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Re: Henry S. Whitehead
Posted by: Hespire (IP Logged)
Date: 12 June, 2020 03:07PM
I can't remember the last time I've read Whitehead, but I remember feeling more impressed by the best of his weird fiction than by the best of most weird writers. I also remember Lovecraft praising him highly and calling him a true literary author among the Weird Tales stable. As far as his work goes, I remember they shared just a couple qualities with M. R. James' ghost stories, namely in the mundane and quaintly-detailed setting turning increasingly weird and sinister, much like that horrible god slowly growing out of a man's body in one of Whitehead's tales! I'm not well-versed in Voodoo lore, but I believe I read somewhere that because of his time spent with the native culture, he portrayed it relatively fairly for his time. Correct me if I'm wrong, of course.

That article paints a very interesting fellow, but now it's made me curious about something. Does anyone here know what CAS and Whitehead thought of each other's fiction? And are there any interesting details of their correspondence? Information on this stuff is nearly nonexistent. In any case, I'm aware that Whitehead died roughly in the middle of Smith's most productive period, so there was a decent chance they were aware of each other's work.

Edit: Knygatin asked an interesting question on the previous page. Sadly I can't answer it because it's been so long since I've read Whitehead, but suggestions for the best of his stories would be useful news for us both.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 12 Jun 20 | 03:10PM by Hespire.

Re: Henry S. Whitehead
Posted by: Ancient History (IP Logged)
Date: 12 June, 2020 10:54PM
Quote:
I'm not well-versed in Voodoo lore, but I believe I read somewhere that because of his time spent with the native culture, he portrayed it relatively fairly for his time. Correct me if I'm wrong, of course.
Whitehead spent summers in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and picked up some of the local lore, and wrote an article or two about it, and wrote about it at a bit of length to Farnsworth Wright.

Quote:
Does anyone here know what CAS and Whitehead thought of each other's fiction? And are there any interesting details of their correspondence?
None of their correspondence is known to survive; after Whitehead's death, R. H. Barlow collected his correspondence from Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, etc. with the plans of publishing the lot as Caneviniana (after Whitehead's protagonist Canevin), but he had only cut eight pages of stencils by the time he abandoned the project, and the "Letters of Henry S. Whitehead" were eventually published as just those eight pages.

A bit scarce to find now, but I scanned the pages a while back and you can read them here:

[imgur.com]

No one knows where the original Whitehead letters are, although A. Langley Searles apparently tracked some of them down. There are a number of references to Whitehead in the H. P. Lovecraft/Clark Ashton Smith correspondence, collected in Hippocampus Press' Dawnward Spire, Lonely Hill.

Re: Henry S. Whitehead
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 13 June, 2020 09:18AM
Ancient History Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> ... after Whitehead's death, R. H. Barlow collected
> his correspondence from Lovecraft, Robert E.
> Howard, etc. with the plans of publishing the lot
> as Caneviniana (after Whitehead's protagonist
> Canevin), but he had only cut eight pages of
> stencils by the time he abandoned the project, and
> the "Letters of Henry S. Whitehead" were
> eventually published as just those eight pages.
>
> A bit scarce to find now, but I scanned the pages
> a while back and you can read them here:
>
> [imgur.com]
>

Interesting. Thank you for sharing those.



Hespire Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> As far as his work goes, I remember they shared just
> a couple qualities with M. R. James' ghost
> stories, namely in the mundane and
> quaintly-detailed setting turning increasingly
> weird and sinister, much like that horrible god
> slowly growing out of a man's body in one of
> Whitehead's tales!

I would love to read that one. Reminds me of the film The Manitou (1978), about an American Indian spirit manifestation growing on the neck of a woman.


> Suggestions for the best of his stories would be
> useful ...

Here is a list of the stories from Jumbee and Other Uncanny Tales and West India Lights. Perhaps it will stir some recollections.

Jumbee (1926)
Cassius (1931)
Black Tancrède (1929)
The Shadows (1927)
Sweet Grass (1929)
The Black Beast (1931)
Seven Turns in a Hangman's Rope (1932)
The Tree-Man (1931)
Passing of a God (1931)
Mrs. Lorriquer (1932)
Hill Drums (1931)
The Projection of Armand Dubois (1926)
The Lips (1929)
The Fireplace (1925)

Black Terror (1931)
West India Lights (1927)
"Williamson" (1946)
The Shut Room (1930)
The Left Eye (1927)
Tea Leaves (1924)
The Trap (1932)
The Napier Limousine (1933)
The Ravel Pavane (1946)
Sea Change (1925)
The People of Pan (1929)
The Chadbourne Episode (1933)
Scar-Tissue (1946)
"—In Case of Disaster Only" (1946)
Bothon (1946)
The Great Circle (1932)
Obi in the Caribbean (1927)

He wrote more: ISFDB

Re: Henry S. Whitehead
Posted by: Ancient History (IP Logged)
Date: 13 June, 2020 11:14AM
"Cassius" was a story written inspired by one of Lovecraft's notes; "The Trap" was a story written in collaboration with Lovecraft. "Bothon" has a complicated and murky history, and probably started out as a story called "The Bruise," was influenced by or partially rewritten by Lovecraft, and finished by August Derleth. "Obi in the Caribbean" isn't a story, but an article on voodoo that Whitehead wrote. "The Lips" is heavily inspired by Edward Lucas White's "Lukundoo."

Re: Henry S. Whitehead
Posted by: Hespire (IP Logged)
Date: 13 June, 2020 12:20PM
Quote:
Ancient History
Whitehead spent summers in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and picked up some of the local lore, and wrote an article or two about it, and wrote about it at a bit of length to Farnsworth Wright.

Fascinating! I just read that small sampling of his letters you linked and I'm already interested by what he has to say about Haitian (or "Haytian" as he seems to call them) folklore! Do you know where I can find some of these articles he wrote?

Quote:
Knygatin
I would love to read that one. Reminds me of the film The Manitou (1978), about an American Indian spirit manifestation growing on the neck of a woman.

I've never watched The Manitou, but just the year of its release already tells me it will be a grotesque, disturbing, and possibly disgusting film! A good couple of decades for special effects horror.

And thanks for that list of Whitehead stories, several of which I have not read, but several others I recognize. "The Passing of the God" is the story I mentioned about the man with a god growing like a tumor from his body, and although it isn't as dramatic or intense as most weird stories I've read, it really stuck out in my mind, probably for a good reason. "Jumbee" is another atmospheric creeping story of note, about a very unique ghost/monster from legitimate Voodoo folklore. "West India Lights" is the story that most reminded me of M. R. James, which is probably how I came to compare the two writers earlier. It isn't exactly a horror story, but it has some creative moments that creep on you, involving a cursed painting with life in it.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 13 Jun 20 | 12:21PM by Hespire.

Re: Henry S. Whitehead
Posted by: Ancient History (IP Logged)
Date: 13 June, 2020 12:32PM
Hespire Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Fascinating! I just read that small sampling of
> his letters you linked and I'm already interested
> by what he has to say about Haitian (or "Haytian"
> as he seems to call them) folklore! Do you know
> where I can find some of these articles he wrote?

"Obi in the Caribbean" is in WEST INDIA LIGHTS, "Dark Magic of the Caribbean Peoples" was published in MYSTERY STORIES (October 1928), and was reprinted in an issue of the FANTASY COMMENTATOR (#47/48, Fall 1995).

Re: Henry S. Whitehead
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 19 July, 2020 10:31AM
Knowing from experience that I have neither time nor desire to read everything by most authors (C. A. Smith, H. P. Lovecraft, and Jack Vance, being among the rare exceptions), I gathered together my own "favorite" Whitehead collection of about 20 stories. Based on recommendations, summaries, and intuition. Sticking to the classic ones and others belonging to the characteristic Whitehead themes. Sidestepping a few which appear to be more conventional ghost stories, like "The Fireplace", "The Door", and "The Shut Room". Obviously I may have missed a few gems.

I was able to track down all (mainly old Weird Tales and Strange Tales issues in pdf) but two of them: "West India Lights" and "Seven Turns in a Hangman's Rope".

I rarely buy paper books these days. If so, it has to be something really exceptional. And besides, I find it quite pleasurable to read directly from the original sources, mildewed pages lambent on the screen. (However, I try to stay away from ebooks. Why? Because they generally don't respect original paragraphs and settings.)

Re: Henry S. Whitehead
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 19 July, 2020 12:00PM
Did Mr. Whitehead write weird/horror stories which do not deal with ghosts and are not set in exotic locations?

Re: Henry S. Whitehead
Posted by: Hespire (IP Logged)
Date: 19 July, 2020 12:28PM
Minicthulhu Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Did Mr. Whitehead write weird/horror stories which
> do not deal with ghosts and are not set in exotic
> locations?


I don't recall Whitehead writing many traditional ghost stories, and even the stories that involve ghosts tend to be more creative than the norm, sometimes as creative as M. R. James. I'd say Whitehead wrote a decently wide variety of creatures, weird phenomena, and native folklore.

I can't answer regarding so-called "exotic" locations (A term which strikes me as rather odd, because even London and New York City were exotic to me), but it would be interesting to know what stories Whitehead wrote which aren't set in the Caribbean.

Re: Henry S. Whitehead
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 19 July, 2020 01:28PM
Thank you very much. Can you recommend some good weird or horror tales by him? I am thinking of reading his stuff one of these days.

Re: Henry S. Whitehead
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 19 July, 2020 04:32PM
Lovecraft particularly recommended "Passing of a God" and "The Black Beast".

Re: Henry S. Whitehead
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 20 July, 2020 12:38PM
Thank you very much. I will give them a try.

Re: Henry S. Whitehead
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 20 July, 2020 01:59PM
Reading Lovecraft's and Smith's correspondence, I get the impression that they both respected Whitehead as a man of culture, and a fine writer (if a somewhat uneven) above the average of Weird Tales writers. But they did not seem to regard him as belonging in quite the highest order of weird and cosmic horror.

I think it is generally agreed that Whitehead was at his best when using the knowledge he gathered from local customs on the Virgin Islands.

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