Thursday, October 29, 2009

The "Weird Tales" of Robert E. Howard & H.P. Lovecraft

In the spirit of Halloween I wanted to explore the world of horror beyond Edgar Allen Poe, who as most of you know wrote in the 1800's. His writings have been an inspiration to generations of horror writers and poets. What about later writers? Who makes you shiver with fear? For me it's H.P. Lovecraft (his picture is to the left), who I discovered in college, and about the same time Robert E. Howard, of Conan fame. I don't think we can look at one, without looking at the other. They were close friends, and died about a year apart. Actually, many people confuse some details of their lives. H.P. Lovecraft actually died of cancer after checking himself into a hospital in March of 1937. Robert E. Howard committed suicide in 1936, planning to die before his mother who was laying inside their home in her sick bed, unconsious. When it was clear she would not wake up, and would soon die, he shot himself outside their home. She died the day after her son, and a double funeral was held. He had left this message on his typewriter:

“All fled, all done

So lift me on the pyre.

The feast is over

And the lamps expire.”

I've noticed over the years that people tend to confuse the two deaths, claiming that Lovecraft committed suicide, rather than Howard. I think this is because of the two, Lovecraft seemed more "disturbed" to those reading bits from his biography.

After reading both authors' biographies I was struck by the loss of these two creative, brilliant minds under such tragic circumstances. Through letters these two men reached out to each other. For many years they corrisponded and challenged each other. Lovecraft had a huge influence over Howard's writing, and vice versa. They continue to influence writers today, but they would never know the impact their writing had on fellow writers.

You can read some of the stories both authors wrote at different periods of their lives at the links below. Lovecraft is known as a horror writer, but didn't start out as one until he began writing for Weird Tales. Robert E. Howard wrote some fiction that I would call horror, but it best known for his fantasy books and tales.  He is often called the Father of Sword and Sorcery, which is another blog entirely.

The Call of Cthulhu
by H. P. Lovecraft

by H.P. Lovecraft

Spear and Fang
By Robert E. Howard

In the Forest of Villefére
By Robert E. Howard

I hope you enjoy a little eery reading this week!