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August Derleth and Arkham House

August Derleth was one of the principal forces that established science fiction as a legitimate literary genre. He was a product of the "pulp" era, who founded a unique publishing company in 1939 called Arkham House. He had no long-range agenda for his progeny other than to rescue the writings of his late friend and mentor H.P. Lovecraft, a writer as strange as the stories he wrote, who had toiled in the poor-paying pulp magazines for several decades without gaining a wide readership.

Derleth, who was emerging then as a promising writer of regional literature, made a strong effort to persuade Maxwell Perkins, his editor at Chas. Scribner's Sons, to consider the stories of H.P, Lovecraft. When he was rejected on what Perkins said were purely economic considerations, an excuse he heard from other editors he knew, Derleth decided to take on the responsibility of publishing Lovecraft. Using the greater portion of a $5,000 fee that Redbook magazine had paid for one of his novels, Derleth and fellow Weird Tales writer Donald Wandrei established Arkham House, the name taken from Lovecraft's place-name for legend-haunted Salem, Massachusetts.

What Derleth knew about the business side of publishing and selling could be summed up in a few sentences, though he often told his own publishers how to market his books. Derleth's first Lovecraftian collection was The Outsider and Others, a 555-page book that...

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