Tag Archives: Robert E. Howard Foundation

A Belated Report on the 2017 World Fantasy Convention

The 2017 World Fantasy Convention ended a week ago as I write this.  It was in San Antonio, which is a 6 hour drive from where I live.  I got back Sunday night and returned to San Antonio Tuesday morning for another event, which is why I’m a little late in writing this report.  WFC started on Thursday and ran through Sunday, making it an excellent weekend.

I’ll give a brief overview of some of the panels I attended, then make some general statements. Continue reading

Reading Robert E. Howard on National Poetry Day


I saw somewhere that today is supposed to be National Poetry Day, so I thought I would read some selections by one of my favorite poets.  Robert E. Howard is held in pretty high esteem in these here parts.  This is a side of Howard’s writing that isn’t as well known as it should be.The volume you see on the left is over 700 pages in length. It was published by the Robert E. Howard Foundation Press.  If you don’t have a copy, that’s unfortunate. It’s out of print.  (And you ain’t gettin’ mine.)

Here are some of my favorites. Continue reading

An Open Letter to …?

This is going to be an open letter to two people, neither of whose identity is known to me.  I have a first name for one person (which I will not be revealing).  The other person’s identity I don’t know at all.  This is the person I would like to talk to.

I get most of my mail at a PO box for security reasons.  I want things with financial information safely locked away, not in a mail box on my porch.

Anyway, after lunch today I swung by the post office.  There were a couple of pieces of mail with computer generated addresses, such as an insurance statement, things like that.  On top of these envelopes was a letter-sized envelope with a hand-written address.  The handwriting was unfamiliar.  I glanced at the return address but didn’t look any closer than to see it was in town.   Through the envelope I could see and feel what appeared to be a card.

Wondering who it was from, I took a closer look at the return address.  There was no name, just a PO Box, city, and zip code.  My PO Box. Continue reading

Report on Howard Days, Part 1: Thursday and Friday

HDs2015 Long Banner SmallRobert E. Howard Days 2015 has come to an end.  And while I have enjoyed them all, this has probably been the one I’ve enjoyed the most.  There are a number of things that came together to make this one of the most enjoyable Howard Days for me.  The weather couldn’t have been better.  The high temperatures were in the low 90s, which means it was warm but not really hot, especially since there was a breeze and the humidity wasn’t too bad. Continue reading

A Saint Patrick’s Day Observance, Robert E. Howard Style

Swords-smSwords of the North
Robert E. Howard
The Robert E. Howard Foundation Press
$50 nonmember, $45 members

Robert E. Howard was enamored of the Celts, so I thought I would look at a pair of stories featuring his Irish pirate, Cormac Mac Art.  Cormac is an Irishman who has been banished from the Emerald Isle.  He’s thrown his lot in with a group of Vikings led by Wulfhere, a giant of a man.  Cormac resembles a Conan prototype in the way he is described.  He’s got the haircut, and whereas the rest of the Norsemen are bearded, or at least mustached, Cormac is clean shaven.

These two stories are straight historical fiction without any fantastic elements.  They’re still solid pieces of writing, full of battle and carnage, with a few twists thrown in. Continue reading

Robert E. Howard, Still Influential at 109

reh1Today marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Robert E. Howard.  For someone who wrote for the pulps, which were considered by many to be barely above subliterate trash during their heyday, he’s got a remarkable legacy.

His books are still being reprinted, with new ones coming out on a regular basis.  Howard has been the subject of multiple biographies.  A foundation has been formed in his name that gives a scholarship to a graduating senior each year.  His work has been adapted to film.  (Okay, not necessarily adapted well or faithfully, but it at least has been adapted.)  He wrote some of the seminal works in the field of sword and sorcery, works that have been widely imitated for decades.  And his collected letters reveal a young man whose mind and imagination were too big for the narrow confines of his small Texas town.

How many best-sellers from his era can you name beyond the obvious ones of Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Parker, and Hemingway?  How many works of “serious literature” that bravely explore “the human condition” and promote social justice from as little as ten years ago, never mind two or three decades back, are still in print or even remembered?Swords-sm

Howard wrote with a passion, but then there weren’t many things Howard didn’t approach passionately, at least things he chose rather than had thrust on him, such as nonwriting jobs.  His ideas and passions came through in his writing.  That’s part of what makes so much of his work, whether fiction or poetry or correspondence, both fun and deep.  Too many of today’s crusaders for [insert cause du jour here] need to take some time and study Howard’s works and see how it’s done.  Howard communicates things like his views on barbarism, civilization, honor, loyalty, etc., clearly and unambiguously without ever interfering with his narrative or throwing the reader out of his story.  Would that we had more like him writing today.

So take a moment today and remember him.  Raise a glass in his honor.  Spend some time in one of his worlds.  With snow overnight and more expected for the rest of the day, I’ll read some more in Swords of the North myself.  It’s a fitting day to immerse myself in that Northern thing.

Howard Andrew Jones has posted a solid tribute here.

Arriving in Today’s Mail

20150120_203602The index and addenda to The Collected Letters of Robert E. Howard arrived today.  It probably won’t be of much interest to the casual reader, but it’s a highly useful tool to the serious (and not so serious) scholar.  In addition to the much needed index, the book also contains 17 letters and drafts that were not known at the time the Collected Letters was published.

Pricing and ordering information are here.  Of course, members of the Robert E. Howard Foundation get a discount.

Kudos to Bobby Derie for putting the index together.  It was a lot of work.

Look What I Got in the Mail Today

20141210_131341My reading plans for the evening have just been changed.

If you’re jealous, you can do something about that here.  My copy was 168 of 200.  I don’t know if the Foundation is shipping high number or low numbers first.

But like I said, my reading plans have just changed.

Robert E. Howard’s Swords of the North Available for Preorder

Swords-smThe Robert E. Howard Foundation announced last week that their next book, Swords of the North, is available for preorder.  I’ve ordered my copy.  Is that not a great cover?  The book ships in December, so it would make an excellent Christmas gift for the REH fan in your life, even if that fan is yourself.  Maybe especially if that fan is yourself.

Here’s what the announcement, lifted from the REH Foundation page:

There is a clear self-consistency among all of Howard’s tales which will readily demonstrate that underlying it all is a coherent vision of a fictional history of the world and mankind, in J.R.R. Tolkien’s term a “secondary” world, internally consistent, full of strangeness and wonder, “free from the domination of observed fact,” yet quite credible, a world rooted in the familiar if populated with the unfamiliar, a world that combines the ordinary with the extraordinary. Just as Tolkien’s “Arda” is our Earth, so too is Howard’s world.

-from Rusty Burke’s introduction

The REH Foundation Press is proud to present Swords of the North, a collection of Robert E. Howard’s Celtic/Viking adventure stories. The book checks in at 540 pages, and will be printed in hardback with dust jacket, in a limited first-print quantity of 200 copies, each individually numbered. Cover art by Aaron Miller and introduction by Rusty Burke. This volume marks the first publication of the fragment that begins with, “Between berserk battle rages,” which features Cormac Mac Art’s partner, Wulfhere Skull-splitter. It also collects for the first time in one volume all of the James Allison stories and fragments, both incomplete drafts of “The Temple of Abomination,” and other rarities. The book is expected to ship in December 2014. Pre-order yours today.


Swords of the North is $45 for REHF Members, $50 for non-members (all prices in US dollars) plus shipping. (How to become a member? Look here.)

Shipping prices and additional details (such as the contents) can be found at the REH Foundation website.

The Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard: “The Spirit of Tom Molyneaux”

Howard HorrorThe Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard
Robert E. Howard
Del Rey
trade paper $18.00
ebook 12.99 Kindle Nook

This probably isn’t one of Howard’s better known horror stories, and I think in part it’s because it wasn’t published in Weird Tales or any of the other pulps his supernatural tales appeared in. It was published as “The Apparition in the Prize Ring” in the April 1929 issue of the short-lived Ghost Stories.

One of Howard’s life long passions was boxing. He wrote serious and humorous boxing stories, and even in this case, a supernatural boxing story. The Robert E. Howard Foundation Press is currently in the process of publishing Howard’s complete boxing stories in 4 volumes.

This isn’t a particularly scary story, but the ghost angle is central to it. It’s narrated by the manager of boxer Ace Jessel. Jessel is an up and coming fighter, but he doesn’t have the killer instinct to be a great boxer. This is one of Howard’s stories where race is a factor. Jessel is black, as are Tom Molyneaux, the boxer from the previous century he worships, and Mankiller Gomez, the boxer he fights.

There is a clear contrast between the wild Senegalese Gomez (named after the Mexican promoter who first brought him to the ring) and the civilized Jessel. In fact the only use of the N-word is by Jessel in reference to Gomez. To say that Howard engages in the racial stereotypes of his day is to oversimplify his portrayal of race in this work.

Jessel is slated to fight the heavyweight champ when Gomez comes on the scene and takes the title. Soon everyone is trying to get the two men in the ring. Eventually it happens, even though it’s intuitively obvious even to the most casual observer that Jessel doesn’t stand a chance.

Jessel has a life size painting of Molyneaux. The manager comes across Jessel standing before it and asking Molyneaux for help in the upcoming fight. So unbeknownst to Jessel, he takes the painting to the fight. When Jessel is about to go down for the count, he holds it up where Jessel can see it. The painting shakes, and a cold wind blows through the arena, and especially in the ring. Jessel gets up and whips Gomez, winning the title. Only the ref, Jessel, and the manager can see Molyneaux’s ghost.

I know I’ve made the ghost aspect seem trivial and have brushed off the boxing, but I can’t do this story justice in a description. Howard is at the top of his game as he describes the boxing match. The thunder and conflict we see in Howard’s sword and sorcery are all on display. There aren’t a lot of scares in this one, but that’s not the point. The ghost is just the McGuffin that propels the boxing story. This is a different side of Howard many fans haven’t seen. If you’re not familiar with Howard’s boxing stories, this is a good place to start.