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Henry S. Whitehead
Posted by: Ancient History (IP Logged)
Date: 4 February, 2016 09:49AM
I'm rather fond of Henry S. Whitehead, a pulpster that was contemporary with Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howard & co. at Weird Tales and Strange Tales, and who is today mostly known for his contributions to early voodoo stories and occult detective Canevin. For anyone interested in learning a bit more about him, sources on his life are somewhat scarce, and I've written a small article about him: [www.rehtwogunraconteur.com]

Also, I've got a (admittedly not great) scan of the very scarce 1942 publication of The Letters of Henry S. Whitehead; HSW wasn't always the most reliable concerning his own biography - he claimed he graduated Harvard, and even a PhD he never earned - but the letters make for a bit of interesting reading. [imgur.com]

Re: Henry S. Whitehead
Posted by: wilum pugmire (IP Logged)
Date: 4 February, 2016 11:56AM
I adore Whitehead and his fiction, and I love his solid friendship with HPL. I paid slight tribute to him by basing a character on him in my story, "Ye Unkempt Thing," although my characters any of Whitehead's dignity.

"I'm a little girl."
--H. P. Lovecraft, Esq.

Re: Henry S. Whitehead
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 5 February, 2016 01:37PM
A few years back, I read The Red Lodge and The Ghost Hunt and was unimpressed at all.

Re: Henry S. Whitehead
Posted by: Jojo Lapin X (IP Logged)
Date: 6 February, 2016 08:18AM
It is reassuring to me that I am not the only one who confuses Whitehead with Wakefield.

Re: Henry S. Whitehead
Posted by: wilum pugmire (IP Logged)
Date: 6 February, 2016 11:56AM
O gawd--THAT'S why I can't find those stories in my editions of Whitehead!!! I was getting frantic.

"I'm a little girl."
--H. P. Lovecraft, Esq.

Re: Henry S. Whitehead
Posted by: Jojo Lapin X (IP Logged)
Date: 6 February, 2016 01:26PM
Yup. You need to look in your editions of Wakefield.

Re: Henry S. Whitehead
Posted by: Ancient History (IP Logged)
Date: 23 August, 2016 08:29AM
A sort of spin-off from the Whitehead research: all I could find about G. P. Olsen (or Olson) of Sheldon, Iowa, who harangued Whitehead, Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howard, H. P. Lovecraft, August Derleth and probably others with his rants about Einstein, vampires, and occultism in the early-mid 1930s. [www.rehtwogunraconteur.com]

Re: Henry S. Whitehead
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 27 August, 2016 01:21PM
Is it true that most of Whitehead´s stories are set in India? I do not like exotic locations too much so I am not certain if I should give him a try or not ...

Re: Henry S. Whitehead
Posted by: Ancient History (IP Logged)
Date: 28 August, 2016 08:23PM
No, most of his stories are set in the Virgin Islands; Whitehead visited the Caribbean for health reasons periodically, and served as an Episcopal priest down there for a while before retiring to Florida.

Re: Henry S. Whitehead
Posted by: Minicthulhu (IP Logged)
Date: 1 September, 2016 02:31PM
Ancient History Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> No, most of his stories are set in the Virgin
> Islands; Whitehead visited the Caribbean for
> health reasons periodically, and served as an
> Episcopal priest down there for a while before
> retiring to Florida.


Thanks. I will give him a try. :-)

Re: Henry S. Whitehead
Posted by: Scott Connors (IP Logged)
Date: 3 September, 2016 12:50AM
Years ago, when the late Peter Ruber was editor of Arkham House, he had a section on the AH website (since taken down) called "Bat's Belfry," where he posted a number of Whitehead's letters in addition to those from Barlow's aborted "Canevinia" tribute. They do not appear to have been saved by the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine, but both Douglas A. Anderson and myself saved print outs. Doug has all of these, plus other HSW letters to Derleth, HPL, etc. (the late Roy Squires listed one to CAS years ago, don't know who has this), a number of stories that weren't collected by Arkham House (these were supposed to be in the tragically never-completed trilogy of Whitehead's collected stories that Ash-Tree Press was to publish), some essays, poems, and other miscellaneous pieces that he plans on publishing sometime. I have a copy of a writer's handbook in which he had two essays, plus an autographed copy of a juvenile novel, PINKIE AT CAMP CHEROKEE, that includes two oral ghost stories. One of these days I'm going to do some writing on HSW.

Re: Henry S. Whitehead
Posted by: Ancient History (IP Logged)
Date: 3 September, 2016 04:03PM
Huh. I'd really like to see that, Scott. I know Arthur Langley-Searles tracked down some of Whitehead's letters, and left them along with the rest of his papers to a university.

Re: Henry S. Whitehead
Posted by: jdworth (IP Logged)
Date: 5 September, 2016 11:06AM
Yes, I was wondering what had happened concerning the other two volumes from Ash-Tree. That's a great pity, and I hope someone takes up the challenge to get all this material into print.

Re: Henry S. Whitehead
Posted by: Martinus (IP Logged)
Date: 6 September, 2016 02:54AM
Battered Silicon Dispatch Box have een listing a trilogy of Whitehead collections for years, but as far as I know they are not available yet.

Re: Henry S. Whitehead
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 12 June, 2020 08:49AM
I have only read "Cassius". I don't know where to continue from here. I can't see myself going through Whitehead's entire corpus. Which are his best tales, do you think, especially among those collected in his famous Arkham House collections Jumbee and Other Uncanny Tales and West India Lights?

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).



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