The Legend of the Trunk – Part 8, Conclusion

Like E. Hoffmann Price so many years before, Glenn wasn’t exactly sure what he would be getting in 1965 as he began his dealings with Stuart Boland. In Zarfhaana 53 (Feb. 1999), Glenn wrote that “In due course I received either two or three boxes of jumbled papers.” He describes the papers as follows:

There were, if my inventory is close to accurate, some 160 items altogether, counting the items mentioned below. These ranged from a lot of drafts of published stories—they were complete in some cases, or they could be only a page or two. There were a number of unpublished stories and poems, the most striking being the partial ms. of the story L. Sprague de Camp completed under the title of “Drums of Tombalku” (this is the item that Boland catalogued as “daughter of Gazal” earlier.)

There were also a few odds-and-ends like the July 20, 1928 FORT WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM with Howard’s letter predicting (incorrectly) the outcome of the Tunney-Heeney fight[*]; a clipping from the BROWNWOOD BULLETIN about the Kid Dula-Duke Tramel fight (Howard wrote the article), a copy of THE DANIEL BAKER COLLEGIAN, a college newspaper for April 12, 1926, with a poem by Howard and probably less than a half dozen of these exist anywhere (if anyone cares!), a letter from Bernard A. Dwyer, as well as ones from Otis A. Kline, John F. Byrne and Farnsworth Wright. All in all, a very mixed bag, but well worth the costs if only because of some of the oddities.

[*Note: The image that heads this post is a scan of the actual column header from the Star-Telegram that was in The Trunk. Howard’s letter, scanned from the same source, is here.]

Then, in a September 3, 1965 letter, Boland sent Glenn some more goodies, which Lord describes as a “large envelope [that] contained, as I found out, carbons of letters written by Dr. Howard after his son’s death. Luckily, these were typewritten by someone and thus there is no problem trying to make out the doctor’s tortured handwriting.” On September 15, 1965, Glenn wrote to Mrs. Kuykendall:

The man in San Francisco who sold me the Howard mss. also sent me, a few days later, about 45 letters from Dr. Howard to various persons written from mid-1936 to early 1937. They mostly concern Robert. Actually these are carbon copies of the letters written by the doctor.
There are several unpublished mss. among the ones I obtained. Some of these are incomplete however. [. . .]

Not long after receiving the first shipment from Boland, Glenn wrote to L. Sprague de Camp, who was then preparing the Conan stories for paperback publication (and fighting with Gnome Press editor Greenberg over copyrights) to inform him of a new Conan story. While this letter, and de Camp’s response, has so far eluded me, Glenn’s follow-up is at hand. One of the items in the mass of papers was a single page, the last, from a then unknown Conan story (“The Vale of Lost Women”). He also discusses where in the “saga” the new Conan story, “Drums of Tombalku,” should go, strategy for dealing with Greenberg, and this:

I believe there is still quite a bit of unpublished REH material, so the single page from the Conan tale might go along with another batch of mss. There were several single pages from mss., and according to a listing made after REH’s death, there were about 75-100 mss. in Dr. Howard’s care. [. . .]
Among the papers I got was a copy of “The Frost-Giant’s Daughter,” a carbon of “The Black Stranger” (with synopsis), portions of early drafts of “The Hour of the Dragon” and a carbon of part of “Beyond the Black River.”
[. . .]
No other heroic fantasy tales in the papers I got, although there are a number of unpublished pieces. A couple of fantasies, a couple of other fantasies evidently aimed at GHOST STORIES, two stories and a fragment undoubtedly aimed at TRUE STORIES (Smith says REH did try to crack that market), some sports yarns, a pirate story, a couple of detective tales, a spicy adventure tale, some fragments, either incomplete or unfinished. About a half dozen poems also. I intend to make an inventory listing of the material shortly and will send you a copy for curiosity’s sake.

As 1966 began, Lord and Boland were still going back and forth. In a January 11, 1966 letter, de Camp asks Lord about the single-page Conan story: “I take it that Boland’s diggings have not yet turned up the rest of the story of which you have page 17.”

At some point in late February or early March, Boland and Lord appear to have come to some kind of agreement and Lord was mentioning things in his letters; unfortunately, I only have the responses. Here’s de Camp on March 9, 1966: “Do you mean that Boland has found the rest of the Conan story, of which you had only the 17th and last page, and that its title is THE GOLDEN HORSE?”

And Donald Grant on March 14: “By all means, keep me informed of any new developments on this batch of REH papers. If there is anything included besides Elkins yarns that is suitable for book form, let us give it every consideration.”

On March 15, Glenn wrote to tell Mrs. Kuykendall, “I believe I have uncovered the entire mass of papers sent to Mr. Price back around 1945 and am negotiating to acquire these.” But things were apparently stalled at least into April. Glenn wrote and complained about the situation to de Camp, who responded on April 14: “I judge that in dealing with Boland you, too, have a problem for which there is no solution save Buddhic patience. Has there been any progress on that matter?” But at some point between Glenn’s last letter to de Camp and April 15, the floodgates had opened again. Witness Donald Grant’s April 15 letter to Lord:

Glad to hear that you got the six large boxes of REH material, and the news of “The Castle of the Devil,” the unpublished Solomon Kane story is good indeed. I would like to include that in the first Kane volume, by all means . . . I think if I lived within a thousand miles of you, you’d see me leaning over your shoulder at this new acquisition!

And de Camp on April 20:

I am delighted to hear that the missing Conan story has turned up [. . .] The existence of two versions of the story, of 17 & 21 pp respectively, suggests that Howard wrote one version, tried it out, got a rejection, and did it over to see if he could sell it the second time.

Glenn eventually sent lots of “new” Conan material de Camp’s way, but Conan wasn’t the only character in the boxes. In a letter to Allan Barnard, an editor at Bantam Books who was interested in the Conan stories, Glenn suggests instead the King Kull series, and adds this:

[A]bout two weeks ago, Howard’s complete files of mss., records and other papers came to light—these having been lost since shortly after his father’s death in 1944—and I have been digging through the mass of papers, some six large boxes full, and so far have located at least three (3) unpublished Kull stories. Only one has been located complete but since I am less than halfway through the material, it is possible that the others will be completed and/or that other unpublished stories in the series will be found. I have also located at least two (2) unpublished Solomon Kane stories, but not all of either of them as yet.

Other material in the boxes can be gleaned from Tevis Clyde Smith’s December 31, 1966 reply to a Lord letter:

Bob and I sparred now and then. I don’t know whether we did just before writing Diogenes, or not, and don’t remember if the original of D was mailed to the editors; however, several years after it was written I suggested to Bob that I rewrite the yarn, and he agreed; I did, but didn’t sell the story.
I don’t remember The Golden Caliph. There was one, however, called The Right Hook. This was about the mid-twenties.
From what you sent, I am of the opinion that the novel you mention is the one Bob referred to as Post Oaks and sand Roughs. Do you intend to publish the final version?

And even this wasn’t the end of The Trunk. It would take another year to shake loose Howard’s letters to Lovecraft. In his August 10, 1967 letter to Lord, de Camp says, “I am much interested in learning of the REH-HPL letters. Let me know when you get your hands on them.” Glenn later asks de Camp not to spread the news of the letters around, to which de Camp responds on August 24: “I think I have mentioned the REH-HPL letters to Carter and Scithers, but I’ll pass the word on to them to shut up about it. Is this the same SF source as formerly? Have you gotten to the stage of bargaining for the lot?”

When de Camp wrote again, September 5, Lord appears to have gained possession as de Camp asks, “What was the main source of argument betwixt HPL & REH?” And on September 17, Clyde Smith acknowledged a package from Lord: “Many thanks for the recent mailings: the chapters from the novel, and the copy of the letter Bob wrote to Lovecraft.”

So, by September 1967 the search for The Trunk was over, and it was time for an explosion of new material that we call the Howard Boom. More importantly, Robert E. Howard’s papers had finally found a place where they would be appreciated and shared. Today, thanks to the  generosity of Glenn Lord and his family, anyone interested can walk into the Harry Ransom Center and peruse for themselves the contents of the legendary Trunk.

[Back to Part 1.]