A reference for Used and Rare Books, Periodicals, and Paper Ephemera
courtesy of an International Co-Op of Independent Dealers.
Arkham House was formed in 1938 by Donald Wandrei and August Derleth in
order to preserve the works of H. P. Lovecraft (1890 - 1937). Lovecraft,
admired by both and considered by them to be their mentor, wrote almost
exclusively for Weird Tales, a dark fantasy pulp (1st incarnation - Mar.
1923- Sept.1954). When he died, Wandrei and Derleth were afraid that his
works, which had been previously published only in the pulps or in very
ephemeral private press items, would be lost and forgotten. After being
refused by just about all current publishers, they formed Arkham House in
order to publish a deluxe volume of Lovecraft's essential work.
"The Outsider and Others" was published in 1939. "The book itself was
imposing. Printed on nearly acid-free paper, with a fine sewn cloth
binding, gold stamping and a stunning jacket in blue and white by Virgil
Finlay." (Chalker & Owings; p.14, "The Science-Fantasy Publishers") It had
a pre-publication price of $3, and a $5 publication price. Today this
volume costs from several hundreds to thousands, depending upon condition.
However, immediately after publication, the book sold very slowly - so
slowly that in order to cover debts, they were forced to publish works by
The second book was "Someone in the Dark" (1941) by August
Derleth, followed by "Out of Space and Time" (1942) by Clark Ashton Smith.
As the US entered WWII, Wandrei was drafted and Derleth managed to buy out
his share. Despite wartime shortages, Derleth made a success out of Arkham
House, publishing the best genre authors while maintaining high market
standards. Such books as "Slan" by A. E. van Vogt and "Dark Carnival" by
Ray Bradbury are considered by all to be genre classics. By 1949 Arkham
House was turning a healthy profit. August Derleth died in 1971, leaving
Arkham House to continue on as a testament to his energy and genius.
Titles by this publisher are highly collectible, and the earliest volumes,
which read like the author's list of almost any Weird Tales pulps from the
30s - H. P. Lovecraft. Clark Ashton Smith, August Derleth, Donald Wandrei,
Robert Bloch, Robert E. Howard, William Hope Hodgson, Carl Jacobi, Seabury
Quinn, Ray Bradbury, and many more - are commanding high prices in almost
any condition. Today Arkham House is still going strong, still publishing
the best of current and well as past authors, including J. G. Ballard, M. P.
Shiel, Greg Bear, Michael Bishop, Ramsey Campbell, Michael Swanwick, Lucius
Shepard, and more.
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