Rediscovered: From One Derleth Devotee to Another

And after word got around that Wilum Pugmire took his last breath on the 26th, John D. Haefele sent along the following in memoriam statement:

I was deeply saddened by news of Wilum Pugmire’s death. I never met him in person, but know people who did — an individual whose company they enjoyed, who happily shared the knowledge he’d gained in his chosen literary field. 

For a while — and at the same time — Wilum and I were members of the Esoteric Order of Dagon, the amateur press association devoted to our author-favorite, H. P. Lovecraft — who was his especial interest. I don’t remember that his journals in that venue stood out to me, except that he unabashedly demonstrated admiration for August Derleth — my own especial interest.

Several uneventful years passed. But I did learn something about Wilum’s generosity when out of the blue he sent me a book — gratis  —  I needed to complete a project I was working on.

More years passed, and I found myself completing the first draft of A Look Behind the Derleth Mythos: Origins of the Cthulhu Mythos. It occurred to me that because of his sustained interests, and sudden, emerging status as a weird tale writer, Wilum would be the perfect choice to write an introduction.

I provided the script to him in February 2011 — he answered the same day saying that he was “thrilled and honored” to have been asked, and added unequivocally: “I am a Derleth fan, and I credit him with inspiring me.”

Following the book’s release, Wilum, who in the introduction praises Derleth Mythos thoroughly, was bewildered by the toxic reaction from perhaps his closest friend, the weird tale scholar S. T. Joshi, who wrote that “no one takes him seriously as a critic.” 

I will always treasure Wilum’s subsequent remarks to me about Joshi’s review.

Most importantly, Wilum and I remained friends — and on my bookshelf is The Strange Dark One, which he warmly inscribed:

“To my Derlethian Brother [from] W. H. Pugmire.”

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