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Birthday Reviews: August Derleth’s “The Return of Hastur”

Birthday Reviews: August Derleth’s “The Return of Hastur”

Weird Tales March 1939-small Weird Tales March 1939-back-small

Cover by Virgil Finlay

August Derleth was born on February 24, 1909 and died on July 4, 1971. It was Derleth who coined the term “Cthulhu Mythos” for H.P. Lovecraft’s stories, although Derleth had earlier suggested the “Hastur Mythology,” which Lovecraft rejected.

In 1939, Derleth and Donald Wandrei founded Arkham House, a small press dedicated to preserving the writings of H.P. Lovecraft, and eventually those who were influenced by Lovecraft.

Although best known as a proponent of Lovecraft and for his own stories which expand on Lovecraft’s work, Derleth also wrote children’s books and biographies aimed at kids and detective fiction, most notable the Solar Pons series. He felt his Sac Prairie saga, which was based on Sauk City, Wisconsin, where he lived, was his most important work.

“The Return of Hastur” was purchased by Farnsworth Wright and appeared in the March 1939 issue of Weird Tales, which also included a story by Lovecraft. Derleth reprinted the story in his collection Someone in the Dark in 1941 and again in The Mask of Cthulhu in 1958. Lin Carter selected the story for The Spawn of Cthulhu and it was eventually included in Robert M. Price’s The Hastur Cycle. It was included in the Barnes and Noble collection of Derleth stories The Cthulhu Mythos and in In Lovecraft’s Shadows: The Cthulhu Mythos Stories of August Derleth, issued by Arkham House in 1998. The story has been translated into French, Italian, and German. Lovecraft is known to have read and commented on an early version.

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