fictional style.” Included with his letter were typed copies of “Song at Midnight” and the verse heading from “Red Blades of Black Cathay.”

And on May 29, Sam Moskowitz wrote that he could type up the Weird Tales poems Glenn was lacking, if he still needed them, and gave him a new nugget of information:

A man who knew a great deal about Howard was E. Hoffmann Price, one of his closest friends. I am not completely sure, but I seem to remember reading something about Price dying recently. Derleth might conceivably know where to locate Price.

Lord received the same advice in a May 30 letter from Lee Baldwin: “Getting back to the verse book, have you tried E. Hoffmann Price, Redwood City, Calif?” In another letter (June 14), Baldwin suggests that Lord contact Thurston Torbett in Marlin, Texas, saying that “I wrote him about 10 or 11 years ago with relation to another matter. I was trying to establish some kind of coralation [sic.] with the death pattern of a lot of our best horror writers through a given period.” (Here’s one of Torbett’s letters from that exchange that Brian Leno posted a while ago.)

Glenn also received an offer of assistance from Dale Hart. Apparently at some earlier date, Glenn had asked for help from Hart. In a June 10, 1957 letter, Hart explains his reasons for not helping sooner, which included his doubts as to whether Glenn could “produce a worthy volume of verse to memorialize Robert E. Howard’s poetry” and the apathy toward the project he encountered at a New York convention, “Apathy—and, I might add, a little resentment toward you, an outsider in the clannish circles of old fans.” Despite these and other issues, Hart finally decided to offer his “whole-hearted support of the volume” and asked to accompany Glenn on his trip to the Post Oaks region. This request was too late, though, as by June 13, Glenn was already reporting what he had found in Cross Plains to Oscar Friend, which included the poem “The Tempter” and the location of a certain Trunk (see Glenn’s letter here).

Upon his return home, Glenn wrote to E. Hoffmann Price. Price replied on June 15:

Somewhere I have—or think I have!—a few feet of microfilm, from the effects of the late Robert H. Barlow, containing some Howard poems. I also have some tear sheets of magazine material, or think I have—the doubt arises because of a vague recollection of having loaned some material to Stuart W. Boland, of San Francisco.

Price goes on to say that he does have “a studio portrait of Howard” and “a studio shot of Howard as a small boy.”

While in Cross Plains, it appears that Lord heard about Norris Chambers, perhaps from Lindsey Tyson. Chambers was then living in Fort Worth, so Lord wrote to Hart over in Dallas to investigate. Hart told Lord in a June 15, 1957 note that he had spoken with Chambers and that he “has some poetry, mostly fragments from letters, which he is going to dig up for me.” On June 19, Lord sent the manuscript of Always Comes Evening to Oscar Friend for approval, but added that the contents might not be set: “There is a chance I might get something from a friend of Howard’s in Ft. Worth.”

On June 20, Dale Hart wrote to Glenn that “Norris Chambers is still digging up Howard stuff. I should be able to get a look at it this weekend.” Hart also suggests that the print-run for the poetry volume be increased and that he be allowed to write a Foreword or Introduction. Glenn agreed to this, and in a June 24 postcard Hart thanks him, and also says, “You may be sure that I shall annotate all material received from Chambers.”

In his June 25 letter to Friend, between talk of publishing details, Glenn informs the agent that he has “done everything possible to collect all of the Howard verse considering limited time (and finances).” And he was still looking. A July 9 postcard from Donald Wollheim shows that Lord had several irons in the fire: “Happening to be in the New York Public Library today, I took advantage of the occasion to look up a couple of your REH references. I found the volume Modern American Poetry: 1933 and the two poems therein,” which were “One Who Comes at Eventide” and “To a Woman.” Wollheim offers to copy them for Lord.

Meanwhile, Dale Hart had driven over to Fort Worth and met with Norris Chambers. He sent Glenn the results of that meeting on July 17: “I enclose five Robert Ervin Howard poems—‘Emancipation,’ ‘To a Woman,’ and three without titles, plus one fragment.” He also had more material, “written from margin to margin on some crumpled sheets,” and said that he would “have the devil’s own time copying it,” but would send along the results in a few days. He was “afraid to send the original through the mail” for obvious reasons. And on July 24 he sent “nine more Howard poems”: “A Song of the Don Cossacks,” “Babel,” “The Heart of the Sea’s Desire,” “Moon Shame,” “Niflheim,” “Laughter in the Gulfs,” and three untitled.

Throughout August Glenn was shopping around for printers and receiving advice from fans and professionals. On August 11, he sent Oscar Friend the mss., saying, “I believe that this will represent all material that will be in the book.” Lord worked with August Derleth to find a suitable printer and on September 1 informed Friend that due to costs, he was “forced to increase the price to $3 per copy and the edition to 500 copies.” Unfortunately, the printer Derleth had suggested, the George Banta Company, wrote to Lord on September 17, saying that they were “sorry to reply to your inquiry about the printing of Always Comes Evening in the negative.” And Glenn was still waiting for Dale Hart’s introduction.

For a while it looked like the only sort of Howard publishing that would occur in 1957 was the September issue of Fantastic Universe, which ran the first part of Nyberg and de Camp’s Return of Conan, published complete in Gnome Press’ book of the same title later that year. By November 21, even Dale Hart was wondering, “any news about the REH collection? Any delay, or is the book on schedule (as far as you know)?” But things had progressed and as early as December 10, copies of the book had been delivered to purchasers; on that day Larry Farsace wrote to Glenn: “what a pleasant surprise, the copy of the new book, Always Comes Evening, which arrived yesterday.”

In his Foreword to the volume, Glenn wrote the following:

I have included in this volume all verse by the late Robert Ervin Howard that could be located. However many of his poems were never published and it is highly probable that some were lost in the twenty-one years since his death.

Truer words were never spoken.

arkham-alwayscomesevening

[Part 8 is here.]

@REH_TGR

Like everyone else these days, Robert E. Howard is on Social Media. Even given his amazing imagination, he would be astounded to see the technology we all take for granted and the many ways it has changed our daily lives. Whether he’d approve of it, no one knows. The  TGR Facebook page has been around for two years. A few months back, I added a TGR Twitter account to the mix. I had thought about creating both back in 2011, but I was fairly new to social media and wanted to see how the Facebook page would go over before adding a Twitter account. These days, in addition to a blog, you have to be on Facebook and Twitter because that where most people spend their online time. And getting the your message out there is the name of the game. So here is a list of links for other pages and groups on Facebook dedicated to Robert E. Howard:

The Dark Man

Howard Works

REH Comics Group

Robert E. Howard

Robert E. Howard Days

Robert E. Howard Readers

The Robert E. Howard International Fan Association

The Robert E. Howard Foundation also recently added Facebook and Twitter pages.

These social media accounts are the ones I am most familiar with, but if anyone else out there has a Facebook or Twitter account devoted exclusively to Howard, let me know and I’ll add the link(s) to this list.

This entry filed under Howard Fandom, Howard in Media.

kingsizepublications-FantasticUniverseDec1956

[Part 5 is here.]

With the Gnome Press series of Conan books winding down, Howard publishing looked pretty sparse as 1956 began. In his March 15, 1956 letter to P. M. Kuykendall, Oscar Friend says that after the Gnome Press Tales of Conan, “Then we will be definitely on some sort of an agreement with another author of Conan stories.” Shortly thereafter, L. Sprague de Camp’s “The Bloodstained God,” a rewrite of a Kirby O’Donnell story entitled “The Trail of the Blood-Stained God,” appeared in the April 1956 issue of Fantastic Universe.

Two other sales wrap up the year. A September 13, 1956 letter from Oscar Friend informs Doctor Kuykendall of the “one-time reprint sale of ‘Gods of the North,’ by Robert E. Howard, to King-Size Pubs.” The story appeared in the December 1956 issue of Fantastic Universe. Friend’s October 6, 1956 letter to Kuykendall has news of “the serial sale to December issue of Double-Action Western for world rights to ‘While the Smoke Rolled,’” a humorous western.

Perhaps spurred on the by the appearance of his friend’s Conan stories, in 1956 Tevis Clyde Smith published his first remembrance of Howard, “Adventurer in Pulp,” in Pecan Valley Days. This “volume of recollections and incidents in the history of Brown County, Texas,” was published as a souvenir for the county’s 100th anniversary. As such, few Howard fans were likely aware of its existence.

With the “suitable” new Howard material running out, a September 26, 1956 letter from L. Sprague de Camp to a fan discusses the future of the Conan series:

There are no more Howard mss suitable for use in the Conan series, as far as I am concerned. John Clark and I have been over all of them with a fine-tooth comb, and as you saw yourself we had gotten pretty far down in the barrel. However, a Lieutenant in the Swedish Air Force, Bjorn Nyberg (pronounced, I think, about like Newberry) has written a novel, The Return of Conan, which Marty [Greenberg] wants to bring out as a book and which Fantastic Universe is thinking of running some episodes from as shorts. But, as Lt. Nyberg’s English retains considerable Swedish flavor, the plan is for me to do some mild rewriting. Otherwise the guy has done a very creditable pastiche, with the original flavor and idiom.

De Camp closes with a brief mention of “vague talk, mostly on Marty’s part, of another novel to be written by me, or by Leigh Brackett, or by the two of us in collaboration.” De Camp is skeptical of this likelihood, though, saying, “There’s not enough money in sight, and Leigh and I are both pretty busy people.”

Meanwhile, over in Pasadena, Texas, a young man named Glenn Lord was searching for poetry written by Weird Tales writers. In June 1956 he had contacted Roy A. Squires about volumes by Clark Ashton Smith, Donald Wandrei, and Frank Belknap Long. It is perhaps these collections by other authors that caused Lord to wonder why no such collection existed for Robert E. Howard. Squires and Lord began trading contact information of other fans and collectors, as well as bibliographic information on a variety of authors, including another of Lord’s favorites, David Henry Keller.

Whatever inspired Lord, by that fall he was looking for Howard’s poems in earnest. He wrote to de Camp about his plans, and de Camp responded on October 3, 1956:

I should be glad to see somebody publish a volume of Howard’s verse. I’d even promise to buy a copy. I should say that on the whole Howard was a mediocre poet, but that, like Lovecraft, he sometimes had a flash of the real thing.

De Camp goes on to suggest that Lord contact August Derleth, “for estimates of costs,” and Oscar J. Friend, “for the rights to the verse,” adding that Friend is “slow in answering correspondence, but not unreasonable in matters of terms.”

On October 7, Lord contacted Friend and discussed his plan for a “250 copy edition of all of Howard’s verse, in a volume similar to the Arkham House poetry volumes.” He then outlines his current understanding of what “all” meant:

Now as for the poems in mind: these are all that appeared in Weird Tales (with the exception of “Moonlight on a Skull,” which is a variant of “Futility”). There were 35 poems in WT if I count right, not counting aforementioned poem. Also “Solomon Kane’s Homecoming” from Fanciful Tales; “Always Comes Evening” from Stirring Science Stories; and “Song at Midnight” from The Phantagraph. Then too, I would like to include the bits of verse of his own that Howard used as chapter headings in some of his stories. Of course I would also want to know of any poems published in sources I did not mention and/or unpublished verse (except variants).

Friend replied on October 11, asking for more details on the publishing plan and providing various scenarios for obtaining the rights to publish Howard’s poems, but offering no help in finding other poems, saying that “Any further developments in this matter as to source material, etc. I will be most interested in. Gathering all material this late after the author’s death is quite an ambitious task. The best of luck to you!” On October 15, Lord wrote back to clarify his plans for publication:

What I have in mind is private publication of the volume of verse—tentative title to be Always Comes Evening from the poem of that title. In other words, I will attempt to underwrite the costs of rights, printing, binding, etc. Perhaps I stated that I intended to limit the edition to 250 copies, which is about all an individual could hope to finance and sell. [. . .] I am well aware that such a venture as I propose would not be financially rewarding, the fact is I would be lucky to come out even. You might call my venture a labor of love if you can believe such a reason.

While Lord and Friend went back and forth on the business of publishing, Glenn was busily looking for other sources for Howard’s poems. He contacted Larry Farsace, editor of The Golden Atom, who replied on October 30: “I’m rather interested in the volume of poems by Robert E. Howard which you mention; would they be reprints or, like a lucky find, original, never published before?”

On November 7, Friend told Lord that once the project went “beyond the initial ‘talk’ stage,” he would “go through all tear sheets and mss in my possession in an effort to supply you with all bits of Howard poetry so that you will have as complete a volume as it will ever be possible to obtain.” On November 15, Lord wrote back, asking for a photograph of Howard to include in his collection. Friend replied on the 27th that August Derleth “has the only surviving picture of Howard that I know of,” and included “seven pages of types poems which seems to be all the old Weird Tales tear sheets that I can find.”

On December 1, Lord wrote back with more business details and thanked Friend for the poems but added, “Am I to understand that there are no unpublished Howard poems extant? Or would the Robert E. Howard Memorial Library at Howard Payne College have anything you would not have?” He also tells Friend that he has written to “Sam Moskowitz in an effort to locate some of the more obscure Howard poems; any that might have appeared in the fan magazines for example.”

Friend tried to help Lord on December 3 by writing to P. M. Kuykendall and inquiring “about any poetry of Robert E. Howard’s that you may know of any place. A young enthusiast of Bob’s now is trying to gather up all possible poetry of his and publish in one volume.” But, of course, any material the Kuykendalls might have had was now in California.

Lord heard back from Moskowitz on December 5th. Moskowitz had “considerable interest” in Lord’s plan and said that he had “copies of the magazines containing all five of the poems” from Weird Tales that Glenn needed. He also said, “It is quite possible I can add to your list of Howard poems,” though he wouldn’t be able to look into it for a month or so.

Lord also heard from Larry Farsace, who had been “looking up all kinds of references to Robert E. Howard in [his] fanzine files.” Farsace’s search turned up Howard items in several fan publications, including Fanciful Tales, Marvel Tales, and The Ghost, but the big news for Lord was the two poems published in The Fantasy Fan. On January 5, 1957, he sent a postcard to Oscar Friend, saying, in part: “I have located 2 more Howard poems, “Babel” and “Voices in the Night” [i.e. “The Voices Waken Memory”]. These appeared in Hornig’s The Fantasy Fan. I have a couple of collectors on the lookout for any other material.”

And 1957 was just getting started.

[Part 7 is here.]

Gnome-TalesOfConan

[Part 4 is here]

As 1954 began, Oscar Friend was thinking of ways to continue the Conan series. He wrote to P. M. Kukendall on February 19, 1954 and explained his plan:

While there are still two more Conan books to be published by Gnome Press, the end of the Howard material is in sight. However, we think the Conan property too valuable to let die, and we have conferred with the book publisher and have found him keenly desirous of carrying on the series. Therefore, we have been looking around for a suitable author-fan of Bob Howard’s capable of carrying on. We have two or three in mind, but before we can approach any of them with a concrete proposition, we must have an understanding with you as administrator of the Howard Estate.

Friend goes on to describe various scenarios, what the new author will be responsible for, what kind of byline to append to the new stories, etc. He closes by saying that “There is no great hurry about this,” but thinks “the idea a very good one, but if you don’t like it, just say so, and we’ll drop the matter.”

Kuykendall responded on March 8: “We are perfectly agreeable to your working out a by-line deal for the continuation of the Howard publication series.” But there were other things on his mind, too, like getting rid of the whole thing:

We would prefer selling all rights, and releasing the entire thing to you or to a purchaser whom you think might be interested. We would consider a sale price of three thousand dollars for all rights, and a complete release of any claim to future royalties that might accrue.

The above letter, and the two that follow, appear in The Collected Letters of Doctor Isaac M. Howard, and show Friend explaining what he thinks the ups and downs of such a sale would entail, as well as the amount of cash that the property might be expected to generate. Friend’s March 14 letter has a counter-offer of $1,250. This is rejected by Kuykendall on March 23.

Meanwhile, over at Gnome Press, series editor John D. Clark had stepped aside—under what circumstances is not known—and his place filled by L. Sprague de Camp. His first Gnome Press book was 1954’s Conan the Barbarian. The only other Howard for 1954 was a reprint of “The Dark Man” in the September Weird Tales.

After thinking about the Kuykendalls’ offer all year, Oscar Friend made another counter-offer on December 8, 1954. He upped his bid to $2,000, to be paid in $500 quarterly installments dependent on sales of the property. If he couldn’t make his payment, the property would revert back to Kuykendall. This letter went unanswered, causing Friend to send a short note to Kuykendall on January 26, 1955: “It is important that you answer my letter of Dec. 8, or notify me at once that you have failed to receive same, asking for a carbon copy.”

On January 26, 1955, the Kuykendalls’ attorney responded, saying that they would accept the proposed deal that continued the Conan series, but no mention is made of Friend’s $2,000 offer on the entire Howard property. The letter concludes by saying that Doctor Kuykendall has been ill and that Friend should direct his correspondence to the attorney.

Friend wrote back on February 18: “I will send you a draft of the contract as soon as I have prepared one. The hiatus at the present moment is that the author I thought I had lined up has decided against doing the work, and I have to line up another.” Who that author was is not mentioned.

One writer who was busy with Conan was L. Sprague de Camp. After borrowing a few non-Conan stories from the Kline files, he set about converting them into Hyborian Age tales. And while Oscar Friend was wrestling with contract details for the continuation of the Conan series, de Camp was actually doing it. In a June 9, 1955 letter to Kuykendall, Friend sends “a small lump of sugar” for “‘Hawks Over Shem,’ a re-write of an old R. L. [sic.] Howard dud.” The story appeared in the October 1955 issue of Fantastic Universe. This yarn was originally an REH historical entitled “Hawks Over Egypt.” The rewrite also appeared in that year’s Tales of Conan (the proper story with the proper title didn’t appear in print until 1979).

By November 14, 1955, Friend, de Camp, and Gnome Press had at least agreed on what to do with the conversion of Howard’s non-Conan stories into Conan yarns. On that day, Friend wrote to Kuykendall, including new contracts with Gnome Press and a “special” contract for de Camp for the “ghost writing of Robert Howard stories.” Friend advises Kukendall to go over the contracts and, “if agreeable,” sign and return them, but also says, “If you feel that de Camp is crowding on his percentages, etc., delete and initial any such changes you may make.” Friend feels the terms of the de Camp contract aren’t “too onerous.”

Kuykendall’s attorney responded on November 19:

Frankly we know nothing about the intricate procedure involved but assume that you will protect Dr. Kuykendall as far as possible and get for him the best deal under all of the circumstances. He would like to keep the matter on a royalty basis, but will leave the details to you. If you will add or change the contract to your satisfaction as agent for the estate of Robert Howard and its successors, Dr. Kuykendall will go along in keeping with your judgment.

And there the deal stood.

kingsizepublications-FantasticUniverseDec1955

The December 1955 issue of Fantastic Universe has the second of de Camp’s rewrites: “Conan, Man of Destiny.” Originally an historical entitled “The Road of the Eagles,” for its book publication in that year’s Tales of Conan de Camp used the original Howard title (the proper story with the proper title didn’t appear in print until 2005). De Camp, it seemed, was going to be the Conan continuer, whether Friend admitted it or not.

In his new role as “posthumous collaborator,” de Camp was a mixed bag. Back in the September 1952 Space Science Fiction, de Camp had outlined his contribution to the recently found Conan tale, “The God in the Bowl”:

In reworking this tale I have retained the original storyline without change. My alterations comprise: (1) Changing the names of characters where these names too closely resembles each other or those of other characters in the Conan series. (Howard was incorrigibly careless in such matters.) (2) Condensing the dialogue which, especially in the early part of the story, got out of hand. (3) Correcting many minor infelicities and modifying the style, which in places approached that of a contemporary whodunnit, for greater consistency with the other Conan stories.

His editorial policy was likely the same for his reworking of the other two Conan tales found in the Kline files: “The Black Stranger” and “The Frost-Giant’s Daughter.” In his “Ghostly Note” (Tales of Conan, 1955), de Camp explains his approach to the non-Conan stories:

These four stories are based upon unpublished manuscripts by Robert E. Howard, which I obtained from the same source as the three posthumously published Conan stories that have appeared in the Gnome Press’s series of Hyborian Age books. (See my introduction to King Conan.) In their original form, the stories in the present book were tales of oriental adventure with medieval and modern settings. Converting them into Conan stories involved changing names, removing anachronisms, and putting in a supernatural element, but the stories are still about four-fifths Howard. The resulting pastiches are meant to be as close as possible to what Howard would have written had he, instead of blowing his silly head off, undertaken to rewrite these stories in this form. His literary habits being what they were, he might very well have done this had he lived.

De Camp’s “silly head” comment notwithstanding, he appears to have truly appreciated Howard’s tales of Conan, if not necessarily the author that created them. And while he enjoyed the stories, he didn’t see them as much more than “pure entertainment,” adding that

These stories prove a theory expounded by Bernard De Voto, that the absolute essential for fiction-writing is neither keen observation, warm human sympathy, painstaking research, nor technical writing-skill, useful though all these undoubtedly be. It is instead the ability to visualize one’s settings, characters, and events so vividly and intensely that the reader is forced to share in this act of imagination whether he wishes to or not. This quality Howard had, so that, however implausible his Hyborian Age may seem when coldly analyzed, it comes to gorgeous and furious life on his pages.

So, if you read for fun and excitement (and why shouldn’t you?) turn to these stories and plunge in. As you can see, I am not utterly uncritical in my appreciation of Howard’s stories. But, even though I can point out a fault here and there, I have read all of the damned things at least four times! And that’s what counts. (King Conan)

The appearance of “new” Howard stories had a different effect on editor Lester Del Rey. In his magazines that carried these tales, he said that Howard was one of the world’s “greatest fantasy adventure writers” (Space Science Fiction, Sept. 1952), and Del Rey was especially pleased that these new yarns were Conan stories:

We’ve always been fond of Conan, and when Howard died over fifteen years ago, our lives were just a bit poorer for it. It was quite an event to discover that a full novelette by him had never been published, and we finally got it. It isn’t the sort of a tale you’ll usually find in this magazine—because nobody else can quite recapture the pre-mythical past. (Fantasy Magazine, Feb. 1953)

In that same editorial, De Rey said that “nobody else can write quite like Robert E. Howard.” These comments about the author of the Conan series differ starkly from de Camp’s “silly head” remark above and this, from his King Conan introduction:

Howard was a psychological case-study. In Conan he created a wishful idealization of himself; Conan even looked like his creator on a slightly larger scale. Howard suffered from delusions of persecution, and his end constituted a classic case of Oedipus complex.

While de Camp was becoming the voice on all things Conan (and at the time, that meant all things Howard), the stage was being set for a new voice to emerge: Glenn Lord had returned from the Korean War.

[Part 6 is here.]

This entry filed under Glenn Lord, Howard Biography, L. Sprague de Camp.

EPSON MFP image

1604 — Kane is now fifty. He still has steely muscles, great endurance and remarkable strength. He’s still a superb swordsman. His appearance has hardly altered, except for grey strands in his lank black hair. There was always something timeless and ineluctable about Solomon Kane. At twenty-five, with his strange dark pallor and fanatical assurance, he seemed older, and now, having reached the half-century mark, he looks younger.

He travels eastward into Russia with members of the English merchant body, the Muscovy Company. He knows nothing about the land before him. He has vaguely heard of Russia’s barbarities, and of Tsar Ivan the Terrible, but Ivan has been dead twenty years. The present Tsar is Boris Godunov, who almost certainly had Ivan’s heir Dimitri killed at the age of ten before seizing power. His health is failing now. Godunov has encouraged the English to trade with Moscow; they are exempt from duties there. What will happen when he dies is difficult to guess.

Russia has just suffered a terrible famine which slew one-third of its population. Riots, revolt and cannibalism have marked its course.

In March the impostor Dimitri visits the Polish royal court and gains an audience with King Sigismund III. He converts to Catholicism to gain Jesuit and Polish support. Certain great Polish nobles give him 3500 soldiers from their armies, and he leads them onto Russian soil in June. Enemies of Boris Godunov join False Dimitri in his advance on Moscow. They win one battle and capture Chernigov.

1605 — Tsar Boris Godunov dies suddenly on the 13th of April. His son Fyodor becomes Tsar – briefly. The impostor Dimitri, who claims to be the lost heir of Ivan the Terrible, had been losing battles and support when Godunov died, but now his cause revives. Many Russian nobles and soldiers turn to his side. On June 1st Moscow nobles (boyars) make the newly-crowned Tsar Fyodor and his mother prisoners.

While this is happening, Kane finds that the magician whose bones he saw in the Black Forest was not the only evil magician Russia had to offer. Abbot Mikhail Stribog of the Golden Monastery on the outskirts of Moscow is another. He has powers that can make brave men tremble, and he hates alien influence such as that of the English merchants. But then he comes up against Kane and the staff of Solomon.

1605 — Dimitri the impostor (False Dimitri I – who is really Grigori Otrepiev, a “razstriga” or unfrocked monk) orders Fyodor and his mother murdered. This is done. Probably the boyars would have killed them even if Dimitri hadn’t given the word.

In Moscow, Dimitri is crowned Tsar on 21st July. He has confined the Tsarevna Xenia in the palace, raped her and made her his concubine. She is the only surviving member of the Godunov family now, and will probably die when Dimitri tires of her. Kane, a compulsive knight-errant, determines to rescue her, and the one way to effect that is to kill the impostor Tsar.

1606 — The impostor makes his worst mistake when he seeks an alliance with Poland-Lithuania and with the Pope. The devout Orthodox Russians suspect Dimitri will seek to make Russia a Catholic country like Poland. The treacherous boyar Shuiski, who had helped put False Dimitri on the throne, now conspires against him. False Dimitri marries a Polish noblewoman, Marina Mniszech, on the 6th of May. Seasoned fighting men, Kane among them, storm his apartments in the Kremlin on the 17th. The young villain meets them with pistols and a sabre. He wounds Kane, who seizes him and hurls him through a window into a courtyard. A conspirator with a musket fires, killing him. Xenia is saved and Vasili Shuiski becomes the new Tsar.

Kane travels south. He’s disillusioned with Polish, Lithuanian and Russian politics. He concludes that all these countries are as savage as Africa, with less excuse. A Russian merchant gives him passage down the Dneiper to the Crimean Khanate. The merchant has discovered that Kane is the same Suleiman Kahani who scarred the face of Kemal Bey in a sea-fight twenty-five years before. Kemal Bey is now Kemal Pasha, a great man in Egypt, and would be pleased to have Kane in his power. The merchant drugs Kane, who wakes in shackles.

1607 — Kane is taken to Egypt. In Alexandria he is brought face to face with Kemal Pasha. The scar-faced Turk has given much thought to Kane’s fate. Flaying, ganching and other Ottoman amusements all have their points, but he decides in the end to have Kane dismembered and his raw amputations cauterized with red-hot iron, for as long as he can survive the process. He allows Kane three days to think about what is coming.

An Arab he does not know comes to Kane’s dungeon on the first of those days. He tells Kane that he is Asad, a brother of Yussef the Hadji that Kane met twelve years before (“The Footfalls Within”). Asad doubted Yussef’s story aforetime, but now he believes it, having seen both Kane and the ancient staff he carries. Asad returns the staff to Kane and helps him escape on the dhow of a nephew who plies the Red and Arabian Seas. He’s now bound on a trading voyage down the east coast of Africa. The Portuguese claim that as their particular domain in these times, which does not impress the nephew. His people were trading in that region before any Portuguese knew it existed. “Shaitan devour them!” he says cheerfully.

Kane reflects that his fate by the inscrutable will of God seems joined to Africa. He feels considerable gratitude to Asad and his nephew. Strong-hearted as Kane is, he was not looking forward to the death Kemal intended for him.

1608 – The nephew’s ship is wrecked on the east coast of Madagascar. This is decades before the island becomes a pirate haven for freebooters. Kane crosses the island from east to west in a series of involvements with the Malagasy tribes’ wars. On the western coast they fall in with an Arab trader, and cross the Mozambique Channel in his vessel. The nephew and his surviving crewmen go home; Kane is set ashore by his own request near a Portuguese trading post.

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This entry filed under Howard's Fiction, Howard's Poetry.

Gnome-KingConan

[Part 3 is here.]

When Oscar Friend discovered Robert E. Howard’s “The House of Arabu” in the Kline Agency files and “reworked” it for Donald Wollheim’s Avon Fantasy Reader, he changed the course of Howard publishing history. Wollheim received the rewrite in the spring of 1951 and later discussed the new Howard tale with Lyon Sprague de Camp. In his introduction to King Conan, de Camp describes the scene:

I was talking on the telephone with Donald A. Wollheim, then an editor for Avon Publications. He mentioned a theretofore unpublished story by Robert E. Howard, of which the original title was “The House of Arabu” but which later appeared in Avon Fantasy Reader No. 18 as “The Witch from Hell’s Kitchen.” And I asked Wollheim if any more like it existed.
“Yes,” he said. “I understand Howard’s agent has a whole pile of unpublished Howard manuscripts.”
“What! Who’s his agent?”
“Oscar J. Friend. Do you know him?”
“Sure I know Oscar! Thanks; g’bye!”
I called Jackson Heights and presently heard Oscar’s rich southern accents.
“Why, yes,” he said. “I’ve got a whole carton full of Howard manuscripts. They were left with Otis Kline, who was Howard’s agent, when Howard died, and Otis left ’em to me when he died. Might even be some unpublished Conan stories among ’em. Why, would you like to look through ’em?”
“You bet I would!”
So on November 30th, 1951, I went to Oscar Friend’s apartment [. . .]

Once there, de Camp met Harold Preece and was allowed to go through the surviving Howard material:

Oscar had hauled out the carton of manuscripts—about twenty pounds of them. Most were outside the field of imaginative fiction in which Howard is mainly remembered. There were sports stories, westerns, detective stories, and oriental adventure tales on the Harold Lamb-Talbot Mundy model. There was an unpublished Solomon Kane story, unlike the others non-fantastic—all swordplay. There was the story which had been announced for the April 1933 Strange Tales, under the title of “The Valley of the Lost,” but which never appeared because of that magazine’s demise. And there were three unpublished Conan stories.

These stories were “The Black Stranger,” “The Frost-Giant’s Daughter,” and “The God in the Bowl.” After examining these stories, de Camp says, “It was agreed that I should rewrite these stories—not, however, to turn them into typical de Camp pieces, but to create as nearly as possible what Howard would have produced if in his later years he had undertaken to rewrite them himself with all the care he could manage.”

By the spring of 1952, de Camp had completed his first revision and placed the story with Space Science Fiction. In a July 2, 1952 letter to Kuykendall, Oscar Friend reported the news and sent a check, saying the money was “for one of the old manuscripts of Robert E. Howard which was worked over. It is called ‘The God in the Bowl,’ and is a Conan the Barbarian yarn which I had L. Sprague de Camp revise. The story will, of course, later go into the complete collection of Conan books being published slowly by Gnome Press. There is another volume (Number two) to the set that is out now—The Sword of Conan.”

spacepublications-spacesciencefiction-sept1952

“The God in the Bowl” appeared in the September 1952 issue of Space Science Fiction. At the end of that month, September 29, Friend wrote to Gnome Press publisher Martin Greenberg, explaining that the agency was “taking over the subsidiary sales of the first book—Conan the Conqueror.” Friend tells Greenberg that he is “trying to cook up an equitable deal in the British market and, if I do so, I shall consummate said deal as between Otis Kline Assc. and the publisher, rather than between Gnome Press and the publisher.”

On December 24, 1952, Friend sent Kuykendall “another small check to help your hospital work there in Ranger,” and informed the doctor that he had “sold one-time magazine reprint rights to ‘Worms of the Earth,’ R. E. Howard, to Popular Pubs.” The story appeared in the June 1953 Famous Fantastic Mysteries.

In a February 19, 1953 letter, Friend Tells Kuykendall that the Gnome books “should sell for years. The third book in the series, King Conan, is being readied for the press now and should be out sometime this spring.” Also that spring, “The Black Stranger,” de Camp’s second reworking of a Howard Conan yarn,  appeared in the March 1953 issue of Fantasy Fiction Magazine; the August 1953 issue has “The Frost-Giant’s Daughter,” the last of three Conan tales found in the Kline files.

Due to the publication of “new” Howard material, Friend started receiving requests from Howard fans, like this one, dated February 23, 1953:

I understand that you are the sole possessor of the unpublished manuscripts of Robert E. Howard. I have been reading Howard since 1932 and wonder if it would be possible for me to have one of these manuscripts. I would be willing to pay any reasonable charge you ask.

On April 7, 1953, Friend sent Kuykendall payment for “The Black Stranger” (retitled by de Camp “The Treasure of Tranicos”), telling him that it was for “a revised Robert Howard manuscript into a Conan story which we have sold to Space Pubs.” He goes on to say that “this oldie [. . .] will later be included in one of the Conan books.” The primary reason for this letter, though, appears to be that Friend is looking for more Howard material. He had apparently received no reply to his prior request (See part 3, July 13, 1951) and again asked Kuykendall to look around:

I would like to know if you know of any Robert Howard manuscripts existing in anybody’s possession at this time. For instance, Otis Kline went carefully through all Howard MSS he could find, and which Dr. Howard sent him in the late 1930s, but do you think you could possibly find any strays anywhere for us? For instance, Robert Howard studied for a time at Howard Payne College there in Texas and is reputed to have left the college some of his manuscripts as a sort of legacy. Do you know, or can you learn if this is true? If so, can you procure a list of the scripts for me?

Friend ends his letter with an idea that would haunt Howard studies to the present day: “Meantime, after we have exhausted all sources of the Conan stories, I am contemplating the carrying on of the Conan series with brand new material.” This idea occurred at the same time that L. Sprague de Camp was becoming more involved with the publication of the Gnome Press series. Introductory material by de Camp appears in both of the Gnome volumes published in 1953: King Conan and The Coming of Conan.

And that wasn’t the only Conan publishing that year. ACE Books came out with one of its paperback doubles containing Conan the Conqueror on one side and Leigh Bracket’s The Sword of Rhiannon on the other. In a June 24, 1953 letter, Friend discusses this publication, but is more interested in unpublished Howard material:

You never did answer my letter regarding the possibility of Bob Howard having left any original MSS to his college, or if you know of any unpublished material of his anywhere. Please do. I am scraping the bottom of the barrel now in having some of Bob’s early scripts which are not even Conan material re-written into Conan stories [. . .]

On July 1, 1953, Friend wrote again:

Pursuant to our recent inquiry of you as to any other extant manuscripts of Robert E. Howard, I know ask you if you can possibly scare up for us a fairly good photo of Bob. The publisher of the Conan books would like very much to print a picture of Robert Howard in the forthcoming volume [. . .]

1953 07-13 PMK to OJF

Kuykendall finally replied on July 13: “I have searched through all of the very meager records that Doctor Howard left and I am unable to find any pictures at all of Robert Howard.” Regarding the unpublished Howard material Friend had been asking for, Kuykendall said this:

When Doctor Howard knew that his death was impending, he disposed of most everything except his real estate, giving to friends and others practically all of his personal effects. I do recall a large box of magazine articles, clipped from different magazines, because I helped prepare it for shipment to a friend of Robert’s in California, but I do not recall the friend’s name nor address, and no record was found in the records left by Doctor Howard.

This friend was, of course, E. Hoffmann Price. But Oscar Friend still had some good stuff in his own files. Besides the three Conan stories, de Camp appears to have found at least two other items in the Kline files of interest to him. On September 22, 1953, Friend wrote to John C. [sic: D.] Clark, editor of the Gnome series, saying that he was “snowed under with paperwork and just couldn’t get at the task of digging through the retired file of material for the herewith enclosed two Robert Howard scripts that Sprague brought specifically to our attention: ‘Men of the Shadows’ [and] ‘Night of the Wolf.’ When you are through with these two scripts please return.”

Both of these stories remained unpublished until 1969’s Dell publication, Bran Mak Morn. But back in 1953, the last Howard of the year was a reprint of “The Black Stone” in the November Weird Tales. In that year’s introduction to King Conan, L. Sprague de Camp had said that the “Conan epic is of course incomplete.” As the 1950s rolled along, he would do his best to correct that.

[Go to Part 5]

Round1-small

The long awaited and much anticpated four volume collection of Howard’s huge body of boxing material is finally ready for publication. These volumes, published by the REH Foundation Press, are in such demand the first editions are sure to sell out quicker than the first edition of The Early Adventures of El Borak, which went pretty darn fast. The first volume of Fists of Iron is due out in a few weeks and can be pre-ordered now; here is the complete list of contents for “Round 1”:

Introduction:

“The Brute Eternal” by Christopher Gruber

Stories:

“The Spirit of Tom Molyneaux”
“Double Cross”
“The Weeping Willow”
“The Right Hook”
“The Voice of Doom”
“Crowd Horror”
“Iron Men”
“The Mark of a Bloody Hand”
“They Always Come Back”
“The Trail of the Snake”

Poems:

“Kid Lavigne is Dead”
“Aw Come on and Fight!”
“The Cooling of Spike McRue”
“Fables for Little Folks”
“The Champ”
“Slugger’s Vow”
“In the Ring”
Untitled (“And Dempsey climbed into the ring”)
Untitled (“They matched me up that night”)
“Down the Ages”
“John L. Sullivan”
“Jack Dempsey”
Untitled (“We are the duckers of crosses”)
Untitled (“All the crowd”)
“When you Were a Set-up and I Was a Ham”

Early Tales, Variants and Fragments:

“The Spirit of Brian Boru”
“A Man of Peace”
“The Atavist” (unfinished)
“Cupid vs. Pollux”
“The Spirit of Tom Molyneaux” (alternate version)
Untitled fragment (“I had just hung…”)
“The Ferocious Ape” (fragment)
Untitled fragment (“Spike Morissey…”)
Untitled fragment (“The tale has always been…”)
“The Ghost Behind the Gloves” (fragment)
“Lobo Volante” (fragment)
“Night Encounter” (incomplete)
“The Folly of Concei” (unfinished)
“Iron Men” (first version)

Articles:

“Dula Due to be Champion”
“The Punch”
“Men of Iron”

Odds and Ends:

Untitled document, incomplete, perhaps from an essay
“Jeffries Versus Dempsey”
“Misto Dempsey”
‘The Funniest Bout”
Boxing material from Howard’s self-published The Right Hook

Appendix:

“The Lord of the Ring” (part 1), by Patrice Louinet

You can pre-order the first one or all four to ensure you get the complete set. Here are the blow-by-blow ordering details on the REHF website. So don’t just lie there on the canvas waiting for the 10 count to end — be a Champ and order all four today!

avon-avonfantasyreader18

[Part 2 is here]

Following the publication of the first Gnome Press Conan book, Conan the Conqueror, things on the Howard publishing front slowed down again. The only items to appear in print in 1951 were the November Weird Tales reprint of “Pigeons from Hell” and a couple of Howard’s poems in Bob Briney’s fanzine Crit-Q. But things were popping behind the scenes.

In a May 10, 1951 letter to P. M. Kuykendall, Howard agent Oscar J. Friend tells his client about the royalty situation with Gnome Press: “They paid us $100 before, and now have made another $100 payment.” And Friend had other news; apparently he had finally gotten around to investigating the Howard titles left over in the Kline files: “I am selling the first reworked Howard story—’The House of Arabu’—to Avon publications for $86.00, and will shortly receive payment and will remit 50% (or $43.00) of this first serial sale to you.” On June 4, Friend wrote again:

We are still awaiting more royalties due from Gnome Press on Conan the Conqueror—and the advent of the second book in the series. Meanwhile, here is the first new income on some of the old Robert Howard material which we have worked over and to which we have just sold the first North American serial rights to Avon Fantasy Reader on our fifty-fifty agreement.

As stated previously, Friend received $86 for the tale and divided the proceeds, with half going to Kuykendall and half for “Kline Associates.” Friend ends his letter by saying that there “will be other first sales later as we can work over the Howard material.”

Friend wrote Kuykendall again on July 13, explaining the royalty situation with Gnome Press. At that time, Gnome owed $443.85 and had paid $200 previously, and Friend added, “Today we have collected another $200 of this amount,” leaving Gnome a balance of $43.85. Friend concluded with the following: “The publishers have assured us that this amount will be covered in the next royalty statement in the fall. Also, the second book of the Conan stories, The Sword of Conan, is now in process of preparation.”

By year’s end, there was still no movement on the Conan books, but in a December 5, 1951 letter, Friend sends Kuykendall some royalties from Arkham House and tells the doctor that the “second Conan book will be coming up for publication shortly,” but that wasn’t all that was on Friend’s mind:

Meanwhile, at this time, let me ask you if you know of any Robert E. Howard material or manuscripts or parts of manuscripts, or any unpublished Howard material at all. I am well aware that Mr. Otis Kline got most of Bob’s material from Dr. Howard, but if there’s the least scrap of stuff around Ranger that you know of, please wrap it up and send it to me. I would like, also, to have a copy of the British-published book, A Gent from Bear Creek, if you happen to have one laying around. I think we can sell a few of the stories in the second serial markets.

In 1952, things started to pick up again. Besides the fanzine appearance of “Song at Midnight” in Orb #10, a ’zine published by Bob Johnson, Friend’s reworked “House of Arabu” appeared as “The Witch from Hell’s Kitchen” in Avon Fantasy Reader #18; “Texas John Alden” appeared for the third time in eight years in Top Western Fiction Annual; and the December 1952 Famous Fantastic Mysteries ran “Skull-Face.” There were also some interesting developments in the Conan saga. But the year began with a rider agreement, dated February 11, 1952 and signed by Friend and August Derleth, to the Arkham House contract for Skull-Face and Others:

Whereas there have developed since the execution of the publishing contract between Arkham House and Otis Adelbert Kline on November 17, 1945, on Skull-Face and Others the possibilities of leasing various foreign book publishing rights to this volume, it is understood and agreed that Arkham House shall participate to the extent of twenty-five percent (25 %) of the net proceeds from any such placements.

1952 02-11 OJF to Arkham

Also on February 11, Friend wrote to Kuykendall, enclosing a royalty report from Arkham House and a check “for the one-time reprint serial rights to the story ‘Skull-Face,’ by Robert E. Howard, out of the Arkham House collection of Skull-Face and Others.” As part of their agreement, Arkham received a percentage for any story from Skull-Face sold on the secondary market. This agreement appears to be part of the reason for the Gnome Press arrangement of Conan stories:

For your information, the reason this royalty report has been held up so long is that we all figured the new series of CONAN books would be using certain Conan stories out of the Arkham House collection, and, anticipating this, Arkham House held up this payment to apply against monies which would be owing them for use of such stories. However, the present publisher of the Conan stories, Gnome Press, rearranged the order in which he is publishing the series, and no Arkham House stories will be used until the third book (fall of 1952 or spring of 1953). Thus, I deducted the old amount hanging fire from the Arkham check and include it in yours. This brings accounts up to 1951.

Regarding the Conan series, Friend closed with this:

I have just finished working with the publisher getting galleys and proofs and artwork, etc., ready on the second book. It will appear some time this coming spring—a collection of four Conan novelettes under the overall title of The Sword of Conan.

Gnome-TheSwordOfConan

Back in 1950, in the introduction to Conan the Conqueror, editor John D. Clark had said that “Marty Greenberg and Dave Kyle asked me to help them with the job of arranging and editing the whole set of yarns, and to write an introduction for the lot of them.” Clark’s editorial stance was made explicit:

Very little editing was necessary or has been done. Even in the yarns clearly written before the idea of the Hyborian Age was born, changing the tense of a verb or two was usually all that was needed to make the story fit in. The Hour of the Dragon, the contents of this volume, was not entirely consistent with the chronology of “The Hyborian Age” and a slight insertion in the latter was necessary to clear things up. And that was about all. We don’t think that Howard would have minded and we hope that you don’t.

1952’s The Sword of Conan was also edited by Clark, but due to the appearance of “The Witch from Hell’s Kitchen,” things were about to change.

[Part 4 is here.]

This entry filed under August Derleth, Howard Biography.

Solomon Kane by Jeffrey Jones

1592 — Kane is now thirty-eight. With the spring, he fits out a privateer and sails from Bristol across the Atlantic for the West Indies once again. His second-in-command is Godfrey Taferal, the eldest brother of Marylin, whom Kane rescued from Negari. Godfrey is a trusty man of thirty, who has sailed as a merchant to India, and a ship’s master. He fought against the Spanish Armada. Kane could not ask for better backing.

He seeks retribution for his experiences in Spain. He also knows too well that King Philip is still planning to conquer England, and a second fiasco like that of the “Invincible Armada” is unlikely. The next attempt would be better organized. The best way to prevent another try is to deprive Philip of the sinews of war – which derive from the New World’s gold and silver.

Kane takes rich prizes between Veracruz on the Mexican Gulf Coast and Havana in Cuba – the route over which Mexican silver is shipped on its way to Seville in Spain. A merchant of Veracruz deals with Kane and passes information to him. (The Spanish crown taxed private merchants’ wares at a rate of twenty per cent, the “quinto real” or royal fifth. Dealing through Kane, the Spaniard can evade this. A Puritan merchant of Bristol, Godfrey’s father-in-law, receives the cargoes at the English end.)

Kane, always restless, sweeps along the northern coast of Cuba next, taking prizes, and then attacks Santiago, after which he raids southward against Rio de la Hacha. Both raids are successful. Queen Elizabeth has so far done well out of the privateer’s commission her ministers gave Kane.

She will soon do even better. Kane careens his vessel on a remote shore of the Yucatan peninsula, and hears stories of a lost city in the jungle of the interior. The Spaniards have not yet subdued that region, and many Mayas took refuge there from the fanatical Bishop de Landa. But this is not a Mayan city. Aztecs fleeing the conquest by Cortez made a trek into Yucatan between 1520 and 1530, taking a vast hoard of gold with them. Now, sixty years later, they have established a small hidden city of their own, and worship their terrible gods in the way of their ancestors, with blood sacrifice and sorcery, preying on the Mayans of the jungles. Kane leads his pirates to the evil city, overthrows it, and delivers the Mayans from the Aztecs’ tyranny. He also obtains the gold.

1593 — There is an immense reward on Kane’s head. It is increased when Kane makes a run to Cartagena. This major New World port is one of three cities visited by the annual treasure fleets bound ultimately for Seville. Kane waits outside the town for the treasure fleet to leave. By luck two treasure ships are separated from the rest of the fleet in a storm. They contain gold, emeralds and pearls. Kane captures them and sends this remarkable haul – along with the Aztec gold – back to England with Godfrey Taferal. Although not greedy for wealth himself, and scornful of Elizabeth and her crooked officials, he knows England desperately needs it for the war effort if she is not to be conquered by Spain.

Kane has had enough tender Spanish attention.

In the Ukraine, the Cossack sich of Tomakivka Island on the lower Dneiper is destroyed by Tatars. The Cossacks replace it by building another at Bazavluk, also on the Dneiper. That is to last until 1638. A Polish military expedition will destroy it in that year, in retaliation for a Cossack rising.

1594 — Kane is now forty. Keeping the more seaworthy and heavily armed of the captured carracks, he recruits more freebooters and sails eastward to Brazil. Portuguese possessions are fair game. Dutch privateers at this time are Kane’s strongest competitors on these coasts. Spain was always the Low Countries’ tyrant and foe, and now Portugal is one with Spain.

Brazil has been divided into fifteen provinces. Only two are financially successful; the region of Pernambuco in the north-east, with its sugar plantations, and one other which exploits the native Indians for the slave trade. However, black slaves from Portuguese Africa are preferred. Red dyewood is another export, the only valuable ones besides sugar. Gold has not yet been discovered.

Kane and his men take prizes. He recruits desperate Indians and escaped slaves into his privateer band, building a fleet of four ships. Driven by his everlasting restless demon, Kane voyages southward to the region of present-day Uruguay. Kane finds evidence of Crimson Jack Callice’s work when he makes landfall. Callice is up to his old Caribbean tricks of taking Indians as slave cargo and forcing Spanish and Portuguese settlers to buy them, under the threat of his ship’s guns – at the pirate’s own exorbitant prices. Such is Crimson Jack’s idea of honest trade.

In this instance he has held a meeting with a large group of Charrua, offering them guns and rum, then treacherously massacred the men and enslaved the women and children. Kane is enraged. He pursues Callice southward, and finds when he catches him that Callice hurled the Charrua women and children overboard to lighten ship. Kane swears his death. He pursues Callice further south yet, down the coast of Patagonia and into the waters around Cape Horn, before losing him among the stormy waters and deadly reefs.

He returns north again. To his disgust he finds that the Brotherhood of the Main has lost its original purpose of fighting the Spanish and become an association of bloody pirates. Hardraker and Callice are characteristic of the new breed. Kane hears Hardraker’s atrocities spoken of, though the Fishhawk has left the Caribbean for parts unknown. Kane leaves word among the Brotherhood that if he crosses Hardraker’s path he will finish him.

1594 — Kane sails eastward across the Atlantic for Africa. Some of the escaped slaves among his crew wish to return there. Others opt for Italy or France, having nothing in Africa to which they can return, since in Africa they were criminals, inconvenient heirs or prisoners taken in tribal wars. They, like the Indians and white men in Kane’s crew, can realise enough profit from this voyage to live tolerably thereafter.

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This entry filed under Howard's Fiction.

Gnome-ConanTheConqueror

[Part 1 is here]

At the beginning of 1948, Ora Fay Rossini was running the business of her deceased father, Otis Adelbert Kline, but she likely already knew that she wouldn’t be doing it for much longer. Some time in February, probably, she wrote to the Kuykendalls to inform them that she was moving to Texas with her husband, Pierre L. Rossini. On March 4, Dr. P. M. Kuykendall responded: “I am glad to know that you and your husband are coming to Texas in the near future.” He goes on to explain some of the difficulties they will encounter in finding housing “in and around Grand Prairie.” He also thanks Rossini for a royalty payment from Arkham House.

Before June 17, 1948, Rossini recalled, she “turned over everything to Oscar Friend, including material published and unpublished, records, files, etc.” On June 17, the new owner of the Kline Agency sat down and wrote a letter to Kuykendall, informing him of a forthcoming reprint of “The Cairn on the Headland” and explaining himself:

For your information, I have purchased the Otis Kline agency from the Kline heirs—being an old friend and client of Mr. Kline’s myself—and am handling all of the business details of unfinished affairs in the name of the Klines without disturbing anything. Please feel free to write and ask me for any information at any time. I have the complete Howard file and records in my office.

On September 5, 1948, Friend informed his client of another sale: “We have just sold the anthology one-time reprint rights to Ralph [sic!] E. Howard’s short story, ‘Queen of the Black Coast,’ to Avon Publishing Co., for $25. We enclose herewith our check drawn in your favor in full payment to cover this transaction.’ This and “The Cairn on the Headland” were the only Howard stories published in English in 1948; a note in Friend’s archives dated December 17, 1948— “Sent royalty check to Dr. Kuykendall. No letter, only royalty statement.”—rounds out the year.

There was only one Howard appearance in English in 1949: “A Witch Shall Be Born” appeared in an issue of the Avon Fantasy Reader; “Shave That Hog” was probably on the stands in December ’49, but the edition of Max Brand’s Western Magazine in which it appeared was dated January 1950. But in a May 5, 1949 letter to Kuykendall, Oscar Friend let his client know that things were going to change:

I am arranging a nice deal with another publisher to do a complete collection of the Conan stories. I will keep you informed as to matters. Things move slowly many times in the publishing world, and especially during the present period of recession. I haven’t got around to reading the heretofore unpublished Howard material I have on hand, and can’t say just when—or what, but I will keep you apprised of all developments.

But things were moving fairly quick. On May 9, Martin Greenberg, top dog at Gnome Press, wrote to Friend: “Here is the list of the Conan stories. So far it is set up for four books. I understand we may include more stories and make it five books.” This is followed by his outline of the contents for four books to be published by Gnome: The Coming of Conan, Conan the Barbarian, The Sword of Conan, and Conan the King. Greenberg hopes to “do one of the Conan books this fall,” and tells Friend, “I get more enthusiastic every day when I contemplate what a terrific deal this is going to be.”

On September 17, Friend dropped Kuykendall a line to tell him of the sale of “The Gods of Bal-Sagoth” to Avon (appearing as “The Blonde Goddess of Bal-Sagoth” in a 1950 Avon Fantasy Reader) and to apprise him of the situation with Gnome: “The Conan the Barbarian project is taking rather ambitious size and has grown to a set of four volumes in uniform binding, to be brought out as rapidly one after the other as possible. However, it looks more like a 1950 project.”

In a January 17, 1950 letter, Friend explains the breakdown of Kuykendall’s Arkham House royalties and provides another Conan update: “The new publishing deal on the CONAN stories is to start this year and will consist of four or five volumes in uniform binding, taking two years to get the entire set on the market.” On April 21, Friend tells the doctor of the sale of “The Voice of El-Lil” (which appeared in one of that year’s Avon Fantasy Readers bearing the god-awful title of “Temptress of the Tower of Torture and Sin”!) and another update on the Gnome series:

The plans are slowly maturing on the Conan the Barbarian collection of Bob’s stories to be published in not less than three volumes (perhaps four or five) and I will send you copies of the contracts as they are now executed—and royalty advances as they begin to come through. I have been definitely promised action by the publisher (Gnome Press) before the end of this year.

Conan wasn’t the only Howard property receiving attention in 1950. On May 22, 1950, Harry Widmer, managing editor of Popular Publications, wrote a letter addressed to Robert E. Howard in Cross Plains:

Dear Mr. Howard:

     We are planning to use in Max Brand’s Western stories which have stood the test of time and remained high in the memory of the readers and in the opinion of our editors.
Your story “Vulture’s Sanctuary,” which originally appeared in the November 28, 1936 issue of Argosy, has been selected. We are planning to include it in a future issue of Max Brand’s Western.
Although our records show that we purchased all serial rights to this story, we will pay for it at our prevailing second serial rights rate. On this basis, we can offer you $20.00 for the second serial rights.
Will you be good enough to verify your present address, so we can mail your bonus check to you.

Sincerely,
Harry Widmer

With no Howards left in Cross Plains, the letter was forwarded to Dr. Kuykendall in Ranger, who forwarded it to Friend on June 1, 1950, the same month and year as the cover date on the magazine in which the story appeared. On June 13, Friend responded to Kuykendall with more Arkham House royalties and $15 for “Vulture’s Sanctuary”; he had taken $5.00 as his “minimum commission.”

Friend’s August 10, 1950 letter to Kuykendall is all Conan:

I am happy to report that at last we have got the Conan stories by Robert E. Howard moving again. As I wrote previously, I have arranged with Gnome Press to publish all the Conan stories in about five uniform volumes as a set (although the books will be printed only one at a time at the approximate rate of two volumes per year) with the same binding and with end maps in both front and back of each book—maps of the world in which Conan lived and roamed. There will also be an introduction by Dr. Arthur C. [sic: John D.] Clark, a friend and admirer of Robert Howard. All in all, the project promises to be a fine piece of work and should net the estate a tidy sum over a period of several years. At least, I earnestly hope so.

Friend goes on to explain his check for “the first advance royalty” on the first book, coming in the fall, to be entitled Conan the Conqueror, adding that “in the event that you are familiar with the Conan stories and wonder as to why they will appear as they do, let me explain that they are not being put out in chronological order for several reasons. However, when the set is complete, any possessor of the works will be able to arrange the books in precisely the right order on his library shelf.” Friend assures Kuykendall that he is “taking care of all details concerning this publishing project” and will himself “read final proof on the job.” He closes his letter with the following:

The other Howard material I wrote you about last year (the heretofore unsold stories) I shall start going over with Gnome Press (who want to publish all Howard material that is not utterly hopeless) and I shall attend to the re-writing of such material as can be whipped into shape for today’s market.

Besides the stories mentioned above, a reprint of “Texas John Alden” appeared in the fall 1950 issue of Hopalong Cassidy’s Western Magazine. Of course, the real news for that year was Conan the Conqueror.

[Part 3 is here.]

This entry filed under Howard Biography.