Rediscovered: A. Merritt

For Autograph Hound Super-Sunday (Revisited), Kevin Cook dips into his archival material to do a showcase on another of his favorite authors: Abraham Merritt.     

If you recall, Kevin got interested in the concept and potential ramifications of the autograph weekends early in the game, throwing out a few thoughts at the time, plus a cool inscription from good old Abe.

He’s back today with new examples of John Hancocks, a couple from Merritt, and even one from the legendary Munsey editor Robert Davis.

The image at top is from a 1935 edition of Creep Shadow Creep! from Methuen & Co. Ltd. Hence the ref to “his shadows.”

At bottom we have an exchange of letters between A. Merritt and Bob Davis. Kevin says: 

“I think that the most interesting thing about the letters was the use by Davis of the title ‘The First Step’ in a letter from 1924. Merritt never published anything titled ‘The First Step,’ but the logical inclination here is to guess that the reference is to the next piece of his fiction that Munsey would publish, that being ‘Seven Footprints to Satan,’ although it did not see print in Argosy All-Story Weekly until July 2, 1927.

“Merritt did publish one other piece of fiction between ‘The Ship of Ishtar’ in November 1924 and ‘Seven Footprints to Satan.’

“Of course that story was ‘The Woman of the Wood’ in Weird Tales for August 1926. Davis famously had rejected that story, calling it ‘plotless.’ Contrary to Davis’ opinion, the readers of Weird Tales would vote it the best story to ever appear in that magazine’s history.

“In his own time, Merritt was called ‘The Lord of Fantasy’ and was probably recognized in the United States as the most important fantasy author in the first half of the 20th century. Worldwide, J.R.R. Tolkien was the most important fantasy author of the second half of the 20th century.

“In the 69 years since that demarcation Merritt’s reputation has not been sustained. Other authors, most notably Robert E. Howard, are today considered more important ‘fantasy’ authors than Merritt from that time period.

“One thing to remember, though, is that Merritt was never a professional author; he never wrote to support himself, only out of a love of writing out the visions of his unique imagination.

“It is enough to state that Merritt not only had a vivid imagination, but was also a superb story-teller whose novels and short stories thousands of readers have enjoyed in the last 100 years.”

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