The Isle of Pirates’ Doom” is a vivid adventure tale by Howard. This story captures the quintessential elements of swashbuckling piracy tales infused with mystery and danger. The narrative unfolds on an unnamed Caribbean island and revolves around treasure hunting, fierce duels, and the moral quandaries of its characters.

Perhaps not as well known as Valeria and Belit, Helen Tavrel is also a notorious female pirate and adventuress. She appeared in Howard’s story THE ISLE OF PIRATES’ DOOM written in 1928. The long novelet (35 pages) did not sell. It was submitted to Argosy, Adventure and Red Blooded.

Cross Plains Library has an original draft of this story.


The story begins with the protagonist, Stephen Harmer, observing a dubious ship off the coast of a remote island. Opting for caution, he watches a rowdy crew disembark, including a refined yet audacious woman disguised as a man, Helen Tavrel. As the crew splinters due to internal conflicts, Helen flees into the island’s wilderness, with her pursuers close behind.

Stephen, initially observing the events unfold, decides to interact when Helen, revealed to be a woman, is pursued by her mutinous crewmates. The story then shifts into a dynamic interaction between Stephen and Helen as they navigate through the perils of the island, revealing Helen’s backstory as a pirate under duress from her own crew.

Their quest inadvertently leads them to an ancient temple rumored to house a legendary treasure. As they explore the temple, the tale unfolds into a gripping climax involving betrayal, supernatural elements, and a tragic disaster that befalls their pursuers.


  • Stephen Harmer: The protagonist, a shipwrecked sailor who proves himself resourceful and brave. His moral compass guides the duo’s adventure on the island.
  • Helen Tavrel: A formidable female pirate with a complex background, initially disguised as a man. Helen’s character oscillates between ruthless pirate and compassionate ally.
  • John Gower: The antagonist, a treacherous pirate captain pursuing Helen for betraying the crew. His demise is central to the climax of the story.
  • Captain Roger O’Farrel: Mentioned in backstory elements, he is a significant influence on Helen, shaping much of her life and decisions.
  • Tom Bellefonte, Mike Donler, and Will Harbor: Members of the pirate crew, each contributing to the story’s development through their interactions with Helen and Stephen.

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