DERLETH, August W(illiam)


DERLETH, August W(illiam)
(1909-1971)
   US writer and editor, born in Sauk City, Wisconsin, where he spent his life. A correspondent with and devout admirer of H.P. LOVECRAFT, he devoted much of his life to projects aimed at preserving Lovecraft's memory. The most important of these projects was of course the founding, with Donald WANDREI, of the publishing company ARKHAM HOUSE in Sauk City in order to publish Lovecraft's stories; Wandrei later resigned his interest, but AWD carried on until his death, publishing a wide range of weird fiction, including some of his own otherwise very widely published work. He completed a number of unfinished Lovecraft stories and fragments: The Lurker at the Threshold (1945), The Survivor and Others (coll 1957) and The Watchers Out of Time and Others (coll 1974). In addition, he wrote two volumes of Lovecraft pastiches, The Mask of Cthulhu (coll 1958) and The Trail of Cthulhu (coll 1962), and edited anthologies of such stories by various writers like The Shuttered Room, and Other Pieces (anth 1959) - a title not to be confused with either of the Lovecraft collections likewise entitled (one 1970 UK and one 1971 US, contents differing) - Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos (anth 1969; vt in 2 vols as Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos \#1 1971 and \#2) 1971). AWD edited Lovecraft's writings for publication, including his letters (in collaboration with Wandrei) and The Dark Brotherhood, and Other Pieces (anth 1966) - a coll of Lovecraft stories, solo and in collaboration - and also wrote H.P.L.: A Memoir (1945) and Some Notes on H.P. Lovecraft (1959 chap).But AWD's literary activities were by no means dominated by his interest in Lovecraft. He was a prolific and successful writer of regional novels, receiving a Guggenheim Fellowship for this work, and of detective fiction, starting with Murder Stalks the Wakely Family (1934; vt Death Stalks the Wakely Family 1937 UK); he published a series of Sherlock Holmes pastiches about the character Solar Pons, beginning with "In Re: Sherlock Holmes" - The Adventures of Solar Pons (coll 1945; vt Regarding Sherlock Holmes 1974; vt The Adventures of Solar Pons 1975 UK). His very first story, however - "Bat's Belfry" for Weird Tales in 1926 - was of genre interest, and he remained for many years a prolific contributor to WEIRD TALES, mainly under his own name and the pseudonym Stephen Grendon, and to other magazines, including STRANGE STORIES (where he used the name Tally Mason). His best work was assembled in Someone in the Dark (coll 1941), Something Near (coll 1945), Not Long for This World (coll 1948; with 11 stories cut, vt Tales from Not Long for This World 1961), Lonesome Places (coll 1962), Mr George and Other Odd Persons (coll 1963 as Stephen Grendon; 1964 as AWD; vt When Graveyards Yawn 1965 UK as AWD), Colonel Markesan and Less Pleasant People (coll 1966) with the US critic and writer Mark Schorer (1908-1977), and Dwellers in Darkness (coll 1976). He wrote little sf, but his Tex Harrigan series was about a newspaperman constantly running across zany sf inventions and the like; it was included in Harrigan's File (coll 1975).AWD edited a great many anthologies, both sf and weird. His sf anthologies include several large volumes: Strange Ports of Call (anth 1948; much cut 1958), The Other Side of the Moon (anth 1949; cut 1956 UK; much cut 1959 US) and Beyond Time and Space (anth 1950; much cut 1958). His weird anthologies include Sleep No More (anth 1944; cut 1964 UK; much cut vt Stories From Sleep No More 1967 US), Who Knocks? (anth 1946; much cut 1964 UK) and The Sleeping \& the Dead (anth 1947; vt in 2 vols as The Sleeping and the Dead 1964 UK and The Unquiet Grave 1964 UK). AWD was one of the pioneering anthologists in the genre.The history of Arkham House was chronicled in AWD's Arkham House: The First 20 Years (1959 chap) and Thirty Years of Arkham House, 1939-1969: A History and Bibliography (1970 chap). In 1948-9 the company published a magazine, ARKHAM SAMPLER, ed AWD. Competent and literate and highly energetic, AWD was the central figure in bringing lasting popularity to Lovecraft and to other authors such as Clark Ashton SMITH. His own extremely various output awaits comprehensive appraisal.
   MJE
   Other works: 100 Books by August Derleth (1962), nonfiction; The Beast in Holger's Woods (1968).As Editor: The Night Side (anth 1947); Dark of the Moon: Poems of Fantasy and the Macabre (anth 1947); Far Boundaries (anth 1951; cut 1967); The Outer Reaches (anth 1951; cut 1958; vt in 2 vols as The Outer Reaches 1963 UK and The Time of Infinity 1963 UK); Night's Yawning Peal (anth 1952; much cut 1974); Beachheads in Space (anth 1952; cut 1954 UK; cut 1957 US; with 1 story cut, vt in 2 vols as Beachheads in Space 1964 UK and From Other Worlds 1964 UK); Worlds of Tomorrow (anth 1953; cut 1954 UK; cut 1958 US; vt in 2 vols as Worlds of Tomorrow 1963 UK and New Worlds for Old 1963 UK); Time to Come (anth 1954; cut 1959); Portals of Tomorrow (anth 1954); Fire and Sleet and Candlelight (anth 1961), poetry; Dark Mind, Dark Heart (anth 1962); When Evil Wakes (anth 1963 UK); Over the Edge (anth 1964); Travelers by Night (anth 1967); Dark Things (anth 1971).
   About the author: August Derleth: A Bibliography (1983) by Alison M. Wilson.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Encyclopedia. . 2011.


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