A Monograph by Stephen Jones,
Published by The British Fantasy Society, 2007.
This is the first in a series of reviews looking at some of the publications from the vaults of The British Fantasy Society. As well as supporting the genre we all love in many ways (join here to support this work) the BFS has for many years been publishing some excellent and important books but these have largely gone unnoticed.
With H. P Lovecraft’s work, these days, being synonymous with horror/weird fiction it’s hard to believe that there was a time when his fiction wasn’t available in the UK. Stephen Jones was tasked with putting together the mammoth Gollancz collection of Lovecraftian strangeness that is Necronomicon, The Best Weird Tales Of H.P.Lovecraft. His quest to create the definitive collection led him to the backroom of the Gollancz offices where he was given full access to correspondence showing how Lovecraft’s very first UK collection, The Haunter Of the dark And Other Tales Of Horror, came to be published.
The letters, mainly between publisher Victor Gollancz and Lovecraft’s friend and literary executor August Derleth, reveal the fascinating and often tortuous steps to that publication, his first non-American collection in 1951. Stephen Jones then follows subsequent publications to show how Lovecraft was gradually accepted by the UK public, especially during the late sixties/early seventies before bringing us right up to date with the story of that most recent collection.
It’s fascinating both in its revelations about the working practices of the publishing industry and the many characters involved but also as a historical document of a publishing event which still has an impact today.
Clearly as a limited edition, collectible chapbook this is not cheap and also fairly short but it is obviously a work of passion by Stephen Jones and is beautifully presented and illustrated by Les Edwards. Perhaps not a book for everyone then but for those with an interest in Lovecraft or the fledgling UK horror publishing industry it remains an excellent and fascinating piece of work. You can purchase a copy here.
Rating 4 out of 5.