BY TEEL JAMES GLENN
I have used the historical figure of Robert E. Howard in the two-fisted tales of Bob Howard (Bareknuckle Barbarian and Fist of the Fae) in a purely fictional, dramatic, and somewhat whimsical fashion. No approval, disrespect or disparagement of this individual – though I very much admire R.E.H. – is meant or implied. The facts of R.E.H.’s life as it tragically ended in this world, and the point where it enters the world of these fictional stories should be clear to all.
Robert Irvin Howard (January 22, 1906 – June 11, 1936) was the consummate pulp author who wrote in a diverse range of genres. He is best known for his character Conan the Barbarian and is regarded as the father of the sword and sorcery subgenre, but he wrote western, historical crusader, and horror fiction with equal aplomb.
Howard was born and raised in the state of Texas. He spent most of his life in the town of Cross Plains. He taught himself to box and sword fight and often engaged in ice house fights – bareknuckle competitions with the rough necks in his area.
From the age of nine, he dreamed of becoming a writer of adventure fiction. However, he did not have real success until he was twenty-three. He was published in a wide selection of magazines, journals and newspapers, but his main outlet was the pulp magazine, Weird Tales.
He was introduced (via correspondence) to H.P. Lovecraft by an editor at Weird Tales, and the two veteran writers were soon engaged in a vigorous correspondence, which would last for the rest of Howard's life.
Howard was successful in several genres and was on the verge of publishing his first novel when he committed suicide at the age of thirty. His mother was terminally ill with tuberculosis before she had even met his father, and so was slowly dying throughout Howard's entire life.
A theme in most of his writings was the atavist in us all, the barbarian, would always triumph over civilization. If he could see today’s reality television, he might find himself proven right.
His divergence from tragic reality to the world of the two-fisted tales of Bob Howard is the moment, seated in his car on a Texas road, when he chooses not shoot himself in grief (as he did in real life), but returns to the hospital to have his last moments with his dying mother.
Teel James Glenn (Writing as Jack Tunney) ~ Union City, NJ, 2014