Blog: Thoughts and comments on the world of the pulp magazines

A letter from Robert E. Howard

Posted by at 1:08 pm Tuesday, March 13, 2012 in Pulps, Pulpsters
Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

A personal letter written by Robert E. Howard to Emil Petaja is for sale on eBay. (A hat-tip to Lee A. Breakiron for pointing it out on the R.E.H. Inner Circle group at Yahoo.)

If you are interested, the seller, jbs15, is asking $4,999.95 (plus $4.95 shipping).

The letter is part of ongoing correspondence with Petaja and opens with comments about a Petaja poem. “Witch’s Berceuse” appeared in the Summer 1935 issue of the amateur publication Marvel Tales of Science and Fantasy, alongside works by Ralph Milne Farley (Roger Sherman Hoar) and P. Schuyler Miller. It would be another couple of years before Petaja’s first professional published work appeared in Weird Tales.

The letter, incidentally, was included in The Collected Letters of Robert E. Howard: Volume Three: 1933-1936 (REH Foundation, October 2008).

Here’s the text of the letter (if you click the image above, you can see a larger version):

Cross Plains, Texas,
September 6, 1935.

Dear Mr. Petaja:

Yes, I did like “Witch’s Berceuse” very much, and hope to see more of your poetry soon. I’ll be looking forward to those poems and short stories due to appear in Marvel Tales, and see no reason why you shouldn’t be able to market some of your work to Weird Tales. Many poems have appeared in that magazine which were inferior to your “Witch’s Berceuse”.

You mention that your brother is manager of the Woolworth store in Sante Fe. I might have seen him, without knowing him of course for I remember going in there to buy some rubbing alcohol. If you decid to visit the Southwest, I hope you’ll be able to visit me. Cross Plains is about 800 miles from Sante Fe, but there’s a good road all the way, especially if you come by El Paso, though that makes it quite a bit further. I’d be glad to see you.

I am much interested in the magazine you and Mr. Rimel are contemplating launching; I wish you the best of luck with it, and would be more than glad to contribute to it.

You ask me about an agent. Until a couple of years ago I handled my work myself, but since then most of it has been handled by Mr. Otis Adelbert Kline, 4333 Castello Avenue, Chicago. I have found him very satisfactory in every way, and do not hesitate to recommend him.

I’ll be looking forward to the appearance of your magazine, and wish you the best of luck with your own writing; you have real talent and should succeed at the game.

s-Robert E. Howard