Letter to H. P. Lovecraft

From Clark Ashton Smith

[44] [27 November 1936]

Palace of the Mithridates,
at the serving of the

Dear E'ch-Pi-El:

I might have written before this, but have been stayed by the realization that you press of correspondence is no doubt far heavier than mine. At any rate, you should have had a couple of cards from me; the first one acknowledging the return of the sculptures.

I am pleased that you and Ar-E'ch-Bei found the collection of teraphim so much to your liking. I infer, though, that my list of titles, which corresponded to the numbers on the bases, was not passed along. The names were really a good part of the fun. No. 1, the little cameo that you mentioned, was The Black Dog of Commoriom; no. 13, the unicornous female monster with claws and carapace, was The Harpy; no. 8, the slim black thing with rows of ciphers on the body, was The Reptile-Man. And the one you referred to as must have been The Entity from Algol. The number (9) was erased from its base, is merely a signature — my first two initials in old Etruscan. [1]

[. . .] Don't worry about not feeling able to buy anything: you will, in time, become the recipient of more than one gift. At present I am experimenting with the making of moulds for five pieces and hope to make some more accurate casts in the hardest plaster obtainable. These, I believe, might sell as "novelties", if offered at prices running from 50 cents upward. Certainly this seems the best way to make money from the stuff, if any is to be made. Few people, especially in this neck of the woods, will pay any more for an original sculpture than they would for a cast of some cheap abomination from the 5 & 10. That being the case, I see no reason why I should waste any more of my originals upon them, incidentally, I can have an exhibition of sculptures at the Croker Art Gallery in Sacramento after the first of the year. According to the director, who came to see my stuff some time ago, prices should range from $5.00 for the smallest originals up to $50,00 for my largest piece, an eleven-inch statuette. The last-named would please you, since it represents a monster somewhat akin to Cthulhu — in fact, so much so that I have christened it Cthulhu's Child.

I hope that your routine is less overburdened now and that weather and health conditions are at least tolerable. Here, things are pretty much the same, though my father seems slightly improved for the present. [. . .] As for my own condition — well, I pretty nearly succumbed to various worries, griefs and bedevilments a little while back, But a round scolding from Mrs. S,[2] in addition to even more self-beratement and ridicule, is getting me out of it. I think I shall soon become like that old Persian king who thrived upon upas and aconite.

[. . .]

I have written to Ar-E'ch-Bei, and feel more concerned over his general hard luck than over such trivial details as the delay of Incantations. As I told him, there's no hurry in presenting the book to a world that has not yet exhausted the edition of E & C [3] printed 14 years ago.[4]

The crop of Fan magazines is even more amazing and astounding and weird and wondrous [5] than most of the stuff to which they devote their attention, enthusiasm and criticism. Surely two or three of such things, with interests divided between pure fantasy and its more or less scientific corival, would be quite enough. [. . .] I confess I don't see how these magazines can survive: they are getting thicker than wood-mushrooms after a warm rain.

Howard's death startled and shocked me as it must have shocked everyone else. It is understandable but infinitely tragic and regrettable. . . Sometimes, though, the anticipation of an event is more unbearable than the event itself; and I wonder if Howard might not have pulled through if the nurse had been less frank.

[. . .]

Yours for the resurgence of R'lyeh
and the melting of the ice-cap from
utmost Lomar,


  1. 1. This explanation of Smith's signature differs from that given in Fantastic Art of Clark Ashton Smith (1973).
  2. 2. Genevieve Sully.
  3. 3. Ebony and Crystal (1922).
  4. 4. Barlow had plans (which fell through) to publish Incantations, a collection of about 70 of Smith's poems.
  5. 5. Note Smith's play with words; each of the adjectives used to describe the fan magazines corresponds to the title of a pulp magazine.

From: Clark Ashton Smith: LETTERS TO H. P. LOVECRAFT, edited by and footnotes by Steve Behrends (July 1987) Necronomicon Press.

Top of Page