Rediscovered: Another “Lost” Arkham

As usual, I was sitting around minding my own business, collecting Arkham House ephemera, when I realized I might have spotted another “lost” Arkham House book.

For decades fans have been noting books that once may have made it into the Arkham lineup, but for one reason or another never appeared under the House logo.

In his Arkham histories Sheldon Jaffery lists 62 such titles, repeated by S. T. Joshi in “his” most recent history of the press. John D. Haefele in his review of the Joshi hodgepodge mentions that with barely any effort he himself could add at least “a baker’s dozen” lost Arkhams to that now standard list.

And now I’ve lucked into another — and an especially interesting title at that.

The Arkham ephemera item I wanted happened to be tack-stapled onto a letter from Arkham publisher August Derleth to Charles Beaumont — no doubt most famous today as a writer on The Twilight Zone. Dated “24 May 1960.” In the ordinary course of events, I don’t go around buying Derleth letters, but I needed the Item and what the hell, an association with Beaumont wasn’t going to hurt anything.

Beaumont had sent Derleth an inscribed copy of his new collection Night Ride and Other Journeys — per Derleth, a “generous inscription.”

The publisher was “slowly assembling” a new anthology of horror stories (presumably 1962’s Dark Mind, Dark Heart) and said, “I’d ask for a Beaumont tale for the new book of horror, but there isn’t enough money in it to make it worth while, and agents nowadays make impossible demands.”

And after that line Derleth mentioned: “Arkham has just had to turn down a Clingerman collection because her agent balked at our contract — too bad, a good book, too, but despite the AH record of never putting our authors into any inequities and releasing all rights once a book’s gone out of print, the agent spurned our contract. Bob Bloch’s Pleasant Dreams has now been moved up into its place — coming in September.”

Mildred Clingerman (1918-1997) — like Beaumont — was one of the hotter new generation of horror writers emerging in the 1950s. Her potential Arkham House book — the only title released in her lifetime — saw print as a Paperback Original from Ballantine in 1961 as A Cupful of Space.

I checked with Haefele to see if Cupful was on either the Jaffery list or his own additional baker’s dozen. He replied, “Not on anybody’s list that I know of. . . .”

There you go. Clingerman practically stopped writing, and fell into neglect for decades. A feminist-based revival finally brought her back with an omnibus of all her fiction, The Clingerman Files, in 2017.

So few forgotten writers can be brought back even for a moment. . . .

I suppose the question to ponder might be whether or not a hardcover from Arkham — from which a paperback could have followed — could have set her up better. Maybe. Maybe not. If her writing dropped to the side anyway, the Arkham may not have done more for her than the many more copies printed of the Ballantine PBO.

All things being equal, I’d guess the presence of a fresh voice such as Clingerman might have put put more luster on Arkham’s legacy than on her own. Derleth certainly was open to the experiment.

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