Authors: August Derleth

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

American novelist, short-story writer, poet, historian, and editor

Author Works

Long Fiction:

Murder Stalks the Wakely Family, 1934

The Man on All Fours, 1934

Three Who Died, 1935

Sign of Fear, 1935

Still Is the Summer Night, 1937

Wind Over Wisconsin, 1938

Sentence Deferred, 1939

Restless Is the River, 1939

The Narracong Riddle, 1940

Bright Journey, 1940

Evening in Spring, 1941

Sweet Genevieve, 1942

The Seven Who Waited, 1943

Shadow of Night, 1943

Mischief in the Lane, 1944

No Future for Luana, 1945

The Shield of the Valiant, 1945

The Lurker at the Threshold, 1945

Death by Design, 1953

Fell Purpose, 1953

The House on the Mound, 1958

The Hills Stand Watch, 1960

The Shadow in the Glass, 1963

Mr. Fairlie’s Final Journey, 1968

A House Above Cuzco, 1969

The Wind Leans West, 1969

The Wind in the Cedars, 2000

Short Fiction:

Place of Hawks, 1935

Consider Your Verdict: Ten Coroner’s Cases for You to Solve, 1937

Any Day Now, 1938

Country Growth, 1940

Someone in the Dark, 1941

Something Near, 1945

In re, Sherlock Holmes: The Adventures of Solar Pons, 1945

Sac Prairie People, 1948

Not Long for This World, 1948

The Memoirs of Solar Pons, 1951

Three Problems for Solar Pons, 1952

The House of Moonlight, 1953

The Survivor and Others, 1957

The Mask of Cthulhu, 1958

The Return of Solar Pons, 1958

Wisconsin in Their Bones, 1961

The Reminiscences of Solar Pons, 1961

Lonesome Places, 1962

The Trail of Cthulhu, 1962

Mr. George and Other Odd Persons, 1963 (as Stephen Grendon)

The Casebook of Solar Pons, 1965 The Adventure of the Orient Express, 1965

Colonel Markesan and Less Pleasant People, 1966 (with Mark Schorer)

The Adventure of the Unique Dickensians, 1968

A Praed Street Dossier, 1968

The Chronicles of Solar Pons, 1973

The Watchers Out of Time, 1974

Harrigan’s File, 1975

Dwellers in Darkness, 1976

The Solar Pons Omnibus Edition, 1982

Aunt May Strikes Again! 1996

Return to Sac Prairie, 1996

The Final Adventures of Solar Pons, 1998

The Quest for Cthulhu, 2000

Shane’s Girls, 2000

Poetry:

Hawk on the Wind, 1938

Elegy: On a Flake of Snow, 1939

Man Track Here, 1939

Here on a Darkling Plain, 1940

Wind in the Elms, 1941

Rind of Earth, 1942

And You, Thoreau!, 1944

Selected Poems, 1944

The Edge of Night, 1945

Habitant of Dusk: A Garland for Cassandra, 1946

Rendezvous in a Landscape, 1952

Psyche, 1953

Country Poems, 1956

Elegy: On the Umbral Moon, 1957

West of Morning, 1960

This Wound, 1962

Country Places, 1965

The Only Place We Live, 1966

By Owl Light, 1967

Collected Poems, 1937-1967, 1967

Caitlin, 1969

The Landscape of the Heart, 1970

Love Letters to Caitlin, 1971

Last Light, 1978

In a Quiet Graveyard, 1997

Nonfiction:

The Heritage of Sauk City, 1931

Atmosphere of Houses, 1939

Still Small Voice: A Biography of Zona Gale, 1940

Village Year: A Sac Prairie Journal, 1941

The Wisconsin: River of a Thousand Isles, 1942

H. P. L.: A Memoir, 1945

Writing Fiction, 1946

Village Daybook: A Sac Prairie Journal, 1947

The Milwaukee Road: Its First Hundred Years, 1948

Sauk County: A Centennial History, 1948

August Derleth: Thirty Years of Writing, 1926-1956, 1956

Arkham House: The First Twenty Years, 1939-1959, 1959

Some Notes on H. P. Lovecraft, 1959

Walden West, 1961

Concord Rebel: A Life of Henry David Thoreau, 1962

Countryman’s Journal, 1963

Three Literary Men: A Memoir of Sinclair Lewis, Sherwood Anderson, and Edgar Lee Masters, 1963

The Forest Orphans, 1964

Wisconsin Country: A Sac Prairie Journal, 1965

Walden Pond: Homage to Thoreau, 1968

Wisconsin Murders, 1968

Vincennes: Portal to the West, 1968

Thirty Years of Arkham House, 1939-1969: A History and Bibliography, 1969

The Wisconsin Valley: A Student’s Guide to Localized History, 1969

Emerson, Our Contemporary, 1970

Return to Walden West, 1970

Mr. Conservation: Carl Marty and His Forest Companions, 1971

Country Matters, 1996

Children’s/Young Adult Literature:

Oliver, the Wayward Owl, 1945

A Boy’s Way, 1947

It’s a Boy’s World, 1948

The Country of the Hawk, 1952

The Captive Island, 1952

Empire of Fur, 1953

Land of Gray Gold, 1954

Land of Sky-Blue Waters, 1955

Father Marquette and the Great Rivers, 1955

St. Ignatius and the Company of Jesus, 1956

Columbus and the New World, 1957

The Moon Tenders, 1958

Wilbur, the Trusting Whippoorwill, 1959

The Mill Creek Irregulars, 1959

The Pinkertons Ride Again, 1960

The Ghost of Black Hawk Island, 1961

Sweet Land of Michigan, 1962

The Tent Show Summer, 1963

The Irregulars Strike Again, 1964

The House by the River, 1965

The Watcher on the Heights, 1966

Wisconsin, 1967

The Beast in Holger’s Woods, 1968

The Prince Goes West, 1968

The Three Straw Men, 1970

Edited Texts:

Poetry Out of Wisconsin, 1937

Sleep No More: Twenty Masterpieces of Horror for the Connoisseur, 1944

Who Knocks? Twenty Masterpieces of the Spectral for the Connoisseur, 1946

Dark of the Moon: Poems of Fantasy and the Macabre, 1947

The Night Side: Masterpieces of the Strange and Terrible, 1947

The Sleeping and the Dead, 1947

Strange Ports of Call: Twenty Masterpieces of Science Fiction, 1948

The Other Side of the Moon, 1949

Beyond Time and Space: A Compendium of Science Fiction Through the Ages, 1950

Far Boundaries: Twenty Science-Fiction Stories, 1951

The Outer Reaches: Favorite Science-Fiction Tales Chosen by Their Authors, 1951

Night’s Yawning Peal: A Ghostly Company, 1952

Beachheads in Space: Stories on a Theme in Science-Fiction, 1952

Worlds of Tomorrow: Science Fiction with a Difference, 1953

Portals of Tomorrow: The Best of Science Fiction and Other Fantasy, 1954

Time to Come: Science Fiction Stories of Tomorrow, 1954

Fire and Sleet and Candlelight: New Poems of the Macabre, 1961

Dark Mind, Dark Heart, 1962

When Evil Wakes: A New Anthology of the Macabre, 1963

Over the Edge, 1964

Wisconsin Harvest, 1966

Travellers by Night, 1967

New Poetry Out of Wisconsin, 1969

Dark Things, 1971

The Angler’s Companion, 2000

Edited Texts (Works of H. P. Lovecraft):

The Outsider and Others, 1939

Beyond the Wall of Sleep, 1943

Marginalia, 1944

The Best Supernatural

Stories of H. P. Lovecraft, 1945

Supernatural Horror in Literature, 1945

The Haunter of the Dark, and Other Tales of Horror, 1951

The Survivor and Others, 1957

The Shuttered Room, and Other Pieces, 1959

Collected Poems, 1960

Dreams and Fancies, 1962

Autobiography: Some Notes on a Nonentity, 1963

The Dunwich Horror, and Others: The Best Supernatural Stories of H. P. Lovecraft, 1963

At the Mountains of Madness, and Other Novels, 1964

Dagon, and Other Macabre Tales, 1965

H. P. Lovecraft Selected Letters 1911-1924, 1965

The Dark Brotherhood, and Other Pieces, 1966

H. P. Lovecraft Selected Letters 1925-1929, 1968

The Shadow Out of Time, and Other Tales of Horror, 1968

Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos, 1969

The Tomb, and Other Tales, 1969

The Horror in the Museum, and Other Revisions, 1970

H. P. Lovecraft Selected Letters, 1929-1931, 1971

Something About Cats, and Other Pieces, 1971

Miscellaneous:

Wisconsin Earth: A Sac Prairie Sampler, 1948

The Praed Street Papers, 1965

Buster Brown, 1974

The Katzenjammer Kids, 1974

The Only Place We Live, 1976

Biography

August William Derleth was a prolific Wisconsin author. His work includes novels, short stories, poetry, autobiography and memoir, biography, history, works for younger readers, and numerous edited anthologies. He wrote realistic regional literature as well as science fiction, horror stories, mysteries, and several volumes of Sherlock Holmes pastiches (featuring his character, Solar Pons). He played a key role in popularizing the work of the early twentieth century writer of supernatural stories, H. P. Lovecraft, and was cofounder of Arkham House publishing company in Sauk City, Wisconsin.{$I[A]Derleth, August}{$S[A]Grendon, Stephen;Derleth, August}{$S[A]Mason, Tally;Derleth, August}{$S[A]Heath, Eldon;Derleth, August}{$S[A]West, Simon;Derleth, August}{$S[A]West, Michael;Derleth, August}{$S[A]Holmes, Kenyon;Derleth, August}{$S[A]Garth, Will;Derleth, August}{$S[A]Devon, Romily;Derleth, August}{$I[geo]UNITED STATES;Derleth, August}{$I[tim]1909;Derleth, August}

Derleth was the son of William Julius and Rose Louise Volk Derleth. His parents ran a blacksmith shop in the small Wisconsin River town of Sauk City. He attended St. Aloysius parochial school there and later the University of Wisconsin, where he received a B.A. degree in 1930. He showed an early interest in writing and sold his first story to the publication Weird Tales at the age of seventeen. Following his graduation from college, he spent a year working for a Minneapolis publisher, then returned to Sauk City, where he spent the rest of his life.

After publishing several popular works, his first serious piece of fiction, Still Is the Summer Night, was published by Scribner’s in 1937. The work gained him the attention of Sinclair Lewis, Edgar Lee Masters, and Helen C. White, who served as his sponsors for a Guggenheim Fellowship, which he was awarded the following year. This also marked the beginning of what was to be a major focus of his creative effort in the years ahead, his Sac Prairie Saga.

In the years that followed, he wrote at an amazing rate in all of the genres mentioned above, and the Sac Prairie Saga took shape as a series of novels (ten), collections of short stories (six), and journals and other forms of creative prose (seven) recording the life of his home area. Much of his poetry and juvenile writing is also set in this locale. Playing out on a larger canvas, his Wisconsin Saga, a series of five novels, deals with the larger history of the state.

Book publishing and editing represent another major direction in Derleth’s career. In his youth he had developed an interest in the work of H. P. Lovecraft and had corresponded with the author. His inability later to find a publisher for a collection of Lovecraft’s magazine stories led to the founding (with fellow author Donald Wandrei) of Arkham House publishing company in 1939. The central purpose of this venture was to bring the work of Lovecraft and other writers of the pulp horror/science-fiction school to a wider audience. The vast majority of the anthologies edited by Derleth during the years that followed were dedicated to this task, and his edited volumes of the work of Lovecraft alone run to more than twenty volumes. Many of his own writings in the horror/science-fiction genre were inspired by or written in posthumous collaboration with the man he considered his mentor in the field.

Along with his writing and publishing, Derleth was also a strong promoter of regional literature. He taught a course in the subject at the University of Wisconsin (1939-1940), led local writing workshops, founded and edited a poetry journal (Hawk and Whippoorwill, 1960-1963), and served as the literary editor for the Madison Capital-Times from 1941 until his death. He also edited several anthologies of Wisconsin literature.

Derleth was married briefly (1953-1959) to Sandra Winters, a woman many years his junior. They had two children, April Rose, born in 1954 and Walden William, born in 1956. When the marriage ended in divorce, Derleth was granted custody of the children, and they resided with him in a large stone house which he called “Place of Hawks,” built on a piece of land he had purchased in Sauk City in 1939. In addition to his many other interests, he was a dedicated collector of books, comic books, records, stamps, and coins, as well as an inveterate walker and mushroom hunter. He died in 1971 at the age of sixty-two of a heart attack, following several years of declining health.

Derleth’s literary reputation rests primarily on his role as a major figure of the early twentieth century American regionalist movement. His best works of this kind–from the Sac Prairie and Wisconsin Sagas, such works as Evening in Spring, Village Year, Walden West, Wisconsin in Their Bones, and The Hills Stand Watch–stand as classics of the genre. He also deserves mention for his work as an editor and publisher of early twentieth century horror/science fiction and in particular the writings of Lovecraft. His greatest flaws were overproductivity and a general unevenness in his work, but his importance is indisputable.

BibliographyBishop, Zealia. “A Wisconsin Balzac: A Profile of August Derleth.” In The Curse of Yig. Sauk City, Wis.: Arkham House, 1953. One of the few articles of any length on the life and career of August Derleth.Blei, Norbert. “August Derleth: Storyteller of Sac Prairie.” Chicago Tribune Magazine, August 15, 1971. A very informative and interesting article based on an interview with Derleth. Derleth’s opinions and point of view are presented in a sympathetic manner. A good quality short study on Derleth and his work.Grant, Kenneth B. “August (William) Derleth.” In The Authors. Vol. 1 in Dictionary of Midwestern Literature. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2001. A brief biographical and critical overview.Grobe Litersky, Dorothy M. Derleth: Hawk . . . and Dove. Aurora, Colo.: National Writers Press, 1997. The first major, book-length, comprehensive critical study of Derleth’s life and works.Haining, Peter. The Classic Era of American Pulp Magazines. Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2000. Looks at Derleth’s contribution to the pulps and the relationship of pulp fiction to its more respectable literary cousins.Liebow, Ely M., ed. August Harvest. New York: Magico Magazine, 1994. Essays dealing with Derleth’s work in all genres.Muckian, Michael, and Dan Benson. “One of the State’s Great Writers Is Nearly Forgotten.” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Magazine, August 13, 1995, p. 8. A biographical sketch, accompanied by an account of efforts by Derleth’s children and admirers to reissue his work and create new interest in him; also includes an interview with Derleth’s son, who talks about his father’s death wish in the last years of his life.Schroth, Evelyn M. The Derleth Saga. Appleton, Wis.: Quintain Press, 1979. The only available study of Derleth’s Sac Prairie Saga. The body of work is interpreted from Schroth’s personal point of view, but the discussion does give the reader an overview of this important series of works, rated by some as Derleth’s finest literary achievement.Schultz, David E., and Scott Connors, eds. Selected Letters of Clark Ashton Smith. Sauk City, Wisc.: Arkham House, 2003. August Derleth is among the most prolific correspondents in this collection of Smith’s letters, and this is an excellent source for an informal glimpse of the author in his own words.Starrett, Vincent. Introduction to The Adventures of Solar Pons. London: Robson Books, 1975. A short introduction to Derleth and his Solar Pons creation. Since so little is available on Derleth, students who wish additional information on the Solar Pons series could also consult introductions in these collections: The Reminiscences of Solar Pons (1961; an introduction by Anthony Boucher and “A Chronology of Solar Pons,” by Robert Patrick), and The Return of Solar Pons (1958; introduction by Edgar W. Smith).Stephens, Jim. Introduction to An August Derleth Reader. Madison, Wis.: Prairie Oak Press, 1992. A solid biographical and critical overview of Derleth and his works.Wilson, Alison W. August Derleth: A Bibliography. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1983. The best full-length source available for information on the life and works of August Derleth. The book begins with a preface, an introduction, and a chronology, including interesting details on his activities and literary reputation. Lists and explains briefly all of his works, divided into “Fantasy World” and “Sac Prairie and the Real World.” Contains a helpful index by title.Zell, Fran. “August Derleth’s Gus Elker Stories in One Volume.” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Cue, November 10, 1996, p. 13. A review of Country Matters, arguing that the Gus Elker stories are formulaic and predictable but that they have preserved a bucolic world and way of life prior to television.
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