Today marks the anniversary of the suicide by gunshot at age thirty of Texas author Robert E. Howard, sitting in his Chevy outside the family home in Cross Plains.
Our resident Autograph Hound Brian Leno lays out another John Hancock to mark this occasion. One of his favorite parts of my book The Dark Barbarian, which Brian bought new in 1984, was the appendix by the late great Steve Eng going into books Howard owned. Fascinated the younger Leno, who went on to have his say on the subject in Lovecraft’s Southern Vacation and Ringside with Robert E. Howard.
(Incidentally, the book of crime stories featuring Mr. Wong mentioned in passing is on the list of San Francisco Mysteries.)
Thanks to the Steve Eng list of books in Robert E. Howard’s library I’ve been able to research a few writers I’ve never read, and then go after their autographs. I’ve snagged quite a few of the writers from REH’s personal collection.
I happened to come across this Hugh Wiley signature some time ago and couldn’t pass it up. Howard owned two books — Wild Cat and Lady Luck — by this once very popular author.
If Wiley’s remembered at all today, though, it’s probably as the creator of the detective Mr. Wong from Collier’s Magazine and the book Murder by the Dozen — portrayed by Boris Karloff in a series of movies.
The Wiley signature is in the Knopf first edition, the dust jacket below belongs to the cheaper Grosset & Dunlap reprint.
Upon viewing that cover art it doesn’t take a genius to realize that Wiley was not the most Politically Correct author. I attempted the first hundred pages and finally gave up. Found him unreadable.
But it’s the inscription date that I love — especially in a book by an author Howard must have read.
June 11, 1926. Every Howard fan knows what happened exactly 10 years later. Eighty-six years ago today.