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H.P.

LOVECRAFT: THE MYSTERY OF THE MISSING MANUSCRIPT
by Leigh Blac !"#e
2668 words
In the past few years, much valuable work has been done on the surviving manuscripts of the late H.P. ovecraft. !tudents of ovecraft"s writings are fortunate that many of the autograph manuscripts of his work are still e#tant, largely due to the efforts of $obert H. %arlow, who acted as ovecraft"s literary e#ecutor back in the &'()"s. *he te#tual corruption of the +rkham House te#ts is notorious, and the same applies to most paperback editions of ovecraft. However, the preservation of various manuscripts has enabled the author !.*. ,oshi to prepare te#tually corrected versions of many of ovecraft"s tales. ,oshi is currently engaged in two ma-or pro-ects of interest to ovecraftians. .irstly, he is preparing new versions of the +rkham House te#ts, which will be published by them some time in the future, although they have announced no details of the publication dates. !econdly, ,oshi is at work on the monumental task of assembling the /ollected 0orks of H.P. ovecraft, for which no publisher has yet been found. *hose of us who believe ovecraft"s work is worthy of serious attention look forward eagerly to the completion of these tasks1 the /ollected 0orks will probably not be published for some five or more years, but in that time there is much to be done to make the pro-ect complete and authoritative. 2ne area of difficulty involves the ovecraft manuscripts which are unavailable to scholars for one reason or another. 3ost of the e#tant manuscripts of ovecraft"s tales are in the ,ohn Hay ibrary at %rown 4niversity in Providence, $hode Island 5 the principal repository for all works by and about ovecraft 5 but there are some which are in the hands of private collectors, and still others whose whereabouts are either uncertain or completely unknown. 6o listing of the locations of the manuscripts has ever been published to my knowledge 7although such listings have been attempted by various scholars working in this field8. It seems well and truly time that the situation be clarified, for the benefit of all the thousands of ovecraft fan and scholars worldwide. *hose who have encountered ovecraft through reading a few of his tales may well wonder what the fuss is about. Is it really important to know where these manuscripts are9 I believe that the preservation of the hand5written manuscripts of any ma-or author is important, since we can gain considerable insights into the nature of the work"s composition by e#amining the author"s drafts of the work. ovecraft"s manuscripts in particular contain a wealth of information which may help to provide more accurate te#ts. +s ,oshi pointed out, many errors of interpretation were made by :erleth and 0andrei 7the editors of +rkham House8 simply because they were unable to read ovecraft"s handwriting correctly. In abridgements to parts of ovecraft"s tales so that, despite over forty5five years of publication and re5 publication since ovecraft"s death, there are still tales that never have been printed as ovecraft wrote them. It is evident that we can never properly study ovecraft"s writings until we have authoritative published te#ts of what he actually wrote. *hus, it is a matter for great concern that the manuscripts not held by the ,ohn Hay should be located, and steps taken to ensure their preservation for posterity. ovecraft, of course, hated the typewriter, and a number of his works would have perished but for being typed by his friends and correspondents. In some cases where the autographed ms. and the typescript are both still e#tant, the typescript has number of errors of transcription. 0e may fairly guess, then, that in those tales where we have only a typescript still e#tant, there may be errors which could only be corrected by e#amining the corresponding autograph ms. + large number of ovecraft"s autograph manuscripts are presumed to be lost1 but it would be illuminating to have a ready source of reference showing which titles are known to be lost or destroyed irretrievably1 and which titles have some faint chance of being re5discovered. 2f the latter, 7those missing but with a chance of being bought to light again8, there are two ma-or titles that spring to mind. ;*he !hadow 2ut of *ime; may still be somewhere in +merica among the effects of $.H. %arlow. *he other manuscript is possible in +ustralia 5 but I shall come to that shortly. *he nature of book selling and the collector"s market makes it inevitable that private collectors should purchase various of ovecraft<s manuscripts. 0hile not opposed to this practice, I feel that there is a very high potential for loss or destruction of material in private hands, especially where the collector does not publicly acknowledge his possession of particular manuscripts. *he ,ohn Hay ibrary does not have

the resources to purchase every manuscript offered for sale1 yet it is an impossible dream to imagine that someday the ma-ority of original ovecraft material will be located in the ,H , or even in a few libraries, where it can be properly looked after and made accessible to all9 It is distressing to consider the irreplaceable material which may be lost through accident or sheer neglect. *ake the case of ovecraft"s letters to $obert %loch, which are currently being sold off in the 4nited !tates. *hese letters are fetching high prices 5 so high, in fact, that the sellers realise few will be able to afford to buy entire letters, and are offering parts of letters for sale. *hus, one particular ovecraft letter may be dispersed among as many as five or si# different collectors in various parts of the world. 0hile this may satisfy the urges of the collectors to own a piece of ovecraftiana, it bodes ill for the future study of ovecraft"s work, for which his letters are a key resource. 2ne cannot ask that this practice be stopped1 but it would be highly commendable if collectors purchasing original material would make known their holdings. 6o one lives for ever, and who can say what might happen to a letter or a story manuscript in a private collection. It might be tossed into the garbage1 it might be lost or damaged. =ven in a collector"s lifetime, a change of address or a loss of interest in ovecraft could lead to the destruction or loss of ovecraft material, thus depriving the world of important and rare information concerning the best writer of supernatural horror in the twentieth century. I would like to appeal to all individuals who hold original ovecraft material to come forward and make known the details. *his should pose no threat to your ownership, unless in fact you have ac>uired it by illegal means. 2n the positive side, knowledge of the locations of this material will make the work of ovecraft scholars very much easier. I am appealing to a sense of cooperation1 there may be some who prefer to hoard their manuscripts and gloat over them secretly, but such people are doing a positive disservice to ovecraftian scholarship. I am sure that the vast ma-ority of ovecraft devotees will recognise that this appeal is designed to make the work of H.P. . more accessible, as it deserves to be. It is my belief that every effort should be made by dedicated ovecraftians to ensure the preservation of those manuscripts which still survive. Individuals who own such material should recogni?e that theirs is a great responsibility. I invite all those who are willing to participate in the completion of a register of ovecraft"s manuscript material, to write to me at the address given at the end of this article. I now come to the curious case of the manuscript of a ovecraft story which may be in a collection in +ustralia. *he story starts, for me, with the &'@A 0orldcon in 3elbourne. +t the 0orldcon auction, there was a number of items offered for sale by collector $onald =. Braham, including an original copy of ovecraft"s ;/harleston;. Braham was for many years one of the proprietors of !pace +ge %ooks, +ustralia"s largest specialty science5fiction bookstore. I met him briefly at the 0orldcon, but was unable to afford any of the rare ovecraft items offered in the auction, as I was a poor high5school student at the time. *wo years later, at the &'@@ !ydney !cience .iction /onvention, I met up with Braham again. I had a very interesting conversation with him, learning that his enormous collection consisted of some @),))) items ranging from books to maga?ines to original artwork. $on invited me to see his collection, and gave me his silent number. I have kicked myself ever since, but I lost that number, and not being in touch with other members of !ydney"s science fiction community, had no way of getting in contact with $on again. I was particularly upset because one of the things that had e#cited my attention in talking to $on was his statement that he possessed an ;unpublished; ovecraft story. He did not give me any details as to the title of this work, but promised that I could view it when I visited him. $on"s story was that :onald +. 0ollheim had found the tale in his files forty years or so after its original submission, and $on had bought it from 0ollheim. He stated that he did not intend publishing the story himself, because the value of the manuscript would drop as soon as the story appeared in print. It was not until the &'8( !ydney !cience .iction /onvention that I had a chance to discuss this with others who had known $on Braham personally. *wo people that I talked to told me that $on certainly had a ovecraft manuscript in his possession, although the ;unpublished; part of the anecdote seemed rather dubious. %ut as to what had happened to this manuscript, they could not enlighten me. 2ne person speculated that $on himself may have destroyed it. Having enrolled at !ydney 4niversity in &'8(, I had already discovered that the Braham collection had been donated to the university"s .isher ibrary on Braham"s death. It is not yet catalogued in entirety, and there is only one librarian working on it at present, as time permits. 3ost of the books from the Braham collection will be part of .isher"s $are %ook ibrary eventually. *he librarian in charge of this work told me that .isher did not receive the entire Braham collection. !ome items were auctioned by his family, including the Cirgil .inlay original artwork that $on owned. I was permitted to e#amine the catalogue of the collection which $on Braham himself had kept, and which .isher received along with the books. It is a title5only catalogue, which made it most laborious to search for ovecraft items, and indeed, I have not yet finished searching. However, the story about the manuscript seemed resolved when I discovered the following card entryD

H+46*=$ 2. *H= :+$E,*H= H.P ovecraft. 2riginal 3.!.!. &'(A 28pp. np. @8&A.'' ;*his is ovecraft"s handwritten 3! of the first published draft of this story which was published in ;0eird *ales; in :ec. &'(6. In a letter to :onald +. 0ollheim dated :ec. &'(A ovecraft statesD
;=nclosed you will find a rough draught of my latest fictional attempt, plus the pencil notes outlining plot and action which preceded actual writing. +lthough none of my scrawls has any value, this one is at least not >uite as utterly trivial as the long outdated reli>ue of &'2& which you didn"t get 7*he Fuest of Iranon8 hence in a certain wild sense you are the gainer by my unconscious lapse. Hope I won"t disappoint you. :on"t try to read it in my rotten script 5 I"ll lend you a carbon later.

*his is a sort of answer to the tale in which young %loch killed me off. It has not yet been offered for professional publication.; + most interesting piece of ovecraftiana from the 0ollheim collection. *he script has numerous alterations and the notes are written on scraps of paper. =ven the envelope to 0ollheim is an old one with the previous address rubbed out and 0ollheim"s substituted. *he letter of :ec. 2'th &'(A mentioned above is filled with the 3!!.; !uch were Braham"s notes on the manuscript of this famous tale of which every ovecraft fan has heard. Imagine my feelings on being told this, too, was one of the items not received by the .isher ibrary. *he librarian was unable to tell me where and when the auction of Braham"s effects was held1 nor did she seem willing to divulge the address of Braham"s family. %y now, I was convinced that the story of an ;unpublished; ovecraft tale was apocryphal, but the discovery that Braham had owned the manuscript of ;*he Haunter of the :ark; was hardly less e#citing. *he only trouble was, it had disappeared. I learned shortly thereafter that !.*. ,oshi had also written to .isher from +merica, seeking information about the manuscript. !ince then, I must admit, I have not made much headway against what is almost a ;conspiracy of silence; over the whereabouts of the manuscript. 0as it sold to an +ustralian collector, or to an overseas one9 0as it in fact auctioned at all1 could there be any truth in the idea that Braham himself destroyed the manuscript9 I would hate to think so, as the loss of such an important work in such a manner hardly bears thinking about. I would like to e#tend my appeal, mentioned above, to include specifically the whereabouts of the manuscript of ;*he Haunter of the :ark.; If anyone has information about what happened to the manuscript, or where it may be now, I would be most grateful to learn of it. !hould the location of the manuscript be revealed, and the current owner be willing to sell, it may even be possible to take up a subscription among ovecraftians worldwide to buy and donate the manuscript to the ,ohn Hay ibrary. !.*. ,oshi stated in a letter to me 7dated ,une &A, &'8(8 regarding this matter, ;0hile in Providence I collated the +rkham House test with the 0=I$: *+ =! appearance and discovered no ma-or errors. %ut this still leaves open the possibility of corruption from the manuscript to the 0=I$: *+ =! publication...; *hus, the rediscovery of the manuscript is essential to establishing the authoritative te#t for this tale. 2ne reason that I have not so far made strenuous efforts to track down the manuscript in +ustralia is that I feel I can achieve less on my own than I could if fellow ovecraftians support me. I believe we have the right to know at least where the manuscript is. If the current owner is unforthcoming about the matter, he or she may be encouraged to acknowledge ownership if provided with evidence of the demand for the manuscript among ovecraftians in various parts of the world. *o this end, I would encourage those who would like to see this manuscript brought to light to write to me, e#pressing their interest. I will compile a representative selection of these letters to show $on Braham"s family and others who may be able to provide information. Hopefully this will enable them to appreciate that there is considerable interest in the manuscript, and that it should not be left ;haunt the dark;, but should be made available. et"s hear from all of youG I cannot stress how strongly I feel that the manuscript can not be allowed to -ust disappear. If there"s any chance of finding it we should endeavour to find it1 this is one case where the voice of individuals can be of great help in -oining together in a worthy cause. +nd future generations of ovecraftians will be grateful if we succeed in unearthing one of ovecraft"s ma-or works. *his article will be published in +ustralia, the 4nited !tates and Holland. Please contact =IBH % +/E32$=, H.P. 2C=/$+.* %I25%I% I2B$+PHH /=6*$=, 8A :4..H +C=., *H2$6 =IBH, 6.!.0. 2&2). +4!*$+ I+.

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