Pulps Between Boards: Arkham House and Other Specialty Publishers
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I started reading Marginalia because I recently acquired a copy that was signed by Hazel Heald, who has two stories within.

A seller in Norway listed it for sale as signed by August Derleth, but it was obvious to me the signature was not Derleth's.  So who wrote it?  I guessed it was Hazel Heald's hand, but I had no samples of her handwriting to compare to.  I took a chance and bought the book anyway.

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An appeal for help to a friend yielded excellent results.  First was a typed letter from Heald to Derleth dated October 21, 1944 where she says she "will enjoy two copies of Marginalia" and asks "will it be out soon?"

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The second was a hand-written letter from Heald to Derleth dated February 1, 1945.  First, this letter allowed me to match Heald's handwriting to that in the book with reasonable assurance.  And second, the letter says "thanks for the two books that arrived yesterday."  The date written in the book is indeed one day earlier, January 31, 1945.  This was very exciting because this was proof that not only had Hazel Heald written the inscription, but she owned the book as well.  I think a Heald signed copy of Marginalia is very rare, perhaps unique. 

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Edited by RedFury

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27 minutes ago, RedFury said:

I started reading Marginalia because I recently acquired a copy that was signed by Hazel Heald, who has two stories within.

A seller in Norway listed it for sale as signed by August Derleth, but it was obvious to me the signature was not Derleth's.  So who wrote it?  I guessed it was Hazel Heald's hand, but I had no samples of her handwriting to compare to.  I took a chance and bought the book anyway.

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Wow.  You have a much better reason for grabbing your copy than I did... mine was simply "Somebody's selling a decent looking copy with dust jacket for under $200? I gotta get me some of that!" lol  The Outsiders and others is out of my range and Beyond the Wall of Sleep will require a lot of careful planning; but the next three (Marginalia, Something About Cats and Other Pieces, and The Shuttered Room and Other Pieces) are all doable... and those first five are, to me the most interesting, because they are (other than the first) the only ones that feature the first publication of fiction by Lovecraft.  The Shuttered Room is, in fact, the last publication ever to feature any previously unpublished fiction by Lovecraft that I am aware of.

Also, thank you for the correction on Medusa's Coil.  I should have checked my copy rather than relying on the internet.

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Witch House
Arkham House, 1945
3,000 copies

I just finished reading Witch House by Evangeline Walton, the 11th book published by Arkham House and released in 1945.  It's the first novel published by Arkham House, and it was meant to be the first in a series called "Library of Arkham House Novels of Fantasy and Terror".

"Evangeline Walton" was the pen name of Evangeline Wilna Ensley (1907-1996).  Like fellow female weird fiction writer C.L. Moore, she was from Indianapolis.  She was given the Lifetime Achievement Award by the World Fantasy Convention in 1989.

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Witch House is about an old New England family, the Quincys, who live in their ancestral mansion on an island off the coast.  The youngest of the family, 9-year-old Betty Ann is being haunted by the ghost of Aunt Sarai, who may have been a witch, and Dr. Carew is called in from Boston to see what he can do to sort it out.  Haunted house hijinks ensue, but a lot of it is very subtle and psychological.

Witch House was not a success for Arkham House and it took more than 20 years for it to sell out.  That's a shame because it's a pretty good book.  Walton was a talented writer and the prose is beautiful.  My only complaint is the story is slow to develop and there is a confusing family tree with many similarly named characters.  But if you can make it through the first 100 pages the book really starts to move and pays off with a satisfying and exciting ending.  

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Just in today:  The Shuttered Room.  This is the fifth Lovecraft collection from Arkham, published in 1959.  Stated print run 2500 copies, actual 2527.  Unlike Marginalia, my copy of this one has an unclipped dust jacket. To me, the most interesting thing is that this is the last book that had any previously unpublished fiction by Lovecraft.  There are five pieces that were first published in this book.  Old Bugs is the most important of the new pieces; it's not considered major work by any stretch of the imagination but it's on the list of actual Lovecraft stories.  The other four are all juvenilia.  The title story is one of Derleth's "posthumous collaborations".

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In today.  Return of Solar Pons is generally considered the third Solar Pons collection.  There was a collection of three stories put out by Mycroft and Moran a few years before, titled "Three Problems for Solar Pons", which is the rarest Mycroft and Moran boo.  All three of the stories are included in this collection, however, so Three Problems is generally considered something of a specialty item rather than key to the run.  Stated print run was 2000, actual was 2079.  This actually gives me all of the Solar Pons stories in Mycroft & Moran editions; although they put out four other Solar Pons books, accounting for 13 of the 20 books released by the imprint.  The others are the aforementioned Three Problems for Solar Pons, The Adventure of the Unique Dickensians (a softcover, illustrated chapbook with a story later included in The Casebook of Solar Pons), The Solar Pons Omnibus (technically an Arkham House book), and The Original Text Solar Pons Omnibus (Basil Cooper edited the stories for the original omnibus; people were apparently displeased.)

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Who Goes There?
John W. Campbell, Jr.
Shasta Publishers, 1948, 3000 Copies (200 Signed Subscribers Copies)

So much coolness associated with this book...where to begin?
 
The title story, Who Goes There?, is the basis for the films The Thing From Another World (1951) and The Thing (1982). It was originally published in the August 1938 issue of Astounding Science Fiction. I won't go into detail about the story because I think most are familiar with it. Suffice to say, it's good!
 
The amazing 1st edition wrap-around cover is by Hannes Bok, and I think it's one of his best. The 2nd edition with a nice new cover by Malcolm Smith was released in conjunction with the 1951 film.
It's the second book published by Shasta Publishers. It contains 7 stories by Campbell, all taken from the pages of Astounding Stories/Science Fiction.
 
One story, Frictional Losses, tells of an alien invasion of Earth using advanced technology that is difficult to resist. The Japanese devise a successful defensive strategy by packing planes with heavy explosives and ramming them into the alien ships in suicide attacks. This enrages the aliens so much that they use atomic bombs to annihilate Japan (it slides into the sea). While there are obvious parallels to the events of WWII, the story was written in 1936!
 
One other interesting note about this book is actually a note! For some reason Campbell tucked in a neatly typed page with his contact information. I'm guessing he knew who this copy was going to.
 
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