AN ARKHAM HOUSE ARCHIVE: An important archive of material from the from the files of August Derleth, publisher and editor.
In 1939, a promising Midwestern mainstream novelist and a popular Midwestern writer of pulp fiction co-founded a small press to publish a hardbound book to preserve the writing and perpetuate the memory of their dearly departed friend and mentor, Howard Phillips Lovecraft. Arkham House was officially in business when August Derleth and Donald Wandrei signed the George Banta Publishing Company's "Proposal for Printing" THE OUTSIDER AND OTHERS by H. P. Lovecraft, dated 25 August 1939. Thus began of one of America's most important and best known twentieth-century small publishers, Arkham House Publishers (named for the fictional Massachusetts city loosely modeled on Salem, Massachusetts, the setting for many of H. P. Lovecraft's stories) which had an enormous impact on the course and development of the horror fiction genre, particularly in the United States. "Arkham House, founded in 1939, played a crucial role in establishing the importance of the WEIRD TALES school of writers -- including Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howard, Henry S. Whitehead, and others -- by preserving their pulp fiction in book form for future readers, scholars and writers. Derleth also issued the first books of their immediate successors in the tradition, Robert Bloch, Fritz Leiber, Ray Bradbury and Joseph Payne Brennan. As well, he vigorously championed the British weird fiction tradition, presenting works by Sheridan Le Fanu, William Hope Hodgson, Lord Dunsany, and H. Russell Wakefield to the North American audience, in some cases for the first time" (Penguin Encyclopedia). "August Derleth had almost single-handedly kept weird fiction alive with Arkham House, the grandfather of all specialist science fiction and fantasy small presses ... Arkham House was essentially a book publisher, and Derleth was one of the first to develop original anthologies of weird tales, long before they became popular in the science fiction field. Starting with DARK MIND, DARK HEART (1962), Derleth encouraged a new generation of writers while sustaining the old school of WEIRD TALES contributors" (Mike Ashley). The Arkham House Archive contains over 4000 letters and documents related to publications issued by Arkham House, Mycroft & Moran and Stanton & Lee between 1939 and 1971, as well as correspondence and business papers related to Derleth's activities as writer and editor for other publishers, including his editorial work as an anthologist in the 1940s and 1950s, and as a TV scriptwriter in the 1950s. This archive is a highly important collection of letters and documents. The core of the archive is correspondence, often extensive, from several hundred authors whose work Derleth published under his own imprints or in his highly important non-Arkham House anthologies published in the 1940s and 1950s, as well as manuscripts, mostly typewritten (including fair copies and carbons), submitted by Arkham House authors. The business papers include printers' correspondence, quotes and invoices, beginning with the George Banta Company proposal for printing THE OUTSIDER, 25 August 1939 and the invoice for THE OUTSIDER, 21 November 1939. There is significant business correspondence from Derleth's literary agents: G. Ken Chapman, Robert Goldfarb, Otis Kline Associates, Scott Meredith Literary Agency, Renault and Le Bayon and others, as well as hundreds of letters pertaining to the sale of reprint rights (including audio and film rights) for literary property by Derleth and others. These business papers largely predate the August William Derleth Papers held by the Wisconsin Historical Society, as "most of the pre-1963 materials were destroyed when this collection was originally processed, so substantially complete records survive only for the years between 1963 and 1970." Additionally, the archive includes book production files for some publications, printer's blocks, fair copy typescripts of literary material by various writers made by Arkham House for book production or reference (like typewritten transcriptions of Lovecraft letters), complete and partial book proofs, and photographs of Arkham House authors. A illustrated catalog is available at our website. A 95 page calendar is available upon request. (27116). Item #27116