I never met Glenn Lord but I have fond memories of him just the same.

Like a lot of fans I came to Howard through the Lancer editions which started in 1967. The introduction by de Camp in Conan the Adventurer informed me that someone named Glenn Lord was literary agent for the Howard estate and had recently discovered “an outline and a first draft” of a story which de Camp had then completed, calling it “Drums of Tombalku.” Conan the Usurper came along and once again de Camp mentioned Glenn Lord, stating this time that in “a cache of Howard papers” the literary agent had come across “Wolves Beyond the Border,” another fragment which de Camp completed.

I was very excited by tidbits like this, but even back then I was wary of the de Camp “collaborations” and was really getting tired of seeing his name trumpeted, in the same size type as Howard’s, on the front and the spine of the Lancers. It even got to the point that on my library shelves I placed those Conan books first that only carried the Howard name and then came the de Camps and the Carters. But then I found Wolfshead at my local bookstore and I realized I had stumbled across something pretty unique. On the front of the paperback was another beautiful Frank Frazetta painting but the de Camp and Carter names were missing and Robert E. Howard stood alone on the spine and the cover. It was only when I opened the book that the title page carried the name of the editor—Glenn Lord. That was it. The introduction in Mr. Lord’s book was a very classy opening—a letter from Howard to Lovecraft, where REH had written his thoughts about writing and what it meant to him.

This Glenn Lord, I felt, was a person who was willing to stand aside and let Howard, the writer, have the credit. Truly different from most of those associated with the Lancer books. As Zebra starting publishing Howard’s books it was a delight because Mr. Lord was introducing me to different characters that Howard had created and always, always, that spine carried only the name of Robert E. Howard.

By this time I had realized that Glenn Lord was one devoted friend of Howard’s and I truly welcomed his introductions and the notes before each story. Every time I saw Glenn Lord’s name, in fanzines or books, I knew that here was someone who not only treated REH with respect, but was the Howard scholar and knew precisely what he was talking about.

Glenn Lord never met Robert E. Howard but they had a true friendship; I’d like to think that even though I never met Mr. Lord that he and I, through Howard, became friends. Thanks to Howard and Glenn Lord my reading habits intensified when I was very young and I never stopped loving books and the richness of reading has been with me my whole life. A simple written “thank you” doesn’t seem enough, but it’ll have to do, because Glenn Lord, the truest Howard fan, is gone.

If someone had told me six weeks ago the first post of the New Year on this blog would be the announcement of the passing of Glenn Lord, I would have advised them have their head examined. On November 19, 2011, a group of family and fans were with Glenn at the Monument Inn in La Porte to celebrate his 80th birthday.  Glenn appeared fine to me as I greeted him — somewhat frail with age — but still with a firm handshake, a smile and a mischievous gleam in his eye — the flame still burned.

I first crossed paths with Glenn  in 1972. I had just discovered the writings of Robert E. Howard in the form of a used copy of Lancer’s Conan the Conqueror and I was soon rounding up other Lancer volumes. Glenn’s name and post office box were listed in several of L. Sprague de Camp’s forewards to the books, along with some information on The Howard Collector. I wrote Glenn and bought copies of the few issues he still had in stock.

I was lucky to find Howard when I did because around that time Glenn was doing what he did best – wheeling and dealing to get Howard into print. The result was the Howard Boom of the 1970’s – a flood of paperbacks and hardcovers containing Howard’s prose and poetry. From the Donald Grant, FAX and Fictioneer hardcover books to the Zebra, Berkley and Ace paperbacks, not to mention the various chapbooks, fanzines and one-shot publications. Indeed it seemed as if the postman was bringing something new every day. But all that Howard material did not just fall into his lap.

Glenn became a fan of Howard’s fiction and poetry after acquiring a copy of Arkham House’s Skull-Face and Others (1946) in 1951. He then began his lifelong search for more Howard material, lucking out when he discovered a bookseller that had a huge stockpile of pulp magazines from the 1920s and 1930s. He was able to purchase a large amount of them fairly cheap and found a treasure trove of Howard stories in them. Next, he intensified the hunt — the flame had been lit.

No one besides Glenn would have gone through the trouble to track down all the typescripts and letters – he logged thousands of miles and spent a small fortune getting all that stuff — including an entire trunk of manuscripts. He also tracked down and interviewed every living person he could find that met Howard or had any connection to him, including two of his fellow Weird Tales writers, Clark Ashton Smith and E. Hoffmann Price. On most of these trips he took along Lou Ann, his bride who had no interest in REH and never acquired one either.

One of the very few positive things de Camp did for Howardom was recommending that Glenn be the literary agent for the non-Conan material. The two ladies who wound up with the rights to Howard’s writings agreed and Glenn represented their interests from 1965 – 1993.

In 1975 I started giving thought to becoming more involved in Howard fandom and, encouraged after seeing a number of successful Howard fanzines in the marketplace, decided to start one of my own — despite a seemingly glut of them. I set about contacting other fanzine editors and I wrote to Glenn with hopes of obtaining permission to publish some Howard stories in my fanzine. He was very helpful, but hesitant at first – perhaps wanting to make sure I was on the level. The two of us started conversing regularly while he was at work at the paper mill in Pasadena. If all the equipment was running smoothly, he could go into his office and give me a call.

We met for the first time at Houstoncon in 1976 and discussed Howard and my wish to get some Howard fiction for TGR. He agreed and allowed me to license a small batch of Howard stories for a nominal fee. We also continued to talk regularly on the phone, with Glenn keeping me up to date on upcoming projects. I used this information in the news section of the fanzine. Needless to say, Glenn became one of the biggest supporters of my efforts, providing invaluable insight into the world of Howard publishing. I lost touch with Glenn around 1980 as I moved away from Howard publishing.

I started contemplating a return to Howard publishing in 2003 and decided to attend Howard Days. Luckily, Glenn was in attendance that year, so we were able to get reacquainted. I returned home inspired and motivated, and soon began publishing new issues of THR. Once again Glenn was a valuable resource for me, answering research related questions and even contributing several articles to the revived TGR. I know at some point down the road I am going to have a Howard question and think of getting in touch with Glenn and that is going to be one strange feeling realizing he’s not here anymore.

While Glenn’s flame on this earthly plane has been extinguished, it still burns brightly in each of us — a flame he lit with his life’s work — and it is our duty to carry it forward, bringing that light to others.

Somewhere out there in the great beyond, I can see Glenn sitting with Bob ’round a campfire beneath a purple sky filled with an expanse of neverending points of light. Warming his hands over the fire, Bob asks, “Wanna hear another yarn, Glenn?” And Glenn smiles and replies “I reckon so.”

November 17, 1931 — December 31, 2011

This week all posts will pay tribute to and provide remembrances of this giant of a Howard fan and scholar who entered the hallowed Halls of Valhalla too soon. So join us as we celebrate the life and work of Glenn Lord.

Obituary

Glenn Lord passed away on December 31, 2011. He was born on November 17, 1931 to the union of LeRoy and Lurline Lord in Pelican, LA.  Glenn served his country dutifully during the Korean War.  He retired from Champion Paper. He was also famous in own right as literary agent for Robert E. Howard.  He is preceded in death by his parents.  Glenn is survived by his wife of 54 years, Lou Ann and son, James Lord and wife Lynn and daughter, Glenda Felkner and husband Andy.  He is further survived by four grandchildren, Stephen Cupples, Alan Nabors, Danielle Smith and Ryan Smith.  Glenn was a member of Spirit Life Church of God. Reverend LeRoy Butts will officiate services and final interment will be at Rosewood Memorial Park with honors well deserved.

Funeral Arrangements:

Glenn’s funeral will be Thursday, 10:00 am, at the Rosewood Funeral Home, 3939 Pasadena Boulevard, Pasadena, Texas 77503. Phone: (713) 920-2171. Website: http://www.rosewood.cc/. There will also be a viewing on Wednesday evening from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Burial will be at Rosewood Memorial Park Cemetery, 2602 S. Houston Avenue, Humble, Texas 77396.

Sign the Guestbook

Links to Online Tributes

Thoughts About Glenn Lord by Mark Finn

Glenn Lord — 1931 — 2011 by Dennis McHaney

The First Scholar Passes by Al Harron

Glenn Lord, 1931 — 2011 by James Reasoner

Glenn Lord, Nov. 17, 1931 — Dec. 31, 2011 by Barbara Barrett and John O’Neill

RIP Glenn Lord by Keith West

Glenn Lord, The Greatest Howard Fan, 1931 — 2011 by Al Harron

Glenn Lord 1931 — 2011 by Dave Hardy

Obituary: Glenn Lord by Steven Silver

Glenn Lord (1931 — 2011) at Locus Online

Glenn Lord: Another Giant Passes by Mike Chomko

Two-Gun Bob: Into the West by Don Herron

Godspeed, Glenn Lord by Brian Murphy

Glenn Lord, Howardian Herald 1931 — 2011 by Chris Gruber

On the Passing of Glenn Lord by Frank Coffman

Glenn Lord the Man Who was My Footprints by David Houston

Robert E. Howard scholar and publisher, Glenn Lord, dies from BFS Website

Glenn Lord, November 17, 1931 — December 31, 2011 from THEBOOKISHOWL.COM

Glenn Lord: 1931 — 2011 by Patrice Louinet (in French)

He was Our Great and Gracious Friend by Bill Cavalier

Listen to an Interview with Glenn Lord

If you would like to send your condolences to Glenn’s family,  you can mail them to:

The Lord Family
P.O. Box 775
Pasadena, TX 77501

Read Glenn’s Biography

Anniversary: Glenn Lord and The Howard Collector

We have Dennis McHaney to thank for this tribute published on Glenn’s 80th birthday. This handsome volume focuses on Glenn as agent, author and editor, and his ground-breaking Howard journal, The Howard Collector. This anthology contains tributes from Don Herron, Morgan Holmes, Roy Thomas, Dennis McHaney, Patrice Louinet, Fred Blosser, James Reasoner, Frank Coffman, Rusty Burke, Leo Grin, Paul Herman, Bill Cavalier, Damon Sasser, Barbara Barrett, and Rob Roehm, plus a history of The Howard Collector with index by McHaney, and five works of Howard fiction from the pages of that journal This book is available in both hardback and paperback from Lulu.com.

Now more than ever, this is a must-have for any fan of Glenn and Howard.

Thanks go to Bill Lampkin of ThePulp.Net for loading up the audio interview with Glenn linked above.
(This post updated 1/2, 1/3, 1/4, 1/5, 1/6, 1/7 & 1/8)
This entry filed under Don Herron, Glenn Lord, Mark Finn.

In his January 7, 1925 letter, Robert E. Howard tells Clyde Smith that “Another one of my friends got married. He and the girl he married graduated from this school with me. We were all classmates together” (Collected Letters, vol. 1, p. 41. REHF Press). I’ve often wondered who the pair was, and now, with a little help from Linda Burns at the Cross Plains Public Library, I don’t have to wonder any more.

As reported in the Cross Plains Review for both May 5 and 19, 1922, there were only ten graduates from Cross Plains High School in 1922: Ruth Brewer, Clara DeBusk, Willie Swan, Irene Jones, Winnie Swan, Winfred Brigner, Robert Howard, Louie Langley, C. S. Boyles, Jr., and Edith Odom. We know it wasn’t Robert Howard who got married, and I have already eliminated Edith Odom as the bride; that left only eight possibilities. Because their last names don’t change with marriage, I focused on the boys. Other than REH, there were only four; how hard could it be?

Louie Langley (1904-1955), who became a Dallas attorney, married Ruby F. Brentlinger, not a CPHS grad: down to three.

Turns out Willie Swan was a girl, Winnie’s twin: down to two.

For a while I thought that it might be C. S. Boyles, but after reading an article in the May 8, 1925 Yellow Jacket (reprinted in School Days in the Post Oaks), I found that he had married one Ilene Embry on July 2, 1924. She was not a graduate of CPHS in 1922, so I marked Boyles off the list, too. Only one candidate remained.

Besides Boyles, the only other graduate I’d heard of before was Winfred Brigner (whose name is sometimes misspelled as Winifred)—one of the REH photos owned by Project Pride (above) has Winfred’s name written on the back—so, having eliminated the other guys, I focused my attention on him.

Brigner appears in Howard’s semi-autobiographical novel, Post Oaks and Sand Roughs, as “Fred Gringer.” In the novel, Howard’s alter-ego, Steve, says that Gringer is one of only two “Lost Plains” residents “whom he really considered as friends.” He goes on to say that Gringer “was married and teaching school now in a small village north of Lost Plains and Steve seldom saw him.” This would have been in 1925. Later on, he adds the following:

He saw Fred Gringer occasionally now, as the youth’s school was out and he sometimes came into Steve’s office to argue religion. He was somewhat older than Costigan, a tall, powerfully built Northerner who had drifted into Lost Plains with his family some years before, following the track of the oil booms. He was a lonely sort of dreamer, a little like Steve, though with much different ideas on most subjects. He was strictly religious and with him Steve always drifted to the other extreme, realizing that Fred considered him a rank infidel and in eminent danger of everlasting torment. Steve usually wore a mask of callous buffoonery around Gringer, and many were the black moods out of which he jested the Northern youth.

Steve, contrary to his usual custom, showed the incomplete manuscript of “The Isle of the Eons” to Fred and asked him to read it. He did not ask for criticism for Steve considered that he was the best critic of his own work. After reading it Fred said:

“This is pretty good, but I think there are some mistakes in English – I noticed several.”

Steve was irritated though he tried not to show it.

“The English dont matter so much,” said he, “I’ll correct that. The idea is to get it over. The main thing in writing is to say what you want to say, in an interesting manner. Of course my English is far from perfect but that will improve by practice. As for these mistakes, I’ll correct them.”

Toward the end, we get a bit more:

Fred Gringer was cooking in a cafe for his living. His wife had divorced him, his teacher’s certificate had run out, and he was drifting with the tide, longing to go to college and get a permanent certificate, to teach in some large school and work his way up to the position of coach. But he could see no way for his ambitions to be realized.

In “Steve’s” final rant, 1928 in the real world, we learn even more:

“And there’s Fred Gringer. Finished high school at Lost Plains same year I did. His old man had been beat out of his year’s work by a slick crook he’d been drillin’ for and they couldn’t send Fred to school. He was plannin’ to finish high school in Redwood with me—you know till just lately Lost Plains didn’t have an affiliated school and you couldn’t get into a college on the strength of graduatin’ there. Had to have one more year at least, somewhere’s else.

“So Fred started teachin’ in little country schools. He had hell because he was a dreamer too. But he stayed with it, fought it out and had some money saved up to go to college on when he suddenly decided that the idea was the hokum and got married. Then he couldn’t go to school of course, and had to keep on teachin’ in little crumby country schools and they ain’t nothin’ will kill a bird’s guts quicker.

“Him and his wife couldn’t get along and finally she divorced him. He kept on sluggin’ but his certificate run out and he felt so plumb beaten that he didn’t take the trouble to take the examinations again.

“He cooked in cafes and the like and just drifted along like the rest of us till right lately. Now he’s in the smallest and crumbiest college in the state, takin’ seven subjects to get through in a hurry, doin’ janitor work to pay his board and tuition, and comin’ out for all athletics.

“He wants to be a coach and to work up to that position he’s got to start in a larger school than those he’s been teachin’ in. And to get a larger school he’s got to have four years of college work which will give him a permanent certificate.

“I got no kick at that rulin’ specially. I’ve had some samples of ignorant country school teachers. I say, make ’em be half way educated anyhow, but give ’em a chance to get that education. And Fred never got no breaks when he wanted to go to school. He wrote to a flock of colleges but not a peep outa any of them. Why? Because he didn’t have any dough. He cooked himself with ’em when he told ’em that he didn’t have any money and wanted to work his way through school. He wrote Gower-Penn [Howard Payne] that, and they didn’t even answer his letter. The one unpardonable sin in America is bein’ without dough. Joe Franey, who’s coachin’ there now, didn’t even think enough of him as a prospect for the college to send Fred any literature about it. Damn him! He’s just like all the other college scuts—a cursed boot-lapper at the feet of the wealthy. They don’t want men with ambition and guts—they want liquor swillin’, flapper pettin’, yellow-spined cake eaters that’s spendin’ the old man’s dough free and easy, God damn their souls to Hell.

“Then I personally saw the coach of Moses-Harper [Daniel Baker] and he came and talked with Fred and promised a lot—and come back to Redwood and did not one damned thing. Fred had to go to a college so small that they was willin’ to give a man a break. Fred ain’t lookin’ for no cinch—he ain’t wantin’ to get by on his face. All he wanted and all he asked for was the promise of a job by which he could work and pay his board and tuition. And the bastards wouldn’t even give him a hand. Oh, no, they wanted wealthy sons-of-whores.

“They don’t know what they passed up. Fred’s an athlete and some day, if he gets any breaks at all, he’ll be a great coach. He’s a runner, too. He’s broke the world record on the hundred yard dash, unofficially, of course. But they passed him up for some flat-chested bastard who couldn’t carry a football through a line of drunken flappers or for some scut who’ll put in a year at the game—spend two minutes in a scrimmage and the rest of the time struttin’ around over the field for the damfool girls to admire.”

Howard’s hyperbole aside, most of the information I’ve found on Brigner seems to match up with his Post Oaks counterpart.

The 1910 Census has Winfred in Cedar Township, Wilson Co., Kansas, with his father Charles W. (a driller in the gas wells), mother Bell, and younger brother Charles Leroy. Sometime before the 1920 Census was enumerated, the Brigners moved to Callahan County—Cross Plains, to be exact—where his father worked in the Oil business.

Following his son’s 1922 graduation, Charles appears to have been one of the main investors in at least one venture, as this notice from the August 17, 1923 Mexia Daily News suggests:

NEW WILDCAT STARTED NEAR CROSS PLAINS

CROSS PLAINS, Callahan Co., Texas, Aug. 17— Machinery has been unloaded for a new wildcat test to be drilled for Brigner & Jose on the Odom ranch, eight miles west of Cross Plains. The new well will be located a short distance north of the old Odom test of the West Texas Oil and Gas Co, which was abandoned about two years ago. Special effort will be made to develop a shallow pay found in the old well at a little below 600 feet, and which was claimed showed for 20 to 25 barrels of production.

The above article caused me to investigate Edith Odom, but as my previous post shows, she never married Winfred.

The next item on Winfred comes, again, from the Cross Plains Review. It ran a little item in its September 18, 1925 edition: “Winfred Brigner will teach at Cado Peak school, this term.” This would be the “small village north of Lost Plains” mentioned in Post Oaks. The 1930 Census lists him as a laborer doing “odd jobs” and living at home with his parents, without a spouse. I seem to remember finding an article that mentioned Winfred as having run for a public office in Cross Plains during the 1930s. I can’t locate that article just now, but I recall that he was soundly defeated. Also in the 1930s, brother Charles Leroy had a little trouble with the law:

Man Wanted In Callahan County Captured Here

Charles LeRoy Brigner, wanted by Callahan county officers, was captured here Saturday by Deputies Andrew Merrick and Bob Wolf. Brigner faces two felony indictments in Baird, according to officers. (Big Spring Daily Herald, Nov. 25, 1934)

After serving as a pallbearer at Robert E. Howard’s funeral in 1936, Winfred drops out of sight for the most part. Army Enlistment records show a Winfred N. Brigner of Callahan County enlisting at Abilene on August 27, 1942 for “the duration of the War or other emergency, plus six months.” He had one year of college and was divorced “without dependents.” Brigner died February 2, 1954 and is buried in the Cross Plains cemetery.

Having run out of sources on my end, I gave the Cross Plains Public Library a call. They have a Genealogy section; maybe, I thought, someone there could help me.

A few days later, I called back to see if they’d found anything. None other than Ann Beeler, author of Footsteps of Approaching Thousands, had done some digging and found that Brigner had married his CPHS classmate Winnie Swan on December 24, 1924—just two weeks before Howard wrote to Smith—and that he was divorced sometime before 1930. Brigner, it seems, never remarried; Winnie died in 1984 with the last name of Breeding.

Luis Firpo“What do you think of Firpo? I think he’s a no-good.” Robert E. Howard wrote those two sentences when he was seventeen and the classic battle of Luis Angel Firpo against Jack Dempsey was only two months away. That particular bout was probably one of the most exciting nights in all of sports ever, with nine knockdowns in the first round (some accounts differ) and one of those trips to the canvas came when Dempsey was knocked completely out of the ring.

In a book owned by Howard, Ten…and Out!  (1927), author Alexander Johnston relates that when Dempsey sailed out of the roped arena he picked himself up, said “Allez-up!” and leaped back into the fray, as if Firpo’s punch had been no big deal. However, Jack Dempsey, in his Round by Round: An Autobiography (1940), tells a bit of a different story. In his historic flight Dempsey states that he landed on, and wrecked, a typewriter, and that he hit his head hard on a table, which didn’t help his thinking any. He adds that some of the sports writers told him later that he was yelling for help to climb back into the ring and so they assisted him—quite a different story from the Johnston book.

Whether you believe Johnston’s story, or Dempsey’s, one thing is certain—Firpo was one tough customer. Before he came to the United States to make a name for himself from boxing, he had been a clerk in a drug store in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In practically no time at all he knocked out Bill Brennan and Jess Willard, and that was when promoter Tex Rickard lined “the Wild Bull of the Pampas” up for the Dempsey match. Firpo hesitated at first and said that he’d rather wait a year and try to get his skills up to the level needed to face someone like Dempsey, but Rickard said the fight had to be now, so on September 14th, 1923 the two battlers climbed through the ropes into history.

Ticket Stub for Firpo against Harry Wills September 11, 1924No one ever said that Firpo was a skilled boxer—sports writer Elmer Davis had this to say about Luis’ much feared right. “When he [Firpo] backs into the ropes to get set, he might just as well ring a bell, blow a whistle, and announce that five minutes later he is going to let loose a right-hand swing.” Evidently Davis felt that Firpo telegraphed his punch a mite—good sports writers are a wonderful thing to read. Even though “the Wild Bull of the Pampas” requested an extra year to train for the Dempsey fight that was probably just loose talk. According to Johnston, on the night of the fight of his life Firpo “devoured a beefsteak and ate a lot of ice cream within a couple of hours of going into the ring for his great chance.”

When Howard submitted his list of the top ten heavyweights of all time to The Ring he placed Firpo at number nine. It must have been a marvelous thing to have been a fight fan during REH’s lifetime. One of my earliest boxing memories was listening to the radio and hearing Ali shout “I am the greatest,” right after his historic knockout of Sonny Liston. I was eight. When Howard was eight Jack Johnson was still champion—he had a year to go before Jess Willard would knock him out. After Willard came the rise of Dempsey, and no one in their right mind disputes the claim that “the Manassa Mauler” was one of the best. John L. Sullivan, Tom Sharkey and James J. Jeffries were all still alive and giving their prognostications of upcoming bouts. Truly a wondrous time for a lover of boxing—I think Howard can only be shaking his head at the sorry state of the fight game today and the alphabet soup titles that go along with it. There are a few bright stars among the current crop, that’s true, but give me the old-time fighters—that makes for interesting reading.

Interracial Relationships

Anti-miscegenation laws were strictly enforced to keep the races segregated so it is especially interesting to view Howard’s quite different viewpoints here.

“Day Breaks Over Simla” (undated) is a poem about an interracial love affair between what sounds like a young woman from India and a member of the British Consul stationed there. The beautiful images of their love transcend Time.

Near a million dawns have burst
Scarlet over Jakko’s hill
Since our burning kisses first
Mingled in the twilight still,
In the magic, sapphire dust when our passions drank their fill.

I remember how the moon
Floated over shadowed dells
And the mellow mystic tune
Of the tinkling temple bells—
Ere Siddertha’s [sic] people turned to the braying sea-conch shells.

Lips to scarlet lips we pressed—
Ah, your eyes were starlit meres
As your tresses I caressed
Calmed your modest virgin fears—
Love upon an Indian night, love to last a thousand years.

Fades the rosy dawn as slow
Morning flames across the plain;
With a sigh I turn and go,
Humming some old-time refrain,
To the consul-house as day over Simla breaks again.

Interracial marriages between European men and East Indian women were very common during the British colonial times. Most of these women were Muslims belonging to the aristocracy or families with royal ancestry. According to the historian William Dalrymple, about one in three European men had Indian wives in colonial India.

Above, Howard speaks of the romance between a white man and an East Indian woman with great beauty but what if it were the opposite situation. For example a black man and a white woman? Surprisingly, the movie, The Rains Came which was released in 1939 is about an East Indian doctor (played by Tyrone Power) and a married white woman (Myrna Loy) who fall deeply in love. The subject of race is not raised. How could there be any outrage expressed when the role is played by Tyrone Power who is white with dark makeup. When Myrna Loy’s character is “punished,” it is for her adulterous transgressions.

But Howard is not so kind. The subject matter in the following two poems “To a Certain Cultured Woman” and “To a Roman Woman” is also about interracial relationships. This time between a white woman and a black man. In “Day Breaks Over Simla” the interracial relations between a white man and an East Indian girl are spoken of in terms of love and beauty but in these next two poems, the tone is one of contempt, not only for the woman but also for the man who is her lover.

“To a Certain Cultured Woman” is one of several poems that were included in an undated letter to Howard’s friend, Clyde Smith (The Collected Letters of Robert E. Howard, v. 3, p. 476.)

Open the window; the jungle calls;
(Searching winds in the grasses rank)
Your masters sleep in the silent halls.
(Breathe the wind, grown haunting and dank.)
Restless woman with magic eyes,
Jungle love is your heritage;
Deep in your soul it slumbers and lies,
Waking after an ageless age.
Men of your hue have drawn apart,
Climbing to heights you never can climb,
The jungle lies in your deep red heart,
Claiming you after a timeless time.
Men of your hue have turned away
From club and arrow and trail and cave—
Deep in your brain you long today
For the fires where the dancers leap and rave.
Open the window; there waits without
One who will sate your primal lust;
One who will grip you and strip and flout,
Humble your pride to the pulsing dust;
Make you a woman primal, debased,
Tame you as you wish to be tamed,
Waking the days when girls were chased
Hard through the reeking woods and shamed.
What do the men of your own race give?
Honor and wealth and tenderness—
What would you have to fully live?
Shame and pain and the whip’s caress!
Wild and ecstatic, burning pain,
Fingers that yield not to your plea—
Loins against which you strive in vain,
Blows and a brutal mastery.
Men may rise to the shining gates,
Out of the ancient bestial sea—
You are still, with your loves and hates,
Primal woman—and ever shall be.
Open the window; your masters sleep;
Wary and cautious; wake them not.
You feel the hot blood raven and leap,
Coursing veins that are passion hot.
Open the window; he waits without;
(Eyes agleam in the gliding gloom)
The jungle raises one gloating shout
As a black man glides in your moonlit room.

REH attributes this attraction to a return to the primal time when the jungle was in her heart and which is now reclaiming her. Most interesting to many women would be the lines:

What do the men of your own race give?
Honor and wealth and tenderness—

In the same verse, Howard describes the results of an interracial union:

What would you have to fully live?
Shame and pain and the whip’s caress

Shame and pain and beatings are not confined to just interracial relationships. Brutality against women does not have a color line. And REH was aware of the treatment of women. In a letter to his friend Clyde Smith (The Collected Letters of Robert E. Howard, v. 1, p. 250; ca. Nov 1928,) he said the following:

…I am nauseated at the injustice of life in regard to women. Woman-beating, for instance, goes on a lot more than most people realize especially in regard to young girls. Getting down to basic stuff, when a man and woman are alone, her only real protection against him is his better nature or weaker nature, whichever you prefer. It must be Hell to have to beg for everything you get, or to beg out of abuse or punishment.

Howard’s description of the Black man’s sexuality and the white woman seeking sexual satisfaction with him was common not only in Texas, but throughout most of the USA. In Racism a Short History, Fredrickson notes:

In the American South, the passage of segregation laws and restrictions on black voting rights reduced African-Americans to lower-caste status, despite the constitutional amendments that had made them equal citizens. Extreme racist propaganda, which represented black males as ravening beasts lusting after white women, served to rationalize the practice of lynching.

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Judging from a handful of references in his letters, Christmas was a low-key event in the Howard household. Howard mentions in one letter he usually received a book for Christmas. This quote from letter to August Derleth, written on or about December 29, 1932 is a pretty typical example:

… I hope you had an enjoyable Christmas. It was pretty quiet in these parts, nothing out of the ordinary occurring. Personally, I did about as usual — ate too much rich food, drank a good deal of whiskey, and shot a few holes in the air, by way of celebration. But it was all mighty tame. I can remember Christmases when liquor flowed and gunpowder was burnt in appropriate quantities — but that’s neither here nor there.

Other the firing of a barrage of gunfire in honor of the Baby Jesus, that does sound like a pretty tame Christmas — the type most Americans celebrate then and now.  Of course, during The Depression in rural Texas, it was likely a simple celebration — indeed nothing like the commercialization of the holiday we see today.

But there were a few exceptions. In a letter to August Derleth in February 1935, he mentions some post-Christmas shenanigans he indulged in, which may or may not be a true account of events — Howard was known to wildly exaggerate some of his day to day encounters with people:

I had a very mild Christmas. Not even a nip of whiskey. Though a few weeks later I did liquor up, for the first time in eleven months. Wandered into the county-seat of an adjoining county, got to boozing with some friends, and got a lot drunker than I ever intended. One of them — a 220 pound giant — went on a real tear — high, wide and handsome. He revived the old Western custom of shooting up the joint, and mixing whiskey with gun-smoke and flying lead is no combination for a peaceable man. Things are so very hazy in my memory I don’t know whether I objected to the noise, or if he took a shot at me for a joke, but I do remember coming to hand-grips with him, and one of my knees is still a bit lame from the knock it got as we hit the floor together. If I’d hit on my head it probably wouldn’t have hurt me as much.

Of course, there is that famous night of debauchery in 1925 Howard parcipated in with his friends, Herbert Klatt, Tevis Clyde Smith and Truitt Vinson. The party occurred a day or two after Christmas on a ranch belonging to Smith’s uncle. Howard relates the tale to H.P. Lovecraft in a letter, ca. June 1931:

I remember a wild night I passed on an isolated ranch in mid-winter, several years ago; one of the party was wild drunk on beer and another was stark crazy on raw Jamaica ginger, with the obsession that he was a werewolf. One of the bunch was a young German who didn’t drink, and wasn’t used to the violent drunks common to Americans; he backed up against a wall and I couldn’t help laughing at his expression when the Jamaica victim began to smash the furniture, gallop about on all-fours and howl like a mad-dog. About midnight a howling blizzard came up to add to the general lunacy. Gad, it makes me laugh to think about it now.

Of course, the young German was Klatt, the subject of Rob Roehm’s just-published book, Lone Scout of Letters. Klatt also makes an appearance in Howard’s semi-autobiographical novel Post Oaks and Sand Roughs as “Hubert Grotz.”

So, it appears Howard could either have a mild Christmas or a wild one, depending on his mood and company. No matter how you celebrate Christmas, please do so safely and relatively soberly — we want you around to read our posts next year. And here’s wishing you, from all of us here on the blog, a Very Merry Christmas!

Fred Fulton“After having stowed away Fulton…Dempsey again illustrated the efficiency of his punch on Willard,” and this sentence, from Howard’s unfinished essay, “The Punch,” is one of the few times our favorite Texan makes reference to Fred Fulton, nicknamed “the Minnesota Plasterer.” Fulton’s name would also appear on a knife in the Siki sketch that Howard drew and which I’ve mentioned a number of times.

Howard, of course, is completely correct when he states that Dempsey’s punch was very efficient against heavyweight champion Jess Willard, but before he ever had a chance at “the Pottawatomie Giant,” he needed to face, and convincingly dispose of, hard-punching Fred Fulton. “The Minnesota Plasterer” was no push-over; he had knocked out both Frank Moran and Gunboat Smith, and he’d even beaten the great Sam Langford, although “the Boston Tar Baby” was long past his prime.

For a time it appeared that Dempsey wasn’t going to get a chance at Willard—the champ was lined up for a July 4th, 1919 fight with Fulton and when that contest fell through, “Cowboy Jess” entertained some thoughts about retiring. But the road was clear now for a Dempsey-Fulton fight and that encounter took place on July 27, 1918.

About this fight there really isn’t too much to say; it was over in 18 3/5 seconds—less time than it used to take me to smoke a cigarette. Dempsey, like usual, came out like a tiger and completely blew Fulton away. It was Dempsey who took Fulton’s place for that Fourth of July title fight with Willard, and we’ll be talking about that in another post.

Jack DempseyREH was a big fan of Dempsey’s, and he didn’t care who knew it. “He [Dempsey] was one of my boyhood heroes, and I still entertain a deep admiration for him”—Howard wrote this in a letter to H. P. Lovecraft who probably didn’t understand what the fuss was all about. Howard also wrote to Harold Preece and listed some of his boxing measurements, and it’s interesting to compare these to Dempsey’s at the time of the Fulton fight. “The Manassa Mauler” was 22 when he fought Fulton, and coincidentally REH was the same age when he wrote the letter to Preece. Howard states he is “5 feet 11 ½”—and Dempsey is listed at six feet, which is of course pretty close. Howard says his thigh is 23 inches, as is Dempsey’s—the future heavyweight champ’s ankle is 9 inches and Howard’s is 9 ¼. Dempsey has a 34 waist, compared to Howard’s 36. The chest (normal) of Dempsey is almost 4 inches bigger than Howard’s, and he weighs 188 to the Texan’s 180. I find these statistics interesting, and while fighting is certainly more than measurements, it does show that Howard wasn’t exactly a pansy. I can easily believe that Robert E. Howard could well take care of himself, and I bet he did a lot of thumping in that ice-house.

This entry filed under H. P. Lovecraft, Howard the Pugilist.

Radharc O’Brien in the year 1152 was a widow with two little children. Her husband Conor had been killed in a fight with the MacCarthys, shortly before the greater battle of Moin Mhor. The power of the mighty O’Briens had been reduced since the days of Brian Boru, and they were restricted now to the northern part of divided Munster – to be called Thomond by the Normans. But Radharc was as fiercely proud as any of her male kindred, and O’Brien resurgence was a purpose close to her passionate heart.

Radharc’s ultimate aim was to have an O’Brien High King of Ireland again. For the present, she knew her clan had to break out of the little region of north Munster (Thomond) to which it was now confined, and rule the entire province once more. That meant settling accounts with the MacCarthys and breaking the power of the O’Connor High Kings. Those were big requirements.

The MacCarthys were being ruled by then by Dermod Mór na Cill Baghain, who held the port town of Cork as well as Desmond. He had been head of his clan since 1144. He still enjoyed the support of the High King, Turlogh O’Connor – or rather the High King was still pitting O’Briens and MacCarthys against each other so that neither would rival him. It was an ancient game, of course, and it wasn’t just played in Ireland.

The mighty O’Connor was ageing, though – he’d live only four more years — and a new contender had appeared in the north. Traditionally that was the centre of O’Neill power, but the new man was no O’Neill. Muirchertach mac Lochlainn, prince of Ailech and the Cenél nEógain, son of Niall mac Lochlainn, was on the road to power and nobody could ignore him. He counted even such men as Diarmait, king of Leinster, among his clients. In 1150 he had given twenty cattle and a gold ring to the abbot of Derry to enlist him as a supporter. He had successfully split the kingdom of Meath among three rival claimants, and in 1154, he hired a Norse fleet from the Hebrides and the Isle of Man to attack the fleet of the High King. The resulting naval battle saw Muirchertach’s defeat, but that he’d been able to launch it at all signified plenty. Despite losing the sea-fight, he was still able to gain the submission of the Norsemen of Dublin, and to seal the agreement he granted them, as a ceremonial gift to a new vassal, twelve hundred head of cattle. Turlogh O’Connor knew very well that gaining control of Dublin was a necessary step on the way to the High Kingship – and so did Radharc O’Brien.

Her father, Teige Glae, died in that year of 1154. He went out fighting, in one of his many affrays with the MacCarthys of south Munster. They were upstarts who had been confirmed in their lordship of that territory by the High King, in order to weaken the O’Briens, and Teige Glae had been stubbornly laying claim to the kingship of Desmond, or south Munster, since well before Radharc was born. The MacCarthys had just as consistently rejected his claim. Now they’d made their point at last with a strength that impressed even Teige Glae. They’d killed him.

He’d possessed his faults, such as being a tad treacherous; his brother Turlogh had once put him in fetters for a couple of years for intriguing with the High King, O’Connor of Connacht. Still, Radharc had loved him. She was shattered, torn by grief, and then furious. She resolved to see the MacCarthys pay — in blood, but also in the utter loss of prestige and power. Her brothers Ailill and Daui felt the same way – and she had no doubt her other brother, Muiredach, a hostage in Leinster, would too, once he was informed.

The O’Briens were no longer able to accomplish that without help. The politics of the day were too complicated to describe in a paragraph, but the great O’Connor High King had grown old and his strongest rival, Muirchertach mac Lochlainn, looked more and more certain to replace him – not least because Diarmait of Leinster had become his ally and vassal. Radharc had been to Leinster and knew Diarmait. He wouldn’t be above turning against Muirchertach and making a bid for the High Kingship on his own account.

She travelled to Leinster again. Her brother and cousins were hostages there; she always had a pretext. Other O’Briens were hostages of the O’Connor, and she didn’t forget that for a moment, but she wasn’t known as Radharc Casidhe, Radharc the Clever, for nothing. She acted as her uncle’s agent and carefully sounded Diarmait mac Murchada on the possibility of his helping the O’Briens against the MacCarthys. The implied promise was that if the MacCarthys were crushed and the O’Briens became lords paramount of all Munster again, they would support Diarmait in the future. Nothing overt was said about supporting him against Muirchertach mac Lochlainn, but not being dense, Diarmait could infer it.

He didn’t trust the O’Briens too far, naturally, but he held O’Brien hostages. Perhaps a more significant factor in considering them as allies lay in Ireland’s geography. If ever they turned against Diarmait, they’d have a hard time attacking him through the granite mountains and steep glens that separated Munster from Leinster. He wasn’t about to make foolish or premature moves against his powerful northern lord – but Radharc had given him food for serious thought. She was a glorious beauty, too. While Diarmait was no raw youngster to be melted like wax by a lovely woman, he wasn’t indifferent to that, either. He’d endured sitting in conference with much uglier schemers. Whether he committed himself or not, he would never be averse to Radharc’s coming to Ferns as an O’Brien ambassador.

At this time Geoffrey the Bastard, the renegade Norman knight who would become Radharc’s second husband, was fleeing across the breadth of England from the Earl of Essex’s revenge. (See “Cormac FitzGeoffrey’s Kin in the Crusades – Part Three”.) He was about to take service with Walter FitzRichard de Clifford in the Welsh Marches. He hadn’t the slightest notion that either Radharc or King Diarmait would be important in his future. He didn’t know that either of them existed.

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This entry filed under Howard's Fiction.

Under the modern definition, with his strong feelings of anti-miscegenation and the “sweeping racist generalities,” Howard would certainly be considered a racist. As quoted previously, Rusty Burke also gives him credit when he states REH “seemed to be able to give any man his due,” i.e., judging individuals on their merit. Definitely not mainstream thinking. However, Robert E. Howard was a complex man who held opposing viewpoints on many subjects. To analyze his views on the subject of racism, each of his thirty-two poems relating to Africa, Africans, and African-Americans are examined.

To aid in these analyses, two definitions will be used: (1) a belief in the superiority of a particular race; prejudices based on this. An antagonism towards other races especially as a result of this and a theory that human abilities, etc., are determined by race; and (2) Professor Fredrickson’s statements that racism is not merely an attitude or set of beliefs; it also expresses itself in the practices, institutions, and structures that a sense of deep difference justifies or validates. Racism, therefore, is more than theorizing about human differences or thinking badly of a group over which one has no control. It either directly sustains or proposes to establish a racial order, a permanent group hierarchy that is believed to reflect the laws of nature or the decrees of God.

All the poems have been categorized by genre and within each genre they have been alphabetized. Since most of the poems are undated, a chronological order is not possible. Wherever possible, verses that are not pertinent are omitted. To read the complete poem, see The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard (Robert E. Howard Foundation Press, 2008)

 Historical/Narrative Poems

“The Chief of the Matabeles” (undated) is a story about the Matabeles African tribe and its history as told by Umengan, an elder in the tribe, to Baas, a tribesman. It is a narrative tale of the origins of the tribe, its various chiefs and the time and nature of their battles when impi [a body of Kaffir warriors] slayed impi. “Chief of the Matabeles” speaks respectfully of the tribal history.

The warm veldt spread beneath the tropic sun,
I climbed a rocky kopje and sat down.
The baboons chattered, full of rage
At me, invader of their dens, but came not near me.
So I sat, and watched the cattle grazing on the veldt.
Herded by small, half-naked Kaffir boys,
Who, as they herded, played their Kaffir games,
And ran about the veldt, waving their wooden spears
In mimic war.
A jackal slunk from bush to bush
Behind a kopje. Furtive, sly,
Stalking a small veldt-deer, who caught his scent
And fled away. And o’er across the veldt I saw
The kraal of Umlaganna,
Chief of the Matabeles.

Then up the kopje came old Umengan,
One of the oldest men of the kraal,
A counselor of the chief of the Matabeles,
And one who knew the legends of his race.
Umengan sat down near me. “Baas,” said he,
“Does not the veldt seem peaceful at this time?
Aye, so it is. With cattle grazing placidly,
Herded by umfan, the young warriors,
And yonder in the kraal the women cook
And they brew the beer for feasting, revel, dance.
Yet I have seen the plains drenched with blood,
Where warriors leaped and smote and thrust and slew,
And knob-sticks smote and whirled and smote again,
And spears were crimson-red from point to grip,
’Twas there that Lobengula made his stand,
’Twas there the British armies broke his power.

“When I was young,” Umengan said, “I followed many a chief,
Fought many a fight. Chaka, I followed first, the Zulu chief.
Chaka the bloody, Chaka the Wild Beast. There was a king!
When we had smote our foes so none remained,
And Chaka lusted for the battle-blood,
He bade the impis turn their spears on one another.
So we turned, impi on impi, Kaffir against Kaffir, and we smote,
And all the tribes made up those impis, all the tribes
Of Kaffirland. Spear clanged on spear and so we smote and slew.
And Chaka watched, his strange, black eyes, flaming with lust of slaughter.
So we slew, and slaughtered one another,
Till Chaka bade us cease.
So, as I said, I followed Chaka, for a king
To be a king and reign, must be a slayer.
For they rule by fear and power. Let a king
Allow his tribe to lose their fear of him and they will hurl him down.

“Then the young chief, Um Silikaz, arose in power,
A chief of my own tribe, Mosilikatze.
A mighty chieftain of the Matabele.
He was a Matabele and so am I. Should I, Umengan, serve a Zulu king?
Yet I think that the young chief, Mosilikatze,
Had never risen to power, had it not been for his aquira, Umlimo.
Many and mighty are the Kaffir tribes,
And Matabele and Zulu are akin. So with shrewd eye to coming power,
Umlimo, aquira of the Zulus came to the induna of the Matabele,
Mosilikatze. ’Twas he who counseled the young chief, Mosilikatze,
To raid the tribes of far Mashonaland.
Whereby the impi of Mosilikatze gained fame and power, women, cattle, loot.
’Twas he bade Mosilikatze withhold the cattle that were the Inkosa’s due,
Whereat Chaka, the king was full of wrath
And ordered forth an impi to bring captive, Mosilikatze, chief of the Matabeles.

“The impi found Mosilikatze, alone with his aquira, Umlimo.
Then in his mighty strength the chieftain laughed,
And with his spear and shield prepared for fray.
But the aquira spoke, ‘Nay, fight not now.
Nay, nay, throw down your spear and yield and I will steal away.’
So the chief of the Matabeles did as the aquira said,
And as the impi closed about, Umlimo sprang,
And leaped away and none could stay him, so he fled,
Escaping. Then they dragged Mosilikatze before the king.
And on him Chaka glared, and bold Mosilikatze
Shrank back before the glare of Chaka’s eyes, for none could
Face the Inkosa’s eyes when savage rage blazed from them.
‘Fling this jackal in a hut,’ then Chaka said,
‘And slay him when I order.’ So they took
Mosilikatze and placed him in a hut, whereby a warrior stood with an assegai.

“Then came Umlimo and with him warriors of the Matabeles.
The Zulu warrior they smote senseless and they freed
Mosilikatze and fled to the Matabeles.
And when Chaka learned his prey had fled,
He slew a dozen warriors in his rage, with his own spear.
And to Mosilikatze came many warriors of the Matabeles.

This unfinished poem uses the first person point of view and we see the Matabele tribe through the eyes of the elder, Umengan.  The story is told by REH as if he were “there” viewing the events as they occurred. It is an African tale of heroism that gives glimpses into the daily life of the tribe.

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