Local Boy Makes Good


Clark Ashton Smith's book of short stories, The End of the Story and Other tales, will be issued by Arkham House at an early date next year. He has three new volumes of verse in preparation: Incantations, The Jasmine Girdle, And Wizard's Love and Other Poems. Some of his science-fiction tales are being reprinted in England. He is at present preparing an exhibition of his sculptures and paintings for the Crocker Gallery. He plans to sell his property as well as the film rights of some of his stories and may take a trip to New York in the near future. His Dark Eidolon and Colossus of Ylourgne will be made into super-thrillers: the latter is built on a super-Frankenstein theme; the former is utterly original and without parallel in the whole range of imaginative writing. He will retain his cabin, which is situated on the ridge above the Catholic novitiate, and will continue to make Auburn the base of his many activities. The following biographical note will appear on the jacket of his forthcoming volume.

Clark Ashton Smith began to write fiction at the age of 11, and verse at thirteen. He is wholly self-educated, apart from 5 years in the grammar grades. He was offered a Guggenheim scholarship but refused it, preferring to conduct his own education. His ancestry, consisting mainly of Norman-French Huguenot and English Cavalier blood, may perhaps explain his lifelong record as a rebel and nonconformist. At 17 he sold stories to The Black Cat and Overland Monthly but soon became completely engrossed in poetry. His first volume, published at 19, caused him to be hailed by critics as a youthful prodigy superior to Chatterton, Bryant and Rossetti. Its publication, however, was followed by 8 years of ill-health: a nervous breakdown and incipient tuberculosis. Throughout this harassing period he wrote the poems for Ebony and Crystal, which have been compared to Hugo and Baudelaire. He was a protégé and close friend of the late George Sterling, and a friend and correspondent of H. P. Lovecraft in later years. He recommenced story-writing as a profession when past 35. The End of the Story, published in Weird Tales, was his first outstanding success with fiction. It was followed quickly by many others, all in the genres of the weird, macabre, fantastic and pseudo-scientific. Some of his translations from Baudelaire have been included in an anthology of The Flowers of Evil privately printed by the Limited Editions Club of New York with numerous illustrations by Jacob Epstein, the famous London sculptor and artist. He has published one pamphlet of tales, The Double Shadow and Other Fantasies, and four volumes of verse: The Star-Treader, Odes and Sonnets, Ebony and Crystal, and Sandalwood. He is preparing three new volumes of verse. He has contributed poetry and fiction to 40 or 50 magazines, including The Yale Review, London Academy, London Mercury, Munseys Philippine Magazine, Asia. Wings, Poetry, The Lyric West, Buccaneer, Weird Tales, Ainslee's, 10 Story Book, Live Stories, The Wanderer, The Recluse, The Thrill Book, Amazing Stories, Wonder Stories, Astounding Stones, Strange Tales, The Interludes, and the old Smart Set under Mencken, and his poems have also found place in a dozen or more anthologies, among them Briggs Great Poems of the English Language, Continent's End and a British anthology issued by the Mitre Press, London. His tales have been reprinted in one of the Not at Night English story anthologies, and in Today's literature, a collection used for supplementary reading in junior colleges. Some of his early poems have long been used in California school readers. Out of 107 short stories and novelettes written he has sold 99 to magazines and expects to sell nearly all of the remainder. He is also a painter and sculptor, and has exhibited many of his outré and exotic pictures and carvings at Gump's in San Francisco. His paintings have been ranked above those of Odilon Redon, the celebrated French symbolist artist, and have drawn high praise from Parisian art-reviews. His sculptures, mostly cut from strange and unusual minerals have been compared to pre-Columbian art and have found numerous purchasers. In addition to his four arts, Smith was a journalist for several years and has worked off and on at several manual occupations, has picked and packed fruit has chopped firewood, has typed bills, has mixed and poured cement, and has been a gardener, and a bard-rack miner, mucker and windlasser. He has been acclaimed by a small but growing audience as the greatest living poet, and thousands of readers have ranked his tales with the best of Poe and Dunsany. His poems range in theme from the cosmic sublimities and immensities to the most delicate ardors and tenderness of love. He claims to possess powers of magic, mesmerism, psychoanalysis, and prophecy. He springs from titled lineage, being the descendant of Norman-French counts and barons and Lancashire, baronets, and Crusaders. His paternal grandfather, a wealthy millowner of Lancashire, married into the old and noted Ashton family, one of whom was beheaded for implication in the Gunpowder Plot. His mother's family, Gaylords, came to New England in 1630; their name was originally Gaillard, and being Huguenots, they fled from France at the time of the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, settling in Devonshire, where the name was Anglaicised. Many of them have been Congregational ministers. Smith's father, Timeus Smith, was a world-traveler in his earlier years but settled in California, where he suffered long years of continual ill-health. Smith lives on the outskirts of Auburn. Still young at 48, he feels that his best work is yet to be done.

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