A sampling of the artists and authors that made Weird Tales what it was... with thanks to Lars Klores fantastic Weird Tales fansite...
Farnsworth Wright (1888-1940) began at Weird Tales as its chief manuscript reader and a sometime-author. Within a year, he had become its editor and helmed the magazine during its Golden Age. Afflicted with Parkinson's disease, Wright was replaced as editor in 1940 and died months later. The magazine never achieved the same level of quality.
H.P. Lovecraft (1890-1937) was possibly the greatest author ever to appear in Weird Tales. Sickly and reclusive during his formative years, Lovecraft found escape in reading, and later writing, producing some of the most original and complex horror fiction ever published. Among his inventions are the fabled Necronomicon and the otherworldly mythology now called the Cthulhu Mythos. Today, he is regarded by most critics and authors as the 20th Century's greatest writer of the supernatural. He died in 1937, convinced that his life had been a failure.
Clark Ashton Smith (1893-1961) spent most of his life in his family cabin in Auburn, California, tending to his ailing parents. To support them, the sensitive poet and sculptor turned to fiction, writing wonderful, lurid, and bizarre stories, almost all of which read like prose poetry of the densest sort. Smith's imagination was boundless, and his techniques among the most outré and groundbreaking of all the Weird Tales set. Smith added new dimensions to the page, frequently using odd, obscure words for their incantatory effect. He created the fabled worlds of Hyperborea, Xiccarph, the vampire-haunted medieval land of Averiogne, and Zothique, the last surviving city in the history of time.
Robert Howard (1906-1936) originated such enduring heroic characters as Conan the Barbarian, Kull, and Solomon Kane, and published many of their adventures in the pages of Weird Tales. Howard's popularity during the magazine's heyday was great and continues today. His writing was by turns extraordinarily violent and sublimely beautiful. His prose was honest and forthright, yet he was capable of creating stunning, perfectly realized settings for his stories, and his poetry was among Weird Tales' loveliest. Howard killed himself at the age of 30 after learning of his mother's terminal illness. His suicide note, in its entirety, read, "All fled, all done, so lift me on the pyre; The feast is over, and the lamps expire."
Seabury Quinn (1889-1969) was extraordinarily popular with Weird Tales' readership and appeared in a staggering 165 of the magazine's 279 issues, more than any other author. Quinn's most well-known creation was his supernatural detective, Jules deGrandin, who was featured in the bulk of Quinn's work. The ghostly adventure stories, while not as groundbreaking as some of Weird Tales' other stories, were deftly created, and their success supported the magazine's more unusual publishing decisions.
Fritz Leiber (1910-1992) was an early correspondent of Lovecraft who went on to be one of the world's most honored and beloved authors of science fiction and fantasy. Leiber's early horror novel, The Dealings of Daniel Desserich, was issued for the first time in 1997 to great acclaim after having been lost for half a century. His post-Weird Tales career is best distinguished by his creation of the Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser series. He is also credited with coining the term "sword & sorcery." Among his books are the seminal Arkham House collection, Night's Black Agents and the classic horror novels Conjure Wife and Our Lady of Darkness.
Robert Bloch (1917-1994) wrote a fan letter to H.P. Lovecraft at the age of 16. Lovecraft encouraged the young boy to begin writing fiction and to submit his stories to Weird Tales. Thus began a 60-year writing career that is one of the most distinguished in the horror and mystery field. Bloch is today most famous as the author of Psycho. He is also well-known for having said, "Despite my ghoulish reputation, I really have the heart of a small boy. I keep it in a jar on my desk."
C.M. Eddy (1896-1967) is perhaps most famous for the lurid and masterful story, "The Loved Dead," which caused a minor scandal upon its publication in the May, 1924, issue of Weird Tales. It is rumored that the controversy over the story of necrophilia was so great, and generated so much publicity, that it helped save Weird Tales from bankruptcy at the time. Mr. & Mrs. Eddy, situated in Providence, Rhode Island, became close friends of H.P. Lovecraft. Lovecraft's early letters are filled with descriptions of his late-night walks with Mr. Eddy to Providence's hidden cemeteries and grottoes. The two often exchanged ideas for stories of the fantastic as they strolled along the deserted streets of Providence by moonlight.
Donald Wandrei (1908-1987), startlingly imaginative young writer, gained later noteriety by joining with fellow author and Lovecraft correspondent August Derleth to create Arkham House Publishers. Wandrei's early poetry and fiction is impressive and visionary. Farnsworth Wright, upon reading Wandrei's first submission to the magazine ("The Twilight of Time, published as "The Red Brain"), is said to have thrust the manuscript to co-worker E. Hoffmann Price and commanded, "God damn it, read that!" Wandrei's fiction output slowed gradually throughout his life, and was replaced by increasing involvement in litigation. The last years of Wandrei's life were spent in a legal battle with the estate of August Derleth over the publishing house they had founded together.
E. Hoffmann Price (1899-1988) was one of Weird Tales' earliest and best authors. A Chicago based writer, he also served on the editorial staff of the magazine in its early years and corresponded volumniously with H.P. Lovecraft, who admired Price greatly. A confidant of Farnsworth Wright, Price's reminiscences have shed much light on the enigmatic editor.
Otis Adelbert Kline (1891-1946), was a member of the original Weird Tales editorial staff and appeared frequently in the magazine's early issues with such tales as "The Thing of a Thousand Shapes" (in the magazine's first issue) and "The Cup of Blood." Kline was a robust outdoorsman with a predeliction for good food and good wine. In later life, he became a literary agent, representing some of Weird Tales' more successful authors.
Frank Belknap Long (1903-1994), one of the first of Weird Tales' brilliant discoveries, Long is perhaps more famous for his close friendship with H. P. Lovecraft. Long's contribution to Lovecraft's Mythos, "The Hounds of Tindalos," is one of the finest supernatural stories in all of weird fiction. His poetry collection, In Mayan Splendor, is breathtaking. In later life, he became a prolific author of science fiction but died destitute. A fundraising campaign among Long's fans raised more than $3,000 to have his name carved on the tombstone of his family plot in New York City.
C.L. Moore (1911-1987), full name Catherine Lucille Moore, broke into Weird Tales with her bizarre classic, "Shambleau," a dark interplanetary thriller of the strangest sort. E. Hoffmann Price claims that when Farnsworth Wright read the story, Moore’s first work of fiction, he closed the offices of Weird Tales in honor of "C.L. Moore Day." Moore would later wed Weird Tales writer Henry Kuttner.
August Derleth (1909-1971) is most famous to Weird Tales enthusiasts as the co-founder (with Donald Wandrei) of Arkham House, the publishing company which brought Lovecraft, and later most of the Weird Tales circle, to the public. Derleth divided his writing between weird fiction and critically acclaimed historical novels set in his beloved native land of rural Wisconsin. In later years, he was to come under some criticism by publishing what he claimed were "posthumous collaborations" between Lovecraft and himself, when in reality the work was all Derleth's, save for a two-sentence plot germ from Lovecraft's diary.
Mary Elizabeth Counselman (1911-1995) penned one of Weird Tales' most famous stories: "The Three Marked Pennies." This oft-reprinted classic tells of a small town whose inhabitants awaken one morning to find anonymous notices posted throughout their city. The posts read, "During this day of April 15, three pennies will find their way into the pockets of the city. On each penny will be a well-defined mark. One is a square; one is a circle; and one is a cross. These three pennies will change hands often, as do all coins, and on the seventh day after this announcement (April 21) the possessor of each marked penny will receive a gift. To the first: $100,000 in cash. To the second: A trip around the world. To the third: Death." The haunting allegory was included as the lead story in Counselman's Arkham House collection, Half in Shadow.
Henry Kuttner (1915-1958) met his wife, C.L. Moore, when he wrote a letter to Weird Tales praising Moore's classic short story, "Shambleau." After their marriage in 1940, the two achieved great success in the science fiction field, collaborating on every story they published. Kuttner's greatest Weird Tales contribution is his March 1936 tale of gruesome horror, "The Graveyard Rats."
Edmond Hamilton (1904-1977) was one of Weird Tales' most popular writers, specializing in the bizarre science fiction tale. His ouvre always contained a bizarre flavor, with spectrally morbid scenes sprinkled throughout, but his originality declined somewhat in the 1930s, leading H.P. Lovecraft to call the once-admired author, "One-Plot Hamilton." Edmond Hamilton continued to write science fiction until his death, and became one of the godfathers of the S.F. literary scene.
Greye La Spina (1880-1969), a staple of the magazine's first bizarre issues, penned the classic "Invaders from the Dark," a hugely successful gothic serial which was praised mightily upon its appearance in the April 1925 issue.
Carl Jacobi (1908-1997) wrote sparse and haunting tales for The Unique Magazine. His classic "Revelations in Black" was initially rejected by editor Wright, who later wrote asking that it be resubmitted: "That strange story about the twenty-six blue jays on the stone wall haunted me," Wright explained. Jacobi has had four collections of his superbly crafted weird fiction published, most recently Smoke of the Snake from Fedogan & Bremer.
Hugh B. Cave (1910-) Lifelong author and a pulp contributor of staggeringly prolific output. Cave was a pulp author extraordinaire, writing and selling almost every type of story imaginable. Though as a writer Cave was more a workman than an artisan, his tales are almost always excellent, moving at a crackfire pace and incorporating wondrous imaginative moments. His Murgunstrumm & Others received the World Fantasy Award, and his Death Stalks the Night was recently released by Fedogan & Bremer.
Rev. Henry S. Whitehead (1882-1932), a Harvard graduate and an ordained deacon of the Episcopal Church, was a favorite staple of the early Weird Tales, imbuing many of his stories with a West Indies background gleaned from his years as Acting Archdeacon in the Virgin Islands. His Arkham House compendium, Jumbee and Other Uncanny Tales, is a classic of horror literature. When he died in 1932, Weird Tales ran a full-page memoriam written by Whitehead's friend and correspondent, H.P. Lovecraft.
© Lars Klores
for his terrific
Weird Tales site