Paul Herman checks in with the following:
Want to know about the typescripts of Robert E. Howard? Would you like to do some research on them some time?
REH generally did not keep copies of typescripts for stories he sold. Once they were published, the carbons he kept would be used as draft paper for other stories, or perhaps given away to fans who asked for them. Recycling was also the fate awaiting earlier drafts. He hated to have to pay for paper. So there are very few true “final” drafts for pulp-published stories, and not that many complete ones. There are of course a vast number of drafts for stories he had not sold yet, but whether they were actually final or not is a good question. There are thousands of pages with one thing typed on one side and something completely different typed on the other. For example, the REHF, for some stories, has five different drafts, with maybe one of those complete, the rest all missing pages. For most pulp-published stories we have nothing. For the novel A Gent from Bear Creek, we have a total of only five pages from some random draft (though we have heard of a person that has a complete maybe-final draft). We have single pages to stories that we’ve never heard of. And REH did not indicate when a draft was “final”; there are some clues that may be present, but they cannot always be trusted— there are exceptions to all of them. All in all, it is a very large mass of goo.
REH did not keep any kind of serious records regarding when he wrote what. He would sometimes mention stories in his letters, or generate a list of stories out for sale, but not often. So in general it’s all deductive reasoning to try to guess when a particular page was typed. The grandmaster of this exercise is Patrice Louinet of Paris, who has been studying REH typescripts for 20 years. He has found patterns to how REH’s spelling changed over time, but more importantly, how the typed letters appeared on the page as the typewriter aged. If you would like to visit with M. Louinet, we can put you in touch with him.
I personally have edited around 1.3M words of REH for publication, and I can attest to the fact that his spelling and conventions shifted over time: mostly having to do with him finally finding out how to correctly spell a word. In my personal opinion, he was not a good speller at a young age, but got better. He was also inaccurate with compound words fairly often, apparently just guessing at it, though he would slowly correct these as he got older.
One rarely sees major shifts in plot from draft to draft, but there are occasions. (Note that Legacy Circle members of the REHF get copies of some of these earlier drafts on occasion).
And one more thing to consider, REH worked with cheap paper, and would use carbon paper until there was nothing left on it at all. Sometimes the pages are quite brown and the type barely visible, sometimes he wrote things in with light pencil. Sometimes on onion skin the typing on the back shows through. Sometimes all we have is a very faint carbon. We have found that color scans are much easier to work with, to see details clearly. Thankfully, for most pages B&W will work just fine for scholarly analysis.
REH wrote approximately 3.5 million words of fiction, poetry, letters and articles. Some items he rewrote five or more times.
To review all of REH’s typescripts would likely take a full time commitment of decades. It’s an enormous amount of paper, not to mention that one would have to compare drafts to published versions. After all, if there are differences between the draft in hand, and the published version, that will need to be accounted for.
The REH Foundation is not the owner of any original typescripts. All of the originals still in existence are in the hands of private owners.
Glenn Lord has the largest collection, estimated roughly at 10-30K pages. Glenn is not in good health, and at this time I do not know that he would be willing or able to provide copies of what he has. Over the course of the decades he has provided copies of odds and ends to various folks working on various projects, but no one has obtained copies of everything. Indeed, there is no known index of what he has, and he claims to not possess one.
If you would like to contact Glenn Lord, his address is:
PO Box 775
Pasadena, TX 77501
The second biggest collection of typescripts is at the Cross Plains Library. They have original typescripts for around 30 stories, and some retypes by the Kline Agency (REH’s old agents). There is only one draft of each story, complete. They are willing to make copies, and you can go look at their website to see all the details of how to obtain copies. Maybe 1000 pages total.
After that, a gent near Austin in Central Texas has most of the letters REH wrote to Tevis Clyde Smith. Several hundred pages. He does not like to be contacted by REH folks, and will give out no copies.
After that, it is just a few pages here and there.
The REHF has obtained copies of some of Glenn Lord’s collection, as well as other pages from various sources. At the moment we have perhaps 8K original REH typed pages, with a few handwritten. Anyone wishing to obtain copies of any of the typescript pages we have will first be required to get the approval of Paradox Entertainment. We can facilitate that conversation, if desired. Be prepared to explain in detail what you want, why you want it, and what will come out of the work. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have personally gone through all the pages that the REHF has, and generated a spreadsheet of everything. I am in the midst of creating a much cleaner and simpler sheet, to set out the complete list of stories, poems, and letters, and what is the best source available that we know of for each, as well as what kind of typescripts we have. It’s an ongoing project that I hope to get posted online, some day.
I personally have copies of all the pulp pages with REH works (though not all the original pulps, darn it), and you can get copies of those for scholarly work, at 25c per page. I do not know the exact count, but it must be in the low thousands. These pages are not clean and polished, but show original wear and tear, foxing, etc. As an alternative, there are some good books from Girasol Press (The Weird Writings of REH, V1 and V2, and The Exotic Writings of REH), that are made from repros of very clean original pulp pages, and would (I think) be cheaper to obtain than purchasing the individual pages from me. They certainly don’t cover everything, but they do cover a majority of his work that was published in the pulps.