In December of 1932, readers of Weird Tales got a little something extra in their stockings for Christmas, namely a Cimmerian named Conan. That first Conan story, “The Phoenix on the Sword,” was followed by 16 additional Conan adventures that were published through October 1936 in the pages of The Unique Magazine. Four additional yarns and a handful of fragments were discovered by L. Sprague de Camp and Glenn Lord and published in the ensuing decades. Events are already being planned to mark this monumental milestone in Howardian history.

As announced a few weeks back, Chuck Hoffman will be the Guest of Honor at this year’s Howard Days (June 8 — 9). Chuck is one of the early pioneers of Howard lit crit and, with his credentials, he fits right in with this year’s theme for Howard Days, “80 Years of Conan the Cimmerian”:

The Robert E Howard Foundation, along with The Robert E Howard United Press Association and Project Pride, is pleased to announce that Charles Hoffman has accepted our invitation to be Guest of Honor at Robert E. Howard Days, June 8-9, 2012.

Chuck’s seminal essay, “Conan the Existentialist,” appearing in Amra 61 in March 1974, is widely regarded as the first true literary criticism of Howard’s work. Before its appearance, discussions of REH tended to take the form of book reviews or light-hearted “Hyborian scholarship.” Chuck was the first to stake out a claim for Howard as a writer whose work would repay critical scrutiny; he demonstrated clearly that the claim that “philosophical meanings” were absent from Howard’s work was untrue. He revised the essay for a later appearance in the magazine Ariel, and it has since been reprinted in Cromlech #1 and The Barbaric Triumph.

I know, Dennis and I will be a tough act to follow, but Chuck is more than capable enough to make us look like a couple of pikers. In addition to the Conan theme, there will also be a special panel devoted to Glenn and I imagine a few other tributes for him as well. The REHupa website should have the 2012 Howard Days webpage up and running soon, so be sure and check in over there from  time to time for updates.

PulpFest 2012 is also jumping on the Conan anniversary bandwagon. In addition to the main theme of the convention, celebrating 100 years of Tarzan, the folks at PulpFest will also recognize this important anniversary for Conan:

PulpFest will celebrate the Cimmerian’s eightieth birthday and honor Howard’s career with two very special programs. First, Rusty Burke will moderate a panel of REH experts who will discuss Conan, Howard’s other characters, and the author’s influence on the sword-and-sorcery genre. Rusty needs no introduction to devotees of “Two-Gun Bob.” He is the editor of the highly acclaimed Howard reprint series published in the US by Del Rey Books, the president of the Robert E. Howard Foundation, and a long-time participant in REHupa (The Robert E. Howard United Press Association). We will provide the names of other panelists as soon as they are confirmed.

The second Conan-themed presentation will be made by another well-known Howard aficionado, Jim Keegan, who with his wife Ruth produces “The Adventures of Two-Gun Bob,” which appears in every issue of Conan, Kull, and Solomon Kane published by Dark Horse Comics. The Keegans have also illustrated several of the Del Rey volumes (including Crimson Shadows and Grim Lands: The Best of Robert E. Howard, Volumes One & Two) and are the proprietors of Jim & Ruth’s Two-Gun Blog. Jim will offer a look at the Cimmerian as depicted by various illustrators over the last eight decades.

The guys at Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention are fans of Howard and Weird Tales, so I would not be surprised if they did not add an event or two to celebrate the Cimmerian’s 80th anniversary. And, of course, you’ll see some posts here on the blog marking this Cimmerian anniversary, as well a Conan treat or two in the upcoming new issue of TGR. By Crom, it will be a year to remember!

It was 106 years ago today that Robert E. Howard was born in the tiny town of Peaster, Texas.  In recent years, there have been celebrations in either Cross Plains or Austin to mark this anniversary, but this year the mood is more subdued and a gathering is not in the picture. Everyone is still mourning the passing of Glenn Lord and not feeling in a partying mood.

Howard himself did not make a big deal out of his birthday; perhaps it was the hardscrabble times he lived in where putting food on the table took precedence over throwing a party.  He only mentions birthdays a few times in his letters, making one reference about getting a book for his birthday. And he did make this comment in a letter to Harold Preece, postmarked September 5, 1928:

Today at town I saw the hang-over of some old and lascivious custom — a girl had a birthday and her girl and boy friends pounced upon her and indulged in a spanking debauch. I have never been able to find just how that custom originated, but have an idea its roots lie in the old superstition that spanking a woman or whipping her with a switch makes her bear children oftener and easier.

Howard was likely referring to an ancient tradition the Romans practiced called Lupercalia. Each spring young girls would be switched so that they would live longer lives and be fertile. This ritual was also carried out by the ancient Germans and the Druids.

Another possible origin the tradition is based on is the slap on the bottom newborns used to get at the time of birth. Physicians used this practice to cause the infant to cry, allowing breathing to begin. Nowadays they suction out their mouth and nose to remove any mucus to clear the airway.

At one time, it was considered bad luck if the birthday celebrant was not spanked because it “softened up the body for the tomb.” This idea has its roots in ancient Egypt where they were obsessively preoccupied with the afterlife.

Of course, the tradition of a birthday spanking exists all around the world, rooted in the idea of delivering some form of physical torment to the person whose birthday it is, in order to drive away evil and to attract good luck. A wide variety of torments are used from beatings, punches, earlobe-pulling and “The Bumps.” An extra “one to grow on” swat is usually added as a show of good luck to your health.

I don’t know if anyone was brave enough to give Howard a birthday spanking — particularly after he bulked up, but he seemed to enjoy writing about spankings and whippings, notably in his Conan yarns appearing in Weird Tales. Speaking of Conan, to commemorate Howard’s birth, I’ll be reading one of my favorite Conan stories today — either “Beyond the Black River” or “Red Nails” — I haven’t decided yet. Either way, it will be one heck of a ride.

Happy Birthday, Bob and thanks for all the yarns.

This entry filed under Howard Biography, Weird Tales.

Slavery, Retribution and Vengeance

Robert E. Howard’s hatred of the slave trade was unequivocal. His poems in this subject area are so vivid they could almost be used as part of the history of the slaves taken from Africa. It is one of the few subject areas in which REH shows no conflicting point of view in his poetry.

The opposite of slavery is freedom and in a letter to Farnsworth Wright. ca. June-July 1931, (The Collected Letters of Robert E. Howard, v. 2, p. 198) Howard expresses his definition of being free:

I’ve always had a honing to make my living by writing, ever since I can remember, and while I haven’t been a howling success in that line, at least I’ve managed for several years now to get by without grinding at some time-clock punching job. There’s freedom in this game, that’s the main reason I chose it. As Robert Service says in “A Rolling Stone”:

—In bellypinch I will pay the price
But God, let me be free!—
For once I know in the long ago,
They made a slave of me.

Life’s not worth living if somebody thinks he’s in authority over you……

Freedom was also a subject in the discussions between H. P. Lovecraft and Howard during their years of correspondence. In a letter to HPL, (ca. Dec 1932) The Collected Letters of Robert E. Howard, v. 2, p. 506) he further states,

If it came to a show-down, I suppose it would be natural for me to throw in with the working classes, since I am a member of that class, but I am far from idealizing — or idolizing — it or its members. In the last analysis, I reckon, I have but a single conviction or ideal, or whateverthehell it might be called: individual liberty. It’s the only thing that matters a damn. I’d rather be a naked savage, shivering, starving, freezing, hunted by wild beasts and enemies, but free to go and come, with the range of the earth to roam, than the fattest, richest, most bedecked slave in a golden palace with the crystal fountains, silken divans, and ivory-bosomed dancing girls of Haroun al Raschid. With that nameless black man I could say:

“Freedom, freedom,
Freedom over me! —
And before I’d be a slave,
I’d lie down in my grave
And go up to my God and be free!”

That’s why I yearn for the days of the early frontier, where men were more truly free than at any other time or place in the history of the world, since man first began to draw unto himself the self-forged chains of civilization. This is merely a personal feeling. I make no attempt to advocate a single ideal of personal liberty as the one goal of progress and culture. But by God, I demand freedom for myself. And if I can’t have it, I’d rather be dead.

With this demand of freedom for himself, the core feeling in the following poems becomes clearer.

First is “Cornish Jack” (undated) with its supernatural aspects. It tells the story of a lustful, cruel man, with a “hell-born soul.” He has cornered a frightened young tribal girl in one of the huts when quite literally, all Hell breaks loose. While the poem does not explicitly state Jack Cornish’s race, lines 5 through 8 could indicate he was actually an African. Africans themselves did play a role in the slave trade. Europeans rarely entered the interior of Africa due to a fear of disease and even more than that, the fierce resistance of the African warriors. It was a common practice for Africans to sell their captives or prisoners of war, usually taken from neighboring or enemy ethnic groups, to European buyers. The poem “Cornish Jack” is a story of revenge and divine retribution.

Away in the dusky barracoon,
A slave shrieked out, for against the moon
He’d seen a phantom leap up, then fade
From the top of the village barricade.
Then through the heavy gate unbarred
Came the massive-limbed Jekra guard.
A savage warrior, a Jekra brave,
He haled by the hair the shrinking slave,
Hurled him before him across a log,
With a rhino lash proceeded to flog.

So when the slave saw arrayed,
Another shape on the high stockade,
He spoke no word, though he gaped with surprise,
Silent—he thought of his welted thighs.
A moment the second phantom stood,

Like a ghastly specter of some dim wood,
Then vanished; still higher roared the din
Of lustful women and lusting men.

Through the deep, dusky shadows back
Of the village huts went Cornish Jack,
From empty hut to hut he stole,
Lust and desire in his Hell-born soul.
Ha! Chopping branches for fuel wood,
In the shadow a slim young woman stood.
Ha! Cornish Jack sucked in his breath,
He knew not his face was a mask of Death.
He knew he was Cornish Jack, the same
That had had his desire of many a dame.

A Thing of horror, a thing of night,
That loomed grotesque in the dancing light,
A midnight horror, a monstrous thing;
Each negro might have taken wing,
For they scattered, they fled, like leaves on the wind
And Devil might take the ones behind.
Still after the girl flew Cornish Jack,
Still the phantom stayed at his back.

Over beneath the high stockade,
Cornish Jack stopped the flying maid,
But ere he touched her, he turned by chance,
And followed her wild, half-insane glance.
Then jungle, stockade, and hut-roof peak
Echoed again with his frightful shriek.
And over the village a strange light shone,
For the Devil had come to claim his own.

Over the wall two phantoms sped,
Out through the jungle two phantoms fled,
They rode on the winds, they soared on the blast,
One fled swiftly, one followed fast.
On and on through the jungle wrack,
Like a flying smoke fled Cornish Jack,
On and on through the jungle dim,
Flaming, the Devil followed him.

And sometimes now, say the Jekra folk,
On a trail of flame and a trail of smoke
Hot on a roaring Hell-fire blast,
The flying twain go hurrying past.
And they say Cornish Jack is past them whirled,
And the Flaming God of the Flaming World.

Truly a tale of the devil coming to claim his own.

“Ju-Ju Doom” (undated) is another tale of retribution and vengeance. This time it’s directed towards Joab Worley, who Howard compares to “a great spider,” making him particularly loathsome.

As a great spider grows to monstrous girth
On life-blood sucked from smaller, cringing things,
So Joab Worley, in his plunderings
Of black folk spawned in nakedness and dearth,
Grew great in all the riches prized of earth;
Dwelling in state, a brother to black kings,
In his great throne-hut, safe from spears and slings;
The deep black jungle echoed to his mirth.

Until he dared to go, in drunken pride,
Alone into the ju-ju hut; all round
The black priests trembled and the drums were beat;
At last they, on their bellies crawled inside;
There Joab Worley lay, without a wound,
Stone dead before the leering idol’s feet.

In his description, REH calls Worley a “brother to black kings” and one who dwells in “his great throne-hut, safe from spears and slings”; but again he’s not clear regarding Worley’s race and there are good arguments for either side. Under the previous evaluation of “Cornish Jack,” it is noted that Europeans rarely ventured into interior Africa because of their fear of disease and the tribes.

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Howard based Bran Mak Morn and the Picts on the historical Picts he discovered in a New Orleans library. The Howards lived in New Orleans for a short time in 1919 when Dr. Howard was enrolled in medical classes at Tulane University. Howard recounts his discovery in a January, 1932 letter to H. P. Lovecraft:

Then when I was about twelve I spent a short time in New Orleans and found in a Canal Street library, a book detailing the pageant of British history, from prehistoric times up to — I believe — the Norman conquest. It was written for school-boys and told in an interesting and romantic style, probably with many historical inaccuracies. But there I first learned of the small dark people which first settled Britain, and they were referred to as Picts. I had always felt a strange interest in the term and the people, and now I felt a driving absorption regarding them. The writer painted the aborigines in no more admirable light than had other historians whose works I had read. His Picts were made to be sly, furtive, unwarlike, and altogether inferior to the races which followed — which was doubtless true. And yet I felt a strong sympathy for this people, and then and there adopted them as a medium of connection with ancient times. I made them a strong, warlike race of barbarians, gave them an honorable history of past glories, and created for them a great king — one Bran Mak Morn. I must admit my imagination was rather weak when it came to naming this character, who seemed to leap full grown into my mind. Many kings in the Pictish chronicles have Gaelic names, yet in order to be consistent with my fictionized version of the Pictish race, their great king should have a name more in keeping with their non-Aryan antiquity. But I named him Bran, for another favorite historical character of mine — the Gaul Brennus, who sacked Rome. The Mak Morn comes from the famous Irish hero, Gol Mac Morn. I changed the spelling of the Mac, to give it a non-Gaelic appearance, since the Gaelic alphabet contains no “k”, “c” being always given the “k” sound. So while Bran Mac Morn is Gaelic for “The Raven, Son of Morn”, Bran Mak Morn has no Gaelic significance, but has a meaning of its own, purely Pictish and ancient, with roots in the dim mazes of antiquity; the similarity in sound to the Gaelic term is simply a coincidence!

But what I intended to say was, I am not yet able to understand my preference for these so-called Picts. Bran Mak Morn has not changed in the years; he is exactly as he leaped full-grown into my mind — a pantherish man of medium height, with inscrutable black eyes, black hair and dark skin. This was not my own type; I was blond and rather above medium size than below. Most of my friends were of the same mold. Pronounced brunet types such as this were mainly represented by Mexicans and Indians, whom I disliked. Yet, in reading of the Picts, I mentally took their side against the invading Celts and Teutons, whom I knew to be my type and indeed, my ancestors. My interest, especially in my early boyhood, in these strange Neolithic people was so keen, that I was not content with my Nordic appearance, and had I grown into the sort of man, which in childhood I wished to become, I would have been short, stocky, with thick, gnarled limbs, beady black eyes, a low retreating forehead, heavy jaw, and straight, coarse black hair — my conception of a typical Pict. I cannot trace this whim to an admiration for some person of that type — it was a growth from my interest in the Mediterranean race which first settled Britain. Books dealing on Scottish history were easier for me to obtain than those dealing with Irish history, so in my childhood I knew infinitely more about Scottish history and legendry than Irish. I had a distinct Scottish patriotism, and liked nothing better than reading about the Scotch and English wars. I enacted these wars in my games and galloped full tilt through the mesquite on a bare-backed racing mare, hewing right and left with a Mexican machete and slicing off cactus pears which I pretended were the heads of English knights. But in reading of clashes between the Scotch and the Picts, I always felt my sympathies shift strangely. But enough of this; it isn’t my intention to bore you.

Being a voracious reader, Howard must have felt he had found a gold mine exploring the largest library he had seen at that point in his young life. And finding the Picts in that historical book (probably The Romance of Early British Life, From the Earliest Times to the Coming of the Danes, by G.F. Scott Elliott, London, Seeley & Co. Ltd, 1909) was just icing on the cake.

I was curious about this New Orleans library where a young Howard spent some time while his father attended medical classes nearby. A search of the 1919 property records for Canal Street only lists one library at 2940 Canal Street, so I thought it must be the one Howard visited. I also suspected it was a Carnegie Library since nearly 1,700 were built across the country during this time frame. Sure enough, a main library and five branches were funded in 1902 by the Carnegie Foundation. However, the Canal Street branch was not completed until 1911. I contacted a researcher at the New Orleans Public Library with hopes of finding some photos of the library during its heyday; however she was unable to locate any.

The Canal Street library closed in 1958, later reopening as a business college, it was used as a jobs training program for Spanish-speaking immigrants, and then it became a beauty school until 2005 when Hurricane Katrina and the ensuing floods severely damaged the building. But, as you can see from the accompanying photos, the old gal is still standing, though now painted a Windex blue.

One other item of interest, and something Howard would have liked, is a mural on a wall inside the library that was painted by a young artist in 1941 as part of the WPA program. The artist’s name was Edward Schoenberger. The mural’s theme is “The History of the Written Word,” which starts out depicting the cavemen and their drawings and progresses to the then present (1941) newspaper printing techniques.

Schoenberger designed the historic tableau in the stiff, cartoonish style that was popular for public art in the Mid-Century. In addition to the cavemen, Egyptians, monks, calligraphers and old Gutenberg himself are depicted on the mural. Schoenberger did not apply paint directly to the library wall. He used a 50-foot fabric sheet affixed to a layer of plaster, producing what was said to be the largest continuous artist’s canvas in the world at the time.

He was an artist with a sense of humor – he wrote an inscription on one of the monks’ books at the center of the mural, too small to be visible from the library floor: “If you can read this, you are too damn close . . .” He also added a few personal flourishes — the faces of the monks are based on friends and members of his family, including himself and his first wife.

Sometime after the library changed hands, the 16-foot ceiling of the reading room was lowered six feet in the type of renovation typical of the 1960s era. This caused the only the top third of the “History of the Written Word,” to become visible in what was now an attic and resulted in the lower portion being covered with plaster and paint, totally obscuring the bottom portion of mural. In addition to the damage done by the construction of the false ceiling, graffiti taggers had done their dirty work defacing the mural and added duct work, plumbing, and electrical equipment punctured the surface of the mural.

By the time his mural was damaged and truncated, Schoenberger’s career had taken him on an artistic tour of the United States. According to an obituary from a Wausau, Wisconsin funeral home website, the artist had painted military-themed murals while serving in the Air Force at Kelly Field Texas during World War II; attended classes at the Art Students League in New York; and finally moved to Wausau where he became director of the Marathon County Historical Museum. Schoenberger passed away in October 2007 at the age of 92.

In September of 2008, a chiropractor named Sylvi Beaumont, bought the three-story Italianate structure with the intention of converting it into a yoga school. She chose the building because it was close to downtown and a nearby streetcar line. The doctor soon discovered the buried antique mural and, despite its poor condition, she considered it a bonus, making its restoration part of her renovation plans.

After considering several costly options, Dr. Beaumont turned to Jeanne Louise Chauffe, an artist who specializes in period painting and faux finishes. Ms. Chauffe had previously worked for Beaumont and agreed to take on the task.

Ms. Chauffe restored the “History of the Written Word” mural in the hot stillness of the un-air conditioned, un-ventilated building. She spent the six months carefully flaking the plaster from the canvas weave, doing her best not to disturb Schoenberger’s brushwork beneath. She patched the gaping holes and cracks with metal mesh and plaster. As she prepared to repaint lost and blemished areas of the painting, she applied a barrier of dissolvable varnish, so that future generations could separate her work from Schoenberger’s. When she finished, the building was still a barren, gutted hulk, awaiting the permits needed to begin the renovation, but Schoenberger’s mural shone in its original glory. The story of the restored mural detailed in this video.

So if you are ever in New Orleans, stop by the building (now the Swan River Yoga Shala) at 2940 Canal Street where Howard discovered the Picts and take a look at the “History of the Written Word” mural. Of course, you should also take a few minutes to visualize what the library was like in its glory days and imagine a young Two-Gun Bob roaming the aisles, looking for secrets to the past while daydreaming of ages undreamed of.

Offensive or Derogatory Words or Phrases

The five poems in this next category contain demeaning and derogatory expressions for Africans and African-Americans, including the offensive word “nigger” in the first two.

“De Ole River-Ox” (undated) The racism analysis of this poem includes the use of the “N” word as well as the dialect itself.

De ole river-ox come over de ridge!
    Whoom! Whoom!
He bellow, he roar, he fling his head,
He tear up de reeds where de mud-flats spread!
He low, and he plunge and he butt de bridge.
He shake he horns at de gnat an’ midge,
    An’ he kick up de spray an’ spume.

De ole river-ox on a big rampage!
    Whoom! Whoom!
He lash his tail and he stomp his hoofs
An’ he splash de spray on de niggers’ roofs.
He roar an’ he prance wid a marvelous rage
An’ he try uproot de landin’ stage!
    An’ he whirls de banks like a flume.

De ole river-ox come up to de sea!
    Whoom! Whoom!
He catch de boats in his yellow horns
And he tromp ’em down just like he scorns.
He stomp de ocean an’ low an’ roar
An’ drive de ships way up on de shore.
    An’ shouts in de flyin’ spume.

Merriam-Webster defines “nigger” as an offensive description of a black person or a member of any dark skinned race. But even among dictionaries there is no agreement. The online Urban Dictionary (21st Century Definition) says it is: “An offensive word that, despite its past usage as an racial slur, is now gaining popularity as a word to describe ignorant, ill mannered, or low-class people, without regard to their ethnicity.”

In A Critical Pronouncing Dictionary, and Expositor of the English Language (Collins and Hannay, No. 230, Pearl Street, NY 1819) the words “racist” and “racism” do not appear. Nor does the word “nigger.” In it, “negro” as a “blackmore” with this added note: “Some speakers, but only those of the very lowest order, pronounce this word as if written ‘ne-gur.’”

Although today it is generally regarded as a racial slur, despite its 21st Century meaning, that was not always true. Webster-online-dictionary website states:

In the United States, the word nigger was not always considered derogatory, but was instead used by many as merely denotative of black skin, as it was in other parts of the English-speaking world. In nineteenth-century literature, there are many uses of the word nigger with no intended negative connotation. Charles Dickens, and Joseph Conrad (who published The Nigger of the ‘Narcissus’ in 1897) used the word without racist intent. Mark Twain often put the word into the mouths of his characters, white and black, but did not use the word when writing as himself in his autobiographical Life on the Mississippi.

The word was much more common in usage in REH’s time and even into the 1950s. For example, in the movie, The Dam Busters, Wing Commander Guy Gibson’s black dog bears that name which was changed to “Trigger” for US film distributions. Ironically, the dog playing “Nigger” in the film had that name.

Does a racial slur constitute racism? While this concept has been thoroughly examined under “The Gods of the Jungle Drums,” in Part 2, Fredrickson’s definition of racism also applies.

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.

In this case, Howard is referring to the roofs of people who live next to the river. Again, it is mainstream thinking but even under that meaning, his statements do not contain anything derogatory about African-Americans as a people.

The other issue in this poem is whether REH’s use of the dialect can be considered racism. Did he use it to be purposefully offensive or demeaning? Without more information about the circumstances under which the poem was written, this can’t be determined. However, there are other clues regarding its usage. A possible reason that should be considered is Howard’s background and familiarity with the dialect. In The Collected Letters of Robert E. Howard, v. 2, pp 75-6, he writes to H. P. Lovecraft:

As regards African-legend sources, I well remember the tales I listened to and shivered at, when a child in the “piney woods” of East Texas, where Red River marks the Arkansas and Texas boundaries. There were quite a number of old slave darkies still living then. The one to whom I listened most was the cook, old Aunt Mary Bohannon who was nearly white — about one sixteenth negro, I should say…. She told many tales, one which particularly made my hair rise; it occurred in her youth. A young girl going to the river for water, met, in the dimness of dusk, an old man, long dead, who carried his severed head in one hand. This, said Aunt Mary, occurred on the plantation of her master, and she herself saw the girl come screaming through the dusk, to be whipped for throwing away the water-buckets in her flight.

Another tale she told that I have often met with in negro-lore. The setting, time and circumstances are changed by telling, but the tale remains basically the same. Two or three men — usually negroes — are travelling in a wagon through some isolated district — usually a broad, deserted river-bottom. They come on to the ruins of a once thriving plantation at dusk, and decide to spend the night in the deserted plantation house. This house is always huge, brooding and forbidding, and always, as the men approach the high columned verandah, through the high weeds that surround the house, great numbers of pigeons rise from their roosting places on the railing and fly away. The men sleep in the big front-room with its crumbling fire-place, and in the night they are awakened by a jangling of chains, weird noises and groans from upstairs. Sometimes footsteps descend the stairs with no visible cause. Then a terrible apparition appears to the men who flee in terror. This monster, in all the tales I have heard, is invariably a headless giant, naked or clad in shapeless sort of garment, and is sometimes armed with a broad-axe. This motif appears over and over in negro-lore.

This poem and other dialect poems of the same nature could be the result of his relationship with Aunt Mary Bohannon and are possible tributes to her memory. The article, ”The Dialects of American English,” which traces the English language in its many forms in the United States, was used to trace the dialect used in the poem. It states: “Southern English was mixed with Black English when Black nannies helped to raise white children. The resulting language was a form of pidgin English.”

The Howards stayed in Bagwell from mid-1913 to January 1915 — long enough according to his letter above to keep an impressionable boy spellbound with her horror stories and possibly to pick up her way of speaking. Aunt Mary Bohannon was not a nanny for Howard, but her tales had a great influence on him. Most Howard readers will recognize his short story, “Pigeons From Hell” in the second paragraph quoted above.

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From time to time frequent TGR contributor Charles Saunders jumps in his wayback machine and brings back some gems from the heyday of the Howard Boom. One of these gems is his classic article “A Mouthful of Feathers” that appeared in The Chronicler of Cross Plains #1 in 1978. The article compares the similarities and differences between two giants of adventure fiction — Conan and Tarzan, particularly in a similar scene that appears in “A Witch Shall Be Born” and Tarzan the Untamed. Since Howard did read Burroughs, it is possible that he was inspired by the vulture scene in Untamed when he was writing “Witch.” However, while a copy of Tarzan the Untamed does not appear on Rusty Burke’s “The Robert E. Howard Bookshelf” list, he could have checked it out from the library or borrowed a copy from a friend.

Here are the classic scenes comparing the two heroes taking that un-tasty bite out of the vultures menacing them:


In his dulled ears sounded the louder beat of wings. Lifting his head he watched with the burning glare of a wolf the shadows wheeling above him. He knew that his shouts would frighten them away no longer. Conan drew his head back as far as he could, waiting with terrible patience. The vulture swept in with a swift roar of wings. Its beak flashed down, ripping the skin on Conan’s chin as he jerked his head aside; then, before the bird could flash away; Conan’s head lunged forward on his mighty neck muscles, and his teeth, snapping like those of a lion, locked on the bare, wattled neck.

Instantly the vulture exploded into squawking, flapping hysteria. its thrashing limbs blinded the man, and its talons ripped his chest. But grimly he held on, the muscles starting in lumps on his jaws. And the scavenger’s neck bones crunched between those powerful teeth. With a spasmodic flutter the bird hung limp. Conan let go, spat blood from his mouth. The other vultures, terrified by the fate of their companion, were in full flight to a distant tree, where they perched like black demons in conclave.


Ska, filled with suspicions, circled warily. Twice he almost alighted upon the great naked breast only to wheel suddenly away; but the third time his talons touched the brown skin. It was as though the contact closed an electrical circuit that instantaneously vitalized the quite clod that had lain motionless for so long. A brown hand swept downward from the brown forehead and before Ska could raise a wing in flight he was in the clutches of his intended victim.

Ska fought, but he was no match even for a dying Tarzan, and a moment later the ape-man’s teeth closed on the carrion-eater. The flesh was coarse and tough and gave off an unpleasant odor and a worse taste; but it was food and the blood was drink and Tarzan was only an ape at heart and a dying ape into the bargain … dying of hunger and thirst.

Exciting, but appetite suppressing stuff. If you have the stomach for more, mosey on over to Charles’s website and read the entire post and while you are there, check out Charles’ take on a Conan vs. Tarzan match-up in “Fantasy Superfight: Conan vs. Tarzan.”

This entry filed under Charles R. Saunders, Howard's Fiction.

I love a mystery. Unfortunately, I don’t really have the time or cash to spend a lot of time in Texas, where all of my favorite mysteries are, but I did manage a trip during the first week of January with my dad. Rather than explore old Texas towns as we usually do, this trip was full of courthouses and documents—those led to old Texas towns, but that wasn’t what we set out to do. The mystery at hand was Robert E. Howard’s vague reference to the “Wichita Falls country” in his circa October 1930 letter to H. P. Lovecraft:

Why, by the time I was nine years old I’d lived in the Palo Pinto hills of Central Texas; in a small town only fifty miles from the Coast; on a ranch in Atascosa County; in San Antonio; on the South Plains close to the New Mexican line; in the Wichita Falls country up next to Oklahoma; and in the piney woods of Red River over next to Arkansas.

This laundry list of locations was repeated close to a year later in a letter to Wilfred B. Talman:

I was born in the little ex-cowtown of Peaster, about 45 miles west of Fort Worth, in the winter of 1906, but spent my first summer in lonely Dark Valley among the sparsely settled Palo Pinto hills. From then until I was nearly nine years old I lived in various parts of the state — in a land-boom town on the Staked Plains, near the New Mexico line; in the Western Texas sheep country; in San Antonio; on a ranch in South Texas; in a cattle town on the Oklahoma line, near the old North Texas oil-fields; in the piney woods of East Texas; finally in what later became the Central West Texas Oil-belt.

Now, let’s connect the dots. Peaster, Dark Valley, and the “Palo Pinto hills” require no explanation. The “South Plains” and “Staked Plains” near New Mexico are references to Seminole, where the Howards lived in 1908. “Western Texas sheep country” must be Bronte, where the Howards lived in 1909. For San Antonio and Atascosa County, we turn to Dr. I. M. Howard’s November 7, 1936 letter to his sister-in-law, Jess Searcy:

I well remember when Robert was only four years old we spent the winter in San Antonio and the spring months in Atascosa County, some thirty miles south of San Antonio.

Robert turned four in 1910, and it is then that we find Isaac M. Howard registered in Atascosa County, mailing address at Poteet. This appears to be the location of the “ranch in South Texas.”

The “piney woods” are located in Bagwell, Red River County, where the Howards lived starting in 1913. The “Central West Texas Oil-belt” is the region surrounding and including Cross Plains. That leaves us with only two unidentified locations: “a small town only fifty miles from the Coast” and the “cattle town on the Oklahoma line, near the old North Texas oil-fields,” i.e. the “Wichita Falls country.” I have yet to do much traveling near the coast, so let’s see what we can find near the Oklahoma line.

“Wichita Falls country” has been a problem for biographers starting with L. Sprague de Camp. In Dark Valley Destiny, he handles it this way:

The Howards’ next move was to a place near Wichita Falls. Although there is no record of Dr. Howard’s medical registration in the District Clerk’s Office in any of the three nearby counties—Wichita, Clay, or Archer—Robert later told Lovecraft that his family had made their home in a little cattle town near the old North Texas oil field, which lies in the Wichita Falls area.

Turns out de Camp was wrong on at least one point, but we’ll get to that later. Some time after DVD was published, Howard fans started focusing on Burkburnett as the most likely “little cattle town.” A quick look at a Texas map will show that it is in Wichita Falls country and certainly near, if not on, “the Oklahoma line.”

Due to its format and intended audience, the next big work, Rusty Burke’s A Short Biography of Robert E. Howard, bypasses the issue completely: “Isaac Howard seems to have been possessed of a combination of wanderlust and ambition that led him to move his family frequently in search of better opportunities. By the time he was eight, Robert had lived in at least seven different, widely scattered Texas towns.” However, in Seanchai 111 (REHupa mailing 197, Feb. 2006), Burke notes the following:

Robert himself seems to suggest that, during at least some part of this three-year period [1911 to 1913], the Howards were living near the Oklahoma line, in what he calls “the Wichita Falls country” in a letter to H.P. Lovecraft, and told Talman was “a cattle town. . . near the old North Texas oil fields.” Thus far no documentary evidence for this has been located.

Burke ends the section with this:

In 1911 the North Central oil fields produced almost 900,000 barrels of oil; in 1912 the figure was over 4 million and in 1913 over 8 million barrels. Either Electra or Burkburnett might qualify in REH’s mind as an “ex-cowtown,” since both had their beginnings in association with large ranches. Unless some other evidence comes to light, we will never really know whether Howard lived in the “Wichita Falls country” at all. If he did, it would have given him his first experience of an oil boom town.

Both Electra and Burkburnett are in Wichita County, with Wichita Falls serving as the county seat. Any investigation of Howard’s claim would have to include a stop in that county, but before we hit the road there’s one more source to check.

The most recent biography, Mark Finn’s Blood and Thunder: The Life and Art of Robert E. Howard, tells it like it is: “The years 1911 and 1912 are somewhat confusing. Howard mentions [. . .] that he lived in the Wichita Falls area up next to Oklahoma.” After recounting Howard’s description of the area, Finn adds the following:

The evidence suggests that Isaac pulled the family out to the burgeoning Burkburnett Oil Field to see if it suited him. When oil was struck in 1912, the town became swamped as a torrent of people invaded the area in what had become the usual boomtown fashion.

Finn goes on to say that the Howards then returned to the Palo Pinto area before moving on to Red River County and Bagwell.

With all the bookwork finished, let’s look at the map. Howard’s use of “Wichita Falls country” leaves lots of wiggle room. De Camp says he looked in three counties— Wichita, Clay, and Archer—maybe by expanding the net to include nearby Wilbarger, Baylor, and Montague Counties, I could find something. Montague County was especially enticing: Dr. Howard had registered there in May 1900, could a return to familiar stomping grounds be the solution? Me and my dad made our plans and hit the road on January 1, 2012.

After spending some time near Waco, we headed up to the Wichita Falls country: first stop, Montague County. After searching several courthouses in the days preceding our arrival, my dad and I were old hands at searching for what we were after. We scoured the land purchases from 1899 to 1915 and found nothing. Neither the County nor District Clerk knew anything about a physician registry. Strike one.

Over in Henrietta, the County Seat of Clay County, our luck changed. We walked into the courthouse and found the District Clerk. She informed us that the County Clerk’s office was located across the street. While we were there, of course, we asked about a physician registry from the early 1900s. “No one has ever asked for that before,” she said, but had no trouble producing it. I opened it up to the section marked “G H” and there it was: “Howard, I. M. – 51.”

Breathless, I turned to page 51 and received part of the answer to the riddle of the Howards’ whereabouts from 1911 to 1913: on December 19, 1912, Doc Howard was standing right there in the Clay County courthouse, presenting his credentials (click thumbnail below).

Now, funny thing about these physician registries: they don’t actually tell you when the physician began practicing in the county. For example, while researching for Dark Valley Destiny, Jane Griffin learned that Doctor Howard had started recording births in Gains County (Seminole) as early as February 1908, but he did not present his credentials to the county until September [UPDATE: A document found in Bexar County indicates that this registration was actually in Coke County, not Gaines]. If this is how things worked, the Howards could have been living in Clay County for a long time before Isaac registered in December, but where in the county? A typed statement signed by Doctor Howard said that his “post office address” was Byers, Texas (a scene from Byers in 1910 heads this post).

I turned to the clerk: “Do you know where Byers is?”

“Sure,” she said. “It’s up north on 79, about five miles from the Oklahoma line.”

As I chatted with the clerk, my dad took several pictures of the book and its pages, with two different cameras. When he was finished, we crossed the street to the County Clerk’s office. No land records for I. M. Howard were found. Next stop, Byers.

The town (above) will require a little more looking into, maybe there’s a newspaper or library, but based on what we saw in our drive-by I doubt it: lots of crumbling buildings and abandoned storefronts. Next stop, Wichita Falls.

I could go on, but there’s nothing more to tell. The Wichita County library and courthouse had no information. The District Clerk looked at me like I was crazy when I asked for a physician registry; the County Clerk had never heard of one but did spend some time looking around, to no avail. From there, we went to Burkburnett and found nothing useful in their library. At Electra (seen below in 1912), we found a superior library, but no information on the Howards. Wichita County was all tapped out.

Despite the lack of evidence in Wichita County, Isaac Howard may well have worked in Burkburnett, too. Without a physician registry, there’s no way to rule it out. He was, after all, always trying to expand his territory, and what’s a county line to a country doctor? But at least we now know—without question—that I. M. Howard practiced in Byers, near “the Oklahoma line,” and we finally have the evidence to back up Robert Howard’s claim that he once lived in the Wichita Falls country.

Now, what towns are fifty miles from the Coast?

“With honors well deserved” is the last line in Glenn Lord’s obituary and refers to the military honors given at a veteran’s graveside. In Glenn’s case, he got quite a send-off. A nine member honor guard was present, with a seven riflemen firing off a 21-shot salute, followed by the playing of taps and the folding of the flag ceremony and presentation of the flag to Glenn’s widow, Lou Ann. When infantryman Lord was slogging his way across the frozen landscape of Korea — tired, wet, cold and dirty — I doubt he could have imagined one day he’d be given such honors. That’s because he would be the first one to tell you he was not in Korea for the glory, he was just doing his job, defending his country.

But now the final note from the trumpet has echoed across the ether, and everyone has given their honors to Glenn, paid in the form of heartfelt tributes and remembrances, what does the future hold for Howard Fandom as everyone turns their attention to other matters?

The answer is Howard Fandom will never be the same. Only one person has a higher standing in Howard Fandom and that is Howard himself. You can’t lose someone that important and have it not affect everything from the top down. This is not to say everyone active in Howard Fandom won’t continue to do what they were doing prior to December 31, 2011, but special care has to be taken to ensure Howard’s Legacy lives on. In other words, the game has to be brought up a notch or two. Make no doubt about it, even though he had not been the agent for Howard’s work in many years, he still worked quietly behind the scenes, particularly in the area of scholarship.

As I noted above, everyone is moving on to other matters and the same is true on this website and blog. While we just wrapped up week of posts paying tribute the Father of Howard Fandom, fear not — Glenn will not be forgotten here on the TGR website. Shortly, a permanent page honoring Glenn will soon be placed online and from time to time you’ll see see posts about Glenn and the incredible contributions he made bringing the many lost Howardian treasures to light.

The future of any legacy is very fragile thing, but worry not – we will be handling it with care here on the TGR blog and will continue to give both Howard and Glenn the honors they so well deserve.

This entry filed under Glenn Lord, Howard Fandom, Howard Scholarship.

In his article “Imagine,” which appeared in Anniversary: Glenn Lord and The Howard Collector, Rob Roehm poses a question: “Imagine for a moment a world in which Glenn Lord didn’t discover the works of Robert E. Howard. Frightening, isn’t it?” Rusty Burke poses the same question in a different way: “When I think of what we might not have had were it not for Glenn, and his dedication to Howard, I’m put in mind of a kind of reverse Ozymandias: without him, a wasteland…”

All of us reading Robert E. Howard have directly received the benefits of Glenn Lord’s frequent forays to obtain and preserve the REH typescripts or copies of his stories and poems. Those benefits go beyond just reading. Many Howard scholars have acknowledged that Glenn Lord’s generous assistance with their REH projects has had life changing results. He inspired many of us to not only read what REH created, but to write about REH “the Man.” Books using Howard’s own words were published, other books on Howard related subjects edited, articles and blogs written and information was gathered as a result.

Reading the tributes to Glenn over the past few days, I found many descriptive adjectives: quiet, self-effacing, kind, incredibly generous, and honest are just some of these. I would like to add that he followed his own passion, did what he loved and dreamed his own dream. On this blog, Damon Sasser gathered the website links for the tributes to Glenn. I went through and extracted something from each of them plus excerpts from some of the many acknowledgements written in almost every volume published about REH. They paint an awesome portrait of Glenn Lord.

Barbara Barrett

To Glenn Lord for his relentless dedication towards the preservation of REH’s own words (The Wordbook: An Index Guide to the Poetry of Robert E. Howard)

Rusty Burke

To Glenn Lord for his many years of championing REH and specifically for his support of this project. (The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian)

To Glenn Lord for his years of effort on behalf of REH and for his hard work in assisting this project. (The Bloody Crown of Conan)

To Glenn Lord, friend and mentor, and Robert E. Howard’s mightiest champion. (The Conquering Sword of Conan)

I wasn’t about to miss the eightieth birthday of one of the most important people in my life. What would my life have been like without Glenn Lord, without his friendship and his mentoring and his patience with my endless requests for material and information? Look over the past 53 years, beginning with Always Comes Evening, and think of all the books he edited or provided content for, all the fanzines he encouraged with his benevolence, all the scholarship that he worked tirelessly and without fanfare to promote. When I think of what we might not have had were it not for Glenn, and his dedication to Howard, I’m put in mind of a kind of reverse Ozymandias: without him, a wasteland, but fortunately we are able to look upon his works and rejoice. (REHupa Mailing #232, “Houston Trip Report,” December 2011)

Bill Cavalier

We’ve just received word that our Friend and Mentor Glenn Lord passed away today. (REHupa website)

Mike Chomko

If you have ever enjoyed any of Robert E. Howard’s creations–Conan, Kull, Solomon Kane, or any of the countless other characters that Howard brought to life–you owe a debt of gratitude to the late Glenn Lord. (PulpFest website)

Frank Coffman

I only met with Glenn in person on three occasions – all at Howard Days events. I’ll always remember him as a kind and friendly and completely approachable man, with none of the airs one might have taken in the position of preeminent scholar, early biographer and literary agent for REH. He was a man of vast knowledge with a keen appreciation of literature – both prose and poetry. (The Robert-E-Howard: Electronic Amateur Press Association blog)

Mark Finn

See, if you’ve read any Robert E. Howard, and it wasn’t Conan the Cimmerian, you have Glenn to thank for that. As the agent for the Howard estate, Glenn published and put publishing deals together from the late 1950s up to the 1990s. He tracked down Howard’s poems and letters. He found original typescripts and tear sheets for Howard’s entire writing career. As a collector, he owns the vast majority of everything that REH wrote. But in his role as Howard’s agent, he generously granted access to his collection in order to get Howard’s work out there, into the world, for all of us to read and enjoy. Even when he was no longer the agent, he continued to help with the ongoing publishing efforts. That’s the kind of guy Glenn was. He was the Source. He was the guy with the inside track, the little scrap of info, that one thing that you needed, and he gave without thinking. (Finn’s Wake website)

 Charles Gramlich

I met Glenn several times in Cross Plains, Texas. Always a kind word for everyone. Always polite and completely unaware it seemed of his celebrity among Howard fans. (Adventures Fantastic website Comment)

Leo Grin

Glenn lived long enough to receive numerous accolades for his work and saw his side win in the big spiritual and critical battle for REH’s legacy over the de Campian crowd…If there’s an afterlife of any sort, then doubtless he finally met the spirit of the guy who fueled his obsession these last sixty years. Maybe Steve Tompkins made the introductions. (REH Two-Gun Raconteur website, from Rob Roehm’s “A Rambling Reminescence”)

  Chris Gruber

I could recite the compositional narratives that he produced in support of his life’s passion, I could list his written promotion of the author Robert E. Howard beginning with his first essays and ending with his work as Director Emeritus of an organization that exists solely due to the efforts of two people: Robert E. Howard, the author whose work is valued by so many, and Glenn, the man who tracked it down and safeguarded it against the twin dangers of Time and Indifference. I could say that he was also a true fan, interested not only in the commercially viable Conan stories but also in the lesser known works that help the rest of us to revel in the full depth and sophistication of an unparalleled imagination. I could say that he was an adventurer whose vision and dedication helped preserve a unique history that continues to shine long after he has passed. I could say that he was supremely dedicated to preserving the legacy of a long dead author the world had almost forgotten about as I recount the many miles, months and years he drove from town to town, spoke with countless people, and tallied for the rest of us the three dimensional life of Robert E. Howard…I could say all that and more and not have gained an inch on the measuring stick of his life and importance to those of us who knew him. I knew Glenn, though I cannot say I knew him half as well as I would have liked… He was likeable, affable and a gentleman. I liked him very much. (The Punch-Drunk Bard website)

 Dave Hardy

Glenn enriched my enjoyment and understanding of REH’s achievements incalculably. He was gracious and helpful to fans and researchers…I was fortunate enough to meet Glenn at Howard Days in Cross Plains years ago. I was a gushing fan. He was courteous and kind. Later that same weekend we chatted a bit, we didn’t talk about Conan or de Camp or the history of REH publishing, but East Texas towns and Houston traffic. Glenn had a life outside of fandom. He served his country in the Korean War, as other generations of the Lord family have served in more recent conflicts. He was a quiet man, given to brief and occasionally blunt statements, but with warm, good humor. I count myself lucky to have been able to thank Glenn for all he did for REH fandom. I last saw him at his eightieth birthday party in November, surrounded by generations of his loving family. (Fire and Sword website)

 Al Harron

Glenn Lord, the World’s #1 Howard Fan and Mentor to so many of us, passed away on December 31, 2011. (The Blog That Time Forgot website)

If you are a fan of Robert E. Howard, Conan, or any of his creations, then you owe Glenn Lord your thanks. If you picked up a Lancer or Sphere or Berkeley in the Howard Boom of the ’60s and ’70s, you can thank Glenn Lord for getting the stories printed across dozens of publishers. If you tore through an issue of Marvel’s Conan the Barbarian, you can thank Glenn Lord for providing Roy Thomas with indispensible advice and assistance, and even then-unpublished stories for adaptation. If you watched Conan the Barbarian in 1982, you can thank Glenn Lord for negotiating the deal to make and film it. If you’ve enjoyed anything related to Kull, Solomon Kane, or the other creations of the Man from Cross Plains, then you owe Glenn Lord for promoting all of Howard’s work beyond just Conan. If you’ve read any scholarly material on Howard or his creations, be it a critical anthology or a wiki site, you can thank Glenn Lord for being the man to start it all (Conan The Movie website)

I’ve always maintained that Howard’s work spoke for itself, and that it didn’t need “saving” from obscurity. It did, however, need – or rather, deserved – cultivating, preserving, promoting. Howard’s works were like the relics of a lost civilization buried under the desert: perfectly preserved and able to withstand the ravages of time, but who could enjoy them when swallowed by the sands? Glenn Lord was the archaeologist, the excavator, the adventurer: searching for clues to every artifact’s location, cataloguing and documenting every lead, and bringing his findings to the world. The world of Robert E. Howard without Glenn Lord is like Egyptology without Champollion: one that can barely be comprehended. (Conan Forum website) 

Paul Herman

First and foremost is Glenn Lord, whose tireless efforts to find everything, and then to disseminate a great amount of the information, is the touchstone for starting any such project. Glenn provided innumerable details for this volume and can easily take credit for supplying the largest portion of the information… (The Neverending Hunt)

To Glenn Lord, the first and best paladin of Robert E. Howard, the standard that may never be equaled (The Neverending Hunt Dedication)

John Hocking

Mr. Lord sent me a kind, encouraging letter with instructions on how best to contact those who controlled Conan. In its small way, this polite deed says something about the kind of gentleman Glenn Lord must have been. I never knew the man, but between his peerless, foundational work with Howard’s writings and his, in retrospect, remarkable kindness to an uninformed newcomer, I mourn him. (Black Gate website Comment)

Dave Houston

I tell you this as I now realise that it was because of what Glenn Lord had accomplished with Howard’s works, which had led me to this path in life. Without it I would have been caught up in the daily life of riots and death in the streets of my native town Belfast, Northern Ireland. It shaped me and formed my life for the better and without it I would have been worse off no doubt. My father used to say to my mother when she complained of her child playing with demon figures and pentagrams and small barbarian figures, that it is damaging to his mind, and my father pointed out, that least he is where we can see him and not on the streets fighting and getting shot etc. (Comics Centre website)

 Brian Leno

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…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. (REH: Two-Gun Raconteur website)

 Patrice Louinet

I would like to thank Glenn Lord, for fifteen years of understanding and cooperation, and for being the gentlemen that he is. (The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian)

Thanks to Glenn Lord for his support of this project and his continuous help. These books couldn’t exist without you. (The Bloody Crown of Conan)

Without Glenn, these Conan books would never have been what they are; I can never repay you for your help and patience with my never-ending and sometimes weird requests. (The Conquering Sword of Conan)

[H]e would always include some copies of typescripts and, at first, even bought me the books I needed but had no way to find in Limoges, France. I sent him money at first, but he soon told me that he was not keeping count, and proposed what he called a “gentleman’s agreement”: I was to find him what foreign books and publications he needed, and send them to him…We discovered Howard had been published in virtually every country in the world, most of the time in pirate publications, and many had begun to appear after the collapse of the USSR. I remember tracking those from Estonia, how he would marvel at the sheer number of Conan books published in Russia (nearly a hundred at the time), and the fun we had trying to match the text or cover to a specific story or equivalent of an American edition. Over the next few years I would buy, receive and send him books from I don’t know how many countries. It was more than a fanzine or two this time, but it was — again — terribly inadequate when compared to the sheer bulk of material he was sending my way…I remember Glenn laughing at the World Fantasy Con in Austin, in 2006, when I brought him a page from a transcript of an interview in which the de Camps described him as a truck driver and a man so inferior in social status to them it was almost shocking. I remember him showing that piece of paper to everyone in sight and just chuckling: “a truck driver!”…I remember that evening in Cross Plains when he brought me, among other things, the original typescript to “The God in the Bowl” so I could read it so very close to the Howard house, a few yards away from where Bob Howard had typed it. It was one of those magical moments in my life, and I know he knew perfectly well what it would mean for me. (REH Two-Gun Raconteur website)

  Joe and Mona Marek

No One Knows More About Robert E. Howard! (first line of cover on Glenn Lord’s Ultima Thule)

Dennis McHaney

I was with Glenn just a few weeks ago, at his 80th birthday party. I will miss Glenn like he was a member of my own family. (McHaney’s Robert E. Howard website)

If it weren’t for Glenn Lord, none of us would be here today. There just wouldn’t be any Howard fandom as we know it. No Howard Days, no Wandering Star Press, no Del Rey Library, and no Conan comic books…Without Glenn Lord, Arnold Schwarzenegger would likely never have found the role that turned him into a superstar of action films…Without Glenn Lord, the Robert E. Howard section of our libraries would be unimagineably sparse. Without Glenn’s quest for the lost trunk of Howard papers, all we would have is Howard’s Weird Tales legacy and the inferior L. Sprague de Camp paperback series, and the latter would likely have disappeared with the bankruptcy of Lancer books, if not for the expanded interest in Howard caused solely from the efforts of one man – Glenn Lord. (Anniversary: Glenn Lord and The Howard Collector)

To Glenn, with Love (Anniversary: Glenn Lord and The Howard Collector, Dedication)

Brian Murphy

I never met nor corresponded with Lord but like every other REH fan in existence I’m deeply in his debt. (The Silver Key website)

 John O’Neill

I met Glenn very briefly, at the World Fantasy Convention. What struck me the most was how friendly he was to everyone and how much respect that audience of mostly professionals had for the man. (Black Gate website Comment)

James Reasoner

The way I’ll always remember him, with a friendly smile on his face and an eagerness to talk about Robert E. Howard, pulp magazines, or anything else under the sun. He was one of the most truly decent men I’ve ever known. Rest in peace, Glenn. (Rough Edges website)

Rob Roehm

The vast majority of Howard’s typescripts and manuscripts, or transcriptions thereof, were provided by Glenn Lord. Without his assistance this volume, and many others, would never have appeared. (The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard)

To Glenn Lord – gracious Howard archivist, and genuine Southern gentleman of the first caliber, for giving his blessings to the reprinting of the first three issues of The Howard Collector (West is West)

As with all things related to Robert E. Howard publishing, this collection would not have been possible without the efforts of Glenn Lord. His dedication to tracking down and acquiring Howard materials, and then sharing them with his fellow fans and scholars, has never been surpassed, and he’s been at it for something like fifty years. This collection is a late birthday gift to the Godfather of Howard studies. (The Collected Drawings of Robert E. Howard)

I know that at some future Howard Days, when I’m older and balder, I’ll borrow E. Hoffmann Price’s words, substituting Glenn for Robert E. Howard: “Gentlemen, this is the hand that shook the hand of Glenn Lord! Line forms on the right, quit shoving, and don’t step on the women and children.” (REH Two-Gun Raconteur website)

Damon Sasser

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. (REH: Two-Gun Raconteur website)

Keith West

In case some of you don’t recognize the name, Glenn Lord was the person most responsible for helping to get Conan and Howard’s other work back into print in the 1960s and 1970s. (Adventures Fantastic website)

Cross Plains will be colder this year regardless of what the temperature is. (Adventures Fantastic website)

These are just a few of the tributes that I read. Whether they are a few words or a paragraph, they reflect Glenn’s influence in the lives of Howard fans.

Glenn’s influence in my own life began when I discovered REH’s poetry. Not only did Glenn also appreciate and love Howard’s poems, he saved the words for all of us to enjoy. In the Introduction to his book Anniversary, Dennis McHaney writes about Glenn:

In the pages of Weird Tales, he discovered many more examples of Howard’s verse, and realized that there was something more to Howard than just amazing pacing and descriptive brilliance. While Glenn continued to pursue other Howardian prose, he began gathering all of Howard’s verse that he could find.

At the lunch I had with Glenn and Lou Ann Lord in Galveston on Friday, November 18th, 2011, Glenn quoted the last lines of “A Sonnet of Good Cheer,” a poem which was unpublished during REH’s lifetime:

“Fool, fool, you came unbidden to this game,

“And Death that takes you hence shall ask you not.

“From life, this and only this, may you claim;

“Living, to die, and dying, be forgot.”

Glenn Lord set out to make sure that Robert E. Howard is not forgotten. It is fitting that as a man and a Howard fan, Glenn himself will not be forgotten.

What Now?

Years of experience have taught me that time changes everything. Some changes are easier to take and some like the death of Glenn Lord seem to darken and obscure the future. As a Robert E. Howard fan, I have only one question: What Now?

Who is going to be our *point* person, and our Source? Who will be our representative in Howard fandom? Who will be the glue that holds us together? Most of us writing and/or editing books owe Glenn a big debt. He was not only the promoter of REH’s writings; he was the standard by which many of us judged our own work. He was there watching and encouraging us. Behind it all was his passion and enthusiasm for REH’s words and his desire to spread this appreciation to others. Maybe that answers my “what now” question. As someone who deeply appreciates Glenn’s contributions, I can continue his work. In my own small way, I can grab the Robert E. Howard torch he handed to us and, as Damon Sasser says, bring “that light to others.”

This post is dedicated to Lou Ann Lord —
she is not a Howard fan, but she was always there for Glenn.

I learned of Glenn Lord’s passing on the morning of January 1st upon receiving Paul Herman’s email. The shock was heightened by the fact that I received the information at such a moment, just after the New Year’s festivities, or so I thought initially. I was numb, and remained morose and tight-lipped for a number of hours, unable to participate actively in the conversations around me, in the house of the people where my wife Sheila and I were staying. Somewhat later, Sheila explained the situation to them, and they, in turn, asked me who this Glenn Lord person was and why his death affected me in such a way.

It was at this moment I realized it would be hard to explain why the death of someone residing several thousand miles away from me, someone I had met a handful of times in 23 years, could affect me so much. But I knew that I was truly afflicted, much more so than I would have imagined, and I soon realized that the state of mind would not leave me for quite some time, New Year’s Day or not.

I first encountered Glenn’s name in 1983 or 1984, when I read the French translations of the Howard books published in France. The (de Camp-edited versions of the) Conans briefly mentioned his name as an agent for the Howard heirs and someone who had discovered Conan typescripts. The NéO books (REH’s non-Conan books) contained some more, if still sparse, information. I learned that you could reach Glenn at a certain P.O. Box 775 in Pasadena, Texas. I didn’t even know at the time what a P.O. Box was, but understood it to be some kind of postal address that would not let average people know where this important person Glenn Lord actually lived, so he would not be bothered by fans. Reading more of the NéO introductions, I became puzzled as to the source of all those stories that were appearing in the French books, and which were mentioned as having been found by Glenn Lord in a cache in Howard’s home. I had visions of someone discovering some hidden passage in the house, or maybe a loose panel behind which were stacked tons of then-unknown typescripts. For whatever reason, I pictured that man as elderly, and elderly he remained in my mind for a few years, as I had no way to find more about him, in those pre-Internet days. François Truchaud’s introductions sometimes included excerpts from his correspondence with Glenn, such as when NéO published the eleven juvenile El Borak stories a few years before they appeared in the States, and the man came off as friendly and helpful. Perhaps, after all, he was not that unreachable.

It was a few months later that I decided to embark upon what would become my Master’s Degree Memoir on Howard, and that I formed plans to go to Texas for the first time. Truchaud assured me Glenn was the nicest person on earth, at least judging from his letters (as he had never met him), and he encouraged me to write directly to him. Which I did in late 1988 as I was preparing my first pilgrimage to Bob Howard’s state. “Mr. Lord” as I then called him replied promptly to my letter, to my utter joy and pride to have received a personal letter from the man Truchaud called “The Guardian of the Idol.” Preparations were made, dispositions were taken, and a few weeks later I landed at Houston International Airport, where I met Glenn for the first time. The first thing I noticed was that he wasn’t the elderly man I had pictured. He had brought along a few things for me, among which, I remember, a copy of Dark Valley Destiny. He drove me to my motel and we spent a good chunk of time discussing Howard, what else? The second thing I was to notice was that his English and mine were two different languages. It took way more time to adapt to that than to the question of his age. The next day, I was invited to have lunch with Glenn and his family, at their place, little doubting at the time what a privilege I was granted. He had probably pitied that French guy who had really no reason to be in Pasadena other than to talk to him and ogle a few typescripts and rare books. Thanks to Glenn, I was introduced to Rusty Burke, learned about REHupa, about Novalyne Price, about everything I needed and a million of things I didn’t know I needed. He phoned to people in Cross Plains and Brownwood to make sure I would be welcomed and shown around, and because of him, my stay there was infinitely more pleasant and smoother than it would have been otherwise. Suddenly, I had been put into orbit, propelled in the American sphere of Howardom, all thanks to Glenn. All he got from me was a French fanzine or two when I arrived, and my immense gratitude when I left, which was all I could offer him. When I came back to France, I wrote him that I had been wondering if I could join REHupa, but feared I was not up to the skills and knowledge required, to which he replied that I should not worry and go ahead, that this Bill Cavalier guy would be very happy to have me join.

Glenn’s letters would soon become the highlights of my correspondence. Every day, when I went to check my mailbox, I was hoping to find a Glenn letter in there, informing me of what was going on in the world of Howardiana. As I was always in need of material — for my Master’s Degree Memoir at first, my Pre-Doctoral Thesis after, and my personal research and editorial activities later — he would always include some copies of typescripts and, at first, even bought me the books I needed but had no way to find in Limoges, France. I sent him money at first, but he soon told me that he was not keeping count, and proposed what he called a “gentleman’s agreement”: I was to find him what foreign books and publications he needed, and send them to him. Over the years, he would send me thousands and thousands of pages. There was no way the trickle of French publications could compensate the time and money he was spending on those photocopies of typescripts. So I soon started to scour the world thanks to that new thing called the Internet, in search for Howard publications in countries sometimes more exotic than those of the Hyborian Age, it seemed to me. We discovered Howard had been published in virtually every country in the world, most of the time in pirate publications, and many had begun to appear after the collapse of the USSR. I remember tracking those from Estonia, how he would marvel at the sheer number of Conan books published in Russia (nearly a hundred at the time), and the fun we had trying to match the text or cover to a specific story or equivalent of an American edition. Over the next few years I would buy, receive and send him books from I don’t know how many countries. It was more than a fanzine or two this time, but it was — again — terribly inadequate when compared to the sheer bulk of material he was sending my way.

The flood of all those typescript pages was such that I soon preferred to read the Howard stories from the photocopies. I became increasingly familiar with Bob’s practices, idiosyncrasies and began learning how to date those typescripts. Thanks to those pages, I eventually wrote an article for The Dark Man on the literary “birth” of Conan. It was this essay that led Rusty Burke (and Marcelo Anciano) to ask me to edit the Wandering Star Conans a few years later, and which opened the way to all that followed, in the States and in France. Without Glenn, this would never have happened. I wouldn’t have had any typescripts to study and my life would have been different.

And the life of everyone reading these lines would have been different, too. Each and every Howard scholar and reader is hugely indebted to Glenn Lord. He was there first, the one who lit the way and paved the road. And without him, there would have been no road to speak of.

He was there in 1957 when he published Always Comes Evening, partly funding the endeavor from his own pockets, and showing readers that Howard was not all blood and thunder. He launched the very first Howard fanzine, The Howard Collector, in 1961, sharing his treasures with what few Howard aficionados there were at the time: prose pieces and poems of course, but also biographical articles and related essays, a template from which many future Howard publications would take their inspiration. The publication of his bio-bibliography The Last Celt in 1976 was a landmark event, a sum as impressive as it was staggering. When Glenn became the agent for the Howard rightholders in 1965, he made the transition from amateur to professional in a matter of months. Via Donald M. Grant, a series of beautifully produced and illustrated books began to appear, books that would serve for blueprints for the luxurious editions that have appeared since. Glenn would also ensure that Howard’s name was present in anthologies, giving away stories or poems to the fanzine editors. Thanks to his tireless efforts, Howard was soon present everywhere, from fanzines to classy semi-professional booklets, from hardcovers with limited print-runs to massmarket paperbacks. By the mid-seventies, virtually every story Howard had penned was available in one form or another, a mere ten years after he had become the agent for the rightholders. Impressive as this was, it is just a facet of Glenn’s accomplishment as a Howard champion.

Without Glenn, we would probably all be reading the de Camp-edited versions of the Conan stories. The story of his long and arduous battle against de Camp has been recounted elsewhere, but Glenn was instrumental in having the pure-text Berkley editions of Conan stories published in the 1970s under the editorship of Karl Edward Wagner, even going to the point of furnishing the publisher with his own personal copies of Weird Tales to typeset the stories. Years later, when he was no longer agent, he furnished the Wandering Star/Del Rey crew all the material we needed for the books, and continued to do so even though there was some very bad blood between him and the then rightholders.

Perhaps even more importantly, without Glenn tracking down, locating and eventually buying the contents of the long lost “trunk” of Howard typescripts that Isaac M. Howard had sent to E. Hoffmann Price in 1944, as well as buying a number of original typescripts from the Otis A. Kline agency, we would be short of thousands and thousands of pages of original material. No one can say what fate would have been theirs, at a time when no one cared. No one but Glenn.

Without Glenn, a Conan story, several fragments and more than 2,000 pages of drafts and carbons that were so important when publishing the purest edition possible would have been unavailable.

Without Glenn, a Kull volume would contain “The Shadow Kingdom,” “The Mirrors of Tuzun Thune,” and the poem “The King and the Oak.”

Without Glenn, Bran Mak Morn would have starred in “Kings of the Night” and “Worms of the Earth” only.

Without Glenn, the Solomon Kane volume would be missing five stories. Without Glenn, no Cormac Mac Art stories, no “Marchers of Valhalla,” no Post Oaks and Sand Roughs, and hundreds of poems lost to time. Without Glenn, no “Three-Bladed Doom,” not a single story about Dark Agnes, no “Isle of the Eons.” Of the dozens and dozens of Howard’s juvenile efforts, not one would have survived.

Without Glenn, we would know that Bob Howard and H. P. Lovecraft were correspondents, but the 400+ pages of the Howard side would have disappeared.

Without Glenn, people like Harold Preece, Lenore Preece, Truett Vinson or Tevis Clyde Smith would probably have never told what they knew, and whatever material they had would have been lost as well. No Juntos, and probably not a single one of those important letters to Harold Preece.

Writing a biography of Howard would have been almost unthinkable given the scarcity of the material and information that would have survived.

Without Glenn, we would know almost nothing about Robert E. Howard, and his entire known output would have been reduced to what was published in the pulps.

Without Glenn, we would never even dream of finding hidden philosophical meanings and intellectual puzzles in the Conan stories, and we probably would be convinced that Robert E. Howard was crazy and maladjusted to the point of psychosis.

We are fortunate that Glenn was there when he was, before anyone cared. We are fortunate to have had a man who spent years tracking down typescripts, stories, memoirs, information and everything pertaining to Robert E. Howard.

We are fortunate to have had a man who was always there to help from fans to publishers, even when he was assailed by those who held him in low esteem or deemed him an enemy.

Fortunately, he lived to be old enough to see the rewards of his actions. He saw Howard published in pure-text editions and his importance reconsidered. He lived long enough to have people come up to him and thank him for what he did. He saw Dennis McHaney publish a tribute book where everyone involved on some degree in Howard studies and publishing wrote as many “thank you” articles. In the little world of Howardiana, where quarrels and bickerings are the norm, everyone has but an immense respect for Glenn and what he did.

As the impact of the shock slowly fades away, the impossibility to write anything about him fades away as well, and the happy memories slowly come back to the surface.

I remember.

I remember him and Rusty in our motel room in Cross Plains in 2001, discussing the progress on the Conan book for Wandering Star.

I remember Glenn laughing at the World Fantasy Con in Austin, in 2006, when I brought him a page from a transcript of an interview in which the de Camps described him as a truck driver and a man so inferior in social status to them it was almost shocking. I remember him showing that piece of paper to everyone in sight and just chuckling: “a truck driver!”

I remember that evening in Cross Plains when he brought me, among other things, the original typescript to “The God in the Bowl” so I could read it so very close to the Howard house, a few yards away from where Bob Howard had typed it. It was one of those magical moments in my life, and I know he knew perfectly well what it would mean for me.

I remember the next day when I told him I was afraid I had lost the original page to the synopsis for “The Scarlet Citadel.” I was mortified, but he told me it was okay, nothing to worry about. It turned out he had left it on the dashboard of his car.

I remember asking him one day for duplicates of some Howard pics, and my utter shock to discover in his next letter a bunch of 1920s and 30s original photos, with a note saying that I should return those when done.

I remember one time when Paul Herman was interviewing him at the World Fantasy Con in 2006. Paul’s question took him about a minute to formulate, and Glenn’s answer was three laconic words, to Paul’s amused dismay, which episode provoked much laughter from the audience.

I remember the instant sparkle in his eyes when I showed him the original to the famous 1934 Howard picture that had been given me a few weeks before.

I remember him saying he had brought me something which I would “probably find interesting” when he, Rusty, my friend Lionel Londeix and I had dinner on Halloween night in 1990, and which turned out to be the bulk of the Howard/Lovecraft correspondence in typescript.

I cherish what Glenn brought to my life. Those Howard documents and publications first, then his comments and advice on what I was writing and then, increasingly, as he was less and less involved in day-to-day Howardian activities, those special moments I could share with him, rare as they were. Surely there was more I could do than buy him a fanzine or a foreign book.

When Fabrice Tortey and I arrived at George Bush International Airport two years ago, the customs officer asked him the reason of his presence there, for what was a three-day stay only, to which Fabrice answered: “I am here for a birthday.” When asked the same question, I gave an identical reply. The man stared at us for a while, nonplused, and simply added: “Well, that must be one hell of a friend, then.” There is certainly not a single person not part of my family for whom I would have been ready to travel all the way to Houston simply to be present for a birthday party.

I like to think that he knew how much he was appreciated.

I’ll miss you, Glenn.