Back in April, I had been doing some reading on the Lovecraft Circle, and came across an interesting fact about one of the authors, Robert Howard. At the age of 30, he killed himself upon learning that his mother was in a coma and would never wake up again. It was interesting, because before that time, he had created a couple of well known characters, namely, Conan the Conqueror one of the pulp era’s defining heroes. A couple of weeks ago, I came across one of his more Lovecraftian stories, The Black Stone, and was reminded of his short life and influence. Beyond just Conan, he helped to influence an entire subgenre of fantasy, Sword and Sorcery.
- The Creation of Tomorrow: Fifty Years of Magazine Science Fiction Paperback, Paul Allen Carter. This source had mentioned Howard at points, but what was really helpful was some information about Weird Tale’s cover artist, and the general (split) attitudes towards Howard’s stories and the artwork that accompanied them.
- Dark Valley Destiny: The Life of Robert E. Howard, by L. Sprague de Camp. This is the first definitive biography of Howard, although I’ve been told that there’s points where it’s to be taken with a grain of salt. There’s some factual information that’s apparently wrong, and de Camp spents a lot of time speculating on Howard’s psyche, chiefly towards his sexuality and the role in which his mother played in his life. I’m sure there’s some Freudian things going on here, but I don’t know how much to buy it completely.
- American Fantastic Tales, Poe to the Pulps, edited by Peter Straub. As with other Library of America books, there’s a short bio about Howard, as well as his story, The Black Stone.
- Echoes of Valor II, edited by Karl Edward Wagner. This anthology contains both fiction and some lengthly introductions. This particular one has some good information on Howard’s stories.