Robert E. Howard

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Howard (1934) Howard's signature

Robert Ervin Howard , (born January 22, 1906 in Peaster , Texas , † June 11, 1936 in Cross Plains , Texas) was an American author of fantasy , adventure and horror stories as well as several western novels . He is considered a prominent representative of low fantasy . In 1973 he posthumously received the British Fantasy Award for Marches of Valhalla as a special prize.


Robert E. Howard was the son of the doctor Isaac Mordecai Howard and his wife Hester Howard, nee Ervin. As he wrote in 1931 in a letter to the editor of the pulp magazine Weird Tales ( reprinted as an introduction to Pigeons from Hell ), his ancestors were predominantly Irish , as well as English , Scots from the highlands and Danes . Howard grew up in the barren and arid countryside of West Texas and traveled little. As an adolescent he worked in the local oil fields where, according to this letter, he learned that "life can be a pretty bad thing". In his childhood, he is said to have been a shy and skinny boy, but who managed to develop his body and self-esteem through bodybuilding .

Howard worked as a cotton picker , cowboy , salesman , law firm , surveyor and journalist before he was able to make a living by selling his stories to various pulp magazines, notably Weird Tales , Thrilling Adventures , Argosy and Top-Notch . He sold his first story Spear and Fang to Weird Tales at the age of 18 .

Howard ended his life by suicide at the age of 30 . When his sick mother fell into a coma with little hope of recovery, he got into his car and shot himself in the driveway to his house .


The best known are the cycles around Conan the Cimmerian , Kull of Atlantis , the Picts Bran Mak Morn , the Irish pirate Turlogh O'Brien and the English puritan Solomon Kane .

About the character Conan , who is probably the best known of the characters he created , especially through the film adaptations in 1982 and 1984 , with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the lead role, as well as in 2011 , he said she was the most realistic of all because she an intuitive combination of various men with whom he had to do in life: “Prize fighters, gunmen, bootleggers, oil field bullies, gamblers and honest workmen I had come in contact with”. Many of his fantasy stories take place in the fictional Hyborian Age .

The adventure stories are preferably set in the Orient , or in Central Asia ( Sowers of Thunder , The Road of Azrael , The lost Valley of Iskandar ). As with his contemporary Abraham Merritt , lost race motifs often appear here . Overall, Howard demonstrated a good historical knowledge and a weakness for the exotic surroundings.

Most of the heroes in Howard's literary estate are latently depressed ( Solomon Kane , Turlogh O'Brien , Kull von Atlantis ), which suggests biographical references. Conan is the only one who tends to be naive and has no scruples or deeper feelings. After Howard, he designed this figure based on models he met while working on the Texan oil fields. In contrast to many of Howard's characters, Conan also has success with women, even if he only comes very late to building a (perhaps) stable relationship (with Zenobia in The Hour of the Dragon ).

Howard was a pen pal of HP Lovecraft who also influenced Howard's stories. Conversely, the fictional book Unspeakable Cults , the invention of which is often attributed to Lovecraft, goes back to Howard.

Individual works
  • Almuric (Berkley Medallion 1975), originally in several sequels in Weird Tales 1939.
    The hero Esau Cairn, out of place in the modern world due to his violent nature, is transferred to a distant planet by a Professor Hildebrand, where he fights the winged Yagas and the girl saves Altha.
  • Black Vulmeas Vengeance (Zebra 1976) contains two stories about the Irish pirate Terence Vulmea. The heroine of "The Island of Pirate's Doom" is the pirate Helen Tavrel.
  • Swords of Shahrazar (Berkeley Medallion 1978) contains two original stories about the Irish adventurer Kirby O'Donnell, which appeared in "Thrilling Adventures" and "Top-Notch" in 1934 , and three stories from the estate.
  • Marchers of Valhalla contains published stories from the Weird Tales (1928–1938) and stories from the estate set in the Viking Age , India and the American Southwest.
  • Pigeons from Hell (Ace 1979):
    Collection of horror stories that appeared in Weird Tales between 1928 and 1938. Some of them belong to the Cthulhu cycle , such as "Children of the Night" , which incidentally mentions contemporary archaeologists and anthropologists such as Flinders Petrie and Franz Boas and speculations about prehistoric races at the time. Here, as in the story “The Thing on the Roof,” Von Junzt's “Nameless cults” appears, Howard's contribution to the bibliography of the Cthulhu myth. By striking a prehistoric club, the hero is transported back to prehistory as Araya and experiences the fight against snake-like subhumans, the "children of the night", in alternating incarnations. Malik Tous , the embodiment of evil in “Dig me no Grave” , on the other hand, is taken from Islamic or Gnostic mythology. In "The Voice of El-Lil" the descendants of the Sumerians survived in East Africa and worship the evil god El-Lil ( En-Lil ?).
    Other stories deal with the adventures of the Irish pirate Turlough O'Brien ( Gods of Baal Sagoth ). In the story “People of the Dark” the American John O'Brien rescues his lover Eleanor from the dwarfish “Children of the Night” as the rebirth of Conan, and in “The Garden of Fear” James Ellison as the rebirth of Asen Hunwulf saves the blonde Gudrun from monstrous ones Bat people. The "Forest of Villefrere" is a werewolf story .
  • The Gods of Baal-Sagoth (Ace 1979) contains horror short stories that appeared in Weird Tales in the 1930s and those that came from the Howard estate. "Nekht Semerkeht" , which is set in the American Southwest during the Coronados expedition , was completed by Andrew Offut . The eponymous story was already printed in "Pigeons from Hell" . The vignette "The Curse of the Golden Skull" mentions the Rotath of Lemuria , who was slain by Kull of Atlantis . In “The Isle of the Eons” , on the other hand, the vanished southern continent of Mu appears.
  • People of darkness. Stories from Lovecraft's Cthulhu Myth includes horror short stories that Howard wrote along with an exchange of letters with HP Lovecraft .


Bloodthirsty battle scenes, criticism of civilization and racist evaluations have brought the author the charge of fascism , but here the political climate in Europe and the USA of the thirties must also be taken into account. Howard himself distances himself very clearly from fascism: "The economy will have to be radically changed [...] and the choice is probably between fascism and communism - both of which I despise abysmally".

A number of authors have written continuations of unfinished stories or pastiches : Lin Carter , L. Sprague de Camp , Karl Edward Wagner , John Maddox Roberts , Andrew J. Offutt , J. Ramsey Campbell, Poul Anderson , Richard A. Lupoff , Björn Nyberg, Robert Jordan , Steve Perry, Leonard Carpenter, and John C. Hocking.

Roland Emmerich named Howard as one of the main influences on his film 10,000 BC

Film adaptations

The often incorrectly mentioned film Red Sonja has nothing to do with Howard. Marvel comic book writer Roy Thomas wrote the characters and the story instead . The only reference to Howard and Conan is the age the film is set in.


Conan the Cimmerian
Kull from Atlantis
  • Kull from Atlantis , Terra Fantasy, Volume 28, 1976. Also: King Kull , Pabel, 1967 (with Lin Carter).
  • Herr von Valusien , Terra Fantasy, Volume 29, 1976. Also: King Kull , Pabel, 1967.
  • Kull - The Fabulous Warrior King , 1978.
  • Kull from Atlantis , Bastei-Lübbe, 1989, ISBN 3-404-20119-1 .
  • Kull: Exile of Atlantis , 2006.
Bran Mak Morn
  • Rulers of the Night / The Legend of Bran Mak Morn , Terra Fantasy, Volume 3, Pabel, 1975, ISBN 3-404-20066-7 . Also: Bran Mak Morn / Worms of the Earth , 1969.
  • The Last King , 2001.
Solomon Kane
  • Sword of Justice (Part 1), Terra Fantasy, Volume 11, 1975. Also: The Moon of Skulls + The Hand of Solomon Kane , 1968.
  • Avengers of the Damned (Part 2), Terra Fantasy, Volume 17, 1975. Also: The Moon of Skulls + The Hand of Solomon Kane , 1968.
  • Skulls in the Stars , 1978.
  • The Hills of the Dead , 1979.
  • The Warriors of Asshur , Terra Fantasy, Volume 93, 1982. Also: The Children of Asshur and Other Stories , 1979 (with Ramsey Campbell ).
  • Solomon Kane , 1995.
  • The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane , 1998.
Cormac MacArt
  • Warriors of the North , 1976, Terra Fantasy, Volume 23, 1976. Also: Tigers of the sea .
  • The tigers of the sea , Heyne Fantasy, 1987. Also: Tigers of the sea , 1969, ISBN 3-453-00423-X .
Western film
  • Shots at Bear Creek , Heyne, 1986. Also: The Pride Of Bear Creek , 1966, ISBN 3-453-20597-9 .
  • Im Schatten der Geier , Heyne, 1982. Also: The Vultures , 1973, ISBN 3-453-20500-6 .
  • The House of Horror , Vampire Horror Stories, Volume 529, Pabel, 1977. Also: Wolfshead & The Dark Man and others , 1977.
  • Almuric , Heyne Fantasy Classics, Heyne, 1973. Also: Almuric , 1964, ISBN 3-453-30240-0 .
  • Horde from the Orient , Terra Fantasy, Volume 37, Pabel, 1977. Also: Sword Woman and other Stories , 1973.
  • The Beast of Bal-Sagoth , Terra Fantasy, Volume 42, Pabel, 1980.
  • Night Spirits , Terra Fantasy, Volume 50, Pabel, 1981.
  • The Dagger with the Three Blades , Terra Fantasy, Volume 75, Pabel, 1980. Also: Three Blades Doom , 1977.
  • In the Land of Knives , Terra Fantasy, Volume 77, Pabel, 1980. Also: Son Of The White Wolf , 1978.
  • The Treasure of the Tatars , Terra Fantasy, Volume 80, Pabel, 1980. Also: Swords of Shahrazar , 1978.
  • The Swamp Monster , Terra Fantasy, Volume 84, Pabel, 1981. Also: Black Canaan , 1978.
  • Under a Black Flag , Terra Fantasy, Volume 86, Pabel, 1981. Also: Black Vulmea's Vengeance , 1976.
  • The Warriors of Asshur , Terra Fantasy, Volume 93, Pabel, 1982. Also: The Children Of Asshur And Other Stories , 1979.
  • Almuric , Phantasia Paperback, 2010. Also: Almuric , 1939/1964, ISBN 978-3-937897-42-4 (unabridged new translation).
  • The Blood of Belshsazar , Phantasia Paperback, 2012, ISBN 978-3-937897-52-3 .


  • Marc A. Cerasini, Charles Hoffman: Robert E. Howard. Starmont Reader's Guide 35. Starmont House, Mercer Island 1987.
  • Lyon Sprague de Camp, Catherine Crook de Camp, Jane Whittington Griffin: Dark Valley Destiny. New York, Bluejay 1983.
  • Novalyne Price Ellis: One Who Walked Alone. Donald M. Grant, West Kingston 1986.
  • Novalyne Price Ellis: Day of the Stranger: Further Memories of Robert E. Howard. Necronomicon Press, West Warwick 1989.
  • Mark Finn: Blood and Thunder: The Life and Art of Robert E. Howard. Monkeybrain, Austin 2006.
  • Don Herron (Ed.): The Dark Barbarian. The Writings of Robert E. Howard: A Critical Anthology. Wildside Press, Berkeley Heights 2000.
  • Don Herron (Ed.): The Barbaric Triumph. Wildside Press, Berkeley Heights 2004.
  • Bernd Karwath and Thomas Kovacs (eds.), Robert E. Howard: Rauher Sand und Wilde Eichen. Autobiographical novel, with annotations. First German Fantasy Club, Passau 1995.
  • Benjamin Szumskyi: Two-Gun Bob. A Centennial Study of Robert E. Howard. Hippocampus Press, New York 2006.
  • Glenn Lord: The Last Celt: A Bio-Bibliography of Robert E. Howard. Donald M. Grant, West Kingston 1976.
  • Rusty Burke: Introduction. In: Robert E. Howard: The Bloody Crown of Conan. Del Rey, New York 2003, pp. Xiii-xvi.
  • Rusty Burke: A Short Biography of Robert E. Howard. In: Robert E. Howard: The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane. Del Rey, New York 2004, pp. 393-406.
  • Rusty Burke, Patrice Louinet: Robert E. Howard, Bran Mak Morn and the Picts. In: Robert E. Howard: Bran Mak Morn. The Last King. Del Rey, New York 2005, pp. 343-360.
  • Stephen Jones: Afterword, Robert Ervin Howard and Conan: The Final Years. In: Stephen Jones (ed.), Robert E. Howard: The Conan Chronicles Vol. 2, The Hour of the Dragon. Gollancz, London 2001, pp. 559-575.
  • Bernd Karwath: A dreamer from Texas. In: Fantasia 30/31: A dreamer from Texas. Life and work of Robert E. Howard. First German Fantasy Club, Passau 1987, pp. 216-432.
  • Bernd Karwath: Pictures in the fire. In: Bernd Karwath and Thomas Kovacs (eds.), Robert E. Howard: Winds of Time. Thomas Kovacs, Zurich 2007, pp. 153–221.
  • Bernd Karwath: Epilogue: Afterthoughts on "The Tempter". In: Bernd Karwath and Thomas Kovacs (eds.), Robert E. Howard: Winds of Time. Thomas Kovacs, Zurich 2007, pp. 141–151.
  • Glenn Lord (Eds.), Robert E. Howard: The Howard Collector. No. 1 (Summer 1961) - No. 18 (Fall 1973), Glenn Lord, Pasadena 1961-1973.
  • Patrice Louinet: Hyborian Genesis Part I. In: Robert E. Howard: The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian. Del Rey, New York 2003, pp. 429-452.
  • Patrice Louinet: Hyborian Genesis Part II. In: Robert E. Howard: The Bloody Crown of Conan. Del Rey, New York 2004, pp. 347-359.
  • Patrice Louinet: Hyborian Genesis Part III. In: Robert E. Howard: The Conquering Sword of Conan. Del Rey, New York 2005, pp. 369-386.
  • Patrice Louinet: Atlantean Genesis. In: Robert E. Howard: Kull. Exile of Atlantis. Del Rey, New York 2006, pp. 287-303.
  • Howard Phillips Lovecraft: In Memoriam: Robert Ervin Howard. In: Robert E. Howard: The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane. Del Rey, New York 2004, pp. Xiii-xvi.
  • Tevis Clyde Smith: Report on a Writing Man. In: Tevis Clyde Smith: Frontier's Generation. Tevis Clyde Smith, Brownwood 1980, pp. 143-154.
  • Steve Tompkins: Robert E. Howard. In: The Illustrated World of Robert E. Howard. London, Wandering Star 2004, back cover.
  • Steve Tompkins: Introduction. In: Robert E. Howard: Kull. Exile of Atlantis. Del Rey, New York 2006, pp. Xix-xxix.

Web links

Commons : Robert E. Howard  - Collection of Images, Videos and Audio Files

Individual evidence

  1. Original English text: "[E] conomics will have to be revolutionized [...] and the choice seems to lie between fascism and communism - both of which I utterly detest". (From a letter from Robert Howard to H. P. Lovecraft , circa December 1930.)
  2. WonderCon 2008: Day 2 - Part 1! , Accessed March 21, 2008.
  3. Red Sonja Is Getting A New Movie , November 4, 2017