Letter on Clark Ashton Smith

Genevieve K. Sully

It is good to learn that the bibliography of the writings of Clark Ashton Smith, to which you have dedicated so much time and care, is finally achieving publication. Did you know that Clark was our close and good friend for forty years and that we shard many rare and interesting experiences during this time ?

It was in the fall of 1919 that we first met Clark and became interested in his poetry. We were all congenial from the start, and the world of art and literature became our chief subject of conversation. We also tookk many walks in the foot hills near Auburn, enjoying the woods, rock and flowers, Clark always adding to our love and appreciation of nature.

One hot summer - that of 1927 - when we were all wilted and tired of the heat, we invited Clark to go with us on a camping trip to the mountains in the Donner Peak-Summit region. In order to take this trip, Clark had to make complicated arrangements for the comfort of his parents. He filled pails and tubs with water, drawing it from the Smith's abandoned mine shift turned well, and laid in a supply of wood for them. It is hard for any one to believe the primitive way in which smith lived - no running water or electricity, and a kitchen stove as the only means of heating and cooking. This was the old stove in which Mrs. Smith backed for us a delicious loaf of bread for our trip, and also in which Clark latter fired his rock carvings.

Clark helped us make camp and enjoyed chopping the fallen juniper branches for our fires. He would have no wood but the juniper, which burns with fine heat and little smoke. He went to great lengths to get this wood for he liked the incense-like order it gives off when burning.

After a few days of short walk, we proposed a longer walk - to Crater Ridge - where we had gone many times in the past, but now we were going with a companion who came under a spell of strange thought, transforming the scene in to a foreboding and grotesque landscape, which Clark latter used in his now famous story, "The City of the Singing Flame." Clark wondered about amongst the boulders, studying he rocks and general terrain. We could all see that he was deeply effected by the place.

Latter in the afternoon while Clark was still felling a strange influence, after we had sat down to look at the views that combine to make this place especially beautiful, I suddenly suggested that he used his powers of writing for fiction, which would be more remunerative than poetry. His financial situation at the time was critical, and some practical advise seemed in order. This prodding lead to Clark's writing of weird fiction and, thus, the walk to Crater Ridge started the flow of work has made Clark the well-known writer that he is

I send my greetings to you and the best of luck on publication of your book.


From: Emperor of Dreams: A Clark Ashton Smith Bibliography, Donald Sidney-Fryer. Donald M. Grant, 1978.

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