Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Long, Frank Belknap

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(1901-1994) US writer whose reputation is inextricably linked to that of his friend and mentor, H P Lovecraft. Lovecraft recommended his work to Farnsworth Wright, who published FBL's first professional sale, "The Desert Lich", in Weird Tales in 1924. FBL became one of the magazine's regular names, contributing to it into the 1950s. Most of FBL's early weird fantasies are built around exotic settings and adventures typical of the period, although some feature gruesome horrors and sf elements. All have the same streak of romanticism that runs through the verse collected in his first two books, A Man from Genoa and Other Poems (coll 1926) and The Goblin Tower (coll 1935), most of whose contents were reproduced in In Mayan Splendor (coll 1977).

FBL's "The Space-Eaters" (1928) and "The Hounds of Tindalos" (1929) are acknowledged today as the seeds of the Cthulhu Mythos. FBL's Mythos tales established the pattern of embodying conceptions of the alien in extradimensional monstrosities modelled on Lovecraft's; "The Horror from the Hills" (1931 WT) incorporates a lengthy paraphrase of one of Lovecraft's dreams. His most valuable contributions to Lovecraft studies are perhaps his numerous defences of Lovecraft against critics, which form the basis of his anecdotal memoir H.P. Lovecraft: Dreamer on the Nightside (1975).

In the prewar years, FBL placed stories in most pulp fantasy magazines, and was one of the few WT writers to find a niche in Unknown; here he specialized in lyrical stories where elements of Classical myth worked their way incongruously into modern settings. Stories from these years comprise his best work; a representative sample was collected in his first book of fiction, The Hounds of Tindalos (coll 1946; cut as The Dark Beasts 1963; cut material issued as The Black Druid and Other Stories 1975 UK).

As markets for fantasy shrank after WWII, FBL increased his output of sf, which he had been writing since the 1930s. The cream of his sf is in John Carstairs: Space Detective (coll of linked stories 1949), The Rim of the Unknown (coll 1972) and Night Fears (coll 1979) ed Roy Torgeson. He also wrote for the Comics in the 1940s, and served as an editor for several sf and mystery magazines in the 1950s. In the 1960s, he made the transition to the paperback-original market with It was the Day of the Robot (1963), This Strange Tomorrow (1966) and other competent sf novels. As Lyda Belknap Long, FBL penned a series of Gothic romances with supernatural overtones, beginning with To the Dark Tower (1969). His final major work of fantasy as FBL was The Night of the Wolf (1972). In the last two decades of his life, the merits of his sporadic forays into fantasy were often eclipsed by his renown as a Lovecraft protégé and veteran of the pulp era; his reminiscences in the introduction to The Early Long (coll 1976) and in Autobiographical Memoir (1985) are informative documents of this era. In 1978 he received a World Fantasy Award and in 1988 a Bram Stoker Award, both for Lifetime Achievement. He has been memorialized as the protagonist of Peter Cannon's mystery novel Pulptime (1984), and recently has become a focus of interest for Small-Press editor Perry M Grayson, whose chapbooks Return to Tomorrow (coll 1995), The Eye Above the Mantel and Other Stories (coll 1995) and The Darkling Tide: Previously Uncollected Poems (coll 1995) are the first of a series resurrecting FBL's less familiar writings. [SD]

other works: When Chaugnar Wakes (1978 chap), poem; Rehearsal Night (1981 chap); much sf.

as Lyda Belknap Long: Fire of the Witches (1971); The Shape of Fear (1971); The Witch Tree (1971); The House of Deadly Nightshade (1972); Legacy of Evil (1973); Crucible of Evil (1974).

Frank Belknap Long


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.