I’ve never read Hugh Pendexter, but Robert E. Howard did.
In a 1931 letter to H. P. Lovecraft, Howard heaps praise onto Pendexter’s “Devil’s Brew,” a two-part serial that had appeared that year in the pages of Adventure.
The Texas author liked it so much he informed Lovecraft that he was going to mail the two issues to him, so he could judge for himself.
Obviously he valued the opinion of the Gentleman from Providence.
Lovecraft replied favorably upon the pulp tale, and Howard was pleased. Always nice to have a friend confirm our own literary tastes.
Pendexter, one of the giants of Adventure, is not read so much today. He didn’t write about barbarians battling sorcery or multi-tentacled creatures arising from dark oceans.
Instead, Pendexter wrote historical fiction, books about the taming of the American Frontier, and these types of yarns just aren’t much in favor with the readers of today.
But back in his time he must have been something, filling the pages of Adventure with stories so strongly based in truth that, for the edification of his readers, he would list the books or articles he had used during the creation of his story.
Here is his autograph, in a battered copy of Gentlemen of the North, which had appeared in Adventure in 1919. He signed it on November 2, 1931 in his hometown of Norway, Maine. A very nice example of his penmanship, even if a couple of letters are a trifle smudged.
His signature isn’t common but I have come across a few books that he inscribed, and so far they all have one thing in common. They’re all beat to crap, as if they went a few rounds with Rocky Marciano.
Either his books were tossed aside and not regarded highly — or conversely they were valued greatly, and read again and again.
I think it’s the latter of those two, and for proof we can look at the March 20, 1926 issue of Adventure from my collection. It showcases a beautiful painting by Raphael Cavalier but a former owner has scrawled “Pendexter part three” across the cover, which does irritate me — but only a little.
On the spine of the magazine this desecration continues with the letters “HP” penned — this time neatly — into the side. How can anybody be irritated at witnessing a reader displaying such love for a favorite author?
The story inside was titled “Log Cabin Men,” and if I ever find the other 4 parts, I’ll have to give it a try.
But for now I’m going to start reading— soon — Gentlemen of the North. I just hope the book doesn’t crumble to pieces as I’m handling it.
If Pendexter was good enough for Robert E. Howard, I’ll bet he’s good enough for me.