compiled by S. T. Joshi
Arkham House Publishers, Inc. ($25.95)
by Kris Lawson
Unless you're a fan of horror and weird fiction, or a devotee of small presses, you're not likely to have heard of Arkham House. Founded in 1939, Arkham House has published nearly 200 books of fiction and poetry. Sixty Years of Arkham House, compiled by Lovecraft biographer and horror fiction editor S. T. Joshi, is the publishing house's own retrospective. Tellingly, the book limits its explanatory text to two essays and numerous notes; the bulk of the volume lists all the works published and their dates and contents. An odd addition is the list of "lost Arkhams," books that were announced or planned but never came into existence, typical of Arkham's concentration on the fantastic and the imaginary.
Based in Sauk City, Wisconsin, Arkham House was the brainchild of August Derleth and Donald Wandrei, both friends and correspondents of H. P. Lovecraft. Two years after Lovecraft's death in 1937, Derleth and Wandrei, despite being impoverished writers themselves, decided to start Arkham House in order to bring the writer's fiction, poetry and collected letters before the public.
Derleth and Wandrei poured their money into the new enterprise, and Derleth took over editorial duties while Wandrei served in World War II. Soliciting orders through ads in the popular magazine Weird Tales, Derleth hoped to get enough subscriptions in order to publish 1,268 copies of Lovecraft's The Outsider and Others, a collection of short fiction. At $3.50 a book—an expensive price at the time—Outsider's pre-orders numbered only 150, but Derleth went ahead and had the whole lot printed anyway. This was typical of Derleth, and Arkham House hovered on the brink of financial disaster for many years. Derleth stored unsold books in his own house, commenting wryly at one point in his essay "Arkham House: 1939-1969," that "a small publishing business like Arkham House could afford very little overhead."
On the heels of their initial Lovecraft offering, the next book to be printed was a collection of Derleth's own short stories. After returning from war, Wandrei began to edit collections of Lovecraft's letters, which were eventually published in five volumes. Lovecraft's stories and novels, elaborate, multi-layered tales of the supernatural (though Lovecraft preferred the label "weird fiction"; his personal philosophy posited that there was no supernatural, only human inability to perceive the handiwork of vastly powerful alien beings who ruled the universe), were to become solid successes for Arkham House. Although their sales remained small, this limited success encouraged Derleth and Wandrei to collect Lovecraftiana, compiling Lovecraft's marginalia and writing essays about Lovecraft's life and influence on them as writers.
Arkham's catalogue grew to range from the classics of the genre (J. Sheridan LeFanu, Walter de la Mare), to pulp fiction writers such as Lovecraft's fellow Weird Tales alumnus Robert E. Howard, to more modern writers (Robert Bloch, Clark Ashton Smith). But Derleth wanted to find new writers of "weird fiction" as well as famous names such as Lord Dunsany, Ray Bradbury and A. E. van Vogt. He published the first collections of short stories by Bradbury and Fritz Leiber, both of whom came to dominate the fantasy field. Arkham survived its first decade but their support base declined drastically in the early 1950s, as customer reaction to competitors flooding the horror/supernatural market brought a slump in the market. Competition also forced Arkham to raise its prices, but it continued to produce only hardcover books. (The press didn't issue its first paperback until 1979.) Derleth continued to search out new writers and even resorted to printing a few vanity books for authors willing to pay the costs in order to keep Arkham afloat.
Along with collections of essays, fiction, and poetry in the "Arkham Sampler" and "Arkham Collector," Derleth and Wandrei printed some of their own novels, as well as those of their friends and associates. Derleth also wrote and published what he called "collaborations" with Lovecraft, finishing story fragments or fleshing out Lovecraft's undeveloped story ideas. As Lovecraft's critical reputation has grown, due in no small part to Derleth's efforts in promoting his work, these "collaborations" have not, ironically, stood the test of time. Derleth's original work better shows his writing talent. Responding to accusations that he was profiting from running Arkham House, Derleth wrote defensively, "Far from growing rich on the proceeds of Arkham House, the fact is that in no single year since its founding have the earnings of Arkham House met its expenses." He contributed part of the earnings from his own writing to the company accounts, and his prodigious output continued throughout his life. A workaholic, Derleth not only ran Arkham House but also managed to write 150 books of his own before his death in 1971.
Later editors brought their own style to Arkham House. James Turner took over in 1975 and shook up Arkham tradition by not only concentrating on new writers at the expense of the old, but also daring to print the first outright science fiction titles in the early 1980s. Science fiction was a wise addition, and has come to dominate Arkham's present-day list, with works by Lucius Shepard and Ramsey Campbell. But it was their emphasis on the authors of an earlier era as well as printing numerous volumes of poetry that has given Arkham House the aura of an elder statesman in the world of genre publishing.
Arkham House books, originally sold for as little as $3.50 in some cases, are now among the most collectible of supernatural fiction. For first editions, prices now run as much as $600. After sixty years in a very specialized field, Arkham House has outlived its competition and managed to survive in a world where the major publishers are consuming each other in order to survive. Derleth, of course, would have liked that image.
Editor's note: for a review of Lord of a Visible World: An Autobiography in Letters by H.P. Lovecraft, see our accompanying print edition (Spring 2001, vol. 6, no. 1)
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Rain Taxi Online Edition, Spring 2001 | © Rain Taxi, Inc. 2001
Sauk City, Wisconsin
Arkham House is a publishing house specializing in weird fiction founded in Sauk City, Wisconsin in 1939 by August Derleth and Donald Wandrei to preserve in hardcover the best fiction of H. P. Lovecraft. The company's name is derived from Lovecraft's fictional New England city, Arkham. Arkham House editions are noted for the quality of their printing and binding. The colophon for Arkham House was designed by Frank Utpatel.
Under August Derleth and Donald WandreiEdit
Derleth was the guiding force behind Arkham House, financing the company and, after Wandrei resigned his interest in the firm after World War II, serving as sole editor and publisher.
Arkham House published many books in the fantasy and horror field including a small but steady number throughout the 1950s. Robert Weinberg has written that: "However, intense competition from the SF (science fiction) small presses as well as slow sales of certain titles put August Derleth in a precarious bind. Only a generous loan from Dr David H. Keller prevented Arkham from going bankrupt during a period of cash flow problems. 
In addition to volumes of H. P. Lovecraft's fiction, Arkham House published a five volume edition of Lovecraft's Selected Letters which gives an overview of Lovecraft's correspondence to peers, friends and family. Among his correspondents were Arkham House founders, Derleth and Wandrei. (Arkham House's volumes of Lovecraft's letters are highly abridged; unabridged volumes of Lovecraft's letters to individual correspondents have been issued progressively by Hippocampus Press).
Arkham House also published fiction by many of Lovecraft's contemporaries, including Ray Bradbury, Robert E. Howard, Frank Belknap Long, Clark Ashton Smith, Robert Bloch, and Derleth himself; classic genre fiction by authors such as William Hope Hodgson (under the prompting of Herman Charles Koenig), Algernon Blackwood, H. Russell Wakefield, Seabury Quinn, and Sheridan Le Fanu; and later writers in the Lovecraft school, such as Ramsey Campbell and Brian Lumley to whom Derleth gave their earliest publication in hardcover.
Despite the wealth of talented writers who appeared under the Arkham House imprint, it was not a financial success. Derleth wrote in 1970, "[T]he fact is that in no single year since its founding have the earnings of Arkham House met the expenses, so that it has been necessary for my personal earnings to shore up Arkham House finances." Robert Weinberg has stated "Arkham House's greatest flop was Witch House, an excellent novel that took nearly two decades to go out of print.
After Derleth's death in 1971, Donald Wandrei briefly acted as editorial director but declined to resume his interest in the firm permanently.
Prior to the 1980s, Arkham House did not reprint its books (with some exceptions such as Someone in the Dark and Night's Yawning Peal: A Ghostly Company and the core Lovecraft collections issued in the 1960s - Dagon and Other Macabre Tales, At the Mountains of Madness and Other Novels and The Dunwich Horror and Others). (Rights were occasionally sold during the 1960s and 1970s to other publishers who issued paperback editions of Arkham House titles). However this changed in the 1980s. There are multiple printings of the following books: New Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos ed by Ramsey Campbell; Necropolis by Basil Copper; The Wind from a Burning Woman by Greg Bear and The Jaguar Hunter by Lucius Shepard.
Under April DerlethEdit
August Derleth's children April (Rose) and Walden (Wally) Derleth now co-owned the publisher, April running the business while Wally had no direct involvement in its day-to-day operations. April earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1977. She became majority stockholder, President, and CEO of Arkham House in 1994, in which capacity she remained until her death.
Wandrei was succeeded as editorial director by James Turner. Turner expanded the company's range of authors to include such prominent science fiction and fantasy writers as Michael Bishop, Lucius Shepard, Bruce Sterling, James Tiptree, Jr., Michael Shea and J. G. Ballard, often publishing hardcover collections of shorter works. Turner's acquisitions took the publisher away from its roots in weird and horror fiction, and he was eventually dismissed by April Derleth.
April became president of Arkham House in 2002, having appointed Peter Ruber as her consulting editor and successor to James Turner. She made the house’s mission a return to classic weird fiction, which Ruber sought to do. Ruber drew criticism for the hostile opinions of various authors he expressed in his story introductions within Arkham's Masters of Horror (2000). Rumours of his ill-health circulated for some time and it appears his editorial duties at Arkham House lapsed due to this.
The house's publishing schedule slowed considerably between 2000-2006, with only nine books issued—In the Stone House by Barry N. Malzberg (2000); Book of the Dead by E. Hoffmann Price (a collection of memoirs of writers known by Price, 2001); Arkham House's Masters of Horror (ed. Peter Ruber, 2000); The Far Side of Nowhere by Nelson Bond (2002); The Cleansing by John D. Harvey (a horror novel, 2002); Selected Letters of Clark Ashton Smith (ed. Scott Connors, 2003); Cave of a Thousand Tales by Milt Thomas (a biography of pulp writer Hugh B. Cave, 2004); Other Worlds Than Ours, another collection by Nelson Bond (2005); and Evermore (a collection of tales in tribute to Edgar Allan Poe, ed. James Robert Smith & Stephen Mark Rainey, 2006).
No books were issued under Arkham House's sole imprint after 2006. Books had previously published in almost every year since 1939 (except for 1940 and 1955/56), so the four-year gap 2006-10 could be seen to mark the lowest point thus far in Arkham House's publishing fortunes.
In 2005, Arkham House was awarded the World Fantasy Award for Small Press Achievements—the trophy was a bust of H. P. Lovecraft.
In early 2009 it was announced that George Vanderburgh of Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, and Robert Weinberg, would jointly take over the editorial duties at Arkham House. That year Battered Silicon Dispatch Box issued four new volumes of stories by August Derleth under a joint imprint with Arkham House, which constituted the latter's only output since 2006.
In 2010 The Arkham Sampler (1948-49) was reissued in a limited ed (250 sets) two-volume facsimile reprint of the now-rare magazine issued by Arkham House that ran four issues a year 1948-1949. This work was issued by Arkham House co-published with the August Derleth Society. In the same year Jon Lellenberg's novel Baker Street Irregular was issued under the Mycroft and Moran imprint.
April Derleth died March 21, 2011. The publisher's website announced in April 2011 that her children would take over the running of the firm. Danielle Jacobs was named President, and her brother Damon Derleth as Vice President.
After April DerlethEdit
George Vanderburgh's blog at Battered Silicon Dispatch Box announced a number of Arkham House titles for 2011 and after, none of which had appeared as of April, 2014. The announced titles are:
- Deadly Dimensions and Other Blasphemies, a Novel and Short Weird Fiction by Lois H. Gresh, announced for publication in 2011. Hardcover edition limited to 1000. ISBN 978-1-55246-923-1 … $39.95
- The Gargoyle and Others: A Quarto of Horror, by Greye La Spina, announced for publication in 2011. Four short horror novels from the early pages of Weird Tales magazine, including the classic werewolf novel “Invaders from the Dark,” along with “The Gargoyle,” “Fettered,” and “The Portal to Power.” ISBN 978-1-55246-910-1 … $39.95
- The Arkham House H.P. Lovecraft, The digital edition in 13 volumes, announced for publication in 2011. The first authorized digital edition, suitable for all forms of e-book readers. Price not yet set.
- Seventy-Five Years of Arkham House, announced for publication in 2014. ISBN 978-1-55246-924-8 … Price not set.
Arkham House published under two additional imprints during its history.
In 1945 the Mycroft & Moran imprint was launched for the publication of weird detective and mystery stories, including Derleth's Solar Pons series. The title of the imprint was inspired by characters from the Sherlock Holmes stories: Sherlock's brother Mycroft Holmes, and the villain Colonel Moran. Some Mycroft and Moran titles since 1993 have also been issued by Battered Silicon Dispatch Box.
Arkham also introduced Stanton & Lee Publishers in 1945 with the intention of publishing cartoons by Clare Victor Dwiggins. Stanton & Lee Publishers went on to publish poetry and the regional writings of August Derleth.
Additionally, August Derleth sub-contracted certain books which were nominally published by Arkham House to other publishers including Villiers Publications of England, and Pelligrini and Cudahy of New York.
Bibliography of works published by Arkham HouseEdit
- The Macabre Quarto, by August Derleth
- The Shunned House Facsimile, by H. P. Lovecraft and Robert Weinberg (2008)
- Evermore, edited by James Robert Smith and Stephen Mark Rainey (2006)
- Other Worlds Than Ours, by Nelson Bond (2005)
- Cave of a Thousand Tales, by Milt Thomas (2004)
- Selected Letters of Clark Ashton Smith, by Clark Ashton Smith (2003)
- The Cleansing, by John D. Harvey (2002)
- The Far Side of Nowhere, by Nelson Bond (2002)
- Book of the Dead, by E. Hoffmann Price (2001)
- Arkham's Masters of Horror, edited by Peter Ruber (2000)
- In the Stone House, by Barry N. Malzberg (2000)
- Sixty Years of Arkham House, edited by S. T. Joshi (1999)
- Dragonfly, by Frederic S. Durbin (1999)
- New Horizons, edited by August Derleth (1999)
- Lovecraft Remembered, edited by Peter Cannon (1998)
- Flowers from the Moon and Other Lunacies, by Robert Bloch (1998)
- Voyages by Starlight, by Ian R. MacLeod (1997)
- Synthesis & Other Virtual Realities, by Mary Rosenblum (1996)
- Cthulhu 2000: A Lovecraftian Anthology, edited by James Turner (1995)
- Miscellaneous Writings, by H. P. Lovecraft, edited by S. T. Joshi (1994)
- The Breath of Suspension, by Alexander Jablokov (1994)
- The Aliens of Earth, by Nancy Kress (1993)
- Alone with the Horrors: The Great Short Fiction of Ramsey Campbell 1961–1991, by Ramsey Campbell (1993)
- Meeting in Infinity, by John Kessel (1992)
- Lord Kelvin's Machine, by James P. Blaylock (1992)
- Gravity's Angels, by Michael Swanwick (1991)
- The Ends of the Earth, by Lucius Shepard (1990)
- Her Smoke Rose Up Forever, by James Tiptree, Jr. (1990)
- Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos, by H. P. Lovecraft and Divers Hands (1989)
- Crystal Express, by Bruce Sterling (1989)
- The Horror in the Museum and Other Revisions, by H. P. Lovecraft (1989)
- Memories of the Space Age, by J. G. Ballard (1988)
- A Rendezvous in Averoigne, by Clark Ashton Smith (1988)
- Polyphemus, by Michael Shea (1987)
- The Jaguar Hunter, by Lucius Shepard (1987)
- Tales of the Quintana Roo, by James Tiptree, Jr. (1986)
- Dreams of Dark and Light: The Great Short Fiction of Tanith Lee, by Tanith Lee (1986)
- Dagon and Other Macabre Tales, by H. P. Lovecraft (1986)
- At the Mountains of Madness and Other Novels, by H. P. Lovecraft (1985)
- The Dunwich Horror and Others, by H. P. Lovecraft (1985)
- Lovecraft's Book, by Richard A. Lupoff (1985)
- Who Made Stevie Crye?, by Michael Bishop (1984)
- Watchers at the Strait Gate, by Russell Kirk (1984)
- One Winter in Eden, by Michael Bishop (1984)
- The Zanzibar Cat, by Joanna Russ (1983)
- The Wind from a Burning Woman, by Greg Bear (1983)
- The House of the Wolf, by Basil Copper (1983)
- The Darkling, by David Kesterton (1982)
- Blooded on Arachne, by Michael Bishop (1982)
- Tales from the Nightside, by Charles L. Grant (1981)
- Collected Poems, by Richard L. Tierney (1981)
- The Third Grave, by David Case (1981)
- New Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos, edited by Ramsey Campbell (1980)
- Necropolis, by Basil Copper (1980)
- The Black Book of Clark Ashton Smith, by Clark Ashton Smith (1979)
- The Princess of All Lands, by Russell Kirk (1979)
- In the Mist and Other Uncanny Encounters, by Elizabeth Walter (1979)
- Half in Shadow, by Mary Elizabeth Counselman (1978)
- Born to Exile, by Phyllis Eisenstein (1978)
- In Mayan Splendor, by Frank Belknap Long (1977)
- The Horror at Oakdeene and Others, by Brian Lumley (1977)
- And Afterward, the Dark, by Basil Copper (1977)
- Kecksies and Other Twilight Tales, by Marjorie Bowen (1976)
- The Height of the Scream, by Ramsey Campbell (1976)
- Literary Swordsmen and Sorcerers, by L. Sprague de Camp (1976)
- Dwellers in Darkness, by August Derleth (1976)
- Selected Letters of H. P. Lovecraft V (1934–1937), by H. P. Lovecraft (1976)
- Selected Letters of H. P. Lovecraft IV (1932–1934), by H. P. Lovecraft (1976)
- Dreams from R'lyeh, by Lin Carter (1975)
- The Purcell Papers, by J. Sheridan LeFanu (1975)
- Nameless Places, edited by Gerald W. Page (1975)
- The House of the Worm, by Gary Myers (1975)
- Harrigan's File, by August Derleth (1975)
- Xélucha and Others, by M. P. Shiel (1975)
- Howard Phillips Lovecraft: Dreamer on the Nightside, by Frank Belknap Long (1975)
- The Watchers Out of Time and Others, by H. P. Lovecraft and August Derleth (1974)
- Collected Ghost Stories, by Mary E. Wilkins-Freeman (1974)
- Beneath the Moors, by Brian Lumley (1974)
- Stories of Darkness and Dread, by Joseph Payne Brennan (1973)
- From Evil's Pillow, by Basil Copper (1973)
- Demons by Daylight, by Ramsey Campbell (1973)
- The Rim of the Unknown, by Frank Belknap Long (1972)
- Disclosures in Scarlet, by Carl Jacobi (1972)
- The Arkham Collector: Volume I, edited by August Derleth (1972)
- The Caller of the Black, by Brian Lumley (1971)
- Selected Letters of H. P. Lovecraft III (1929–1931), by H. P. Lovecraft (1971)
- Songs and Sonnets Atlantean, by Donald S. Fryer (1971)
- The Arkham Collector Number Ten: Summer, 1971
- Dark Things, edited by August Derleth (1971)
- Eight Tales, by Walter de la Mare (1971)
- The Arkham Collector Number Nine: Spring, 1971
- The Face in the Mirror, by Denys Val Baker (1971)
- Selected Poems, by Clark Ashton Smith (1971)
- The Arkham Collector Number Eight: Winter, 1971
- The Horror in the Museum and Other Revisions, by H. P. Lovecraft (1970)
- The Arkham Collector Number Seven: Summer, 1970
- Other Dimensions, by Clark Ashton Smith (1970)
- Demons and Dinosaurs, by L. Sprague de Camp (1970)
- Thirty Years of Arkham House, 1939–69: A History and Bibliography, prepared by August Derleth (1970)
- The Arkham Collector Number Six: Winter, 1970
- The Folsom Flint and Other Curious Tales, by David H. Keller (1969)
- Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos, by H. P. Lovecraft and Others (1969)
- The Arkham Collector Number Five: Summer, 1969
- The Arkham Collector Number Four: Winter, 1969
- The Arkham Collector Number Three: Summer, 1968
- Nightmares and Daydreams, by Nelson Bond (1968)
- Selected Letters of H. P. Lovecraft II (1925–1929), by H. P. Lovecraft (1968)
- The Green Round, by Arthur Machen (1968)
- The Arkham Collector Number Two: Winter, 1968
- Strange Gateways, by E. Hoffmann Price (1967)
- Three Tales of Horror, by H. P. Lovecraft (1967)
- The Mind Parasites, by Colin Wilson (1967)
- The Arkham Collector Number One: Summer, 1967
- Travellers by Night, edited by August Derleth (1967)
- Deep Waters, by William Hope Hodgson (1967)
- Black Medicine, by Arthur J. Burks (1967)
- Colonel Markesan and Less Pleasant People, by August Derleth and Mark Schorer (1966)
- The Dark Brotherhood and Other Pieces, by H. P. Lovecraft & divers hands (1966)
- Strange Harvest, by Donald Wandrei (1965)
- Something Breathing, by Stanley McNail (1965)
- The Quick and the Dead, by Vincent Starrett (1965)
- Dagon and Other Macabre Tales, by H. P. Lovecraft (1965)
- Poems in Prose, by Clark Ashton Smith (1965)
- Selected Letters of H. P. Lovecraft I (1911–1924), by H. P. Lovecraft (1965)
- Tales of Science and Sorcery, by Clark Ashton Smith (1964)
- Nightmare Need, by Joseph Payne Brennan (1964)
- Portraits in Moonlight, by Carl Jacobi (1964)
- At the Mountains of Madness and Other Novels, by H. P. Lovecraft (1964)
- Over the Edge, edited by August Derleth (1964)
- Poems for Midnight, by Donald Wandrei (1964)
- The Inhabitant of the Lake and Less Welcome Tenants, by J. Ramsey Campbell (1964)
- The Dark Man and Others, by Robert E. Howard (1963)
- Mr. George and Other Odd Persons, by Stephen Grendon (1963)
- Who Fears the Devil?, by Manly Wade Wellman (1963)
- Autobiography: Some Notes on a Nonentity, by H. P. Lovecraft: annotated by August Derleth (1963)
- The Dunwich Horror and Others, by H. P. Lovecraft (1963)
- Collected Poems, by H. P. Lovecraft (1963)
- The Horror from the Hills, by Frank Belknap Long (1963)
- 100 Books by August Derleth, by August Derleth (1962)
- The Trail of Cthulhu, by August Derleth (1962)
- Dark Mind, Dark Heart, edited by August Derleth (1962)
- Lonesome Places, by