Robert E. Howard

Biography

Robert Ervin Howard (born January 22, 1906 in Peaster, Texas – June 11, 1936 suicide: shot himself in the head) was an American author, only son of a traveling country physician Dr. Isaac Mordecai Howard and his wife Hester Jane Ervin Howard, who wrote pulp fiction in a diverse range of genres. He is probably best known for his character Conan the Barbarian and is regarded as the father of the sword and sorcery subgenre. Howard was born and raised in the state of Texas. He spent most of his life in the town of Cross Plains with some time spent in nearby Brownwood. A bookish and intellectual child, he was also a fan of boxing and spent some time in his late teens bodybuilding, eventually taking up amateur boxing himself. From the age of nine he dreamed of becoming a writer of adventure fiction but did not have real success until he was twenty-three. Thereafter, until his death at the age of thirty by suicide, Howard's writings were published in a wide selection of magazines, journals, and newspapers, and he had became successful in several genres. Although a Conan novel was nearly published into a book in 1934, his stories never appeared in book form during his lifetime. The main outlet for his stories was in the pulp magazine Weird Tales. Howard’s suicide and the circumstances surrounding it have led to varied speculation about his mental health; from an Oedipus complex, to clinical depression, to no mental disorders of any kind. His mother had been ill with tuberculosis his entire life; upon learning that she had entered a coma from which she was not expected to wake, he, for reasons that are not clear, walked out to his car and shot himself in the head. Howard created Conan the Barbarian, in the pages of the Depression-era pulp magazine Weird Tales, a character whose pop-culture imprint has been compared to such icons as Tarzan, Count Dracula, Sherlock Holmes, and James Bond. With Conan and his other heroes, Howard created the genre now known as sword and sorcery, spawning a wide swath of imitators and giving him an influence in the fantasy field rivaled only by J. R. R. Tolkien and Tolkien's similarly inspired creation of high fantasy. Howard remains a highly read author, with his best works endlessly reprinted. He has been compared to other American masters of the weird, gloomy and spectral, such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, and Jack London. Legacy Robert E. Howard's legacy extended after his death in 1936. Howard's most famous character, Conan the Cimmerian, has a pop-culture imprint that has been compared to such icons as Tarzan of the Apes, Count Dracula, Sherlock Holmes, and James Bond. Howard's critical reputation suffered at first but over the decades works of Howard scholarship have been published. The first professionally published example of this was L. Sprague de Camp's Dark Valley Destiny (1983) which was followed by other works, including Don Herron's The Dark Barbarian (1984) and Mark Finn's Blood & Thunder (2006). Also in 2006, a charity, Robert E. Howard Foundation, was created to promote further scholarship. For more see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_E._Howard

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