The Business, Part 10: 1960-mid ’61

[Part 9 is here.]

As the 1960s began, Howard publishing continued its sluggish pace. George Scithers published an excerpt from one of Howard’s letters to August Derleth (which Scithers entitled “On Astounding”) in the January 1960 issue of Amra; “Dreams of Nineveh” appeared in The Golden Atom’s 20th Anniversary issue; “The Challenge from Beyond” appeared in Fantastic Science Fiction Stories for May 1960; and the Wollheim-edited Macabre Reader, containing Howard’s “The Cairn on the Headland,” was re-issued in the United Kingdom.

For Glenn Lord, the beginning of the 1960s was the same as the end of the ’50s: he traded pulp magazines and information regarding Robert E. Howard with an ever-growing circle of fans, collectors, and professionals, as well as individuals who had actually known the writer from Cross Plains personally or through correspondence. This last group included people like E. Hoffmann Price, Tevis Clyde Smith, Clark Ashton Smith, Lindsey Tyson, Frank Thurston Torbett, Norbert P. Sydow, and Lenore Preece. The former group was of course much larger, but included some well-known individuals like Donald Wollheim, Joseph Payne Brennan, Darrell C. Richardson, John Pocsik (then only 16-years-old), L. Sprague de Camp, and others. And Glenn was still looking for more.

In a postcard postmarked January 28, 1960, Dale Hart tells Glenn’s a bit about one of his people-of-interest: “Alvin Earl Perry has been absent from his bookshop when I tried to contact him. I’ll keep working on the case.”

Another person Glenn was interested in was the co-author of “The Last Ride,” Robert Enders Allen (aka Chandler Whipple). In a February 14 postcard, Tevis Clyde Smith tells Lord, “As for Allen, I am sorry, but I am unable to be of assistance, as I have no recollection of ever having heard of him before.” On February 22, Lindsey Tyson checked in with the following:

You mentioned a Robert Enders Allen. I never heard Bob mention anyone by that name. I am of the opinion that there was no such person because Bob did not like partners in anything. Bob did speak quite often of H. P. Lovecraft and Otis A. Kline. Dave Lee informs me that he had never heard of Allen either, and I am sorry to say that he has none of Bob’s material.

Other information was obtained from noted CAS scholar George F. Haas, including the following from a March 1, 1960 letter:

Among the more precious items in my dusty archives is a hand-written letter from H. P. Lovecraft to Clark Ashton Smith. There are three sheets or six pages of closely written script. There is no date on the letter but the envelope is postmarked June 20, 1936. On the last page is this paragraph:

“Since beginning this epistle I’ve had a most depressing & staggering message—a postcard with the report that good old Two-Gun Bob has committed suicide. It seems incredible—I had a long normal letter from him dated May 13. He was worried about his mother’s health, but otherwise seemed perfectly all right. If the news is indeed true, it forms weird fiction’s worst loss since the passing of Whitehead in 1932. Few others of the gang had quite the zest & spontaneity of good old R.E.H. I certainly wish I could get a bulletin saying the report is a mistake! ’36 is certainly a hellish year!”

Glenn even contacted Howard contemporary and Weird Tales regular Seabury Quinn, whom he reached through Arkham House. Quinn responded on August 7:

You are correct in surmising that I was an admirer of the work of the late Robert E. Howard, whom I considered one of the few really significant contributors to 20th Century American fantasy. Unfortunately, however, I never had occasion to exchange letters with him, or to meet him personally, so I’m afraid I can’t be very helpful to you in your projected compilation of his works. This is unfortunate, and I assure you that if I had any such material I’d be glad to let you have it. Fantasy writers of the early part of this century undoubtedly did make significant contributions to the sum of American literature, but except for a few interested people, such as you and August Derleth, their work has gone largely unnoticed.

All the while Glenn was still trying to get copies of Oscar Friend’s inventory. In the above letter, Quinn told Lord, “I’m also not too much surprised at Oscar Friend’s lack of cooperation. I’ve done business with Friend.” And in a September 28 letter, L. Sprague de Camp has the following:

I don’t know what can be done to move Oscar Friend; I have had the same sort of trouble with him. The only thing that works is to call at his home in person and ask to be allowed to go through the stuff, and that’s not always practical.

Frustrated with Friend’s pace, Glenn wrote to the former owners of the Kline Agency and asked if they had anything. Kline’s daughter, Ora Rossini, responded on November 22: “I am sure that we no longer have anything of this sort. Probably the records went to Oscar Friend with any material, and the personal correspondence must have been destroyed.”

At the turn of the new year, Glenn had gathered enough information about Howard publications that he was almost ready to publish his findings. He wrote to George Scithers for advice on January 10, 1961:

Wonder if you’d tell me a few things. First, do you have to register (or anything) with the local authorities when you publish a fanzine? Secondly are any other steps necessary to copyright same except so stating in the fanzine? And what did you wind up having to pay Oscar Friend for the use of the Howard poem and fragment you used? Reason I’m asking all this is I’m seriously thinking of issuing a deluxe fanzine with material about and by Howard. Perhaps just a one-shot.

While Glenn was contemplating publication, 1961 did bring some Howard appearances: “Rogues in the House” ran in the British edition More Not at Night; “The Garden of Fear” was reprinted in Fantastic Stories of Imagination, May 1961 and “The Dead Remember” in the December 1961 issue. Fire and Sleet and Candlelight was put out by Arkham House—it contains two Howard poems.

Besides these appearances, Howard was about to crack the small screen. On March 23, 1961, MCA Artists sent Oscar Friend contracts for Dr. Kuykendall to sign “covering certain television rights in the story entitled PIGEONS FROM HELL, written by the late Mr. Howard.” Their offer of $400 was enough to get Friend moving for a change. He wrote to P. M. Kuykendall, unaware that he had died in 1959 and left the Howard rights to his wife and daughter. This caused some trouble with MCA for, as Friend put it in his March 24 letter to the dead doctor, “A TV sale always requires a lot of red tape because they get sued so much. In this case they require the signature of the administrator of the estate instead of the agent for estate.” This last requirement necessitated the new heirs sending Friend copies of Dr. I. M. Howard’s will and other documents related to their ownership. When the dust from the MCA deal had cleared, Friend wrote to his new clients, April 6, 1961:

First, please accept my belated condolence for the lost [sic.] of your husband which I was not aware of but which I should have suspected and written about, except that I myself have been incapacitated due to illness myself during the past two years (cataractal). [. . .] The Robert L. [sic.] Howard estate is growing rather complicated, what with the passing of Mr. Kline, and now with the passing of Dr. Kuykendall. Because of the revival of SF and Fantasy in literature, with the rather surprising continual existence of interest in the work of Robert Howard, it means that you and I should become better acquainted.

Friend no doubt envisioned future fat checks from production companies. “Pigeons from Hell” aired on NBC’s Thriller, June 6, 1961. Of course, for our purposes, the most important publishing that appeared in 1961 was The Howard Collector.

[Part 11 is here.]