In “The Galveston Affair,” Robert E. Howard recounts an experience attending the International Pageant of Pulchritude and Annual Bathing Girl Review in Galveston, Texas, with his friend Truett Vinson. The narrative is marked by Howard’s vivid, humorously gruff description of the discomfort they endure during the event due to the intense heat and the crowd. Despite the oppressive conditions, Howard and Vinson are determined to see the event through, motivated by the prospect of viewing the parade of bathing beauties from around the world.

As the parade begins, Howard describes the floats, pushed by brawny laborers and accompanied by brass bands, which carry the bathing girls who represent various countries. Despite the physical allure of the participants, Howard notes that the only thing truly heated about the event was the weather, suggesting that the oppressive climate overshadowed any enjoyment of the spectacle.

As part of a collection of stories titled “Sketches”. Published in the Junto, December 1928.

The essay offers a glimpse into Howard’s cynical view of beauty contests, emphasizing the physical discomfort and cultural spectacle rather than any particular admiration for the participants.


  • Robert E. Howard: The narrator of the essay, who attends the bathing beauty contest with his friend. He describes the event with a blend of humor and irritation, focusing on the discomfort caused by the heat and the crowd.
  • Truett Vinson: Howard’s friend and companion at the event. He is described as swearing energetically due to the frustration with the crowded and hot conditions.
  • Unnamed Bathing Girls: Participants in the beauty pageant, described collectively by Howard. They are noted for their beauty and the variety of their origins but are not individualized in the narrative.

Could it be Howard?

In Francis Dipietro’s book “Robert E. Howard, the Supreme Moment: A Biography” there are period photos, including photos from the 1927 Pageant of Pulchritude which Howard attended in Galveston (and what can seem to be Howard himself in the background). 

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Thanks to Ed Chaczyk for making me aware of the Pageant of Pulchritude images.