Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Arkham House

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US Small Press which has been, over nearly 60 years, the most successful house specializing in the fantastic. It was founded – in Sauk City, Wisconsin – by August Derleth and Donald Wandrei after they had failed in their attempts to interest mainstream firms in a volume of H P Lovecraft's stories; they had no intention, at first, to continue the firm. But The Outsider and Others (coll 1939) – a vast, seminal, well produced volume – was initially a financial failure, and so they had to publish further books to service the debts incurred. The firm gradually became viable. Over the years it broadened its range from Horror and Supernatural Fiction to all kinds of Fantasy and sf. Lovecraft associates published by AH include Frank Belknap Long and Clark Ashton Smith, as well as Derleth and Wandrei themselves; also from AH came the first significant US publication of William Hope Hodgson. AH published several first books: Robert Bloch's The Opener of the Way (coll 1945; technically his first book was Sea-Kissed [coll 1945 chap], which, however, is little more than a pamphlet), A E van Vogt's Slan (1946), Ray Bradbury's Dark Carnival (coll 1947) and Fritz Leiber's Night's Black Agents (coll 1947), Ramsey Campbell's The Inhabitant of the Lake and Less Welcome Tenants (coll 1964), Brian Lumley's The Caller of the Black (coll 1971) and Phyllis Eisenstein's Born to Exile (coll 1978).

After Derleth's death in 1971, editorial control passed (at the behest of Derleth's family and colleagues) to James Turner (1945-1999), who continued to publish and republish the canon centring on and around Lovecraft but also venturing with considerable success into new regions. Over the past decade or so AH has published a number of critically and commercially successful collections by writers never previously associated with the firm: these include Michael Bishop's Blooded on Arachne (coll 1982), Greg Bear's The Wind from a Burning Woman (coll 1983), The Zanzibar Cat (coll 1983) by Joanna Russ (1937-2011), Tanith Lee's Dreams of Dark and Light: The Great Short Fiction of Tanith Lee (coll 1986), Lucius Shepard's The Jaguar Hunter (coll 1987), J G Ballard's Memories of the Space Age (coll 1988), Crystal Express (coll 1989) by Bruce Sterling (1954-    ) (see SFE link below), Her Smoke Rose Up Forever (coll 1990) by James Tiptree Jr (1915-1987), Michael Swanwick's Gravity's Angels (coll 1991), Meeting at Infinity (coll 1992) by John Kessel (1950-    ), Nancy Kress's The Aliens of Earth (coll 1993) and The Breath of Suspension (coll 1994) by Alexander Jablokov (1956-    ). Significantly, several of these were either the only or the most definitive collections of the authors in question.

AH maintains the editorial savvy and the production values it has always boasted, and remains commercially viable. [JC]


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.