Friday, January 05, 2007

Letter to Edwin Baird: Testimony Through Willis Conover

We find these tantalizing bits from: Lovecraft At Last: The Master of Horror in His Own Words, H. P. Lovecraft and Willis Conover, 1972, 2002, Cooper Square Press, NY

{25 January 1936} Dear Ech-Pi-El: ...a friend of mine ... sent me a letter that you write to Edwin Baird in 1924 ... J. C. Henneberger ... sent it to me.

{3 February 1924} My Dear Baird: I was delighted to receive your two communications ... that you like Nemesis ... {but HPL received a} sensation of gastric distress ... that "Arthur Jermyn" is going to press as "The White Ape". I wish I could convert you ... regarding the annoying literalness and flaccidity of the latter title ... Glad that Hypnos is coming. Are you giving me a vacation for March or are the "Rats" to gnaw their uncanny course through that issue?

Yes indeed I have heard from Mr. Henneberger! Cheque? Bless me, no! Such details are so vulgar. ...I am told that the twin ventures Detective and Weird Tales have reduced the Henneberger capital from plus eleven thousand dollars to minus forty thousand dollars ... Henneberger seems determined to hang on to his venture till the last ditch, and shows a rugged pluck I can't but admire. He spoke of coming reorganisation {sic} to include work from the magician Houdini ...At any rate, Henneberger has the right idea in savage unrestraint and departure from the conventional point of view ... I'll bet he'll snap up that Eddy yarn, "The Loved Dead", which is presenting such a doubtful case! But I should hardly say that H. made me any proposition, as he intimated to you that he might. The only part of his letter that brought me in was a request of a novel of 25,000 words or over, which I shall be happy to send when I finish it.

... I experimented a bit with the novel form, and have an idea partly shaped which will probably suit Mr. H's requirements. It is a hideous thing ... "The House of the Worm" ... By the way, I felt complimented when Henneberger expressed his opinion that my "Rats" is the best tale W. T. has ever received.

H's curiosity about my age, habits, and personality is quite interesting ... {a long autobiography follows which is partially a resume}.
{Lovecraft replies to Connover} ... Where on earth did you ever run into that chap Henneberger? Don't let him rope you into any professional proposition, for although he means well his ventures always explode and leave not only himslef but his colleagues holding the proverbial bag. If you don;t believe me, ask Long!

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