At the time of his death in 1936, thirty-year-old Robert E. Howard had published hundreds of works of fiction across an astonishingly broad swath of genres. His voluminous output, according to Paul Herman of the Robert E. Howard Foundation, is estimated to have been “approximately 3.5 million words of fiction, poetry, letters and articles.” Among those millions of words were the iconic stories of Conan the Cimmerian, a character whose popularity has firmly established Howard’s reputation as the father of heroic fantasy, parallel to J.R.R. Tolkien’s place as father of epic fantasy.
But while Howard was an extraordinarily prolific writer, he was also a somewhat disorganized one and left behind a trunk of unpublished works. The so-called “Howard Trunk” contained thousands of typewritten pages by Howard. These abandoned stories and early drafts were collected and published in 2007 by The REH Foundation Press as The Last of the Trunk.
One manuscript, however, baffled the Howard estate. The handwriting was not Howard’s. “Not even close,” laughs George Angell, professor emeritus at Brown University, who was asked to authenticate the manuscript. “I could see at a glance that it was one-hundred percent positively not his. Howard’s hand is tight and masculine. This was a beautiful script, almost calligraphic, and my gut told me it was English, about two hundred years old.”
Well, I'll be a bumblebee's ombudsman! You know, this'd make a great piece for an upcoming Robert E. Howard's Savage Sword...