Robert E. Howard

Robert E. Howard was one of the greatest authors from America, who liked to write pulp fiction novels in a wide range of genres, including fantasy, historical adventure, detective fiction, boxing, horror, sword & sorcery, and western. He is particularly well known for creating the character of Conan the Barbarian, and is considered as the father of the sub genre of sword and sorcery. Author Howard was born as Robert Ervin Howard on January 22, 1906, in Peaster, Texas, United States. He was brought up in Texas and spent most the time growing up in the Cross Plains town. From his childhood days, he was intellectual and bookish. Howard also had an interest in boxing. For a short period of time during his teens, he was involved in bodybuilding. He eventually took up amateur boxing. Howard had the dream of becoming an author of adventure novels from the age of nine, but he didn’t have any success until the age of 23. And from then on, his writings were published in numerous journals, magazines, newspapers, etc., until his death at the age of 30. Author Howard had achieved success in various genres of writing. The first Conan book written by him was released in 1934, but the stories did not come in book form when he was alive. His Conan stories were mainly published in the pulp magazine called Weird Tales. It was while writing for the Depression-era pages of this magazine that author Howard created Conan’s character. The cultural impact of this character was often compared with the likes of Count Dracula, Sherlock Holmes, Batman, Tarzan, and James Bond. With the creation of Conan and the other heroes in his books, author Howard created the sword & sorcery genre, which spawned many imitators and gave Howard a huge influence. Even today, the works of Howard are reprinted and he remains an immensely followed author. He died on June 11, 1936, by committing suicide. The circumstances that surrounded his death speculated that he was not mentally fit. After learning that his mother is not going to recover from coma, which she acquired because of fighting against tuberculosis, her entire life, Howard went out of the hospital, sat in his car and killed himself with a gunshot. Howard’s father was a traveling physician named Dr. Isaac Howard.

The early life of Howard was spent moving across numerous boom towns and cow towns of Texas. During his youth, he saw the breaking down of his parents’ relationship. The family also faced hardships due to financial problems. Howard’s mother, Hester Jane, had a great impact on his intellectual growth. She influenced him to develop a love towards literature and poetry. Howard always loved to read and learn, but he was not interested in the concept of schooling. He used to hate anyone who showed authority. Because of confronting bullies frequently, Howard learned about the presence of enemies and evil in the world. This made him realize the value of violence and strength. Howard was frequently exposed to effects of violence and injury as he was son of a doctor. Later, he became preoccupied with sports, particularly boxing. He was greatly influenced by the popular names in the boxing world such as Jack Johnson, Jack Dempsey, Bob Fitzsimmons, and James Jeffries. Due to his voracious reading habits and having a natural talent of prose writing, Howard developed an interest in professional writing. He started writing stories from an early age, most of which were typically based on the historical fiction stories centering on the Arabs, Vikings, and battles. At the same time, he also began studying the popular works of some prominent of that time and this also had a great impact on his growth as a novelist. Howard shifted to Cross Plains from Texas when he was 13 years old and stayed there for the rest of his life. When he turned 15, Howard began sampling pulp magazines. In the next several years, he was busy creating characters. Howard also began submitting stories to the magazines. He even faced rejections, but that did not stop him from achieving his goals. As he did not have any mentor to teach him, Howard started finding the mistakes on his own and correcting. This helped him in the long run of his career.

The Conan book series written by Robert E. Howard consist of 12 books, which were released between the years 1936 and 1977. An initially written book of this series is entitled ‘Conan the Buccaneer’. It was released in 1968 by the Ace publication. The main characters introduced in this book include Conan and Thoth-Amon. Author Howard has set the story of the book in Hyboria. At the start of the book, Conan is shown as being in the late thirties. He is the captain of Wastrel. Conan gets involved in the Zingara kingdom’s politics, while seeking the treasures on the rumored Nameless Isle. He is not alone in the quest of the treasure. The others who join Conan in the mix up include a fugitive named Princess Chabela, a privateer called Zarono, and Thoth-Amon, a Stygian sorcerer. As the story proceeds further, all these characters are shown trying to outplay each other. They try to find the treasure before anyone else and become powerful. However, none of them realize that the news about the treasure was just a rumor. When Conan comes to know about the spreading rumor, he decides to return back to his kingdom. During his journey, he faces many obstacles and successfully overcomes them to remain alive and healthy.

Another interesting book written by Howard in this series is called as ‘Conan the Conqueror’. This book was also released by the Ace publication in 1984, after its original release in 1936. At the beginning of the story of this novel, Conan is introduced as a great swordsman, who is capable of fighting both the natural as well as the supernatural enemies in his time-lost world called as the ‘Hyborian Age’. Conan is middle aged and is the ruler of an ancient kingdom called Aquilonia. Further, in the plot of the book, it is depicted that Conan must indulge in a final battle to prevent the destruction of the known world at the hands of a resurrected sorcerer called Xaltotun. Also, Conan is required to embark on a journey to find and obtain the Heart. On the whole, the novel appears to be a well written story. Author Howard was praised for his excellent style of writing. The readers and the critics appreciated his efforts in bringing out a masterpiece novel like this one that depicts the heroics of Conan. The novel became a huge success and remains so even after so many years of author Howard’s death.

Books in order of publication by series:

Solomon Kane Books

The Moon of Skulls(1968) 
The Hand of Kane(1970) 
Skulls in the Stars(1978) 
The Hills of the Dead(1979) 
Solomon Kane(1995) 
The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane(2004) 

Bran Mak Morn Collections

Bran Mak Morn(1969) 
Worms of the Earth(1975) 
The Last King(2001) 

Cormac Mac Art Collections

Tigers of the Sea(1975)

Dark Man Collections

The Dark Man(1978) 
The Dead Remember(1979) 

Conan (Gnome Press) Books

Conan the Conqueror(1950) 
The Sword of Conan(1952) 
King Conan(1953) 
The Coming of Conan(1953) 
Conan the Barbarian(1954) 
Tales of Conan(1955) 
The Return of Conan(1957) 

Chronological Order of Conan (Gnome Press) Books

The Coming of Conan(1953) 
Conan the Barbarian(1954) 
The Sword of Conan(1952) 
King Conan(1953) 
Conan the Conqueror(1950) 
The Return of Conan(1957) 
Tales of Conan(1955) 

Conan (Lancer/Ace) Books

Conan the Adventurer(1966) 
Conan the Warrior(1967) 
Conan the Usurper(1967) 
Conan the Conqueror(1967) 
Conan the Avenger(1968) 
Conan of the Isles(1968) 
Conan the Freebooter(1968) 
Conan the Wanderer(1968) 
Conan of Cimmeria(1969) 
Conan the Buccaneer(1971) 
Conan of Aquilonia(1977) 

Chronological Order of Conan (Lancer/Ace) Books

Conan of Cimmeria(1969) 
Conan the Freebooter(1968) 
Conan the Wanderer(1968) 
Conan the Adventurer(1966) 
Conan the Buccaneer(1971) 
Conan the Warrior(1967) 
Conan the Usurper(1967) 
Conan the Conqueror(1967) 
Conan the Avenger(1968) 
Conan of Aquilonia(1977) 
Conan of the Isles(1968) 

Conan (Donald M. Grant) Books

The People of the Black Circle(1974) 
A Witch Shall Be Born(1975) 
The Tower of the Elephant(1975) 
Red Nails(1975) 
The Devil in Iron(1976) 
Rogues in the House(1976) 
Queen of the Black Coast(1978) 
Jewels of Gwahlur(1979) 
Black Colossus(1979) 
The Pool of the Black One(1986) 

Standalone Novels

The Pride of Bear Creek(1966) 
The Land of Kane(1970) 
The Incredible Adventures of Dennis Dorgan(1974) 
The Sowers of the Thunder(1975) 
The Vultures of Whapeton(1975) 
The Lost Valley of Iskander(1976) 
Swords of Shahrazar(1976) 
Marchers of Valhalla(1977) 
The Return of Skull-Face(1977) 
The Last Ride(1978) 
Hawks of Outremer(1978) 
Mayhem on Bear Creek(1979) 
Lord of the Dead(1981) 
Heroes of Bear Creek(1983) 
The Last Cat Book(1984) 
The Pool of the Black One(1986) 
Road to Azrael(1987) 
Post Oaks and Sand Roughs(1989) 
Sea Woman(1992) 
Eons of the Night(1996) 
Trails in Darkness(1996) 
Kull: Exile of Atlantis(2006) 

Weird Works Of Robert E. Howard Collections

Shadow Kingdoms(2004) 
Moon of Skulls(2005) 
People of the Dark(2006) 
Wings in the Night(2006) 
Valley of the Worm(2006) 
The Garden of Fear(2006) 
Beyond the Black River(2006) 
Hours of the Dragon(2007) 
Black Hounds of Death(2007) 
A Thunder of Trumpets(2007) 

Short Story Collections

Always Comes Evening(1957) 
The Dark Man and Others(1963) 
Red Shadows(1968) 
King Kull(1969) 
Singers in the Shadows(1970) 
Echoes from an Iron Harp(1972) 
Black Vulmea’s Vengeance(1976) 
The Book of Robert E. Howard(1976) 
The Iron Man(1976) 
Pigeons from Hell and Other Weird and Fantastic Adventures(1976) 
The Second Book of Robert E. Howard(1976) 
Night Images(1976) 
Black Canaan(1978) 
The Gods of Bal-Sagoth(1979) 
The Howard Collector(1979) 
The Ghost Ocean(1982) 
The Dark Barbarian: The Writings of Robert E. Howard, A Critical Anthology(1984) 
The Adventures of Lal Singh(1985) 
Cthulhu: The Mythos and Kindred Horrors(1989) 
Shadows of Dreams(1989) 
Nameless Cults(1993) 
Beyond the Borders(1996) 
The Ultimate Triumph: The Heroic Fantasy of Robert E. Howard(1999) 
Waterfront Fists and Others(2003) 
Graveyard Rats and Others(2003) 
The Complete Action Stories(2003) 
Treasures of Tartary(2004) 
Boxing Stories(2005) 
The End of the Trail: Western Stories(2005) 
Lord of Samarcand and Other Adventure Tales of the Old Orient(2005) 
The Riot at Bucksnort and Other Western Tales(2005) 
The Black Stranger and Other American Tales(2005) 
A Gent from Bear Creek and Other Tales(2005) 
The Robert E. Howard Reader(2007) 
The Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard(2008) 
El Borak and Other Desert Adventures(2010) 

Graphic Novels

The Phoenix on the Sword(2006)
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