Classic Covers: Arkham House

When one thinks of legendary pulp publishers, names like Weird Tales, Black Mask, and Planet Stories leap to mind — beautiful magazines as sadly transitory as the era of popular literacy they defined. But it was for an indie book publisher to emerge as one of the leading lights of preservation for the best in the weird and fantastical horror of the age, and add its own legendary name to the rolls of honored pulpsters: Arkham House.

Born out of the desire of two friends and writers in the Lovecraft circle to preserve the inimitable work of their recently deceased doyen of the macabre, Arkham House expanded in its early decades into a visionary publishing house that not only republished the work of classic writers of the weird as well as pulp greats; everything from Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, A.E. van Vogt, Frank Belknap Long, and Ray Bradbury, to William Hope Hodgson, Algernon Blackwood, and Seabury Quinn. Arkham House even began to publish original fiction, as well as contribute enormously to literary scholarship with the earliest collection of Lovecraftian correspondence.

From August Derleth’s and Donald Wandrei’s humble beginnings with The Outsider and Others, through their dogged determination to keep their indie press alive and along with it the spark of the pulp era, and from their provision of a dark but well-ordered corner of weird horror and gothic strangeness during a time when mainstream publishing would have just been happy with more stories about rocketships, the little press that started as a way to honor the departed maestro has had an impact far greater than its originators could have ever imagined.

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