Letter from REH to unknown, June 13, 1934.

A letter from Robert E. Howard surfaced about 2016; the name of the intended recipient is scratched out, so all we really have to go on is the context in which it was discovered and the contents of the letter itself. According to the poster, the letter was sold by August Derleth along with several Conan the Cimmerian typescripts – that would suggest it might have come from R. H. Barlow, who was a correspondent of Robert E. Howard and had requested and received several of Howard’s transcripts. The letter is unlikely to be to Barlow, however – aside from the fact that the scratched-out name is too long, we know that Howard had sent a letter to Barlow (with an enclosure to H. P. Lovecraft, who was visiting Barlow) the very next day.

However, it is possible that the letter may have been to one of Barlow’s friends. In several letters in late 1933 which H. P. Lovecraft wrote to Barlow, he mentions a “report” that an unnamed friend of Barlow’s had written regarding voodoo among the Gullah (or Geechee) people. A number of Georgians were brought down to Florida to work the turpentine camps, so there’s a possible connection there.

Well, well—& so a friend of yours, like William B. Seabrook, has come into first-hand contact with the horrors of Damballa & his serpents. Who knows what waddling nigger washerwoman may not be a potent & dangerous mamaloi with power to evoke nameless horrors & send hideous zombis stalking through the land!

H. P. Lovecraft to R. H. Barlow, 21 Oct 1933, O Fortunate Floridian 83

Thanks tremendously for the voodoo report, which I’ve read with extreme interest. your friend seems to have been quite an amateur Wm. B. Seabrook—& the experience must have been powerfully moving in its way. Later on, if you ever make a copy, I certainly wouldn’t mind a spare carbon. Those “geachi” blacks must be rather an interesting study.

H. P. Lovecraft to R. H. Barlow, 13 Nov 1933, O Fortunate Floridian 85

That voodoo encounter surely was picturesque—I’d hardly care to get into such close quarters with a crowd of excited blacks, but anthropological zeal will carry one far. So the “geechis” owe their superiority to insular isolation! I believe that, in general, all the Carolina island negroes are called “gullahs”, & that their dialect differs from that of the mainland blacks. No doubt the geechis are a variety of these.

H. P. Lovecraft to R. H. Barlow, 29 Nov 1933, O Fortunate Floridian 88

REH to unknown


Information found at reddit.