John D. Haefele and I, marching deeper into the thick of the Arkham ephemera jungle, plug away on a book intended to cover each and every Item from the Classic Years when August Derleth and Donald Wandrei were in the House.
Recently, ephemera collector Julie Matthews checked in to see if she might help. Aside from the obvious benefits of comparing Want Lists and learning who had dupes of what — Julie got a few Items from me and JDH she needed, in trade for some she had that we haven’t been lucky enough to find in decades of searching — inevitably new Items come to light.
She popped me the image of the 1942 booklet on Wisconsin literature (noting, “and as you would expect, Derleth does list his books as being amongst ‘the best’ from his home state”). As far as I can recall, I hadn’t seen this one at any point. I did a quick check of Alison Wilson’s 1983 bibliography of Derleth. On page 198 I found a cite for an article titled “American Regional Literature,” published in the March 1942 Phi Kappa Phi Journal. Close, I guess, but no Cohiba.
And then I thought, wait a minute. . . .
I dove into my ephemera holdings and pulled out August Derleth: Twenty Years of Writing 1926-1946. A list of his work compiled by Derleth himself.
And what the hell, it is a reference work, right?
Page 8, at the top, Wisconsin Regional Literature — “a booklet. Sauk City, Wisconsin, 1941” — 1941? — “Revised edition, 1942. $.05.”
Julie had a second printing.
Now, I can see some people dismissing it as belonging in any way with Arkham House ephemera. It doesn’t mention Arkham House, just Sauk City. It costs a nominal nickel, and ephemera serves as advertising giveaways.
But in the history of Arkham House, it strikes me as very intriguing — perhaps even important. Obviously self-published. Later in 1941 Derleth would self-publish the second Arkham, his own collection Someone in the Dark. Everyone knows about that title serving as a placeholder until more Lovecraft could be readied — and then Derleth released as his third title Out of Space and Time by Clark Ashton Smith. What would become Arkham House as we know it was underway.
Yet clearly Derleth had it in his mind to self-publish some rogue material. He barely had the name Arkham House (coined by Wandrei) in play. And in this same time frame he did another booklet that for me indicates Arkham’s future was sealed — at least as long as Derleth could keep it going.
The other booklet I’m saving to blurb in the book — got to have some new stuff to excite the populace. Haefele and I both have copies, so we’re covered. And no one will argue it doesn’t go with the ephemera.
If you think Wisconsin Regional Literature fits in, too, you now have two additional Items for your Want List, from 1941 and 1942, just as Arkham began the climb out of the primordial mire.