Monday, August 5, 2019

Pronouncing "Cabell"

The source of the rhymed couplet, "Tell the rabble / My name is Cabell" (discussed briefly in my previous post), is still unknown.  It is usually mentioned as something that Cabell told an unnamed journalist, but Bill Lloyd (of the excellent website for all-things Cabell, The Silver Stallion) notes that the closest actual source by Cabell that we have for this is a letter from Cabell to Sinclair Lewis dated 26 November 1917:
And the name of the sulky beast is Cabell, in ironic consonance with rabble. I don't wonder you did not know, since I was forced to spend two years in New York under the alias of Cáy-bel and Cay-béll, through the utter impossibility of persuading any Northerner to pronounce my actual name.  (Between Friends: Letters of James Branch Cabell and Others, p. 13)
The James Branch Cabell Library at Virginia Commonwealth University produced a nice button with the couplet. (See also their website for further information.)

Thanks to Bill Lloyd!

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Worlds Imagined: An Exhibition of Maps

In 2017-2018, the Cushing Memorial Library & Archives at Texas A&M University hosted an exhibit on Worlds Imagined: The Maps of Imaginary Places Collection.  At the end of last year, after the exhibition had closed, a pdf of the 100 page catalog was posted online, as well as a 25-minute video view of the exhibition, hosted by the curators.  Both are accessible here.  They are quite fun, but one should be wary of the pronunciation of the various names and places as given by the curators. For instance, Poictesme is correctly pronounced  pwa-tem (not pwa-tez-may), the setting created by James Branch Cabell (whose surname is mispronounced as ka-BELL).  Cabell himself made up a rhyming couplet to correct the frequent mispronunciation of his name:  "Tell the rabble: / My name is Cabell" (I've also seen this quoted as "Stop all this rabble / My name is Cabell." I'm not sure at present which is correct.). The name Dunsany is mispronounced in a way I've never heard before, as "DUNSE-nee"; whereas correctly the name is three syllables, "dun-SAY-nee"

Sunday, July 28, 2019

A Dunsany quote from James Blish?

In his Guest of Honor speech at EasterCon 21 in London in 1970 (audio, with illustrations, here), James Blish gave a supposed quote from Lord Dunsany that I have been otherwise unable to source.  Here what Blish said:
Like all the arts, science fiction adds to our knowledge of reality by formally evoking what Lord Dunsany called "those ghosts whose footsteps across our minds we call emotions." 
Blish's talk was basically his introduction to Harry Harrison's anthology The Light Fantastic: Science Fiction Classics from the Mainstream, published in 1971. But where does the Dunsany quotation come from?  Anyone?  Is it even really a Dunsany quote?

I found a very similar idea in an essay "The Symbolism of Poetry" by William Butler Yeats from 1900, as follows: 
"certain disembodied powers, whose footsteps over our hearts we call emotions" 
Apparently, either Dunsany might have slightly restated Yeats's words somewhere, or Blish might have misattributed the (slightly inaccurate) words to Dunsany rather to Yeats. I'd lean towards the latter.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Further on the Grill/Binkin Lovecraft Collection

Back in March, I wrote on the Lovecraft Collection of Jack Grill and (later) of Irving Binkin.  It's posted here

This is a follow-up, bringing the story to the present as far as I am able. 

The original blog post received the following comment from someone who signed their name only as JohnK:
Quite a few pieces of the Grill Collection wound up in the 'Undead' Book Sail (John McLaughlin) catalog 1984. McLaughlin also had the Cats Of Ulthar manuscript for sale in the early 90's as I recall. McLaughlin was eccentric to say the least, he had a shop in Orange Ca. that was hardly ever open to the public and was loaded with weird collector's items that he really wasn't interested in selling.
After McLaughlin passed away many of his treasures were auctioned off by Heritage, including the mostly unsold Lovecraft Grill collection. McLaughlin's dream like many collectors was to have a museum devoted to his collections. His family had other ideas. I actually looked at that Dracula script at his shop one time, it was stashed in a pile of other equally rare stuff.”
I remember that catalog primarily for its long six-page description of the typescript of Dracula (originally titled "The Undead"), and the fact that the package in which it was sent was marked: "Open with Care, Contents UNDEAD." I'd completely forgotten that the catalog included HPL and Weird Tales materials. The catalog itself is dated 1984, but my copy wasn't mailed until February 28th, 1985.

And sure enough, among all of the Lovecraftiana are listings for the manuscripts of “The Cats of Ulthar” and “Some Dutch Footprints in New England,” as well as Lovecraft's Astronomical Notebook, 1909-1915, among many other items. The Lovecraft material is quite extensive, and runs some forty-six heavily descriptive pages, covering items 355 through 468. Additionally, there are many photographs of the various items.

Cover to the 1984 Undead Book Sail catalog
The catalog itself is a lavish production. Most copies were done in trade paperback, with a new color cover by Rowena Morrill, and new materials by Ray Bradbury, Robert Bloch, and others. The print run was evidently fairly large, as the colophon notes that the edition consisted of 1,400 numbered copies, of which one thousand were bound in wrappers, and four hundred bound as deluxe hardcovers (with extra material, and the signatures of the contributors). On top of the 1,400 copies, another one hundred fifty were made for the publisher's use, including fifty copies bound in half-leather for presentation to contributors. The copies were hand-numbered with an ink compound that contained actual human blood. (To add to the absurdity, the inserted errata slip, correcting only one item's price, has a notation that “This errata is limited to 1500 copies.” Presumably the contributor copies were given out without this photocopied errata slip.)

The catalog is subtitled the “16th Anniversary Catalogue” of the Book Sail out of Orange, California. It was edited and catalogued by Bruce Francis, and published and coordinated by John McLaughlin. It is probably fair to call the whole enterprise eccentric, for, basically, it's a kind of vanity publication to show off the materials that McLaughlin had collected and which he really didn't want to sell. (The high prices alone are evidence of a desire not to sell the materials.) And the catalogue itself was sold to inquiring customers. I don't remember the price, but it wasn't cheap, and one was really paying for the privilege to read the often lengthy descriptions of rare and unique items, of which the Stoker manuscript was the prized example.

The proprietor of the Book Sail must also be described as eccentric. John Kevin McLaughlin (1942-2005) was the only child of an IBM executive and his wife. He grew up in Endicott, New York, and graduated from high school there, after which he attended college at World Campus, which was a float that went around the world. He married (and divorced) twice, and was survived by two sons from his first marriage. He founded the Book Sail in Anaheim in 1968, and moved it to a larger location in Orange in 1975. Meanwhile he amassed a legendary collection of antiquarian books, vintage comics, pulp magazine, and movie scripts and memorabilia. He must have purchased the Grill/Binkin collection of Lovecraft manuscripts in the late 1970s or early 1980s.

McLaughlin was reportedly given lavish amounts of money by his father, and thereby was able to build his collections. His parents died in Endicott in the early 1990s, and McLaughlin died there at the age of 63 in June 2005. In August 2006, major chunks of his collections, including it seems much of the Lovecraftiana, was auctioned by Heritage Auction Galleries and Diamond International Galleries. Some of McLaughlin's collection—this looks mostly to be movie ephemera (posters, scripts, photos, contracts, etc.)— ended up in "The John McLaughlin Collection of Popular Culture" in Special Collections at Binghamton University.

Thus, through the auction of McLaughlin's collections, much of what had been the Grill/Binkin collection of Lovecraftiana re-entered the market, and was apparently completely dispersed. Many of these materials are probably still out there somewhere, though individual items are not easily located, and it appears that most of it did not end up in institutions or libraries.

At least the collection per se did not end up in a dumpster. 
A 1976 Book Sail Advertisment

Saturday, July 6, 2019

C.S. Lewis on the Covers of 1940s American Magazines

It is well-known that C.S. Lewis appeared on the front cover of Time magazine in the 1940s.  The specific issue date was that of 8 September 1947, and the artist was Boris Artzybasheff.  See it at right.

Less-known is the fact that Lewis had appeared some three years earlier on the cover of The Saturday Review of Literature, accompanying a review (by Leonard Bacon) of the U.S. edition of Perelandra. The specific issue date was 8 April 1944, and the wood engraving for the cover was by Frances O'Brien Garfield. The artist was apparently given only a headshot of a rather weary-looking C.S. Lewis to use in making the cover. This headshot was apparently a publicity photo used by the U.S. publisher Macmillan, as it also appeared next to contemporary American reviews of some of Lewis's books.

Here's a close-up of the illustration itself, with the scan of Lewis's headshot below it for comparison.

Monday, July 1, 2019

A Christopher Morley Quote Produced a Conundrum

It began with a quotation attributed to Christopher Morley (1890-1957). A nice quote, for which the source is usually not given. Yet an interesting piece of bibliographical ephemera seems to helps. Here's a photo of it (click on the image to see it larger), with the quotation:

It is undated, but it states that it is an excerpt from Morley's final novel The Man Who Made Friends with Himself, which was published in April 1949. Yet this citation is wrong, and the quote is even punctuated incorrectly, with one word wrong. (See the real source, properly punctuated, at the bottom of this post.) The printer is identified as Herbert W. Simpson of Evansville, Indiana. He was born in 1904, and died in 1970. He and his wife Dora (1909-1995) are buried together in Evansville. His firm, Herbert W. Simpson Inc. was incorporated in Evansville in October 1943 as a business of general printing, engraving, lithography, and electrotyping. Simpson seems to have done a number of such pieces of ephemera, only a few of which are dated. These include Politics and the English Language: An Essay Printed as a Christmas Keepsake for the Typophiles  (1947) by George Orwell, and The Feather-Vendor Zodiac Calendar, 1951 (1951) by W.A. Dwiggins. Simpson seems to have been most active in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

It turns out that Simpson published two additional pieces of Christopher Morley ephemera (and if anyone has copies, I have a friend who wants them for his Morley collection. Really.). Both, of course, are undated, but here are the details from some library catalogues:

A Birthday Greeting for William Shakespeare, 23 April 1564-23 April 1616 by Christopher Morley. Evansville, IN: Herbert W. Simpson, [no date].
Includes quotation from Morley's Shakespeare and Hawaii (1933).
1 folded sheet ([3] pages).
"In the solemn vein of occasional advertising pronouncements: this piece is the second of a series. While ostensibly a birthday greeting, it is also a printers' potage cooked up from contributions by several hands. Credit is directly given to the three writers involved with the flavor of words. The illustrations are by Merrill Snethen and the types are various sizes of Caslon 471."
Contains Shakespeare's "Sonnet number sixty" and "A letter from Christopher Morley", regarding the Sonnets.

Note:  Merrill Snethen (1904-1974) was a native of Evansville, educated at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Energy Is Not Endless . . . by Christopher Morley.
Evansville, IN: Herbert W. Simpson, [no date].
"Energy is not endless, better hoard it for your own work. Be intangible and hard to catch; be secret and proud and inwardly unconformable. Say yes and don’t mean it; pretend to agree; dodge every kind of organization, and evade, elude, recede. Be about your own affairs, as you would also forbear from others at theirs, and thereby show your respect for the holiest ghost we know, the creative imagination."
From a tribute to Don Marquis (1878-1937) by Morley, "O Rare Don Marquis", The Saturday Review of Literature, 8 January 1938, and collected in Morley's Letters of Askance (1939). 

The correct source of Morley's quotation is his column entitled "Brief Case; or, Every Man His Own Bartlett," which appeared in the 6 November 1948 issue of The Saturday Review of Literature, page 20.  The epigrams in the column are rather gloomy for Morley, but the final one is more uplifting (and also punctuated more euphoniously):
    Read, every day, something no one else is reading. Think, every day, something no one else is thinking. Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do.
    It is bad for the mind to be always part of a unanimity.*

*[sic] it reads "always part of" not "always a part of" as in the card shown above.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

James Branch Cabell's Precious Balms

In 1924, Arthur Machen published a small volume entitled Precious Balms, collecting bad reviews his works had received over his publishing career.  The title came from Psalm 141: 
Let the righteous rather smite me friendly, and reprove me. But let not their precious balms break my head
Machen was not the first to be entertained by disseminating his own bad reviews. James Branch Cabell did it, in a bunch of pages at the back of his book Beyond Life (1919), where the pages look just like advertisements for Cabell's other works, until you start reading the copy.  And in various printings of the book Cabell added to the pages, and changed some of the reviews. When he compiled the Storisende edition of his works, he put the reviews within a different title, Straws and Prayer-Books (1930).  I copy a some examples below, including the early version of the Jurgen page, and the final version.  At that end of this post, I post the details for the bibliographically inclined.  Thanks to Bill Lloyd of The Silver Stallion website for helping me with details on the various printings. 
Gallantry (1907) 
In Gallantry the characters, their costumes, manners, ideas and actions have about the naturalness of a modern costume ball. The author tries hard to maintain a stilted style, but frequently loses patience with it and relieves himself with the most modern of slang. --New York Sun
 The Cords of Vanity (1909)
 About as poor stuff as one can find in a book put out by a reputable publisher. The whole thing is slushy and disgusting. --Cleveland Plain Dealer, Ohio
The Certain Hour (1916)
A collection of "romantic" tales about poets dead and gone, prefaced by a fatuous essay on literature. Two poems, far from poetic, are included in the book. --The Independent
From the Hidden Way (1916) 
From the Hidden Way was published by Robert M. McBride & Company, in 1916. The rest was silence. --Louis Untermeyer, in the Literary Review
Beyond Life (1919)
Theses as devoid of interest as they have been, these last hundred years, of mportance. --Floyd Dell, in The Liberator 
Straws and Prayer-Books (1924)
Oh! are we never to hear the last of Jurgen--must this stupid, stilted, silly book be forever flaunted in our reluctant face? Mr. Cabell goes on descanting about his experiences with the vice squad in New York, or wherever it was, as if he were a decadent small boy, proud of being haled into the police court for chalking dirty words on a wall. The Jurgen episode seems to have gone to Mr. Cabell's head, it would seem to have developed in him a sort of megalomania. He writes with a fatuous self-exploitation which arouses, in a sensitive reader, something akin to the curious personal sense of shame felt when a speaker or singer or player makes an absurd display before an audience. --Hartford Courant, Connecticut
Domnei (1913)

Jurgen (1919)
Jurgen (1919)
Beyond Life
New York: Robert M. McBride & Company, 1919
“Published January, 1919”
“Second Printing, March, 1919”
“Third Printing, August 1920”
“Fourth Printing, May, 1921”
“Fifth Edition” 1924 [year on title page]
“Sixth Printing, December, 1930”
In Storisende edition, the reviews are moved to Straws and Prayer-Books (1930), pp. 279-297

Beyond Life

In the first printing, the rear pages are numbered as follows:

p. 359. “Some Other Books by Mr. Cabell (With Tributes of the Press)”
p. 360. The Cream of the Jest
p. 361. The Rivet in Grandfather's Neck
p. 362. The Certain Hour
p. 363. The Cords of Vanity
p. 364. The Soul of Melicent
p. 365. Chivalry, Gallantry, The Line of Love
p. 366. The Eagle's Shadow

The second printing retains the same text, but the page numbers have been removed.

The third printing has twelve (unnumbered) pages of such reviews:

[1] “Some Other Books by Mr. Cabell (With Tributes of the Press)”
[2] The Cream of the Jest
[3] The Rivet in Grandfather's Neck
[4] The Certain Hour
[5] The Cords of Vanity
[6] Domnei
[7] Beyond Life
[8] The Line of Love
[9] Gallantry
[10] Chivalry
[11] Jurgen
[12] The Eagle's Shadow

The fourth printing has fourteen pages of such reviews, adding these two after Jurgen and before The Eagle's Shadow:

[11+1] Figures of Earth
[11+2] From the Hidden Way

The Fifth Edition and Sixth Printing match the fourth.

The catalog was reordered and expanded (by the last four titles) in Straws and Prayer-Books (1930), pp. 279-297

p. 279 “Books by Mr Cabell in the Order of Their Publication, with Tributes of the Press”
p. 281 The Eagle's Shadow
p. 282 The Line of Love
p. 283 Gallantry
p. 284 The Cords of Vanity
p. 285 Chivalry
p. 286 Domnei
p. 287 The Rivet in Grandfather's Neck
p. 288 The Certain Hour
p. 289 From the Hidden Way
p. 290 The Cream of the Jest
p. 291 Beyond Life
p. 292 Jurgen
p. 293 Figures of Earth
p. 294 The High Place
p. 295 Straws and Prayer-Books
p. 296 The Silver Stallion
p. 297 Something About Eve

Sunday, June 2, 2019

A C.S. Lewis Mystery

In September 1966, a previously unpublished short story "Forms of Things Unknown" by C.S. Lewis appeared posthumously in his collection Of Other Worlds: Essays and Stories, edited by Walter Hooper.  It was later collected in The Dark Tower and Other Stories (1977), also edited by Hooper

The story is not among Lewis's best, but it poses some conundrums with regard to its composition. It is not known when Lewis wrote the story, but the plots bears a striking resemblance to a short story from one magazine and to some artwork on the cover of another magazine, both from 1958*. Basically (spoiler alert) "Forms of Things Unknown" tells of an astronaut on the moon who encounters a unnamed gorgon, presumably Medusa, and who, meeting her gaze in the final line of the story, is turned to stone.

The short story is "Island of Fear" by William Sambrot, and it first appeared in The Saturday Evening Post for 18 January 1958.  This story is not set on the moon but in a contemporary Greek island, where one man encounters a gorgon and meets her gaze in the final line of the story.

Next, the artwork.  It is a cover by Virgil Finlay to the October 1958 issue of Fantastic Universe, a science fiction magazine then under the editorship of Hans Stefan Santesson.  (Fantastic Universe was published from June 1953 through March 1960.)  The cover art, which is not associated with any story in the magazine, shows two astronauts in front of their spaceship having been turned to stone after encounter with a gorgon, again presumably Medusa.

How does one explain these similarities?  Really, one can't.  But it is interesting to note that Lewis did read American science fiction magazines in the 1950s, and even contributed to The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.  And he also contributed to The Saturday Evening Post ("Screwtape Proposes a Toast" appeared in the issue for 19 December 1959).  So it's not outside the realms of possibility that Lewis saw the story or the magazine cover or both.

I had intended to include some account of this curious situation, and to reprint Sambrot's tale in my anthology Tales Before Narnia (2008), but my query letter to Sambrot went unanswered, and later I learned he had passed away just before my letter would have arrived.

*Credit for discovering (back in the 1970s) the story goes to Dale Nelson and the cover art to Richard Hodgens.  

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Dunsany's "Episodes from The Second Book of Wonder"

Twelve tales from Dunsany's The Book of Wonder first appeared in The Sketch between December 1910 and March 1911.  Two further tales were added when the book appeared from William Heinemann in November 1912.

In May and June 1914, six more tales appeared in The Sketch under the header "Episodes from The Second Book of Wonder." These tales, plus thirteen more, were collected in book form as Tales of Wonder, published by Elkin Mathews in October 1916.  An American edition (with the stories slightly rearranged and a new Preface dated August 16th, 1916, added) appeared in November 1916 from John W. Luce & Company, retitled The Last Book of Wonder.

The retitling indicates that Dunsany, his outlook certainly darkened by the War,  would no longer write in the fabulist and wonderful style he had perfected over the course of his first seven short story collections.  One further collection of such material would appear after the War as Tales from Three Hemisphere (1919), but this book was not a gathering of newly written tales but of previously uncollected ones.  Dunsany's next two books (after Tales of Wonder / The Last Book of Wonder), Tales of War (1918) and Unhappy Far-Off Things (1919), are rather dire reading, being as the tales were written as war-time propaganda.

It's sad that in Dunsany's oeuvre there are no volumes comprising The Second Book of Wonder, The Third Book of Wonder, etc.  Dunsany's movement away from such tales of wonder is a sad loss of literature that might have been.

Here is the banner heading that prefaced "Episodes from The Second Book of Wonder" when they began appearing in The Sketch on 13 May 1914. It's nice to hear Dunsany's early voice again, even as he hawks his own wares.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Early Caitlin R. Kiernan

Caitlin R. Kiernan was born in 1964 as Kenneth Robert Wright.  Before she transitioned around 1990,  two early stories appeared in The Freshman Sampler (1985), edited by Peggy B. Jolly, a compilation written by students in the Freshman Composition Program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

The first story is "The Burning" (pp. 18-20, signed as by Kenneth Robert Wright), and it concerns a fire encroaching upon the narrator's grandmother's house.  Some of the descriptions anticipate Kiernan's later lyrical prose.  Here's a sample of the narrator watching the fire:
The sky was clear as spring water, dotted with a million sparkling specks of starlight and an orange sickle of moon, building toward the bloated roundness of harvest. The fire was little more than a red halo in the darkness, moving deliberately down the eastern slope of Double Oak Mountain. We sat and watched, and listened to the strange stillness in the air. No crickets. No katydids. A dry breeze rattled the last of summer's leaves from the limbs, like the plaything of some phantom child.
The second story is "Another Christmas Carol (p. 42, signed as by Kenneth Wright) tells of an adult's disillusionment with childhood memories of Christmas.

Wright also published three professional articles in the field of paleontology (a few abstracts of Wright's work also appeared in the Journal of the Alabama Academy of Science in 1986 and 1987).  I will merely list the references to the articles here.

March 1988, Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 8(1): 102-107. "Selmasaurus Russelli, A New Plioplatecarpine Mosasaur (Squamata, Mosasauridae) from Alabama" by Kenneth R. Wright and Samuel Wayne Shannon.

September 1988, Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 8(3): 343-345. "The First Record of Clidastes Liodontus (Squamata, Mosasauridae) from the Eastern United States" by Kenneth R. Wright.

January 1989, Journal of Paleontology 63(1): 126-127. "On the Taxonomic Status of Moanasaurus Mangahouangae Wiffen (Squamata: Mosasauridae)"

In 2002 Kiernan contributed one further professional article:

March 14, 2002, Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 22(1): 91-103. "Stratigraphic Distribution and Habitat Segregation of Mosasaurs in the Upper Cretaceous of Western and Central Alabama, with an Historical Review of Alabama Mosasaur Discoveries" by Caitlin R. Kiernan.

The Freshman Sampler had three further editions, in 1988, 1990, and 1994 (co-edited with Linda B. Moore).  I have not seen any of these later editions and do not know if Wright's contributions reappear in any of them. 

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Dunsany in the early 1910s

The Sketch also has some nice photographs of Dunsany, at the time he was writing the tales for which he would become famous.  Here are two, the first from the 4 January 1911 issue, the second from the 13 May 1914 issue.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Sime in 1910

A nice photograph (by E.O. Hoppé) of S.H. Sime appeared in The Sketch for 28 December 1910. The demonic face, with lighted eyes, peering down at Sime is a nice touch, but what is Sime holding in his hands?  It looks perhaps like a figurine of a couple embracing, but I'm not sure.  Any thoughts? 

A close-up of Sime's hands

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

A Lost Sime Illustration for Dunsany's Book of Wonder

Dunsany's Book of Wonder was published by William Heinemann in November 1912.  It contains fourteen tales, twelve of which originally appeared in a different order (and with texts abridged) in The Sketch between December 1910 and March 1911. The book reprints ten illustrations by S.H. Sime, while the serialization had eleven illustrations.  The Sime illustration in the periodical but not in the book was for the story "The Injudicious Prayers of Pombo the Idolator." I copy it below (click on it to see a larger version).  One wonders if it might have seemed too dark to print in the smaller book-sized format.

If you zoom in you can see what I presume to be the high-priest of Maharrion ("who is neither bird nor cat") to the left of the center, and to the right of it a boy (Pombo?) before "the little idol Duth." I suspect the figure (?) to the left of the base of the stairs is Maharrion "the god of flowers" and the aureoled growth hanging out over the abyss is supposed to be some kind of unearthly flower. Of course for The Book of Wonder, Dunsany and Sime reversed their usual process, and Sime made the illustrations first, and Dunsany then made up stories to fit the illustrations. 

Thursday, March 7, 2019

The H.P. Lovecraft Collection of Jack Grill and (later) Irving Binkin

In 1975, Jack Chalker's Mirage Press released a two thousand copy edition of A Catalog of Lovecraftiana: The Grill/Binkin Collection, cataloged and annotated by Mark Owings and Irving Binkin. Five hundred copies were cloth-bound, the rest were bound as trade paperbacks. From the vantage point of nearly forty-five years later, the catalog seems very bizarrely arranged. It includes 668 numbered items, the vast majority (the first 586 items) were collected by the first owner “Jack” Grill, with the remaining 82 items added by Irving Binkin as “Recent Additions” after Binkin acquired the collection. The main section of 586 items is divided into seven sections, 1) Professional Periodicals; 2) Amateur Press Works; 3) Books by Lovecraft; 4) Anthologies, Novels and Author Collections with HPL Material; 5) Books about Lovecraft; 6) Letters; 7) Photographs and Miscellaneous. Most of these sub-sections are repeated twice in the “Recent Additions” section.

The catalog also has short note by Irving Binkin in dedication to “Philip Jack Grill,” and a short introduction by L. Sprague de Camp. The use of “Philip Jack Grill” is somewhat erroneous, for “Jack” was Grill's nickname and doesn't seem to have been part of his legal name. He was born Philip Grill in New York on 29 June 1903. He was the son, and second of two children, of Philip Grill (1869-1938), a post office clerk, and his wife Katherine (1871-1941) or Katie. His sister was Clara Grill (1898-1967), who was a hair dresser in a beauty parlor. Grill was probably nicknamed “Jack” to distinguish himself from his father with the same first name. The younger Philip Grill appears in the 1930 and 1940 Censuses as an art worker for a newspaper, or as an artist. He never married.

Jack Grill seems to have began obsessively collecting Lovecraftiana in the late 1940s, and the collection he amassed is very impressive. George Wetzel contributed “A Memoir of Jack Grill” to Huitloxopetl, 1972, published by Meade and Penny Frierson, and reprinted in The HPL Supplement #3 (March 1974), also published by the Friersons. The memoir (collected in Wetzel's Collected Essays on H.P. Lovecraft and Others, e-book 2015; but it is worth noting that a slightly different version, with extra potentially controversial comments, appeared in Marginalia #1, Wetzel's contribution to the 26th mailing of the Esoteric Order of Dagon for May 1979) is about ten pages long, and contains some fascinating observations, including quotes from Grill's letters, and an account of their one meeting when Grill came to visit Wetzel. Their friendship, mostly epistolary, went from about 1955 through 1959, when Wetzel notes, Grill stopped answering his letters.

According to Wetzel, Grill “collected HPL photos, letters written to and by HPL; he interviewed HPL acquaintances, visited many of the Middle Atlantic and New England towns to which HPL had made antiquarian tours, and accumulated many other odds and ends of Lovecraftiana.” An odd, shy man, Grill wished he was “a writing fellow,” but his only writings were letters—in an execrable hand-writing, without paragraphs and mostly without dates.

Grill died in Brooklyn on 12 April 1970. His parents and sister had predeceased him. A lawyer had to deal with effects, and arranged an auction at the Brooklyn house. Enter Irving Binkin (1906-1989), one of those typically eccentric old-style book dealers with a good nose for finding rarities. According to an article by Jack Chalker (“Irvin[g] Binkin Meets H.P. Lovecraft” published in Chalker's fapazine Viewpoint no.1, February 1973; reprinted in Alien Critic no. 5, May 1973), Binkin found the house full of hundreds of No-Cal soft drink cartons, filled with books and papers. The lawyer had listed the collection as being on “Love and Love craft” but quickly Binkin realized that it wasn't sex stuff but a massive collection about a person named Lovecraft. Binkin successfully bid on the collection, though the lawyer withheld some of what he thought were personal effects, at least until an heir could possibly be located. Later Binkin acquired these items, which turned out to be more Lovecraft letters and photographs. Having seen the photographs, Binkin realized that Lovecraft had been a regular customer at his bookstore, just off Red Hook in Brooklyn, over forty years earlier. As he read through the collection, Binkin was bit by the Lovecraft bug. Later he would telephone Jack Chalker, because he was the author of The New H.P. Lovecraft Bibliography (1962), and this connection brought about the catalog of the Grill/Binkin Collection, compiled by Mark Owings and Binkin, and published by Chalker's Mirage Press.

So what was in the Grill/Binkin collection? The main section lists ten Lovecraftian issues of Home Brew, nearly ninety Lovecraftian issues of Weird Tales, and thirteen of the fourteen issues of The Acolyte, a Lovecraftian fanzine edited by Francis Towner Laney from the early 1940s. But the real heart of the collection was in the manuscripts, letters and photographs. A number of these are visible in the twenty pages of photographs in the middle of the catalog: the manuscripts of “The Cats of Ulthar” (dated June 15, 1920) and “Some Dutch Footprints in New England” (1933), as well as Lovecraft's Astronomical Notebook, 1909-1915. Grill seems to have gotten a lot of stuff from Wilfred Blanch Talman, Samuel Loveman, and Cliff and Muriel Eddy, among others. I note that Wetzel, in his memoir of Grill, quotes a letter from Grill (circa June 1957) stating he'd acquired unpublished stories by Hazel Heald, “The Basement Room” (5 pages) and “Lair of the Fungus Death” (25 pages), from Heald herself. But what happened to all this stuff? The Heald stories are not listed in the Grill/Binkin catalog. For “The Cats of Ulthar” I note that in Lovecraft's Collected Fiction: A Variorum Edition (2015), S.T. Joshi remarks about “the absence of a manuscript” (Volume I, p. 151), while as regards “Some Dutch Footprints in New England” in Lovecraft's Collected Essays, Volume 4: Travel (2005), Joshi based the text on the typescript in the John Hay Library but also notes that an autograph manuscript is “also extant” (p. 255).

But where is all of this material now? In the 1975 catalog, Binkin is said to be hoping to sell the whole collection in the future to some library. But did he? Or did he sell some things piecemeal? Or did the collection disappear into some limbo after Binkin's death in November 1989, just as it very nearly did after Grill's death in 1970? Such thoughts provide a cautionary tale for collectors and their collections. However prized and cherished they may be while the collector is alive, what happens to such materials after the collector passes?

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Does This Booklet Exist or Not?

In 2010, the shortlived Bandersnatch Books was supposed to publish a small chapbook by T.M. Wright (1947-2015)  titled The People on the Island. The short story was originally written for an anthology Cold Touch, edited by William P. Simmons, to have been published by Prime Books.  The anthology was delivered to the publisher in May 2002, for publication in November 2002.  But the book never appeared.

The short story, however,  appeared in Brutarian Magazine, issue 42 (2005), and was collected in Wright's Bone Soup (2010). It is perhaps most easily found in The Weird (2011), a massive anthology edited Jeff and Ann VanderMeer.

There are traces lingering on the web of the Bandersnatch Books edition.  First there is, copied from this source, an early cover for the book, from December 2009:

Next, in July 2010, Noah O'Toole published a series of rough sketches for the forthcoming booklet at his blog, here. Below is one image, for the rest see the blog:

The booklet was seemingly published on 23 October 2010, for the following statement was posted at the Shocklines Forum:
"T.M. Wright's The People on the Island now available”

After a longer delay than anticipated, I'm very pleased to announce that the revised version of the chapbook "The People on the Island" is now available for purchase. With a new cover, interior illustration and a foreword written and available only in this version, this is Terry at his best. Price is $10 plus $1 shipping.
Apparently the final cover
There are other hints that some copies of this booklet actually came out.  On November 23, 2010, the publisher wrote at Raingod's Weblog:
We’ve released T.M. Wright’s “The People on the Island” and will be releasing K.H. Koehler’s “The Dreadful Doctor Faust” in a couple of weeks.
But the Koehler book did not appear until 2015, when the author published it through CreateSpace.

Apparently, Bandersnatch Books disappeared quickly. I've never seen a copy of this booklet anywhere. What I'd like to know, bibliographically, is how many copies of The People on the Island were printed?  How many were released?  What is the content of the new "foreword written and available only in this version"?  Anyone know?

Update (2/13/19):  Thanks to the booklet's illustrator, Noah O'Toole, I can now say that some copies were indeed distributed, but not for very long.  He received only one copy himself.  The publisher disappeared very quickly afterwards.

Friday, January 18, 2019

"All Fled, All Done": Redux on Robert E. Howard's Famous Couplet

The legend* has altered in the retelling, from a slip found in Robert E. Howard's wallet after his suicide in June 1936, to it being the last thing Howard typed on his typewriter before going out to his car where he shot himself in the head. The couplet is now legendary:
All fled, all done, so lift me on the pyre;
The feast is over and the lamps expire.
Rusty Burke published an article "All Fled, All Done" in The Dark Man: The Journal of Robert E. Howard Studies (Winter 2001), in which he identified Howard's source for the final line of the couplet, a poem titled "The House of Cæsar" by Viola Garvin, which appeared in a poetry anthology Songs of Adventure (1926), edited by Robert Frothingham.  Each of the five stanzas of the poem ends with the line "The Feast is over and the lamps expire!"

Songs of Adventure 1928
Burke also notes that L. Sprague de Camp's assertion in 1966 that the second line of the couplet "seems to be a paraphrase" of a line in the poem "Non Sum Qualis Eram Bonae Sub Regno Cynarae" by Ernest Dowson became a statement of fact in de Camp's 1975 The Miscast Barbarian. However, Burke notes that others have thought that Howard would not have found many affinities in Dowson's verse, despite the repetition of the line "the feast is over and the lamps expire." 

Burke also looked into the author Viola Garvin, and found two candidates, Viola Gerard Garvin and Viola (Taylor) Garvin.  Burke suggests the first as the author of the poem "The House of Cæsar" for Viola Gerard Garvin published a single volume of verse, Dedication (1928).  Alas, Burke picked the wrong Garvin.

Viola Gerard Garvin (1898-1969) and Viola (Taylor) Garvin (1883-1959) were related by marriage.  Viola Gerard Garvin was the eldest daughter of James Louis Garvin (1868-1947), famous as a London newspaper editor, by his first wife.  And Viola Taylor was James Louis Garvin's second wife, the marriage occurring in 1921, and thus step-mother to (the adult) Viola Gerard Garvin.  The details of their lives and writings are given in entries at my Lesser-Known Writers blog. Click here for Viola Gerard Garvin, and click here for Viola (Taylor) Garvin, who after her marriage wrote as Mrs. J.L. Garvin. 

The poem "The House of Cæsar" appears in her book Corn in Egypt (1926), as the final item in the collection.  Here Mrs. Garvin gives the Dowson line as epigraph at the beginning of the poem, thus showing that she had the Dowson poem firmly in mind when writing her poem; and that Howard had no necessity to have known it. (The Dowson line does not appear in the reprint of the poem in Songs of Adventure.)

The appearance of  "The House of Cæsar" in Corn in Egypt is credited to "1906" and from the acknowledgements, I suspect it appeared in The Westminster Gazette. I present a scan of this version below. The earliest known reprint of the poem comes from Amphora: A Collection of Prose and Verse Chosen by the Editor of The Bibelot (1912).  I add a scan of that appearance at bottom.

Corn in Egypt 1926

Amphora 1912

*Rusty Burke has discussed the evolution of the suicide note story in "The Note" in The Cimmerian, volume 3 no. 1 (January 2006), pp. 5-11.