For this episode of Historically Yours, School of Library and Information Science graduate student Kathryn Heffner reads a typed letter on Arkham House letterhead with details relating to what it took to get HP Lovecraft published during World War II, both figuratively and literally.
Msc0429, Thomas Ollive Mabbott Papers
August Derleth to Thomas Ollive Mabbott
9 June 1943
Dear Mr. Mabbott:
Many thanks for your card. However, Dyalhis is dead, I understand. What with WPB paper restrictions, slowness of the fans to buy, etc., half our authors will be dead and we’ll have trouble with their estates before we can public the books we want to do. For instance, we have Whitehead’s JUMBEE AND OTHER UNCANNY TALES ready to go, but we can’t get a release for the estate, nor could we get enough paper for even so little as 1000 copies! If we were to publish it now, we could get paper enough for 900 copies, but then we couldn’t publish the 2nd Lovecraft. As it is, we’ll probably have to publish half the Lovecraft edition this autumn, and then the other half after January 1st, if we can’t get enough paper released so that we can use it. We also have coming Donald Wandrei’s THE EYE AND THE FINGER, but this, too, is likely to be held back until 1945, unless we can get the paper for this second Lovecraft, which will in any case be delayed into later September.
All best wishes to you.
Kathryn E. Heffner
The University of Iowa, BLIS Student