Elder Signs is a website dedicated to the Cthulhu Mythos in general and the Book Collector in specific. The Book Collector is a creation of G. W. Thomas, a dark detective who seeks out the arcane books of the Mythos for his employer, the mysterious Telford.

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Read G. W. Thomas' Book Column

"Writing the Mythos"

at Innsmouth Free Press

WEIRD SITES: THE HELLFIRE CLUB

MALCOLM M. FERGUSON

Weird Tales Author

C. Hall Thompson: Lost Opportunities

Michael May's Adventureblog

"The Door to Infinity"

THE GHOSTBREAKER MYTHOS:

Manly Wade Wellman and Seabury Quinn

Lovecraft's circle shared mention of their separate creations in the pages of Weird Tales, name dropping here and there a friend's character or some other reference. This was the beginning of the Cthulhu Mythos. Later August Derleth would take what was largely a game for HPL and tie it into a commercial package that featured monsters, weird books and a shared world of dreams and terror. I suspect Manly Wade Wellman tried a little of this magic too.

Manly Wade Wellman (aka Gans T. Field)

"The Half-Haunted" (writing as Gans T. Field), a Judge Keith Hillary Pursuivant ghostbreaker tale, appeared in Weird Tales in September 1941. This tale was the last for the Judge for several decades because Wellman would create a new ghostbreaker of even greater popularity in John Thunstone. But in this tale Wellman borrows a page from Lovecraft's literary game. He mentions another Weird Tales alumnist's creation, that of Seabury Quinn's Jules de Grandin, without doubt, the most popular character in WT's original run. In effect what Wellman was doing was saying the Judge and de Grandin existed in the same WT universe:

"...New Year's Eve found him at Harrisonville where de Grandin and Towbridge [sic] wanted his word on translating certain old Dutch documents better left untranslated..."

1941 is an interesting date for this to happen. De Grandin had been around since October 1925 while the Judge had first appeared only three years previous in January 1938. Still, the readers of WT liked both and you can see Wellman trying in a small way to create a Weird Tales Mythos like Lovecraft's. Why hadn't he included some actual Mythos? Wellman did write one Mythos tale, "The Terrible Parchment" (Weird Tales, August 1937) that appeared five months after HPL's death, written as a memorial to the great author. By 1941 the only Mythos works appearing were August Derleth's pastiches. Derleth was taking control of the Lovecraft material as I discussed in "C. Hall Thompson: Lost Opportunities". Ironically, "The Half-Haunted" appeared in an issue that sported a cover based on one of Derleth's pastiches about Ithaqua, "Beyond the Threshold".

It's possible that Wellman saw a chance to tie other Weird Tales characters outside of the Mythos (maybe giving Derleth a bit of a poke too?), especially if they were all ghostbreakers. A Ghostbreaker Mythos. To make this a reality more writers would have had to be connected. To my knowledge this never happened. Wellman did tie some his own ghostbreakers together into this shared universe when he wrote the 1982 novel The Hanging Stones, featuring Silver John and Judge Keith Hillary Pursuivent. He did not have John Thunstone and Silver John meet but the singer with the silver strings did cross paths with John Thunstone's greatest enemies, The Shonokins in After Dark (1980), so in this way all three of his famous ghostbreakers do exist in the same universe.

Seabury Quinn

Even if Wellman's mention of de Grandin was just a blip on the screen, a mere whim to please a fellow writer, the idea of Ghostbreaker Mythos is very appealing to one such as I. Imagine Martin Hessellius, Abraham Von Helsing, Flaxman Low, John Silence, Carnacki and all who followed belonging to a fraternity of ghost chasers! This idea was irresistible and I have used it in my own Athenodorian tales. Thank you, Manly Wade Wellman! The Fraternity of Ghostbreakers goes on....

 

 

 

THE DIARY OF A MAD MAN: GUY DE MAUPASSANT

DR. STYX: FIRST MYTHOS COMIC?

MONSTERS ON MY MIND: HOW TO BECOME A MYTHOS ICON

MORE ABOUT THE BOOK COLLECTOR STORIES

MY CTHULHU STORY PART 1

MY CTHULHU STORY PART 2

ARTISTS OF THE CTHULHU MYTHOS

THE FUTURE OF LOVECRAFTIAN HORROR

WRITING THE MYTHOS & OTHER ADVICE

MYTHOS LINKS

 

 

© G. W. Thomas unless Fair Use is intended.