Monday, May 12, 2008

Some Derleth Letters on Recent Auction

I was doing some research through the L Currey archives and found a few anecdotes tucked away ... here are extracts found there ... there are very controversial notes which I have no way of knowing about. Since a few elements are about Lovecraft, I thought they'd be good to preserve on the Lovecraft blog.

Derleth, August. SIX TYPED LETTERS SIGNED AND ONE TYPED POSTCARD, to Walter J. Coates, first letter dated 24 March, n.y. [but 1937], last 26 April, n.y. [but 1937], postcard not dated, postmarked 18 May 1937. Plus additional associated material, including a TYPED LETTER (not signed) from WEIRD TALES editor Farnsworth Wright, two TYPED LETTERS SIGNED from Marion Lee, a friend of Lovecraft and Coates, and several carbons of typed letters from Coates.

An interesting archive of material regarding Derleth's efforts to identify and collect Lovecraft's writings for the memorial "omnibus book" which became THE OUTSIDER AND OTHERS.

Coates was editor/publisher of Driftwind, a little magazine in Vermont that published a good deal of Lovecraft's poetry as well as his essay, "The Materialist Today."

Derleth and Donald Wandrei were hoping (expecting?) to find a commercial publisher for the memorial HPL book.

"Farrar & Rinehart have asked for first crack at the manuscript we are preparing." He also says, "We are planning to put out sometime next year a monumental book of Selected Letters, for as a letter-writer HPL ranks deservedly among the great in English letters."

Their failure to find a publisher for their memorial volume, of course, led to the founding of Arkham House in 1939, with Lovecraft's THE OUTSIDER ... as their first offering. Arkham House would publish HPL's Selected Letters, not in "a monumental book" but in five volumes spread over a period of years, though this still represents only about a tenth of the letters that Lovecraft wrote. Generally fine. (#108217) Price: $1,500.00

Derleth, August. THREE TYPED LETTERS SIGNED (TLsS). Each 1 page, dated 15 July 1963, 24 July 1963 and 3 August 1963, to "Dear Kirby McCauley" or "Dear Mr. McCauley," signed "August Derleth." On executive-size Arkham House stationery with Utpatel illustration at top.

These letters mainly constitute one half of a running argument between Derleth and McCauley about a civil rights issue involving a man in an exclusively white neighborhood who sold his house to a black, thereby breaking an agreement to not do so. McCauley apparently sided with the neighbors. Derleth's position seems a little squishier.

On the one hand, he writes, "I don't happen to be prejudiced," but elsewhere in the same letter, writes, "I think we can't doubt that the Negro is racially inferior; that is, he will probably not always stay that way, but as at present the race is generally inferior to the white. This may be due to evolutionary as well as socially and economically important factors."

{This alleged quote quite shocks me - Chrispy}

Elsewhere he writes that "Catholics aren't supposed to think, only do what the clergy directs."

A revealing look at racial attitudes circa 1963. The letters also deal in passing with minor Arkham House business matters, Derleth's writings, and McCauley's search for Henry Whitehead letters.

Price: $450.00

Derleth, August. TYPED NOTE SIGNED (TNS). 1 page (10 lines), dated 4 December 1962, to "Dear Kirby McCauley," signed "August Derleth." On Arkham House half-size letter stationery with Arkham House logo at top.

Derleth says he can't give out Ramsey Campbell's address, but can forward letters. Derleth had contacted McCauley earlier, perhaps with a view to finding an agent for the newcomer, whose first professionally published story, "The Church in High Street," appeared in DARK MIND, DARK HEART, an original anthology edited by Derleth, published by Arkham House in 1962.

Campbell's story was heavily revised by Derleth (see Jaffery [1989], p. 62), who later sent the manuscript to McCauley. Derleth cautions McCauley to not refer to Campbell's "manuscript" [underlined] as "he would rightly think it a discourtesy for us to have released the MS. to show how much revision had been made in it between drafts."

He also mentions that he had successfully urged Campbell, just 16 at the time, to set his Lovecraftian tale in some other milieu than HPL's fictional town of Arkham.

Ramsey Campbell went on to become one of the more visible figures, both as author and editor, of supernatural fiction in the late-20th-century. This is an important document concerning the very beginning of his career.

(#102362) Price: $150.00

Derleth, August. TYPED NOTE SIGNED (TNS). 1 page, dated 15 October 1963, to "Dear Kirby McCauley," signed "August Derleth." On Arkham House note stationery with Utpatel illustration at top.

Mainly concerns the sale to McCauley of some drawings that Frank Utpatel had done for some Arkham House titles. A few other miscellaneous matters. (#102363) Price: $85.00

Derleth, August. TYPED NOTE SIGNED (TNS). 1 page, dated 25 March 1971, to "Dear Kirby [McCauley]," signed "August." On Arkham House half-size letter stationery with Arkham House logo at top.

Mostly concerns the somewhat complicated financial matters relating to the "publication of Don's book" (details unknown; a book project involving Derleth, but not an Arkham House publication).

{I suspect this is a Donald Wandrei book. I've seen mention of it elsewhere. - Chrispy}

Derleth also notes that he has sent McCauley six copies of THE ARKHAM COLLECTOR, five of which are to be forwarded to Robert Aickman and he criticizes a recent short story by "Vernon" (probably J. Vernon Shea).

(#102366) Price: $50.00

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