Letters and Manuscripts
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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.
Group of 16 handwritten letters to Dirk Mosig from Bloch dated July 17, 1973 to February 12, 1975. Some are on Bloch's letterhead, some on plain paper. Content includes answers to queries about Lovecraft and his writings, Lovecraft in relation to Bloch (one of Bloch's comments - "I was influenced by HPL, not Dunsany" 7/2/74), Bloch's comments on current events and those who manipulate others, his own writings and more. Dirk Mosig is an important early Lovecraft scholar of the modern period. S. T. Joshi has written, "Dirk Mosig is the key transitional figure in Lovecraft studies; and if the history of this field is ever written, he will have to occupy a central role..."
A tale by Robert W. Chambers (1865-1933) about the Black Priest, branded on the forehead and executed for treason during the Third Crusade and again 1760, whose skull is disinterred in a gravel pit, and who returns again to haunt the Breton countryside. The story was first published in THE MYSTERY OF CHOICE (1897), Chambers' third collection of short fiction. The published version largely follows the final text of the manuscript which has many deletions and revisions by Chambers. THE MYSTERY OF CHOICE "opens with a trilogy of tales sharing the same characters and set in the Breton countryside. They are reminiscent of 'The Demoiselle D'Ys' in mood and setting ... ['The Messenger'] is an effective treatment of a conventional theme" (Lee Weinstein, Bleiler, ed., SUPERNATURAL FICTION WRITERS II, 743). "By far and away the most powerful ... was 'The Messenger.' This is a long, sometimes rambling story that nevertheless guides the reader along to a most eerie conclusion. The setting -- coastal Brittany -- has seldom been used to such effect, and the historical tale behind the story's events has a grotesque ring of truth. This is one of Chambers' best stories, and its use of the traditional cowled figure has never been bettered" (Hugh Lamb, ed., Chambers, OUT OF THE DARK I, pp. xi-xii). "The Messenger" is "a material-horror story, possibly a little unsubtle, but it does have the characteristics of a nightmare with its disruptions of the time-dimension, interlocked identities, and repetitive fate, which are all novel touches for the period" (Bleiler, ed., Chambers, THE KING IN YELLOW AND OTHER HORROR STORIES, p. xi).
An extensive archive of correspondence from the files of London publisher J. M. Dent and Sons. Approximately 285 letters, written in the 1920s and 1930s, with a scattering of earlier and later letters, mostly giving (and on occasion denying) permission to reprint literary work in various anthologies of poetry and prose. A considerable portion of the correspondence relates to permissions and payments for work to be included in books published as part of Dent's popular Everyman's Library. Many letters are addressed to Ernest Rhys (1859-1946), the founding editor of Everyman's Library, and to Guy Noel Pocock (1880-1955). Additionally, there are letters addressed to J. M. Dent, Thomas Caldwell, John Hampden (who was compiling a book of ghost stories), and others. Overall, the letters are in excellent condition. Some have indents from paperclips or small holes where once pinned, mostly at the upper left corners. The letters have the expected mailing folds. Several of the letters have rust marks from paperclips and some have minor creases, wrinkles, closed tears or small chips. These defects have been noted. Most of the letters are accompanied by rights and permissions letters, sometimes extensive, from and to J. M. Dent and Sons. Many of the carbons on flimsy paper are wrinkled or creased from decades of storage. Nevertheless, their content adds considerably to the depth and research value of the archive. The archive includes correspondence from (among others): Richard Aldington, Max Beerbohm, Vanessa Bell, Hilaire Belloc, Arnold Bennett, E. F. Benson, Ernest Bramah, Robert Bridges, Padraic Colum, Joseph Conrad, Walter de la Mare, Arthur Conan Doyle, Lord Alfred Douglas, Lord Dunsany, T. S. Eliot, Ford Madox Ford, E. M. Forster, Edmund Gosse, Kenneth Grahame, Graham Greene, Thomas Hardy, A. E. Houseman, Ted Hughes, James Joyce, C. S. Lewis, Rose Macaulay, Arthur Machen, John Masefield, A. A. Milne, Henry Newbolt, Ezra Pound, Arthur Quiller-Couch, Arthur Rackham, Vita Sackville-West, Siegfried Sassoon, George Bernard Shaw, Edith, Osbert and Sacheverell Sitwell, James Stephens, J. R. R. Tolkien, Katharine Tynan, Hugh Walpole, Mary Webb, H. G. Wells, Virginia Woolf (typed signature), W. B. Yeats. J. M. Dent and Sons was sold to Weidenfeld and Nicolson in 1986. In 1991 the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, purchased the J. M. Dent and Sons Records, 1834-1986 (150.0 linear feet; approximately 210,000 items) through Bertram Rota, Booksellers, London. Many of the UNC files are incomplete as they had been "pruned," and correspondence with Joseph Conrad, Dylan Thomas, Virginia Woolf, and others had been removed and sold.
Cover letter accompanying a short story by Susan Lette which Ellison was recommending for publication in WEIRD TALES. Lette was an amateur writer, but "one of those natural writers whom one spots instantly among the hordes of creative typists and formula hacks who infest out little world." Her first story, Merari," was to be published that summer in COSMOPOLITAN; her second was to be published in Ellison's anthology, LAST DANGEROUS VISIONS. The present story, "Timmy," represented her third. Ellison says reading it raised the nape hairs on the back of his neck and reminded him of Bradbury's "Small Assassin." He notes that she was living in somewhat straitened circumstances and had an autistic child. Leo Margulies was an editor and publisher who had been working in the field since 1932, when he joined the Frank Munsey chain of pulps. Ellison was "... the most controversial and among the finest of those writers associated with sf whose careers began in the 1950s. He was born and raised in Ohio, attending Ohio State University for 18 months before being asked to leave, one of the reasons for his dismissal being rudeness to a creative-writing professor who told him he had no talent." - Clute and Nicholls (eds), The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (1993), p. 376.
The correspondence relates to an article Dr. Wooster wrote on the coining of the word "xenobiology" (the study of the biology of alien life-forms) generally credited to Heinlein for use in "Star Lummox" (F&SF, May-July 1954; STAR BEAST, Scribner's 1954), which incorporates his correspondence with Heinlein, published in SCIENCE 134: 3473 (July 1961) 223-225. Harold Abbott Wooster (1919-2005) was the chief of the information sciences division of the Air Force Office of Scientific Research in the 1960s, a computer pioneer "whose decades-long career in information science influenced the development of computer technology and medical television ... He left the Air Force's scientific research office, which considered him a pioneer in the information science field, in 1970. From 1970 to 1984, Dr. Wooster worked at the National Library of Medicine's Lister Hill Center for Biomedical Communications. He supervised experiments using television to connect patients in remote areas to doctors" (Washington Post obit 3 June 2005). Dr. Wooster published a single SF story, "Y + Sin X," ASTOUNDING (September 1943). See Patterson, William H., Robert A. Heinlein, Volume 2, p. 211.
Original typed manuscript for the story which was not published during Howard's lifetime. In a letter of provenance from Glenn Lord he states "Originally written as a straight historical entitled "Spears of Clontarf" the story was submitted to Clayton Magazines on June 1, 1930..." Rejected by Clayton, Howard re-wrote the story into its present form and submitted it to Farnsworth Wright at Weird Tales who rejected it in December of 1931. (The rejection letter accompanies the manuscript). It stayed in Howard's files until after his death when August Derleth purchased the rights from literary agent Oscar J. Friend. He published the story in the anthology DARK MIND, DARK HEART (1962). The story occurs during the historical Battle of Clontarf which took place in the early 11th Century involving Brian Boru, High King of Ireland against the Vikings. Howard's main characters are Turlogh Dubh O'Brien and an ex-slave named Conn. "The core of the story, as indicated by the title, is the end of the influence of supernatural beings from our world with the victory of Christian King Brian over the heathen Vikings. Among the Irish dead is a fey prince whose own death will cause the death of his fairy lover, a metaphor for the waning away of all the Sidhe. Odin himself makes an impressive and doomful appearance, making the battle a Götterdämmerung. This is more Wagnerian in tone than the utter end of the world predicted for Ragnarök, though it is indeed the end of a world." - Wikipedia entry.
Thanks Derleth for his letter of January 2, and responds to his comments about a recent issue of WEIRD TALES. She promises to avoid a "consistently flippant" tone; says she's gratified that "you agree with us that [Ray] Bradbury is a good addition to the list"; observes that WEIRD TALES readers "write us very much more frequently than those of SHORT STORIES." Assures Derleth that his "friendship for the magazine is one of out most valued assets... ." Arkham House in 1945 was ramping up its production, issuing six titles that year, on its way towards becoming the dominant specialty press publisher of supernatural fiction. McIlwraith was the third editor at WEIRD TALES, overseeing issues from May 1940 through September 1954, a period of decline, admittedly, after the magazine's heyday in the 1920s and 1930s. The letter documents a connection between the most important periodical and book markets for weird fiction in the mid-century period.
9 leaves, plus cover sheet headed "Author's Note." An early unpublished short story by Silverberg that was the basis for "Road to Nightfall." According to Silverberg, this "story was written in late 1953, some months before I was to make my first professional sale. I showed it to one or two science fiction magazines at that time, and though it drew a couple of encouraging comments the editors were unanimous in agreeing that the story was not developed in proper form, being more of a mood-piece than a narrative of conflict, and that in any case the 'shock' nature of the theme made it unpublishable. In 1954, after intense effort to master the craft of commercial storytelling, I made a few sales to the SF magazines and to a hardcover house. The theme of this story remained with me, though, almost obsessively. I tried again, examining the same background and similar characters from a different and more detailed viewpoint. The result was the 10,000-word "Road to Nightfall," which wandered around from editor to horrified editor until Hans Santesson found himself willing to take a chance on a cannibalism story. He accepted it early in 1957 and it saw print in FANTASTIC UNIVERSE in 1958 ..." "Road to Nightfall," written as early as 1954 but not published until 1958, depicts a ruined America where survivors are reduced to cannibalism. It is "an important early example of the dark vision the permeated Silverberg's later fiction" (Clareson, Robert Silverberg, pp. 15-6).
10 leaves, plus cover sheet. Corrected throughout in Stapledon's hand with amendments, additions, and strikeouts. At the top edge of the cover sheet Gawsworth has written: "Published by me / when editing ENQUIRY / (1949) / John Gawsworth." Accompanied by a handwritten note (ANS) from Stapledon to Gawsworth dated 17 July 1949 returning a corrected proof of the essay. The essay, published in ENQUIRY, August 1949, addresses the "need both for fidelity to the spirit and agnosticism about the ultimate ends of the universe." - Satty and Smith C190. William Olaf Stapledon (1886-1950) "is best remembered for the extraordinary works of speculative fiction published between 1930 and 1950. As a novelist, he was known as the spokesman for the Age of Einstein and has influenced writers as diverse as Virginia Woolf, Arthur C. Clarke, and Doris Lessing ... Stapledon's novels -- LAST AND FIRST MEN (1930), ODD JOHN (1935), STAR MAKER (1937), and SIRIUS (1944) -- have gathered a passionate following, and they have seldom been out of print in the last twenty-five years ... In his social activism as in his fiction, Stapledon embodied many of the of modern era's anxieties and hopes that allow his works to continue to speak to and for the future." - Robert Crossley.
[New York]: A George Foley / Dick Gordon Production, 1951. Mimeographed TV script, heavily corrected throughout in pencil. The cover page is marked "Corrected Script" and "FINAL REVISED" in pencil at the top of the sheet. The script is complete and includes cast and crew lists, rehearsal schedule, and inserts on blue paper stock for the commercials that ran during the program. The series, produced by George Foley and Dick Gordon, was performed and broadcast live on ABC-TV from 1951 to 1953. It ran for 85 episodes. The series, originally called Tomorrow is Yours, was developed by Theodore Sturgeon, the series story editor, and Mort Abrahams, the program's executive producer. Tales of Tomorrow was one of the earliest and most successful SF anthology television series. It was ambitious but, like most television of the period, limited by the restrictions imposed by live studio shooting. At a time when most SF on TV was targeted to children, Tales of Tomorrow was intended for adults. It drew its material from a variety of sources, including the SF pulp magazines, as well as using original scripts. "Verdict from Space" is Sturgeon's adaptation of his short story "The Sky Was Full of Ships" which was first published in THRILLING WONDER STORIES, June 1947.
A draft of the second of Vance's final two stories set in the Dying Earth, a continuation of THE EYES OF THE OVERWORLD. The story was first published in FLASHING SWORDS #4 (1977), edited by Lin Carter. The typescript is heavily reworked in a variety of fountain pen inks, with many changes, corrections, annotations and some doodling intermixed. The manuscript gives insight to Vance’s creative process. As to his working method, Vance often began by jotting down scenes, which he later quilted together. He rarely "outlined." Until later in his career when his eyesight failed, Vance often wrote the first draft in longhand, then a much more complete first typed draft (the version offered here), then a second, and sometimes third typed draft.