The Legend of the Trunk – Part 7

As we have seen, by the end of the 1950s Glenn Lord had exhausted all leads that might have led to the contents of Robert E. Howard’s fabled Trunk. E. Hoffmann Price had apparently loaned most of the material out, failing to keep track of who had what. The one person he did remember, Stuart Boland, claimed to have passed all the material over to famed Acolyte editor Francis T. Laney who had up and died. Laney’s widow found no Howard items in her husband’s effects. The trail remained cold until 1965, when Glenn received the Kline Agency files. Best to let Glenn tell the story, as presented in Zarfhaana 53:

When Stuart Boland claimed that he had long ago given the Howard “tear sheets” that he had gotten from E. Hoffmann Price to others, I proceeded to forget about the matter. After all, by this time, I had accumulated nearly all of the Howard stories, mostly in complete pulps, or otherwise. So by the Spring of 1965 I had no particular interest in either the “tear sheets” or Boland.

But at the end of March 1965, Glenn became the Howard agent, and things started hopping again. Kittie West sent the OAK files and Mrs. Kuykendall sent this comment on April 27: “Shortly after Dr. Howard’s death we sent a trunk filled with Robert’s papers to a man in California—Redwood City, I believe. Mr. Kline or Mr. Friend advised us to do so. Do you recognize who it was? I have forgotten.” With more information and files at his disposal, Glenn said:

Then came the find of the “inventory” sheets [pic at head of post] among the Otis A. Kline agency files. I was initially mystified—then I recalled Price’s tale of the “tear sheets.” Obviously these “tear sheets” were something else—or so I reasoned; they were probably unpublished or incomplete mss. So I sat down and wrote once more to Boland, telling him that I was now the Howard agent, and offering a reward if he could help locate those “tear sheets.”

Boland’s July 31, 1965 reply contains the same answer that Glenn was used to receiving: Francis T. Laney had all the “tear sheets.” But, in regard to the REH-HPL correspondence, Boland added a wrinkle this time: “There may be typewritten copies of an appreciable number of the letters. I’ll try to track them down . . . but they are not the original McCoy!” This was followed by an August 16 letter that begins, “Some Robert Howard mss. may be unearthed anon.” And then Boland spins a tale that is pretty unbelievable:

A typist who was copying them for Brother Laney mentioned their existence quite some time ago. She wishes to remain anonymous but she may be prevailed upon to reveal (or at least disclose) the info. Since she was not paid for the typing she is not too happy about science fiction people in general. She is not a fan & her interests lie outside this field. Robert Howard original msss. mentioned: “The Old Gods Brood”—bred in a naked land—“A Warning”—fragments—“Gent from Bear Creek”—“Iron Shadows in the Moon”—“Lion of Tiberias”—“The Frost Giant’s Daughter”—“Kid Galahad”—“A Student of Sockology”—Ortali and the Norseman—daughter of Gazal—Amalric—Conan—Steve Harrison, Detective—“The Silver Heel”—poems: “Age Comes to Rabelais”—“Mate of the Sea”—Scothograms

Boland closes by asking if he should make an offer to the mystery typist and adds that he thinks “there is a very large batch of materials, only a few of which are listed above.” Then, on August 21, pay dirt!

A fair sized mass of original mss. by Robert Howard has come to light. I have an idea this is the material you refer to as the “missing papers.” [. . .] You will be surprised, pleased & quite satisfied with the papers. I have not attempted to make a line by line evaluation but I am certain that what you receive will fill in that “gap” in the Howard writings.

As Glenn reported in Zarfhaana 53, in 1965 the entire net for the Howard heirs was a paltry sum. He could hardly ask them to pay the “reward” he’d mentioned above. So, when Boland said he was going to give the “typist” a $100 check for the materials, Glenn knew what was up. He sent a check to Boland who responded on August 30, in part, “Don’t worry about the packaging—shipping, postage and freightage—or insurance. It’s on the house.” And then he had to wait and see what his first check had bought.

[Part 8 is here.]