The Shuttered Room and Other Pieces by H.P. Lovecraft
The Shuttered Room and Other Pieces
by H.P. Lovecraft
1959, 2,500 copies, Richard Taylor jacket

When it comes to championing 'weird fiction,' Arkham House leads the way. Founded in tiny Sauk City, Wisconsin, (population 3,109 in 2000), Arkham will always be famous for printing the work of H.P. Lovecraft – the king of weird fiction.

This publisher's books are highly sought-after by collectors who adore horror, supernatural fiction and writing generally designed to scare the bejesus out of people. Arkham's memorable bindings have also played a major role in adding to the collectability of these books. Most print runs were limited to a few thousand copies – further enhancing the collectible status.

Weird fiction is a little hard to define. It's a sub-genre of speculative fiction (eg genres like science fiction and horror) and often uses ghost stories and other supernatural elements, mythology and macabre plots.

August Derleth and Donald Wandrei founded Arkham House in 1939. Wandrei left the press after World War II but Derleth continued, editing collections and writing himself. The Arkham House name comes of a fictional city in New England widely used by Lovecraft, who is famous for creating the Cthulhu Mythos. Lovecraft's writing has influenced countless modern writers from Stephen King to Neil Gaiman, and Arkham played an important role in promoting the author's work. Lovecraft died in 1937.

Aside from Lovecraft, Arkham also printed work by Robert E Howard, Ray Bradbury, Clark Ashton Smith and Robert Bloch. Disciples of Lovecraft – such as Ramsey Campbell – were also published as were the likes of William Hope Hodgson, Arthur Machen, J. Sheridan Le Fanu and Algernon Blackwood.

A host of notable illustrators produced chilling cover art for Arkham's books, including Ronald Clyne, Frank Utpatel, Richard Taylor and Hannes Bok. August Derleth died in 1971 and by the mid-1970s the firm had expanded into science fiction. Family-run Arkham House still exists and has had huge influence on weird fiction and horror generally over multiple decades. Sadly, April Derleth, daughter of August Derleth, died earlier in 2011.


Selection of Rare Arkham House Books

Night’s Yawning Peal edited by August Derleth
Night's Yawning Peal
edited by August Derleth

1952, collection of 15 stories, 4,500 copies.

Beyond the Wall of Sleep by H.P. Lovecraft
Beyond the Wall of Sleep
by H.P. Lovecraft

1943, limited to 1,200 copies, Arkham's second Lovecraft omnibus.

Pleasants Dream – Nightmares by Robert Bloch
Pleasants Dream – Nightmares
by Robert Bloch

1960, collection of 15 stories, 2,060 copies

Dark Carnival by Ray Bradbury
Dark Carnival
by Ray Bradbury

1947, thought to be limited to just over 3,000 copies

Slan by A.E. Van Vogt
Slan
by A.E. Van Vogt

1946, author's debut, 4,000 copies, third Arkham book, cover by Robert F. Hubbell.
The Trail of Cthulu by August Derleth
The Trail of Cthulu
by August Derleth

1962, 2,500 copies - episodic novel of 5 parts inspired by Lovecraft. Richard Taylor jacket.

A Hornbook for Witches by Leah Bodine Drake
A Hornbook for Witches
by Leah Bodine Drake

1950, scarce book of 47 poems – 553 copies only.

The Horror in the Museum and Other Revisions by H.P. Lovecraft
The Horror in the Museum and Other Revisions
by H.P. Lovecraft

1970, collection of stories & novellas, 4,000 copies, cover by Gahan Wilson.

Always Comes Evening by Robert E. Howard
Always Comes Evening
by Robert E. Howard

1957, collection of Howard's poetry compiled by Glenn Lord, 636 copies.
Dreams and Fancies by H.P. Lovecraft
Dreams and Fancies
by H.P. Lovecraft

1962, limited to 2,000 copies, jacket art by Richard Taylor.

The Curse of Yig by Zealia Bishop
The Curse of Yig
by Zealia Bishop

1953, a series of Lovecraftian stories, jacket by Ronald Clyne.

The Dark Brotherhood and other Pieces by H.P. Lovecraft
The Dark Brotherhood and other Pieces
by H.P. Lovecraft

1966, cover art by Frank Utpatel, 3,500 copies.

Lost Worlds by Clark Ashton Smith
Lost Worlds
by Clark Ashton Smith

1944, around 2,000 copies.

Arkham House: The First 20 Years 1939-1959 by August Derleth
Arkham House: The First 20 Years 1939-1959
by August Derleth

1959, bibliography of publisher's early years. Frank Utpatel cover design.

Who Fears the Devil? by Manly Wade Wellman
Who Fears the Devil?
by Manly Wade Wellman

1963, collection of 11 short fiction, 2,000 copies, cover by Lee Brown Coye.

Genius Loci and Other Tales by Clark Ashton Smith
Genius Loci and Other Tales
by Clark Ashton Smith

1948, 15 stories, limited to 3,000 copies. Jacket art by Frank Wakefield.

The Opener of the Way by Robert Bloch
The Opener of the Way
by Robert Bloch

1945, 2,000 copies, 21 stories, Ronald Clyne jacket.

Skull-face and Others by Robert E. Howard
Skull-face and Others
by Robert E. Howard

1946, 3,000 copies, collection of stories. Jacket by Hannes Bok.

Something About Cats by H.P. Lovecraft
Something About Cats
by H.P. Lovecraft

1949, 3,000 copies - stories, essays, memoir & notes, contains portrait of Lovecraft as a boy.

The Feasting Dead by John Metcalfe
The Feasting Dead
by John Metcalfe

1954, 1,200 copies, vampire novel with Frank Utpatel art.

Night’s Black Agents by Fritz Leiber
Night's Black Agents
by Fritz Leiber

1947, 10 stories, 3,000 copies, Ronald Clyne jacket.

The Eye and the Finger by Donald Wandrei
The Eye and the Finger
by Donald Wandrei

1944, Arkham's fifth book, 1,600 copies

West India Nights by Henry S Whitehead
West India Nights
by Henry S Whitehead

1946, collection of supernatural tales, jacket by Ronald Clyne, 3,000 copies

The Inhabitant of the Lake and Less Welcome Tenants by J Ramsey Campbell
The Inhabitant of the Lake and Less Welcome Tenants
by J Ramsey Campbell

1964, short stories, Campbell's first book at 18, 2,000 copies, Frank Utpatel cover.

The Outsider and Others by H.P. Lovecraft
The Outsider and Others
by H.P. Lovecraft

1939, limited to 1,200 copies, Virgil Finlay jacket.

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