Henry Kuttner was born on this date in 1915. His first published story was “The Graveyard Rats”, which appeared in the March 1936 issue of Weird Tales. It has been reprinted at least 35 times, the latest being in Zombies from the Pulps, edited by Jeffrey Shanks, which where I recently reread it.
Kuttner started out as part of the Lovecraft circle, and “The Graveyard Rats” is very much in the vein of Lovecraft. The story concerns Masson, a gravedigger in an old cemetery in Salem. The man has a profitable little sideline going, digging up the bodies and removing any valuables buried with them. The problem is the rats which infest the graveyard. They’ve dug a series of tunnels and steal the bodies themselves.
When the rats literally pull a fresh corpse out of the coffin and into the tunnels as Masson is opening the coffin lid, he decides to follow them in and retrieve his prize. This isn’t the smartest move he could have made…
Kuttner became a prolific author, writing some of his best work for Weird Tales, Astounding, and Thrilling Wonder. He wasn’t afraid to take chances and stretch himself as a writer and wrote horror, fantasy, sword and sorcery, science fiction, and mystery. After his marriage to C. L. Moore, the two collaborated on almost everything they wrote.
Haffner Press has been bringing Kuttner back into print, but even so, there are a number of his stories that are still in crumbling pulp magazines that deserve to be reprinted. I’ll be looking at some of those tales later this year.