Her Letters To Lovecraft: Hazel Heald

I am very sorry that I did not keep his letters, but moving around from place to place made it impossible. As some of them were personal I did not wish them to be around for others to read perhaps after I left this earthly life. Letters are sometimes left that seem sacred to the owners, but others see it in a different light.
—Hazel Heald to August Derleth, 31 Mar 1937, MSS. Wisconsin Historical Society

Hazel Drake Heald was arguably H. P. Lovecraft’s most successful and prolific revision client. Between 1932 and 1937, five weird tales appeared under the name of Hazel Heald, the last of them being published only a month or so after his death, and all of them having Lovecraft’s hand in them to a greater or lesser extent. Yet for all that, relatively little is known about their correspondence: Lovecraft does not appear to have kept her letters, and she did not keep his. So once again we are left with a bit of detective-work, piecing together what we can of their relationship through Lovecraft and Heald’s other correspondence…and the framework of their relationship seems built around the timeline of their stories:

In this same year, 1932, I formed a little New England writers’ club of my own, and one of my members, a divorcee was very anxious to succeed in the weird writing field. She sent me an original manuscript with a very passable plot, yet told unconvincingly and amateurishly. I let Lovecraft read it when next he came over to our house on Pearl Street, and he agreed that it did have possibilities.

I wrote to the Cambridge, Massachusetts, club-member and told her about H.P.L., adding that he, too, was divorced. Would she like to have him look over her manuscript, “The Man of Stone”? She would! So I gave Lovecraft a note of introduction to Hazel Heald and another chapter in his life was soon taking place.
—Muriel C. Eddy, “The Gentleman from Angell Street” 22-23

I was a beginner and happened to be lucky enough to find HPL who certainly was the best to be found. He was a severe critic but I knew that if I finally suited him in my work that the editor would usually accept it. For example— I had to rewrite “Out of the Eons” six times before he was completely satisfied!
—Hazel Heald to August Derleth, 25 Mar 1937, MSS. Wisconsin Historical Society

In 1932, Hazel Heald was 36 years old, divorced, and working as a clerk or bookkeeper; but she had aspirations to be a writer. Her friend Muriel Eddy put her in touch with H. P. Lovecraft. We do not know exactly when and how Lovecraft and Heald began to correspond, although it seems likely to have been early 1932. The first mention of one of their stories in Lovecraft’s published correspondence is from August 1932 (Essential Solitude 2.497), in reference to “Winged Death”—but the first published story was “The Man of Stone,” which hit the stands in September of that year.

Given publishing times in the pulps, this tells us two things: that at least two stories had been written prior to September 1932, and that the stories seem not to have been submitted directly to Weird Tales—because “The Man of Stone” was published at Wonder Stories, and “Winged Death” was first submitted to Harry Bates at Strange Tales of Mystery & Terror. If Lovecraft followed his normal mode for revision clients, their initial letters would have involved many notes on the story or stories involved, genteel discussion of rates and terms, and suggestions for where and how to market the story. Having been subject to the capricious whims of Farnsworth Wright in the past, it wouldn’t be surprising if Lovecraft initially recommended other pulps who might pay more, and more promptly, than his “old standard.”

In September 1932, Lovecraft took advantage of a special low-cost ticket to visit Montreal and Quebec (Sep 2-6). Traveling on the cheap, Lovecraft gave little thought and less money to food and amenities:

Early the following Tuesday morning, before I had gone to work, Howard arrived back from Quebec. I have never before nor since seen such a sight. folds of skin hanging froma  skeleton. Eyes sunk in sockets like burnt holes in a blanket. Those delicate, sensitive artist’s hands and fingers nothing but claws. The man was dead except for his nerves, on which he was functioning. that evening he had a dinner appointment in Somerville with a woman for whom he was doing some revision, and he had plans for things he wanted to do during the day.
—W. Paul Cook, “In Memoriam: H. P. Lovecraft” in Ave Atque Vale 59

The dinner appointment was with Hazel Heald. Muriel Eddy gives her version of events:

She invited him up to her house for Sunday supper and arranged to have everything that H.P.L. liked best on the menu. they ate by candlelight, and he was greatly intrigued by her thoughtfulness in not having a household of people to greet him. He used to say he could think better when there were not too many people around to disturb his train of thought.

He tactfully explained to Hazel that her story, though very good, really needed a little touching up here and there, something to stir the reader’s imagination. Would she allow him to do it for her? He’d consider it an honor and a privilege. She agreed.
—Muriel Eddy, “The Gentleman from Angell Street” 23

Eddy must have her dates wrong, because by September 1932 “The Man of Stone” was already written and accepted by Hugo Gernsback at Wonder Stories. But they might well have discussed other revisions, since one had already been submitted and accepted. Heald would describe their revision process in this way:

Lovecraft helped me on this story as much as on the others, and did actually rewrite paragraphs. He would criticize various paragraphs and pencil remarks beside them, and make me rewrite them until they pleased him. I certainly slaved on that story—my first! But all of my later stories he revised in the same way. I was so elated when it was accepted. They said I would have to send them a photograph of myself. I had special pictures taken, then when the magazine came out, there was a caricature of myself that even my mother wouldn’t recognize! I felt so hurt that the readers would think of me like that, and HPL was a good one to ease that hurt in his kind way. He said that no one ever recognized themselves from their artist’s drawing. He also advised me to get a lawyer for the payment of my check.
—Hazel Heald to August Derleth, 30 Sep 1944, MSS. Wisconsin Historical Society

While Lovecraft does not discuss any specific meetings with Heald in his letters, in her own letters she suggests that he made at least one, if not more visits to her corner of Massachusetts:

I was interested in Paul Cook’s account of Lovecraft’s Boston visit, and how he made him rest up before coming over to my house. He certainly did not act tired, and ate very well, although Cook said he gave him a good meal before he came. I wonder if he thought that he would be starved at my house? He seemed to enjoy himself a lot. Soon after that he came again, and we visited all of the museums together. That was where I conceived the idea for OUT OF THE EONS.
—Hazel Heald to August Derleth, 14 Oct 1944, MSS Wisconsin Historical Society

It is not clear which museums they might have visited, or when this might have occurred, although both the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the Semitic Museum in Cambridge, Massachusetts are possibilities, with collections of Egyptian artifacts and mummies that might have inspired the fictional Cabot Museum.

“Out of the Æons” might have been conceived over dinner in early September, but “The Horror in the Museum” was finished by October:

I’ve just ghost-written a tale for a client in a fashion amounting virtually to original composition—about a waxwork museum or chamber of horrors where there is a rumour that not all of the fabulous monsters displayed are artificial. I’ve included Tsathoggua among the blasphemies.
—H. P. Lovecraft to Clark Ashton Smith, 28 Oct 1932, Dawnward Spire, Lonely Hill 394

In any case, Farnsworth Wright accepted “The Horror in the Museum” by mid-November 1932 (DS 397)—but by February 1933 a problem had arisen where Gernsback did not pay Heald for “The Man of Stone” (DS 404). At this point, Lovecraft had written at least three stories with or for Heald (“The Man of Stone,” “Winged Death,” and “The Horror in the Museum”), and one had been accepted and published, one rejected, and one accepted pending publication; but we don’t know if Heald had paid Lovecraft for any of them. Without their letters, we don’t know the exact details of their business arrangements—but the lack of payment from Gernsback could not have helped the business side of their relationship.

Still, Lovecraft must have had some confidence in his client, because by the time “The Horror in the Museum” hit the stands, “Out of the Æons” was written, submitted, and accepted by Weird Tales:

Glad you enjoyed the Witch House and Museum story. Another tale which I revised for the “Museum” author, and which Wright has accepted, brings in von Juntz and his black book as almost the central theme. It concerns a mummy found in the crypt of a Cyclopean stone temple of fabulous antiquity; volcanically upheaved from the sea.
—H. P. Lovecraft to Robert E. Howard, 24 Jul 1933, A Means to Freedom 2.619

Weird Tales paid only on publication, and in the 1930s as the Depression worsened, often the payment was long after publication. It seems quite likely that by this point, Heald must have been in arrears to Lovecraft—and perhaps found a way to make up for it in kind:

Meanwhile (my hatred of the typewriter being stronger every day) I have had a delinquent client type the story I wrote last August, & have started the carbon on the rounds of the gang—beginning with Dwyer.
—H. P. Lovecraft to J. Vernon Shea, 8 Nov 1933, Letters to J. Vernon Shea &c. 175

I lately had a client type my story of last August—”The Thing on the Doorstep” (which isn’t very satisfactory), & am circulating the carbon amongst the gang (you’ll get it in time).
—H. P. Lovecraft to R. H. Barlow, 12 Nov 1933, O Fortunate Floridian! 85

HPL helped me in return for typing his tale “Dreams at Witch House.” I also typed his “The Thing on the Doorstep.” His writing was familiar to me, so it was much easier than for strangers.
—Hazel Heald to August Derleth, 31 Mar 1937, MSS Wisconsin Historical society

Heald also eventually, at Lovecraft’s suggestion, contacted New York lawyer Ione Weber to sue Gernsback for her money, and got it by November 1933 (DS 404).

Although Lovecraft does not mention it, “Winged Death” must eventually have been submitted to Wright at Weird Tales and accepted for publication; it hit the stands in the March 1934 issue…and that appears to have been pretty much the end of the professional side of Heald and Lovecraft’s relationship:

“Winged Death” is pretty much a ghost-written Ech-Pi-El-ism. All that honest Mrs. Heald had to start with was a cloudy idea about somebody killing somebody with bugs. Then she got a medical friend to shed some light on poisonous African insects, & decided to give the tale an African cast. That was all I had to go on. The plot—with the idea of transferred personality & the returning & ceiling-writing death-envoy—is entirely my own. But it doesn’t pay to do this sort of work—when one could have just as good chances of full pay with a piece nominally as well as actually one’s own. I’ve cut it out now—though the last two reliques of my collaboration (one more Heald opus & the collaboration with Sultan Malik) are yet to be printed.
—H. P. Lovecraft to Clark Ashton Smith, 9 Mar 1934, DS 544

The “one more Heald opus” is presumably “Out of the Æons,” which Wright would hold onto without publishing (or paying for) until 1935. Still, though Lovecraft gave up ghostwriting and fiction revision as a business in 1934, his stories with Heald had a bit of an afterlife that they would have discussed in their letters: “The Horror in the Museum” was reprinted in the Not at Night anthology Terror by Night (1934), and reprinted in the Not at Night Omnibus (1937).

As far as the writing of “Out of the Æons” goes, Lovecraft would write when it was published:

Regarding the scheduled “Out of the Æons”—I should say I did have a hand in it…..I wrote the damn thing! The original museum-mummy story submitted for revision was so utterly lousy (some crap about a Peruvian miner trapped underground) that I had to discard it altogether & prepare a fresh tale. But it’s really foolish to attempt jobs so extensive, when with the same amount of work one could write an acknowledged story of one’s own. This is the last collaboration of the sort I shall ever attempt—indeed, I’ve turned a deaf ear to all further suggestions from Sultan Malik, Mrs. Heald, Kid Bloch, & others.
—H. P. Lovecraft to Clark Ashton Smith, 26 Mar 1935, DS 594

Glad you like “Out of the Æons”—which is, as I may have mentioned, virtually an original story of mine. All that survives from the initial Heald outline (worthy Mme. H. never bothered to write out any actual text for it!) is the basic idea of a living brain discovered in an ancient mummy.
—H. P. Lovecraft to Clark Ashton Smith, 11 Apr 1935, DS 603

Ironically, fan response to Heald’s stories in Weird Tales were often more vocal than for Lovecraft’s contributions under his own name.

We can only speculate as to what might be in Lovecraft and Heald’s letters between 1934 and 1937; her name is notably absent from his 1934 list of correspondents to whom he was sending postcards on his travels (Collected Essays 5.267), but we know she wrote to him while he was in Florida in 1934 (thanks to a surviving envelope), so it’s likely they would have discussed their lives, travels, and writing. The best evidence for their continued correspondence was that in January 1937, Lovecraft still had a current address for her when fan John Weir asked for submissions for a new fanzine:

Sorry I can’t dig up any more material at the moment—am wallowing in a morass of tasks & staggering under what seems like a variant of grippe. Hope you can assemble sufficient copy for #1, & am glad you have an illustration for future issues.[…] Glad you’ve received at least some material from those I recommended. Come to think of it, you might get a short story (fairly long as such things go) from Mrs. Hazel Heald, 15 Carter St. Newtonville, Mass. Ask her for “In the Gulfs of N’Logh” or some other tale which didn’t land professionally.
—H. P. Lovecraft to John Weir, 28 Jan 1937, MSS. John Hay Library

“Some other tale” is where things get interesting. In her letters to August Derleth and elsewhere, Hazel Heald mentions “In the Gulf of N’Logh” (193?) and “Lair of Fungous Death” (193?), and her story “An Heir of the Mesozoic” was eventually published by Weir in his fanzine Fantasmagoria. Were any of these were stories that Lovecraft had a hand in, either through offering revision comments or fully ghostwriting, between 1932 and 1934? We don’t know, but their very existence suggests a correspondence that was more busied and complicated than just the four stories mentioned above would indicate—much like his correspondence with another revision client, Zealia Bishop.

H. P. Lovecraft died on 15 March 1937; it’s not clear when Heald became aware of his passing, but she wrote to Weird Tales shortly after:

Hazel Heald writes from Newtonville, Massachusetts: “I want to express my sorrow in the passing of H. P. Lovecraft. He was a friend indeed to the struggling author, and many have started to climb the ladder of success with his kind assistance. To us who really knew him it is a sorrow that mere words cannot express. His was the helping hand that started me in the writers’ game and gave me courage to carry on under the gravest difficulties. But we must try to think that he is ‘just away’ on one of his longest journeys and that some day we will meet him again in the Great Beyond.”
Weird Tales, “The Eyrie” Jun 1937

Mrs. Hazel Heald writes from Newtonville, Massachusetts: “A brain like H. P. Lovecraft’s seldom was found—uncanny in its intelligence. He was ever searching for more knowledge, gleaning by endless hours of study a richer and fuller understanding of people and of life. Being a great traveler, he reveled in the study of old cities and their hidden lore and would walk many miles to inspect some historic spot. He was a real friend to all who knew him, always ready to give his valuable time to aid some poor struggling author—a true guiding star. He was very partial to dumb animals, especially cats, signifying that interest in several of his tales. He would step out of his way to pat some forlorn alley cat and give it a friendly word, and the kittens of a neighbor furnished him unbounded enjoyment. He was an ardent lover of architecture and all the fine arts, and a day spent in a museum with him was time well spent. By endless hours of toil eh worked far into the night giving the world masterpieces of weird fiction, sacrificing his health for his work. Lovecraft was a gift to the world who can never be replaced—Humanity’s Friend.”
Weird Tales, “The Eyrie” Aug 1937

In the May 1937 issue of Weird Tales, Heald’s fifth story was published: “The Horror in the Burying Ground.” Without Lovecraft around to comment, we know nothing of when or how it was written, although it is popularly supposed from internal evidence that he had a hand in it. If he did write it, or at least revise it, sometime around 1932-1933, it would be one more example of the fruitfulness of their creative endeavors…and of the quiet failures and rejections that were masked by their successful sales.

My HORROR IN THE BURYING GROUND was rejected once by Wright, then several years later I rewrote it in several places and he accepted it. He said I had too much dialect to read easily.
Hazel Heald to August Derleth, 14 Oct 1944, MSS. Wisconsin Historical Society

Little is known of Hazel Heald’s later life; her letters to August Derleth fall off after 1937, but pick up again in the early 1940s as he sought to obtain permission to republish her stories among Lovecraft’s revision tales. She continued to attempt a literary career, mentioning efforts to publish stories in the pulps without success, but for regular employment was forced to be a housekeeper.

Heald 1944Hazel Heald to Winfield Townley Scott, 8 Sep 1948, MSS. John Hay Library 

What did Lovecraft mean to Hazel Heald? What little correspondence that survives from Heald in library archives is entirely because of her connection to Lovecraft, in one form or another. In truth, we might not remember Heald at all if not for her position as Lovecraft’s revision client, and it could well be she knew that it was the Lovecraft connection which was responsible for the small attention she got from fans like John Weir and editors like August Derleth. Unlike Zealia Bishop or Adolphe de Castro, she never seems to have had the resources to consider seriously self-publishing, didn’t have the writing chops to get accepted by commercial magazines, and had no connection with fanzines beyond Weir’s Fantasmagoria. She sold a couple manuscripts to a dedicated fan, and apparently kept in touch with the Eddys, but that is about as far as the Lovecraft connection took her.


Bobby Derie is the author of Weird Talers: Essays on Robert E. Howard & Others (2019) and Sex and the Cthulhu Mythos (2014).

“An Heir to the Mesozoic” (1938) by Hazel Heald

I have a manuscript that almost beats yours. This is “In the Gulfs of N’Logh” by Hazel Heald. Besides that I’ve got an old poem of Lovecraft’s and another Hazel Heald story. The first story by Heald is composed of Thirty-two typewritten sheets.
—John Weir to Willis Conover, 16 Mar 1937, MSS. John Hay Library

In January 1937, H. P. Lovecraft recommended that John T. Weir solicit material for his new fanzine Fantasmagoria from several of his correspondents, and specifically mentioned his former revision client Hazel Heald, whom he knew had a couple of unpublished manuscripts still in her possession.

Hazel Heald responded by sending Weir two substantial manuscripts, “In the Gulf of N’Logh” and “An Heir of the Mesozoic.” While “In the Gulf of N’Logh” was too long for Weir to publish, he managed to split “An Heir of the Mesozoic” and publish it across two different issues—which, because of the vagaries of fan publishing, occurred a year after Heald had first submitted the story, and it was two years before the whole thing was published. So much time went by that Heald apparently became confused as to the details of the publication.

I have had several rejected tales I passed on to J. James Weird who is starting a new fan magazine. HPL advised me to keep myself in the public eye as much as possible.
—Hazel Heald to August Derleth, 31 May 1937, MSS. Wisconsin Historical Society

Several years ago a man wrote to me and said he would like some of my unpublished tales for a book he was going to publish, and though he did not pay for them, it would be good advertising. I did not regard them as worth printing, but he insisted. I even forgot his name and thought no more about it until I received a letter saying they would be printed soon. From that day to this I have heard nothing. Do you think he was trying to get plots for stories, and went about it in that way? I did not care anything about the tales as I have carbon copies somewhere, but it seemed like a strange request, didn’t it?
—Hazel Heald to August Derleth, 14 Oct 1944, MSS. Wisconsin Historical Society

Heald had written two letters to Weir asking about the publication in 1937, but she either never heard back or had forgotten this by 1944; it doesn’t seem likely she ever got a chance to see what would be her final story in print—and it has remained out of print since that publication, despite the fact that it was never copyrighted and has been in the public domain since Weir published it. While a few fans speculated that this might be a relatively unknown Lovecraft revision, the rarity of issues of Fantasmagoria prevented most from making any kind of judgment…until now.

The First Fandom Experience, whose outstanding publications include the Visual History of Science Fiction Fandom and facsimiles reproductions of the important early fanzines Science Fiction Digest and Fantasy Magazine were gracious enough to provide scans of “An Heir of the Mesozoic.” The scans have been uploaded to the Internet Archive and can be seen here. However, because the print quality of those early ‘zines was particularly poor, what follows before the review itself is a transcript of the text. A couple of sentences have become illegible over the decades of handling, but the bulk of the story is intact. Corrections and illegible portions are denoted by brackets [e.g].


An Heir of the Mesozoic
by Hazel Heald

[Part I]

“SoBurt gave you this measly little thing. Quite a gift from a former admirer, I’ll say!” and Warren Drake looked quizzically at the little creature, half crawling, half-swimming around in the large crystal bowl in the center of the table. “What does he think we want of a salamander?” and he gave vicious poke with his pencil at the saurian, which resulted in a vicious snap from the little jaws. His wife, Veronica, pall’d at his arm and looked at her husband in a half-pleading way.

“Now Warren, leave the poor little thing alone. It’s mine, and I’m NOT going to let you tantalize it. Take something your size instead of that poor little helpless thingsuch a mite” and she switched indignantly from the room leaving her husband in a puzzled frame of mind.

“Helpless, eh?” ejaculated Warren, watching the knife-like tail slash the water, the little snake-like head lifted, with its bright eyes staring into his vehemently. Why the creature seemed almost human! Giving a last look, he left the room to make peace with his wife; who was now [illegible] only two short years before, after much competition with Burt Strout for her affections. Burt had taken it rather hard at the time for it had been a toss-up between them, but finally Veronica had decided in Warren’s favor. When the day of the wedding arrived, Burt drew Warren aside for a few minutes of private conversation.

“Warren,” he said, “In a few minutes you and Veronica will be made one, but I warn you now I will never entirely give her up, even if it is only in my dreams. If it hadn’t been for you, I would have been the lucky man waiting at the altar. And I will always be waiting for herno matter how interminable the length of time. And when you turn up your toes for the last time, and the lily is placed on your breast, I won’t be shedding any crocodile tears. So you see, Warren, I’ve come clean, and am not hiding my true feelings from you. Be good to her or you’ll hear from me!” and Burt walked away, leaving a rather bewildered Warren.

Since then Veronica had received mysterious packages on special occasions like Christmas and Birthdays, but these always contained trivial gifts that could not be interpreted other wise than friendly offerings. Still it rather rankled in Warren’s consciousness and several rather bitter quarrels with Veronica had been the result. These, he felt, had been communicated to Burt in some wayit almost seemed as if a powerful wireless ran between their two selves. Perhaps he did say rather cruel and aggravating things to Veronica, but Nature had provided him with a rather vile temper, that when aroused, stopped at nothing. There was always a reconciliation and an aftermath to this weakness, but each was a little slower about coming about than the time before.

Burt had dropped in very frequently the first year of their married life, then his interest seemed to dwindle and his visits became rare indeed. but the last few months his lost interest had seemed to rekindle, only the night before he had brought the little dark brown specimen, half-lizard, half-frog, its only color being its spotted vermilion-red bellythus starting the unpleasantness.

All the next day Warren seemed haunted with a stron[g] intuition of impending evil, as if a vandal had entered his home. Why should a little creature like a salamander fill his thoughts, driving all of the serious perplexities of his office work from him? He would get rid of itaccidentally tip the bowl over, then his heel could do the rest. The sooner it was done the betterVeronica wouldn’t mistrust but what it was accidental. And she might get more attached to the thing as time went onthen it would be more difficult to exterminate it.

So Warren went home that night with a fixed purpose in his mind. Veronica did not meet him at the door as usual, which rather surprised him, but her contagious laughter floated out from the living room to his ears, then a low rumbling voice gave evidence of a visitor. Entering the room he beheld Veronica sitting in a wingback chair with Burt standing in back of her, his arms resting on the back of the chair, while they both were indulging in a heart laugh.

“Why, hello, WarrenRonnie and I were having a good laugh at your expense. So you didn’t like little Sally, did you? She’s like all the female of the speciesmore deadly than the male! But you’l like her in time, only don’t feed her too muchshe might grow!” and Burt glanced at Warren with a look hard to analyze.

“Don’t lose any sleep worrying about me, Burt. I guess I’ll live through it. But I don’t guarantee that ‘Sally’ will. No little runt of a lizard will bother me long. You and Veronica are having a great laugh about nothing. What if I do abhor slimy thingsthat’s my business, and that thing crawling over the house isn’t a pleasing spectacle. Gorman has a couple of them always getting outsometimes he find them crawling on his pillow, for he keeps them in a bowl on a stand near a bed. But you don’t catch me standing that” and Warren slumped into a chair viciously sweeping a gray tabby-cat from its depths.

“Oh, did I rub your fur the wrong way?” questioned Burt. “I didn’t know I was touching a sore spot. you must be getting old if you can’t stand a little kidding. Ronnie just told me how Sally snapped at you last night. Anyone would think that the little hing had you worried. Better leave her aloneshe might be a ticklish customer to handle if she returned to type” and Burt gave a knowing wink, that was returned with an icy stare.

“Say, you tow, stop that silly scrapping and come to dinner. It will be getting cold,” and Veronica lead the way to the dining-room. An uneventful evening followed, with much bandying of words between Burt and Warren, the former’s conversation seemed to run on a tantalizing string. After a late goodnight he left reluctantly.

“Whew, I’m glad that pest is gone,” said Warren drawing a long sigh of relief. “Two nights in succession is enough to provoke a saint. now I want you to just scrap that friendship with Bertjust forget he rushed you once. As for that salamanderthe sewer will be getting her soon” and he stamped off to bed, leaving irate Veronica to nurse her wrath.

The next morning he arose with an aching head[,] acid stomach, and a general rundown feeling. Even his usual cup of strong coffee did not help, and the sleeping Veronica was mute evidence of last night’s quarrel, for she was usually up bright and early to prepare the morning meal. Glancing up at him with half-closed eyes from its crystal palace, the little saurian lay, its paddling arms crooked at the elbows like a human’s, its four fingers spread fanwise, while the five-toed hind feet were waving gently to keep the small body afloat. Warren could not resist poking it, but drew his fingers away as the little jaws rose to the [illegible] had teeth?

Each night Warren ascertained to kill the loathsome creature, but something always prevented. When he would draw his chair toward the table to read by the table lamp he would feel the little snaky eyes looking at him from their glass prison until he was forced to turn his eyes in their direction. Then the baleful look he was forced meet seemed to hypnotize himuntil he was compelled to return to another room, or give up reading. Veronica would watch the scene with a knowing look but not offering any solution to his problem. Anyway, they weren’t too friendly these daysand she seemed to hover like a guardian angle over her pet. Confound the thingit must be some spawn of the devil! The vicious jabs aimed at the thing when she happened to be absent were many, but they never found their mark. One favorite was a long, old fashioned hat-pin, which he held like a spear, but it never seemed to reach its [mark]. Some daysome day when the little [illegible] saurian got a good puncture his life would become normal again.

At last he decided to ignore the thing entirely, to [f]orget its existence if possible. So for a fortnight he persistently avoided the table where the bowl rested, although he could feel the creature’s eyes boring like gimlets, trying to draw his own in their direction. Then it camethe shock that made his hair rise on his scalphis blood to run cold. On going past the table one night he looked into the crystal depths to find the saurian resting on a pile of rocks in one corner, its size being increased by one-half! It couldn’t be possibleVeronica must have been feeding it too many fliesor it was an optical illusion. Nothing could grow as swiftly as that in so short a time. But Veronica’s non-committal answers weren’t very enlighteningwell, women weren’t very observing anyway!

Heir 2

[Part II]

That night he studied the lizard-like creature under a strong magnifying class, although its repulsiveness jarred on his already shattered nerves. It returned his stares unflinchingly, raising its flat head above the surface of the water, its beady eyes looking into his unwaveringly, the red mouth opening from time to time as if to gnash the imaginary teeth of its ancestors, while the vermilion and black spots underneath glowed with an evil light. The tough skin seemed to be stretched to its greatest extent, and the length of the human-like arms and legs had increased. It seemed to be more vicious than evertrying to scale the slippery sides of the bowl to get at him.

For another week he kept away from the creature, for the sight of it repulsed and sickened him. Then one night at the dinner table Veronica startled him by saying, “Sally is beginning to cut her teeth. I wonder if they are milk teeth or wisdom? Burt thinks it’s a good joke!”

“Cutting teethwhat are you talking about! Who ever heard of a salamander with teethyou must be crazy!” and he rushed into the living-room to behold the object of their conversation asleep on his little rock-island. A sharp prod with his pencil made it come instantly to life, opening its jaws in anger at being disturbed, disclosing two little white points on each side of the upper jaw which were unmistakablyteeth! It had also increased in size during the weekits hide fairly bursting with the strain of extended capacity.

Veronica was right behind him, looking at his surprised discomfiture. “Wasn’t I right, big boy? And probably more teeth will come laterand see how she has grown. That food that Burt gave me to feed her must surely have its vitamins!” and she laughed gaily as she linked her arm into his, drawing him back to the dinner table.

After this it was a regular occurrence to be informed that “Sally has a new tooth” or “Sally got out today and I found her under your bed.” All there was to it he must get rid of the pest! One night Veronica went out to a nearby theater to see a special feature, but Warren pleaded a headache. Now was his chance while she was absent to fulfill his plans!

Stealing softly into the room he tip-toed over to the table without turning on a light. He must not awaken the thing for it might be dangerous with all of its mysterious teeth. The bowl seemed extra heavy as he staggered out to the kitchen where he had laid out the ice-pick, hammer and various other tools. The lights shining in from the street made a dim twilight in which to work. Somehow in his over-cautious haste the bowl slipped form his hands into the soapstone sink with a splintering crash, followed by the thrashing of its occupant. Warren’s heart stood stillwhy it sounded as though the thing weighed pounds! Rushing to the center of the room he pulled the electric light cord, but an empty click was the only result. Confound it all, someone must have removed the bulb to plug in the electric iron and forgotten to have put it back!

A dull splashing in the sink was followed by a sharp thud on the floor as some object it it with a resounding clatterthen a slithering sound on the smooth linoleum gave evidence that the thing was still alive. Warren ran half-stumbling, half-running into the living-room, feeling nervously in the dark for the light switchat last locating it with trembling fingers, but as before only an empty click was the result. From room to room he staggered, bumping into heavy furniture, scraping the skin from his tortured limbseach switch being found useless. What could have happened to all of the lights? Something was wrong somewhere. A hurried glance out of the window showed the streets in darkness. A short circuit somewhere must have suddenly plunged the city into darkness! The black devils of all evil seemed leagued with that slimy thing somewhere in the depths of his apartment.

Suddenly, a bright idea penetrated his fear-crazed mind. The creature couldn’t have followed him as far as the bedroom he now occupiedhe would just close the door and stay barricaded against its unpleasant presence. It might be inferior in intelligence and size, but those sharp teeth would not offer a pleasin[g] conclusion to his night’s adventure. And Veronica must never find out about thisshe would jeer at his cowardice. Sliding over to the door he shut it with a bang that vouched for its staying closed for some time, then locating the bed he tried to make himself as comfortable as possible in its depths, with both ears straining for the slightest sound.

Why had he tormented the little saurian as he had? But it had always seemed to taunt himits snaky eyes looking defiantly into his as if to draw him on. And to think of the size of the mammal-eating monsters it had descended from! Just lately he hadn’t bothered to even look at it. No knowing how big the creature was now. Anyway it gave a good thud when it landed, and that spelled danger with a capital “D”. And the bowl had seemed larger than usual. Good Heavens had it outgrown the other? This was no trifling matter, for it was unnatural for it to grow as it had. What could be the darn stuff that Burt gave Veronica to feed it? Well, that was an ideahe must inquire tomorrowthere was something fishy somewhere. And Veronica had such a fondness for the thingalmost silly at times. No, it couldn’t be any plot hatched between them although he had said he would never give her up. Strange words to tell a bridegroom! Had had seemed to drop around afternoons quite a bit latelybut anyway, he would take a few winks of sleep before Veronica came. The creature would not harm hershe petted it too much. As for absence of lightsshe would speak to him quickly enough when she arrived, for she was a regular child in the dark.

No sound broke the stillness, and presently Warren took off his shoes and crawled in to bed fully dressed. The thing wasn’t in the room or it would have been thrashing around before this after being so long out of water. Probably it was a lot of nonsense anyway to imagine it knew him from anyone else. But how could he explain about the shattered bowl to Veronica?? He could say he was giving it a fresh lot of waterthat would be the best explanation. It did not matter if he hadn’t done this beforethe always was a first time to everything. it was no use trying to carry out any murderous designs on the creature in the darknessit was a cinch it would get him first. As his nerves calmed down and the absolute silence of the place deadened his nerves, his eyelids drooped over aching eyeballs, and he was fast asleep.

How long he slept he did not know. Phantoms of the wildest sort flitted through his dreams, culminating in the leap of a monstrous gargoyle toward him as he lay trapped in a cave. When he started awake in a cold perspiration, some obscure instinct threw him into an attitude of intense and agonized listeningthough for what he could not tell. Finally he thought he heard a soundsomething like scraping of slippery feet over a polished floor. Before he could form a definite image his blood ran cold. Then he knew that this could mean only one thing. After allin spite of all his confidencethat accursed saurian must be in the room! The utter horror of his helplessness made him draw himself farther under the bedclothes, pulling the quilts over his head. He felt cowardly lying here like thisbut what could he do? A man couldn’t fight in the darkand surely the creature could not get on the bed. If he could only see to kill it. It must be nearly time for Veronicahe must stall it off until then.

He couldn’t have slept longbut these beastly Fall evenings were interminable! The air was becoming stiflinghe must get a few gasps, so cautiously removing his head from the covers he gulped it in filling his lungs in great sweepsbut both ears on the alert for any sound. A slight slithering sound near the window renewed his fearsthe thing was moving around in a blind search for him! Slowly, noiselessly, eh reached for one of his shoes he had place[d] on the bed near the footthen taking a careful aim he threw it in the direction of the weird sounds. A crashthen the sound of the thrashing of the thing as if in agony gave evidence that he hit his mark. At last the horrible sounds ceased, and Warren lay back on the bed, the beads of icy sweat making his forehead clammy and cold. He must have killed the thing after all! What a relief after this siege of horror! His hair would be white after this or he’d miss his guess! Now he would lie there until Veronica camethen the lighting system might be restored.

At last he dropped into a troubled sleep, filled with all sorts of prehistoric monsters, dancing in a circle around him, making his head swim with eternal whirlingtheir avid mouths full of long white teeththeir red tongues dripping with the blood of their victims. The circle was closing in on himthey were crushing his bones, sapping his consciousnesskilling him……………

He opened his eyes, the horror of his dream overwhelming himpulling the covers from his face for air. Then he screamed in terror as a snake-like head reared itself from a loathsome body that was lying full-length on hiseyes like gimle[t]s bored into his in the darkness, lit by a phosphorescent glowthe spicy odor of the saurian filling his nostrils with its loathsomeness. He tried to sit up, to throw the thing from his chest, but the evil jaws snapped at him, getting nearer and neare[r] to his throat. Its hot fetid breath fanned his face, the teeth gnashing in rage, while the blood that was flowing from its wounds, drenched the bedclothes.

His hands clawed at the thing[,] trying to pull it away, but the vicious jaws snapped at his index finger, sinking almost to the bone. The pain from the wound was terrific, he kicked, tore at the humanlike arms and fingers, and screamed desperately for helpbut it was useless. The red mouth at last found its mark, the sharp teeth tore at his throat, and windpipe and jugular vein were severed in the hideous gnawing that followed. Then in a spasm of demoniac rage, the little four-fingered hands ripped his staring eyes from their sockets, while the hind feet kicked at his chest till the flesh was a mere pulp of gory laceration. But the creature’s own wounds were gaining on it. The vindictive tearings grew feeblerand at last, with a human-like sob, the grotesque monster sprawled inerta lifeless lump of hideousness.

When the lights came on a frightful scene would have disclosed to any watchera scene in which a man and an abnormally overgrown lizard lay broken and blood-soaked in the grip of relentless death. But there was no one to watchfor hours passed before the hideous discovery was made. The papers dwelt on the horror but no inquest was thought necessary. Everything was so obvious.

But across the city, in a trim flat in Maple Street, the lights had revealed another scene as they flashed ona scene which might have interested many persons both official and unofficial. There were a man and a womanthe former cool and self-satisfied, the latter white and shaken. The man was coaching and reassuring the woman, and promising great happiness to repay her for something she was going through. He was telling her how superficial the notion of conscience is, and urging her not to be frightened by what she would sooner or later have to face. And he was carefully explaining the glandular extract which, fed to man or reptile, stimulates the processes of abnormal growth.

THE END


“An Heir to the Mesozoic” does not appear to be a lost Lovecraft revision. Perhaps he had seen and commented on it at some point, and perhaps even Heald had submitted it to Weird Tales or Amazing Stories and it had been turned down; both magazines have published material on about this level. It notably contains no reference to Lovecraft’s Mythos, but then neither did Heald’s “The Horror in the Burying Ground” (1937); however unlike that story, none of the personal or place names, or even any of the prose, seem to show any similarities to Lovecraft’s style.

The reference at the end to “glandular extract” marks this as a particular mode of early science fiction known as “gland stories,” based on biochemical discoveries about the effects of hormones on the body (which would lead, eventually, to the production of synthetic hormones, making everything from birth control pills to hormone replacement therapy possible. But in the 1920s and 30s, “glands” were also the domain of noted medical frauds such as Serge Voronoff, who grafted monkey testicles to male patients promising restored virility, and John R. Brinkley, who promised miraculous effects from grafting goat testicles. In the domain of science fiction, glands could achieve almost any effect. An example of such as story is “The Superman of Dr. Jukes” (Wonder Stories Nov 1931) by Francis Flagg, one of Lovecraft’s pulpster peers and correspondents.

Other than that, there’s not a lot else to say. Like “The Man of Stone” (1932), there is a romantic triangle at the heart of this story, and a supernatural/super-scientific resolution. If this was more typical of Heald’s output outside of Lovecraft’s influence, it might explain why she had difficulty getting acceptance in the pulps: the plot isn’t bad, but it is basic; the prose doesn’t exactly sing or grip the reader; and the weird-science angle is a bit weak…despite the title, the unknown reptile never really hits “Age of Reptiles” levels.

Even if “An Heir to the Mesozoic” isn’t a lost Lovecraftian classic, it is still a rare weird story from one of Lovecraft’s revision clients. For those who wonder whether Hazel Heald could write, or what she would write outside of Lovecraft’s revision or ghostwriting—well, here we have an answer to that.


Bobby Derie is the author of Weird Talers: Essays on Robert E. Howard & Others (2019) and Sex and the Cthulhu Mythos (2014).

“In the Gulf of N’Logh” (193?) and “Lair of Fungous Death” (193?) by Hazel Heald

 

Hazel Heald has the distinction of being Lovecraft’s most prolific weird revision client, their works together being “The Man of Stone” (1932)“The Horror in the Museum” (1933)“Winged Death” (1934)“Out of the Æons” (1935), and “The Horror in the Burying-Ground” (1937). While much of their relationship remains obscure, and the accounts of Muriel E. Eddy in The Gentleman from Angell Street (2001) not always entirely reliable, an inquisitive Lovecraft fan might wonder if they had any unpublished revisions which did not see the light of day—and the answer is: maybe.

Sorry I can’t dig up any more material at the moment—am wallowing in a morass of tasks & staggering under what seems like a variant of grippe. Hope you can assemble sufficient copy for #1, & am glad you have an illustration for future issues.[…] Glad you’ve received at least some material from those I recommended. Come to think of it, you might get a short story (fairly long as such things go) from Mrs. Hazel Heald, 15 Carter St. Newtonville, Mass. Ask her for “In the Gulfs of N’Logh” or some other tale which didn’t land professionally.
—H. P. Lovecraft to John Weir, 28 Jan 1937, MSS. John Hay Library

He was dying. A young fan named John Weir was putting together a new fanzine, to be entitled Fantasmagoria. The fanzine lasted five issues, from 1937 to 1940, probably in a very small number of copies. Issues one and two have been scanned and are available to read online; the second issue promising in upcoming numbers:

Fantasmagoria July 1937

Yet “In the Gulfs of N’Logh” never appeared in Fantasmagoria, or anywhere else. Weir obviously followed Lovecraft’s suggestion and wrote to Hazel Heald asking for the story, and she replied:

Please find enclosed my “In the Gulfs of N’logh”. It was rejected by Wright as being unsuitable for his magazine.
—Hazel Heald to John Weir, 10 Feb 1937, MSS. John Hay Library

In a letter to his collaborator John Baltadonis, Weir says of his fanzine:

Those that have contributed are Lovecraft, Rimel, Stickney, Kuttner, Heald, and Lowndes. [….] Lovecraft told me that Mrs. Hazel Heald might send me a story called “In the Gulfs of N’Logh”. Well, she sent me it and I almost fainted. It takes up thirty-three (sides) typewriter pages! You can bet that I’m not putting that in the small issues. I’m going to wait till I increase the pages and then I’ll run it as a serial. Can you imagine, though, Thirty-three pages! Whew!
—John Weir to John Baltadonis, 15 Feb 1937, MSS. John Hay Library

A month later, Weir would write to fellow fan and Lovecraft correspondent Willis Conover, most remembered in weird circles today for Lovecraft at Last (1975), where in discussing their collections Weir says:

I have a manuscript that almost beats yours. This is “In the Gulfs of N’Logh” by Hazel Heald. Besides that I’ve got an old poem of Lovecraft’s and another Hazel Heald story. The first story by Heald is composed of Thirty-two typewritten sheets.
—John Weir to Willis Conover, 16 Mar 1937, MSS. John Hay Library

Unknown to both Conover and Weir, H. P. Lovecraft had died the day before. As soon as he heard, August Derleth immediately set about writing to Lovecraft’s known correspondents, planning a posthumous publication of his work and letters. This included Hazel Heald, who wrote:

I have had several rejected tales I passed on to J. James Weird [sic] who is starting a new fan magazine. HPL advised me to keep myself in the public eye as much as possible. I am typing a tale now which I hope Wright will accept.
—Hazel Heald to August Derleth, 31 Mar 1937

Weir was obviously still in contact with Heald at this point, and must have passed on his assertion that “In the Gulfs of N’Logh” was too long for the fanzine to publish in a single issue, as she wrote in a subsequent letter:

I have a lot of rejected mss. and have given two to a fan magazine that will be printed soon. One of the tales will be used as a serial. John Weir is the editor. HPL recommended him to me.
Hazel Heald to August Derleth, 14 Apr 1937

The other story that Heald refers to was apparently “The Heir of the Mesozoic”, which was published in two parts in Fantasmagoria #4 (1938) and #5 (1939/1940). She was obviously keen to hear about these stories, because she wrote to Weir about them on May 18 1937, and then again later that year:

Will you please tell me if you have published my “An Heir of the Mesozoic” and “In the Gulfs of N’logh”? I haven’t heard from you since last Spring. If you aren’t going to use them please send them back as I have others who want them.
—Hazel Heald to John Weir, 21 Sep 1937, MSS. John Hay Library

The extant correspondence appears to end there. Weir never published “In the Gulfs of N’Logh,” probably due to its length, and appears to have returned the manuscript to Heald at some point. The manuscript itself appears to no longer be extant.

So what are we to make of “In the Gulfs of N’Logh”? Obviously, Lovecraft was aware of it; it was a weird tale, because it was submitted to Weird Tales and rejected by Farnsworth Wright sometime before January 1937, and it was fairly long—33 (or 32) pages is ~16,000 words, a genuine novella. The title “N’Logh” could allude to a location in Africa (like “Winged Death”), or equally a fantastically Lovecraftian location like R’lyeh. Was it an actual unsold Lovecraft revision? Unless the manuscript comes to light, we may never know.

In her letters to August Derleth, Hazel Heald mentions other stories which appear lost to time, though submitted to (and rejected by) Weird Tales and other pulps. The titles are not promising: “The Devil’s Jigsaw” and “Terror by Moonlight” do not seem particularly Lovecraftian. One story which did receive a bit more attention was “Lair of the Fungous Death.”

Do you think that WEIRD TALES would accept my “Lair of the fungous death” now? He rejected it several years ago as he said it was not up to my standard. I never could understand it for Mr. Lovecraft considered it very good. I sent it to you once to read, and your comments were favorable. I hate to have it rejected again, but on account of the war, and perhaps a shortage of writers, I thought it might be more acceptable. He might have forgotten by now that I ever sent it to him.
—Hazel Heald to August Derleth, n.d. (c. 1944)

Farnsworth Wright had been fired from his position as editor of Weird Tales in early 1940, and died soon after. His position at the helm of “The Unique Magazine” was taken by Dorothy McIlwraith, and Derleth undoubtedly told Heald of that:

Am sending my LAIR OF THE FUNGOUS DEATH to Weird Tales today. Hope she will like it.
Hazel Heald to August Derleth, 19 Sep 1944

I sent my story “The Lair of Fungous Death” to the editor of “Weird Tales” about a week ago, but haven’t heard anything as yet. Is she slower than Farnsworth Wright about her decision? I hope it is accepted, for money is an important factor with me as everyone else.
—Hazel Heald to August Derleth, 30 Sep 1944

At this time, Derleth was getting permission from Heald to include “Winged Death” and “The Man of Stone” in Marginalia (1944) as Lovecraft revisions; like some of the other Lovecraft revision clients, Heald was insistent on her own authorship of the stories, prevailing evidence notwithstanding. Which may be why she wrote to Derleth:

I have not heard from Miss McIlwraith as yet. I hope that my story will meet with her approval. Wright nearly accepted it, but might have been overcrowded with manuscripts at that time. HPL read it but did not revise it, but his comments on it were very favorable. I was discouraged at the rejection and just threw it in a drawer and forgot about it. Some time ago, I found it and sent it to several of the WEIRD TALES authors to read, and they did not recommend any changes.
—Hazel Heald to August Derleth, 6 Oct 1944

We don’t have good data on how long it took McIlwraith to make a decision on such things; but the weeks and months ticked by:

I haven’t had my story rejected as yet, so hope it will please the editor.
—Hazel Heald to August Derleth, 13 Oct 1944

How does a woman happen to take Wright’s place? I suppose on account of the shortage of men. How long does she usually take to make a decision on a story? I hope she will take mine. It is nearly three weeks since I submitted it.

Several years ago a man wrote to me and said he would like some of my unpublished tales for a book he was going to publish, and though he did not pay for them, it would be good advertising. I did not regard them as worth printing, but he insisted. I even forgot his name and thought no more about it until I received a letter saying they would be printed soon. From that day to this I have heard nothing. Do you think he was trying to get plots for stories, and went about it in that way? I did not care anything about the tales as I have carbon copies somewhere, but it seemed like a strange request, didn’t it?
—Hazel Heald to August Derleth, 14 Oct 1944

The latter comment is, in hindsight, almost certainly a reference to John Weir and Fantasmagoria, which had after a long delay published the shorter of two stories she had sent as “The Heir of the Mesozoic” in two parts.

How long does Miss McIllwraith take to make a decision on a story? If she isn’t considering it at all, do you get it back within a few weeks, or do you have to wait months? I know you said she was slow, but there must be some sort of time limit.
—Hazel Heald to August Derleth, 21 Oct 1944

Whether McIlwraith finally rejected the story or Heald simply gave up on hearing back from her, we hear no more on the matter. Divorced and unable to support herself with her writings, Hazel Heald took whatever work she could find to earn a living—but she never gave up on the dream of writing, and enrolled in a writing course to improve her skills. However, instead of focusing on original composition, she dug out the old typescript:

I went to school Thursday night and liked it very much. He wants us to bring manuscripts next time and he will correct them, so I am taking my “Lair of the Fungous Death.”
—Hazel Heald to August Derleth, 6 Nov 1944

Thanks very much for suggestions about my story. Would you like to see it first, or had I ought to send it to the magazines you mentioned? I know you are very busy but I dislike rejections perhaps more than an established writer, and get so discouraged I feel like giving up the ghost. If your opinion is that it is not worth sending, I will junk it. HPL read it and thought it OK, and didn’t think it needed revising, but Mr. Chadwick told me it should be cut down, and recommended cutting out some scenes entirely. He said in conclusion I didn’t explain everything. HPL said to keep the reader guessing, and let him use his own imagination. Mr. C. said it stretched the reader’s imagination too much, and also that I talked too much about the horror of the whole thing. HPL said to keep it alive in the reader’s mind. I feel as though I was between the Devil and the dark blue sea! I don’t think that a writer who doesn’t write weird stories themselves can understand another’s style.
—Hazel Heald to August Derleth, 29 Nov 1944

Am sending my story along as you suggested. I can’t see any great mistakes in it as Chadwick did. If HPL liked it, it must be OK. “Weird Tales” rejected it because it was too long. Chadwick said it was too impossible, and said no one liked to read impossible things. I may be a moron belonging to that “certain class” he mentioned, but I certainly like to read tales that stretch the imagination. He said, “You and I certainly wouldn’t read such stuff, would we?” and I told him I most certainly would! I didn’t go last Thursday night. HPL was so kind and understanding, and though he made me write things over and over, he was always ready to praise if I deserved it. Chadwick says that any branch of story would be more liable to sell than weird tales. I couldn’t write a love story to save my life for I am too cynical in that line. A detective or wild west story wouldn’t interest me, so how could I write one? I guess I have a one-track mind. […] I didn’t retype my story, but will if you think I should.
—Hazel Heald to August Derleth, 4 Dec 1944

We can empathize with Heald here, as she is basically defending Lovecraft’s position on weird fiction against what must have been a very condescending attitude toward the weird tale by Chadwick.

Derleth’s assessment of the story doesn’t survive, but we can imagine his hopes might have been moderated: a weird story from Hazel Heald that Lovecraft had at least passed his eye over, even if she insisted he hadn’t revised it, and which had been considered and rejected by Farnsworth Wright for Weird Tales on account of length—probably not unlike “In the Gulfs of N’Logh”—and the word fungous in the title, which recalled Lovecraft’s fungi from Yuggoths and other growths. If there was even a hint of Lovecraft in the story, it could probably have been salable—or at least publishable in an Arkham House book, as he had done with Marginalia. Heald’s last comment on the matter:

I know that I am “NG” now for I am entirely out of practice, for “The Horror in the Burying Ground” was my last real attempt. Guess its no use to try for you thought my tale I sent you a complete flop.
—Hazel Heald to August Derleth, 1 Feb 1945

This is not quite the end of the story. Apparently sometime in the late 1950s, Lovecraft collector Jack Grill managed to contact Hazel Heald and persuaded her to sell him a couple of manuscripts. The account is contained only in George Wetzel’s “A Memoir of Jack Grill”:

Two of the items were to have been unpublished stories by Hazel Heald—The Basement Room and Lair of the Fungus Death, 5 PP and 25 pp respectively, that Jack had purchased from Miss Heald along with a one page criticism of them by Derleth. 

“Re Hazel Heald stories—I gotta hunch that the Eddys, H. Heald & their writer friends follow yr HPL articles. Please don’t write up her stories until the old gal kicks the bucket, unless favorably. Perhaps she don’t give a damn what anybody thinks of her stories…[“]

As Douglas A. Anderson points out in The H. P. Lovecraft Collection of Jack Grill and (later) Irving Binkin” these two manuscripts and Derleth’s criticism are not listed among the other items in Grill’s catalog of Lovecraftiana. “The Lair of the Fungous Death,” like “The Lair of N’Logh,” has disappeared—though if some collector bought it, there remains at least the chance that it will appear again at some point.

The big question for most people is: were either of these actual Lovecraft pieces? Maybe. It is well-known that later in life Lovecraft’s stories were getting longer, which made them more difficult to sell to pulps; it wouldn’t be impossible for Lovecraft to have revised a couple stories for Heald which didn’t place for whatever reason—he spoke relatively little about any of the Heald stories in his letters unless they had sold.

Given her relatively precarious financial condition later in life, it seems unlikely that Hazel Heald might have entertained any thoughts of a collection of stories akin to Zealia Bishop’s The Curse of Yig (1953, Arkham House)—but if some of those rejected manuscripts had actually sold, or if Derleth had seen something in them that warranted preservation, perhaps we might have seen a second woman’s collection of Mythos tales in the 1950s.

It is easy to speculate about undiscovered Mythos tales, but for me the interest in these rejected stories is less “what might have been” and more what it tells us about those involved. Their existence points to a more complicated relationship between Heald and Lovecraft than the five submitted and accepted stories labeled as Lovecraft revisions or ghostwritten tales suggest. It suggests that the commercial aspect of their business would have had its highs and lows, above and beyond whether Heald was able to pay Lovecraft for his revision services, with stories written, revised, rewritten, submitted, and rejected again and again. Likely there is some truth that like Zealia Bishop, Heald saw Lovecraft as more of a teacher than a ghostwriter, and that the image of Lovecraft as the principal author of the revision tales may owe a bit more to August Derleth’s salesmanship in the 1940s and 50s than is commonly credited.


Bobby Derie is the author of Weird Talers: Essays on Robert E. Howard & Others (2019) and Sex and the Cthulhu Mythos (2014).

“The Horror in the Burying-Ground” (1937) by Hazel Heald & H. P. Lovecraft

Four years ago Hazel Heald made her bow to the readers of Weird Tales with an eery story called “The Horror in the Museum,” which established her at once among the most popular writers of weird fiction. She followed this with “Winged Death,” a story of the African tse-tse fly, and another tale of a weird monster from “the dark bacward and abysm of time.” The story published here, “The Horror in the Burying-Ground,” is as weird and compelling as anything this talented author has yet written. We recommend this fascinating story to you, for we know you will not be disappointed in it.
Weird Tales, May 1937

“The Horror in the Burying-Ground” was the last of Lovecraft’s revisions for Hazel Heald to be published. The details of its creation, and how much input she had into the plot, are difficult to make out. H. P. Lovecraft died on 15 March 1937; the May issue of Weird Tales containing this story would have hit the stands around mid-April. No manuscript or typescript is known to survive. As most of the information we have on the other Heald revisions comes from Lovecraft’s letters, and Lovecraft himself was dead and unable to comment on the story, we are left with far less data to go on.

What little information we have though points at “The Horror in the Burying-Ground” as something of an outlier. The previous revision “Out of the Æons” had come out a full two years prior in the April 1935 issue of Weird Tales, and Lovecraft had been firm that he was not doing any more collaborations after that—with no indications in his correspondence that he had changed his mind or was working on a new story for a client. Yet the story’s text clearly shows Lovecraft’s heavy revisory hand, if he didn’t simply ghost-write the whole thing. So what happened?

The simplest answer would be that this was indeed written after the sale of “Out of the Æons,” and that Lovecraft had simply neglected to mention it. Shortly after Lovecraft’s death, August Derleth began writing to Lovecraft’s correspondents and clients, beginning to collect data for what would be Arkham House publications of Lovecraft’s fiction. She wrote back:

By the way, I will have another tale in the May Weird Tales—my own. […] Truly we have all lost a wonderful friend in HPL. I feel lost without his letters and kind advice even though I have not worked with him for three years on my stories. He had told me that now I could stand on my own feet and work things out for myself.
—Hazel Heald to August Derleth, 25 Mar 1937

The “three years” comment would mean that the last story Lovecraft revised or ghost-wrote would be in 1934, which suggests that “The Horror in the Burying-Ground” was written earlier than that. Heald’s next comment on the story was some years later:

My HORROR IN THE BURYING GROUND was rejected once by Wright, then several years later I rewrote it in several places and he accepted it. He said I had too much dialect to read easily.
—Hazel Heald to August Derleth, 14 Oct 1944

The implication is that “The Horror in the Burying-Ground” was written somewhere between 1932 and 1934, submitted to Farnsworth Wright, editor of Weird Tales, and then rejected and shelved for some years until he requested to see it again. Nowhere does Heald give any credit to Lovecraft for the story, or say when it was written—but there are is a possible clue in Lovecraft’s letters.

The Horror in the Museum—a piece which I “ghost-wrote” for a client from a synopsis so poor that I well-nigh discarded it—is virtually my own work. Glad you found it entertaining. There will be two more Heald tales equally dependent on my pen.
—H. P. Lovecraft to Richard Ely Morse, 28 Jul 1933, Selected Letters 4.229

“The Horror in the Museum” was published in Weird Tales July 1933; the next two tales would presumably be “Winged Death” (March 1934), and “Out of the Æons” (April 1935); the first mention of “Winged Death” in Lovecraft’s letters is actually August 1932 (Essential Solitude 2.497), suggesting it was probably written before “The Horror in the Museum.” That would suggest that “The Horror in the Burying-Ground” was probably written before those three tales. If that is the case, then “The Horror in the Burying-Ground” was one of their first stories—either a revision or ghost-written. “The Man of Stone” (Wonder Stories Oct 1932) is typically given as the start of Lovecraft’s revision services, given that it was the first published and that Muriel E. Eddy states in her memoir The Gentleman from Angell Street states that “The Man of Stone” was the story that Heald was working on that caused Eddy to put her in touch with Lovecraft, which would suggest “The Horror in the Burying-Ground” was second.

But…what if “The Horror in the Burying-Ground” was the first of the Lovecraft/Heald revisions? That would make the order of writing:

  • “The Horror in the Burying-Ground”
  • “The Man of Stone”
  • “Winged Death”
  • “The Horror in the Museum”
  • “Out of the Æons”

This order, incidentally, would start with a story that has no Mythos connection (“The Horror in the Burying-Ground”) to stories with minimal Mythos references (“The Man of Stone,” “Winged Death”) to the full-blown Mythos tales (“The Horror in the Museum,” “Out of the Æons”). Could the fact that “The Man of Stone” appeared in Wonder Stories and that “Winged Death” was offered first to Strange Tales suggest, perhaps, Wright’s rejection of “The Horror in the Burying Ground” soured Heald to Weird Tales for a period?

We don’t know. While the idea is suggestive, it is still speculative. Given the nature of pulp publishing, the situation may have been even more complex. Heald’s later re-writing of the story may have removed any obvious Mythos elements, as well as removed some of the “dialect.” It should be noted that in her letters to Derleth, Heald always stated that “The Man of Stone” was her first story—but then she also insisted that it was her own work, although she admitted “he did actually rewrite paragraphs” (Hazel Heald to August Derleth, 30 Sep 1944).

Looking at the text of the story itself, this unknown history of the story presents three possibilities for “The Horror in the Burying-Ground”:

  1. An extensive revision, along the lines of “The Man of Stone.”
  2. A ghost-writing job, along the lines of “Winged Death.”
  3. An original story by Hazel Heald.

(1) assumes that there is more plot or writing involvement on Heald’s part, and would make more sense if it was written early in her relations with Lovecraft, and/or if she revised it after Wright rejected it. (2) is what the story is normally assumed to be; if the story was written late in their relationship, where Lovecraft was ghost-writing the stories entirely, this would be likely. (3) is what Heald claimed the story as; this appears to be unlikely, as the text has several hallmarks of Lovecraft’s prose, especially the portions of New England dialect. Compare:

“Don’t ye bury him, don’t ye bury him! He ain’t dead no more nor Lige Hopkins’s dog nor Deacon Leavitt’s calf was when he shot ’em full. He’s got some stuff he puts into ye to make ye seem like dead when ye ain’t! Ye seem like dead but ye know everything what’s a-goin’ on, and the next day ye come to as good as ever. Don’t ye bury him—he’ll come to under the earth an’ he can’t scratch up! He’s a good man, an’ not like Tom Sprague. Hope to Gawd Tom scratches an’ chokes for hours an’ hours. . . .”
—”The Horror in the Burying-Ground”

“The graoun’ was a-talkin’ lass night, an’ towards mornin’ Cha’ncey he heerd the whippoorwills so laoud in Col’ Spring Glen he couldn’t sleep nun. Then he thought he heerd another faint-like saound over towards Wizard Whateley’s—a kinder rippin’ or tearin’ o’ wood, like some big box er crate was bein’ opened fur off. What with this an’ that, he didn’t git to sleep at all till sunup, an’ no sooner was he up this mornin’, but he’s got to go over to Whateley’s an’ see what’s the matter. He see enough, I tell ye, Mis’ Corey! This dun’t mean no good, an’ I think as all the men-folks ought to git up a party an’ do suthin’. I know suthin’ awful’s abaout, an’ feel my time is nigh, though only Gawd knows jest what it is.”
—”The Dunwich Horror”

The dialect is very similar, if not quite identical; the Dunwich speakers use more long vowels. Heald’s comment that Wright asked her to remove some of the dialectic language may account for the difference, we have no way of knowing. Other elements that point toward Lovecraft’s involvement are various place and character names which appear elsewhere in Lovecraft’s life and works: Peck (“In the Vault”), Akeley (“The Whisperer in Darkness”), Frye (“The Dunwich Horror”), Atwood (At the Mountains of Madness, Fungi from Yuggoth), and “Goodenough” (perhaps a nod to his friend, the poet Arthur Goodenough).

The basic idea of the story has similarities to “The Man of Stone”—a chemical which induces a state of paralysis—and there are echoes of this same basic idea in the living brain in the mummified body in “Out of the Æons”; so it is thematically tied to the other stories, although less weird and fantastic than them. Unusual for a Lovecraft story is the bitter romantic story between Sophie Sprague, her brother Tom Sprague, and her attempted suitor Henry Thorndike. This story of control and aborted courtship, the complex of emotions that Sophie experienced as both the men in her life who tried to own and control her were gone—may suggest Heald had more to do with the plot than in the later ghost-written stories.

When would Wright have asked Heald to see the story again? While it would be poetic if Wright heard news of Lovecraft’s death and rushed a letter to Heald asking for it, knowing he would get no more stories from the deceased, the timing would be tight—Heald’s letter to Derleth is dated just ten days after Lovecraft’s date of death. Wright would have had to write immediately and Heald would have had to send it on as quickly. Not impossible, but given that Wright was known to hang on to stories for months, sometimes years after acceptance, it is just as likely that he had asked her to revise it at an earlier date and that May 1937 was simply when he slotted it into an issue.

The death of H. P. Lovecraft and its announcement crowded out most mentions of the story in “The Eyrie”; the only comment published was by longtime fan Gertrude Hemken:

I have not been disappointed in Hazel Heald’s story of The Horror in the Burying-Ground. The lady knows how to keep one’s interest brimming. Her method of relating the circumstances as told by the general store council has a touch of humor. Any hard-fisted citizen would condemn them for a bunch of crackpots. As for me—I’d listen, git werry uncomfy and when the tale is done, run like heck for home…
Weird Tales, July 1937

August Derleth must have had at least some suspicion of Lovecraft’s hand in the story, and it was anyway good enough for him to publish in one of the wartime Arkham House anthologies, Sleep No More: Twenty Masterpieces of Horror for the Connoisseur (1944), produced in both hardback and an Armed Services Edition. His introduction to the tale:

HAZEL HEALD is in a large sense a protege of the late H. P. Lovecraft, and her published work, which is not voluminous, plainly bears the mark of the master. A self-admitted “amateur” in writing, Hazel Heald has never sought to deny the felicitous influence of Lovecraft, whose work, she says, inspired her to write, and under whose direction she did her best work. Her story, The Curse of Yig (included in the Lovecraft collection Beyond the Wall of Sleep) is a Weird Tales classic, and her Out of the Eons and The Horror in the Museum (also reprinted in Beyond the Wall of Sleep) are also remarkably fine tales of horror. A New Englander all her life, Mrs. Head [sic] has occupied her time in many and varied positions; writing is an evocation which she has followed sparingly in the past few years.

Derleth confuses Heald with Zealia Bishop, Lovecraft’s client for the revision “The Curse of Yig”; Heald is credited with the story in Sleep No More. The tale is not published as a Lovecraft “revision” until it was published in Something About Cats and Other Pieces (1949)—whether Heald admitted Lovecraft’s part in the story or Derleth simply made the determination on his own is unknown. Heald herself died in 1961, and after this general scholarly consensus has leaned heavily on “The Horror in the Burying-Ground” being at least an extensive revision by Lovecraft, if not actually ghost-written. S. T. Joshi in his Variorum simply states:

The entire conception and execution of this story must be by HPL. (433)

Which may well be the case, although I suspect at least a little more of the plot was hers. We don’t know. All we do know is that “The Horror in the Burying-Ground” represents the posthumous end of their association. Only one other story of hers is known to have been published, “The Heir to the Mesozoic” which was published in Fantasmagoria #4 (Nov 1938) and Fantasmagoria #5 (Winter 1939/1940).

Near the end of Muriel Eddy’s memoir, she remarks:

Hazel, the sweet-faced writer who thought so much of Lovecraft, died February 3, 1961. She died unexpectedly of a heart seizure in a Boston hospital. She never remarried. What a match it would have been, if love had entered the heart of Lovecraft for this fine woman. They could have written many a weird classic together, for Hazel, unlike his other wife, would have been kind and understanding with him, knowing his sensibilities and his inborn gentleness. He could not be pushed into rank commercialism, but as a writer of the weird and unusual he was always tops in his field. And with that Hazel would have been content.
The Gentleman from Angell Street 27

Rose-tinted spectacles. While Lovecraft was almost certainly friendly toward Heald, as he was to many of his clients, and engaged in correspondence and visits outside the scope of a purely professional relationship, at its base Lovecraft was writing or re-writing Heald’s stories for moneyand determined, at the end, that the revision-work was both creatively exhausting and insufficiently remunerative to continue pursuing. It did result in five stories, two of which are significant additions to Lovecraft’s Mythos.

From what little evidence remains it appears her actual contribution in terms of writing was small, but Heald deserves credit for her part both as a catalyst to Lovecraft’s imagination and for the stories’ publication.

“The Horror in the Burying-Ground” may be read for free here.


Bobby Derie is the author of Weird Talers: Essays on Robert E. Howard & Others (2019) and Sex and the Cthulhu Mythos (2014).

“Out of the Æons” (1935) by Hazel Heald & H. P. Lovecraft

Glad you enjoyed the Witch House and Museum story. Another tale which I revised for the “Museum” author, and which Wright has accepted, brings in von Juntz and his black book as almost the central theme. It concerns a mummy found in the crypt of a Cyclopean stone temple of fabulous antiquity; volcanically upheaved from the sea.
—H. P. Lovecraft to Robert E. Howard, 24 Jul 1933, A Means to Freedom 2.619

Regarding the scheduled “Out of the Æons”—I should say I did have a hand in it…..I wrote the damn thing! The original museum-mummy story submitted for revision was so utterly lousy (some crap about a Peruvian miner trapped underground) that I had to discard it altogether & prepare a fresh tale. But it’s really foolish to attempt jobs so extensive, when with the same amount of work one could write an acknowledged story of one’s own. This is the last collaboration of the sort I shall ever attempt—indeed, I’ve turned a deaf ear to all further suggestions from Sultan Malik, Mrs. Heald, Kid Bloch, & others.
—H. P. Lovecraft to Clark Ashton Smith, 26 Mar 1935, Dawnward Spire, Lonely Hill 594

Glad you like “Out of the Æons”—which is, as I may have mentioned, virtually an original story of mine. All that survives from the initial Heald outline (worthy Mme. H. never bothered to write out any actual text for it!) is the basic idea of a living brain discovered in an ancient mummy.
—H. P. Lovecraft to Clark Ashton Smith, 11 Apr 1935, Dawnward Spire, Lonely Hill 603

I enjoyed very much the story “Out of the Eons”. It might as well have carried your name beneath the title, for it was yours, all the way through.
—Robert E. Howard to H. P. Lovecraft, May 1935, A Means To Freedom 2.851

“Out of the Æons” (also “Eons” and “Aeons” depending on the edition) was H. P. Lovecraft’s penultimate revision for Hazel Heald. Her part in this story appears to be comparatively less than that of “The Horror in the Museum” and “Winged Death”, and Lovecraft’s fleeting reference to “some crap about a Peruvian miner trapped underground” suggests a very different kind of story; as with other revision-clients, Lovecraft was taking increasing liberties in his ghost-writing to create a tale which was essentially his.

Hazel Heald’s own version of events is a little difficult to reconcile with Lovecraft’s:

I was a veginner and happened to be lucky enough to find HPL who certainly was the best to be found. he was a severe critic but I knew that if I finally suited him in my work that the editor would usually accept it. for example— I had to rewrite “Out of the Eons” six times to before he was completely satisfied! […] My “Out of the Eons” was inspired by trips that we had to taken [sic] to Boston and Cambridge museums together to visit any museum with HPL was certianly enough inspiration to write many tales.
—Hazel Heald to August Derleth, 25 Mar 1937

The first part is difficult to reconcile with Lovecraft’s claim to have ghostwritten the piece, unless perhaps “Out of the Æons” had a very long development. More interesting is the latter comment in the letter which discusses their time together. Lovecraft’s 1932 trip is detailed in the entry for “The Man of Stone”, at least as far as Muriel Eddy and W. Paul Cook were aware of it, since Lovecraft never mentioned it in any published letter. Heald adds her own response to Cook’s piece:

I was interested in Paul Cook’s account of lovecraft’s Boston visit, and how he made him rest up before coming over to my house. He certainly did not act tired, and ate very well, although Cook said her gave him a good meal before he came. I wonder if he thought that he would be starved at my house? He seemed to enjoy himself a lot. Soon after that he came again, and we visited all of the museums together. That was where I conceived the idea for OUT OF THE EONS.
—Hazel Heald to August Derleth, 14 Oct 1944

It is not clear which museums they might have visited, or when this might have occurred, although both the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the Semitic Museum in Cambridge, Massachusetts are possibilities, with collections of Egyptian artifacts and mummies that might have inspired the fictional Cabot Museum.

Muriel Eddy, who considered the divorced Mrs. Heald and Lovecraft a possible couple, commented on the story and ruminated on the match not working out:

One of these stands out vividly in my memory, “Out of the Eons”, a story of an Egyptian mummy inspired by a trip Hazel and H. P. L. took to a Boston museum, during which they stared at many mummies and geot steeped in Egyptian lore. […]

She confided in me that Lovecraft was truly a wonderful man, a real gentleman in every sense of the word. Schoalrly, precise, polite, grateful for her friendship…she was fast learning to like him a great deal. What should she do about it? Ah, that was the question!

She asked me to “drop a hint” when he visited our house…suggesting that Hazel was indeed a very lonely person, as most writers were, and enjoyed his company so much. I tried my best to have them both come to my house at the same time, but it never seemed convenient. He was really a busy man, with many commitments in the writing field, and this she could not understand. Gradually, his visits to Cambridge became less frequent. But she told me once that he sent her almost daily letters and many, many postcards […]

With a little encouragement, I am convinced that H.P.L. and Hazel might have married, and they would have made a good pair. But Lovecraft knew his health was failing, and perhaps did not feel like taking a chance on another marriage, seeing that his first one had failed so miserably.
—Muriel M. Eddy, The Gentleman From Angell Street 24-26

Lovecraft’s letters do not mention any romantic or quasi-romantic relationship with Hazel Heald; nor is it likely they would even if he was so inclined—which he probably was not. Neither Heald nor Eddy would have been aware that Lovecraft had never signed the papers to finalize the divorce with his wife Sonia. Heald gives little evidence to support Eddy’s assertions of possible matrimony, although some years later when Sonia’s account of their marriage “Howard Phillips Lovecraft As His Wife Remembers Him” was published, she wrote to comment:

Heald 1944
Hazel Heald to Winfield Townley Scott, 8 Sep 1948

It is possible that Eddy mistook the relationship between Heald and Lovecraft for more than it was; perhaps Heald did as well. Whatever the case, the story was written and submitted to Farnsworth Wright at Weird Tales, who accepted and published it in the April 1935 issue.

In content, the story is much like “The Mound” in that Lovecraft takes the opportunity to write an extensive addition to his mythos, with entities and locations new and old, ties to his past work (both under his own name and that of his revision-clients; Yig from “The Curse of Yig” appears, for example), and reference is made to the works of Clark Ashton Smith (Tsathoggua) and Robert E. Howard (von Junzt and his Black Book). Portions of the story have a much more pulpy atmosphere than usual for Lovecraft’s work, and T’yog, high priest of Shub-Niggurath’s dealings with those Muvian gods “friendly” to humanity (Shub-Niggurath, Nug and Yeb, and Yig) have a very high-fantasy cast; the whole story approaches a parody of Lovecraft’s typical work.

“Out of the Æons” is also notable for introducing Ghatanothoa, an entity described as “gigantic—tentacled—proboscidian—octopus-eyed—semi-amorphous—plastic—partly squamous and partly rugose”—who dwells in the Pacific Ocean and is served by “widespread secret cults of Asiatics, Polynesians, and heterogeneous mystical devotees.” Robert M. Price in “Lovecraft’s ‘Artificial Mythology'” argues that this is “really a new version of Cthulhu,” but later authors such as Lin Carter in his Xothic Cycle would make Ghatanothoa a son of Cthulhu, which would in turn lead to an expansion of the Cthulhu family tree along the style of Greek and Roman gods (eventually including Cthylla).

Despite all of its Lovecraftian excesses—or perhaps because of them—the story ended up being voted the best in the issue. Letters from readers in ‘The Eyrie’ praised it, and Heald:

Like a Lovecraft Masterpiece

John Malone, of Jackson, Mississippi, writes: “How does Hazel Heald do it? ‘Out of the Eons’ was like a masterpiece by H. P. Lovecraft. Hardly any of the horror was pictured, most of it was suggested, until the climax, when the revelation came!

Out of the Eons

Lewis F. Torrance, of Winfield, Kansas, writes: “‘Out of the Eons’ was the most remarkable, the best, the greatest, et al, narrative it has ever been my good fortune to read in Weird Tales. It seems to have that indefinable something that science-fiction has been lacking. Yours for more Hazel Heald.

In Praise of Mrs. Heald

B. M. Reynolds, of North Adams, Massachusetts, writes: “The April number was a treat. I cannot say enough in praise of the work of Hazel Heald. She is veritably a female Lovecraft. Her ‘Out of the Eons’ is a masterpiece…. I almost expected that Mr. Lovecraft himself would stroll into the museum and take a hand at deciphering the hieroglyphics on the scroll and cylinder. Let’s have more like this from Mrs. Heald…

Weird Tales, “The Eyrie” June 1935

The frequent references to Lovecraft suggest that at least a couple of readers were in on the joke, and had guessed that this was really a Lovecraft piece under a pseudonym—a common enough practice in the pulps. Lovecraft took this in stride with good humor.

August Derleth and Arkham House republished the story in Beyond the Wall of Sleep (1943), and it has enjoyed an active literary afterlife, having been reprinted many times. The main historical import of the story, as with “The Horror in the Museum” was in the way it deftly expanded the awareness of the Mythos, since more stories by more authors in Weird Tales were using the same strange names and books of lore.

For those interested in Hazel Heald, however, the most interesting part of it must remain the story behind the story—for while we may never know exactly what inspiration she provided to Lovecraft, it was clearly their association and their relationship that provided the crux of the tale.

“Out of the Æons” may be read for free online here.


Bobby Derie is the author of Weird Talers: Essays on Robert E. Howard & Others (2019) and Sex and the Cthulhu Mythos (2014).

“Winged Death” (1934) by Hazel Heald & H. P. Lovecraft

Hazel Heald’s story in the current W.T. is very good.
—Clark Ashton Smith to H. P. Lovecraft, 7 Mar 1934, Dawnward Spire, Lonely Hill 538

“Winged Death” is pretty much a ghost-written Ech-Pi-El-ism. All that honest Mrs. Heald had to start with was a cloudy idea about somebody killing somebody with bugs. Then she got a medical friend to shed some light on poisonous African insects, & decided to give the tale an African cast. That was all I had to go on. The plot—with the idea of transferred personality & the returning & ceiling-writing death-envoy—is entirely my own. But it doesn’t pay to do this sort of work—when one could have just as good chances of full pay with a piece nominally as well as actually one’s own. I’ve cut it out now—though the last two reliques of my collaboration (one more Heald opus & the collaboration with Sultan Malik) are yet to be printed.
—H. P. Lovecraft to Clark Ashton Smith, 9 Mar 1934, Dawnward Spire, Lonely Hill 544

“Winged Death” was nothing to run a temperature over, though Belknap has taken an unaccountable fancy to it. My share in it is something like 90 to 95%.
—H. P. Lovecraft to R. H. Barlow, 10 Apr 1934, O Fortunate Floridian! 129

Once again, H. P. Lovecraft takes a basic idea from a revision client and works it into his own very weird plot (more or less, there are some distinct parallels with another revision, “The Last Test”). For those interested in Hazel Heald’s contribution to this story, the question lies in what Lovecraft accounts for “5-10%”; no comment survives from Heald herself to shed light any light on the matter. In this case, that appears primarily to be the use of poisonous insects and an African setting—rare enough territory for Lovecraft, whose work very seldom went in that direction.

In 1934, Africa was still largely under the control of European powers. The Great War had seen a re-shuffling of African colonial possessions, but home rule by the indigenous peoples was rare, with only Ethiopia and Liberia free of European control—and Italy under Benito Mussolini would invade Ethiopia in 1935, beginning the Second Italo-Ethiopian War (and arguably part of the larger conflict that became World war II).

In the pulps, even in Weird Tales, Africa was still portrayed as the Dark Continent, with undiscovered marvels and horrors, black magic and primitive tribal societies far from white European rule that practiced body modification, cannibalism, and whatever else. The language and portrayal of native Africans were almost universally crude and prejudiced. H. Rider Haggard and Edgar Rice Burroughs led the way with their Allan Quartermain and Tarzan novels; Robert E. Howard’s Solomon Kane tromps through the jungles and deserts of the continent before the Scramble for Africa; Donald Wandrei’s “The Tree-Men of M’bwa” (Weird Tales Feb 1932) and Hugh B. Cave’s “The Cult of the White Ape” (Weird Tales Feb 1933) are set in contemporary Africa, but might easily have been written fifteen years earlier or later, as far as the pulps were concerned.

Lovecraft’s literary visits to Africa were few. “Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family” (1921) touches on 18th-century British exploration of the Congo region, where Sir Wade Jermyn runs across a very Edgar Rice Burroughs-esque hidden city; “The Picture in the House” (1921) includes as a vital detail an engraving by the de Bry brothers about a cannibal butcher shop in the 16th century book Regnum Congo. In 1924, Lovecraft ghost-wrote “Imprisoned with the Pharaohs” for the magician Harry Houdini, supposedly based on an adventure during the latter’s tour of Egypt. Meditations on the ruins of Great Zimbabwe, which Lovecraft believed were left by a lost white civilization, formed the basis for the poem “The Outpost” (1930) and the African link in “Medusa’s Coil” (1939). There are other, minor references scattered throughout some of his stories, but Africa as a setting and Africans as characters rarely appear in Lovecraft’s fiction.

So “Winged Death” stands out as one of Lovecraft’s few attempts to actually capture Africa, particularly contemporary Africa, as a setting. Lovecraft chose South Africa, and did at least basic research as far as names and geography. The town of “M’gonga” is invented, and the description represents the old Colonial attitudes, warts and all:

When I saw myself losing ground in Mombasa, I applied for my present situation in the interior—at M’gonga, only fifty miles from the Uganda line. It is a cotton and ivory trading-post, with only eight white men besides myself. A beastly hole, almost on the equator, and full of every sort of fever known to mankind. Poisonous snakes and insects everywhere, and niggers with diseases nobody ever heard of outside medical college.
—H. P. Lovecraft, “Winged Death”

The “N-word” is used a grand total of three times in this story, which is less than in “Medusa’s Coil” or “The Rats in the Walls” (due solely to the name of the cat), and in keeping with Lovecraft’s style only ever as part of an account by a white character displaying their prejudice; the more neutral term “black” is used throughout when referring to the indigenous African characters. Arguably, this might be called restraint on Lovecraft’s part—he could certainly have gotten away with worse—but that’s a bit damning with faint praise, considering there was no need to use the word at all.

More interesting is the protagonist’s use of the name Galla, which is a racial slur for the Otomo people in Ethiopia, far from Uganda and South Africa where the story is set. Whether this was due to an error on Lovecraft’s part (possibly misreading antiquated sources as research), or a deliberate allusion to the “Gullah” people of Georgia and South Carolina whom Lovecraft discussed in a 1933 letter to R. H. Barlow (O Fortunate Floridian 88), is not clear. Intent, in cases like this, is impossible to tell.

The black supporting characters, notably the infected crocodile-hunter Mevana and the fly-victims Batta and Gamba, play their parts in this story but get little in the way of character development. This is nothing atypical of either Lovecraft or comparable African fiction; the focus is on the criminal mad scientist and the weird goings-on of the tale. The best that can be said is they are not portrayed in a notably negative way, aside from a touch of superstition.

Notable in the story is its sole connection to the Mythos, with an allusion to “The Outpost” (where “The Fishers from Outside” make their first appearance) and thus a kind of tie to “Medusa’s Coil”:

In one spot we came upon a trace of Cyclopean ruins which made even the Gallas run past in a wide circle. They say these megaliths are older than man, and that they used to be a haunt or outpost of “The Fishers from Outside”—whatever that means—and of the evil gods Tsadogwa and Clulu. To this day they are said to have a malign influence, and to be connected somehow with the devil-flies.
—H. P. Lovecraft, “Winged Death”

Not a lot of effort has been made by subsequent Mythos authors to tie together “Clulu” or “Winged Death” and “Marse Clooloo” of “Medusa’s Coil”; and probably for obvious reasons, although Lin Carter made some use of “The Fishers from Outside.” Still, it’s worth noting that Lovecraft himself was apparently not against the idea of an African recension of the Mythos. There is a certain irony in the final statement of Thomas Slaunewaite, who had ridiculed the native beliefs throughout the story, in admitting at the end “THE BLACKS WERE RIGHT.”

For the average reader at the time, however, “Winged Death” would likely have been taken as no more than another tale of African black magic, in the vein of Edward Lucas White’s “Lukundoo” (1907, reprinted in Weird Tales Nov 1925) or Henry S. Whitehead’s “The Lips” (Weird Tales Sep 1929). At least one fan noted that it was essentially an inverse detective tale:

Bernard J. Kenton, of Cleveland, writes: “How can any discriminating reader find merit in other fantasy magazines when Weird Tales adds a new Poe to its columns every month or so? Of the recent writers, Hazel Heald strikes my fancy most, for whenever did anything so strikingly horrible as ‘The Horror in the Museum’ appear in print? Even Lovecraft—as powerful and artistic as he is with macabre suggestiveness—could hardly, I suspect, have surpassed the grotesque scene in which the other-dimensional shambler leaps out upon the hero. ‘Winged Death’ (Heald) makes life a living joy for the amateur criminologist. It is my prediction (verified at least in fiction such as ‘Winged Death’ and ‘The Solitary Hunters’) that the man of exceptional intellect will turn to crime when legitimate channels of amassing wealth are unnavigable; compared to them, Al Capone will look like a kid stealing milk bottles.
—”The Eyrie” in Weird Tales May 1934

All of the language and most of the plot were supplied by Lovecraft rather than Heald; it is possible that her medical friend provided some of the technical data on poisonous African flies, though it is equally possible that Lovecraft dug this up himself through research. Once the story was written, probably in the summer of 1932, Hazel Heald then tried to sell it—and, interestingly enough, did not go straight for Weird Tales.

Something odd befell a client of mine the other day—involving a story-element which I had intended & introduced under the impression that it was strictly original to me. The tale was sent to Handsome Harry [Harry Bates, editor of Strange Tales], & he rejected it on the ground that the element in question (the act of an insect dipping itself in ink & writing on a white surface with its own body) formed the crux of another tale which he had just accepted. Hell’s bells—& I thought I’d hit on an idea of absolute novelty & uniqueness! Now I’m hoping that my client will land with Wright before the S.T. item appears, for otherwise there will be a suspicion of plagiarism from the latter.
—H. P. Lovecraft to August Derleth, Aug 1932, Essential Solitude 2.497

Strange Tales of Terror and Mystery was essentially a clone of Weird Tales, but it paid better (2 cents per word on acceptance for ST, vs. 0.5 cent per word on publication for WT), and it successfully poached several authors from Weird Tales during its short run, including Robert E. Howard and Henry S. Whitehead. However, it only ran seven issues between 1931 and 1933; the story with the insect-writing was never published in its pages. No doubt Lovecraft advised Heald to try the story on S.T. first, and only after it was rejected to submit it to Wright, who apparently held onto it for some time before it was finally published in 1934.

The story remained fairly obscure; August Derleth reprinted it as one of Lovecraft’s revisions in Marginalia (1944), but it was not reprinted again until bundled with the rest of the revisions and collaborations in The Horror in the Museum and Other Revisions in the 1970s, from where it began to be reprinted more frequently. Regrettably, no comment survives from Hazel Heald of what Lovecraft made of her plot-germ.

“Winged Death” may be read for free online here.


Bobby Derie is the author of Weird Talers: Essays on Robert E. Howard & Others (2019) and Sex and the Cthulhu Mythos (2014).

“The Horror in the Museum” (1933) by Hazel Heald & H. P. Lovecraft

I’ve just ghost-written a tale for a client in a fashion amounting virtually to original composition—about a waxwork museum or chamber of horrors where there is a rumour that not all of the fabulous monsters displayed are artificial. I’ve included Tsathoggua among the blasphemies.
—H. P. Lovecraft to Clark Ashton Smith, 28 Oct 1932, Dawnward Spire, Lonely Hill 394

After the successful sale of “The Man of Stone” (1932), Hazel Heald and H. P. Lovecraft pursued further “revisions”—which, as with his client Zealia Bishop, critics and biographers assume amounted to Lovecraft writing the story based on an idea or synopsis provided by Heald. This is certainly the case as far as Lovecraft was willing to discuss it in his letters:

Yes—the waxwork museum story is mostly my own; entirely so in wording, & also so far as concerns the background of Alaskan archaeology & antique horror. You will find Tsathoggua mentioned.
—H. P. Lovecraft to Clark Ashton Smith, 14 Jun 1933, Dawnward Spire, Lonely Hill 420

The Horror in the Museum—a piece which I “ghost-wrote” for a client from a synopsis so poor that I well-nigh discarded it—is virtually my own work. Glad you found it entertaining. There will be two more Heald tales equally dependent on my pen.
—H. P. Lovecraft to Richard Ely Morse, 28 Jul 1933, Selected Letters 4.229

There is not much to gainsay this. Other pulpsters of the period noted Lovecraft’s style without needing to be told. Heald herself does not comment on the writing of the story in any surviving letter, but she did note in a much later letter to August Derleth:

He was a severe critic but I knew that if I finally suited him in my work that the editor would usually accept it. For example— I had to rewrite “Out of the Eons” six times before he was completely satisfied!
—Hazel Heald to August Derleth, 25 Mar 1937

This would appear to jive with a comment on collaboration or revision work that Lovecraft made to another correspondent:

These alleged authors are pretty easy to handle—discard their dope little by little & substitute your own, & in the end they not only swallow it but honestly believe they wrote it themselves! Thus some of my revision clients congratulate themselves when the readers of Weird Tales praise stories (like “The Late Test”, “The Curse of Yig”, “The Horror in the Museum”, “Winged Death”, &c.) that I wrote.
—H. P. Lovecraft to James F. Morton, 28 Mar 1934, Letters to James F. Morton 350

So the possibility remains that the revision process for this story could have been a bit more involved than Lovecraft simply writing the tale from scratch based on a mostly-discarded synopsis. Presumably, the business arrangement was identical to that of Lovecraft’s other client: Heald would have paid a fixed sum for the work, and then tried to sell it to the pulp magazines for whatever she could get. None of their correspondence survives to give greater insight into this aspect of their dealings or the composition of their stories.

The idea of a waxwork museum and its chamber of horrors goes back to the 19th century, with Madame Toussads in London being the archetype and inspiration for a number of other such galleries, and the horror stories and comics eventually created in tribute to them. It is notable that the same year “The Horror in the Museum” was released, the horror film Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933, once thought lost), hit theaters. Lovecraft recalled:

Haven’t done much cinema-viewing, but I did drop in to see that “Wax Museum” thing—especially since I had revised (in fact, virtually ghost-written) a tale on a similar theme for a client. (you’ll see it in the current W.T.) As a story, the film was of course childishly cheap—but it did have some effective horror-touches—especially when the mask falls off & reveals the monstrosity beneath.
—H. P. Lovecraft to R. H. Barlow, 13 Jul 1933, O Fortunate Floridian! 67

This puts the Heald/Lovecraft story in a small but distinct media-spanning horror tradition, one which includes the 1953 and 2005 House of Wax films, Terror in the Wax Museum (1973), and “Vandoom, The Man Who Made A Creature” (Tales to Astonish #17, 1961, by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Dick Ayers), as well as pulp stories such as Robert Bloch’s “Waxworks” (1939). The wax museum with its simulacra and tradition of a chamber of horrors offers a ready-made setting for a number of simple plots, perhaps the simplest and most realistic of which involves actual human remains incorporated into one or more of the figuresan idea with its parallels in real life—and thematically linked to “Pickman’s Model,” where the horrors are taken from life.

But this is an H. P. Lovecraft story, and that rather simple premise served as the bare beginnings for yet another tale of cosmic horror. As with “The Mound,” the opportunity was presented to add a major chapter to the nascent Mythos, trying together not only some of Lovecraft’s fiction; writers such as August Derleth, Clark Ashton Smith, and Robert E. Howard all noted their own creations (the Tcho-Tcho, Book of Eibon, and the Unaussprechlichen Kulten of von Junzt, respectively) mentioned, and it introduced a new entity, Rhan-Tegoth, who would go on to feature in stories by later writers.

What did Hazel Heald make of it? We don’t have her account, although the fact that it sold (and that she didn’t have to sue Weird Tales to get the money) must have been gratifying. So too, the readers of Weird Tales were enthusiastic; one wrote:

A Bouquet for Mrs. Heald

Bernard J. Kenton, of Cleveland, writes: “How can any discriminating reader find merit in other fantasy magazines when Weird Tales adds a new Poe to its columns every month or so? Of the recent writers, Hazel Heald strikes my fancy most, for whenever did anything so strikingly horrible as ‘The Horror in the Museum’ appear in print? Even Lovecraft—as powerful and artistic as he is with macabre suggestiveness—could hardly, I suspect, have surpassed the grotesque scene in which the other-dimensional shambler leaps out upon the hero.
Weird Tales “The Eyrie” May 1934

The response which most sticks out, however, was another entry in ‘The Eyrie’:

“H. P. Lovecraft’s tale of witchcraft and the elder gods, The Dreams in the Witch-House, was superb; while not far behind was Hazel Heald’s The Horror in the Museuma particularly exceptional tale for a woman to write, in that she built up the horror sequence as few women writers have ever been capable of doing.
Weird Tales “The Eyrie” Sep 1933

Weird Tales was perhaps better than other science fiction and fantasy pulps of its day with regards to women writers (such as Greye La Spina and C. L. Moore), poets (including Alice I’Anson and Grace Stillman), fans (notably Gertrude Hemcken and a young Margaret St. Clair), and artists (Margaret Brundage being a particular favorite), but a degree of sexism still existed in the pages of the magazine. To us today, with women authors like Joyce Carol Oates and Nancy Collins, who grew up reading Shirley Jackson and Alice B. Sheldon (James Tiptree, Jr.) it seems strange to imagine “few women” capable of writing a horror sequence. Even in the 1930s, readers of horror would probably have recognized Lady Cynthia Asquith and Edith Nesbit.

So, an odd comment. Perhaps Heald reconciled herself with the satisfaction that the story was popular enough to be reprinted in the “Not at Night” anthology Terror by Night (1934), and again in the Not at Night Omnibus (1937). If she was wise enough to only sell Weird Tales first American serial rights, these reprints may even have netted her some profit—although there is evidence in Lovecraft’s letters that, like Zealia Bishop, Heald had fallen behind on paying for revision services and ended up typing “The Thing on the Doorstep” for Lovecraft in lieu of part of the debt.

Whatever the exact nature of their business arrangements, they were apparently satisfactory enough that three more “revisions” would issue from Lovecraft’s pen, under Hazel Heald’s name.

“The Horror in the Museum” may be read for free online here.


Bobby Derie is the author of Weird Talers: Essays on Robert E. Howard & Others (2019) and Sex and the Cthulhu Mythos (2014).

“The Man of Stone” (1932) by Hazel Heald & H. P. Lovecraft

I’ve seen the new Wonder Stories, & agree that it seems to be improving. A revision client of mine has a story in the current issue—”The Man of Stone”—in which you may possibly recognise my prose style.
—H. P. Lovecraft to R. H. Barlow, 12 Sep 1932, O Fortunate Floridian! 37
I note, by the way, a story in the Oct. Wonder Stories (which featured my “God of the Asteroid”) which I am willing to gamble was revised and partly “ghost-written” by H.P. The tale was called “The Man of Stone,” and was signed by one Hazel Heald. It contains reference to Tsathoggua, the Book of EIbon, The Goat with a Thousand Young, etc.
—Clark Ashton Smith to August Derleth, 24 Dec 1932, Selected Letters 198

In 1932, Hazel Heald was a divorcee, working as a clerk or bookkeeper in Massachusetts. She had some aspirations to be a writer, and had developed a macabre plot:

In this same year, 1932, I formed a little New England writers’ club of my own, and one of my members, a divorcee was very anxious to succeed in the weird writing field. She sent me an original manuscript with a very passable plot, yet told unconvincingly and amatuerishly. I let Lovecraft read it when he next came to our house on Pearl Street, and he agreed that it did have possibilities.

I wrote to the Cambridge, Massachusetts, club-member and told her about H.P.L., adding that he, too, was divorced. Would she like to have him look over her manuscript, “The Man of Stone”? She would! So I gave Lovecraft a note of introduction to Hazel Heald and another chapter in his life was soon taking place.
—Muriel M. Eddy, The Gentleman from Angell Street 22-23

Lovecraft’s fiction writing had been dwindling since his collaborations with Zealia Bishop, most of which failed to find publication during his lifetime, although he had just managed to complete “The Dreams in the Witch House.” He was still doing revision work, however, and traveling as best as his means allowed. This included a very exhausting trip to Quebec on a cheap fare:

Early the following Tuesday morning, before I had gone to work, Howard arrived back from Quebec. I have never before nor since seen such a sight. folds of skin hanging froma  skeleton. Eyes sunk in sockets like burnt holes in a blanket. Those delicate, sensitive artist’s hands and fingers nothing but claws. The man was dead except for his nerves, on which he was functioning. that evening he had a dinner appointment in Somerville with a woman for whom he was doing some revision, and he had plans for things he wanted to do during the day.
—W. Paul Cook, “In Memoriam: H. P. Lovecraft” in Ave Atque Vale 59

Eddy, who apparently conceived a notion that the two divorcees might kindle a romance, provides a rose-tinted account of the meeting:

She invited him up to her house for Sunday supper and arranged to have everything that H.P.L. liked best on the menu. they ate by candlelight, and he was greatly intrigued by her thoughtfulness in not having a household of people to greet him. He used to say he could think better whn there were not too many people around to disturb his train of thought.

He tactfully explained to Hazel that her story, though very good, really needed a little touching up here and there, something to stir the reader’s imagination. Would she allow him to do it for her? He’d consider it an honor and a privilege. She agreed.
—Muriel Eddy, The Gentleman from Angell Street 23

Hazel Heald and H. P. Lovecraft would go on to collaborate on five stories, beginning with “The Man of Stone” and continuing with “The Horror in the Museum,” “Winged Death,” “Out of the Aeons,” and “The Horror in the Burying-Ground.” Lovecraft’s brief notes in his letters suggest that the latter stories were essentially ghost-written by him, based on a brief outline or idea provided by Heald, exactly as was the case with Zealia Bishop. “The Man of Stone,” however, may have started off as an actual text.

Writing on 30 September 1944 of one such story, “The Man of Stone,” the late Hazel Heald admitted, “Lovecraft helped me on this story as much as on the others, and did actually rewrite paragraphs. He would criticize paragraph after paragraph and pencil remarks beside them, and then make me rewrite them until they pleased him.” But of course Lovecraft did considerably more with Hazel Heald’s later stories: he rewrote them from beginning to end so that they are essentially Lovecraft stories, retaining only the plot or central theme of the author whose by-line appeared over the work—and not even this in every case.
—August Derleth, “Lovecraft’s Revisions” in The Horror in the Museum xi-xii

It was typical of Lovecraft in his collaborations to virtually re-write the prose, so that is not surprising; the Cthulhu Mythos references in the story are certainly his addition, and possibly Mad Dan’s whole diary portion was Lovecraft’s own invention, to explain the mechanism of the action. What then is left of Heald’s original work?

Probably quite a bit, at least in conception, overall plot, and characterization. The love triangle of the woman with an abusive spouse, enamored with a younger artist, is definitely outside of H. P. Lovecraft’s normal milieu. The latter part of the story especially, with Rose Morris’ diary providing her point of view, is very exceptional for any story Lovecraft had a hand in. Even if we can see little Lovecraftian touches (the parallels between Mad Dan’s practicing “all sorts of hellish ceremonies handed down by his mother’s people” and “The Dunwich Horror” are especially acute), it’s rare for any Lovecraftian tale to touch on the personal horror of domestic abuse:

No one will ever know what I went through as his wife. It was not simply common cruelty—though God knows he was cruel enough, and beat me often with a leather whip. It was more—more than anyone in this age can ever understand. He was a monstrous creature, and practiced all sorts of hellish ceremonies handed down by his mother’s people. He tried to make me help in the rites—and I don’t dare even hint what they were. I would not, so he beat me. It would be blasphemy to tell what he tried to make me do. I can say he was a murderer even then, for I know what he sacrificed one night on Thunder Hill. He was surely the Devil’s Kin. I tried four times to run away, but he always caught and beat me. Also, he had a sort of hold over my mind, and even over my father’s mind.
—Hazel Heald & H. P. Lovecraft, “The Man of Stone”

It is worth noting that Lovecraft would never again have quite such a strong female viewpoint in any of his works.

The story in broad strokes has parallels with “The Mask” in Robert W. Chamber’s The King in Yellow, which likewise deals with a lover’s triangle and petrification through some unsubtle alchemy. It is impossible to say if this was intentional, with Chambers’ providing inspiration or simply coincidence. Did Heald come up with the petrification bit? Or was it originally a more conventional sort of poisoning? As no manuscript, notes, or correspondence have come to light from the collaboration, we’ll probably never know for certain.

“The Man of Stone” was published in Hugo Gernsback’s Wonder Stories (Oct 1933), then being edited by David Lasser. There were few “fantastic” pulps on the market, and whether this acceptance was because Weird Tales rejected the story or if Heald submitted it to Wonder Stories first is unclear. Unfortunately, Heald eventually ran into a common problem with many writers: non-payment.

One of my clients is about to write an indignant letter to the Authors’ League concerning his financial shotcomings—though I imagine its effect will be close to zero.
—H. P. Lovecraft to Clark Ashton Smith, 2 Feb 1933, Dawnward Spire, Lonely Hill 403
Yes—my Gernsback-mulcted client is Mrs. Heald—whose story was nothing extra, although it surely deserved some remuneration.
—H. P. Lovecraft to Clark Ashton Smith, 10 Feb 1933, Dawnward Spire, Lonely Hill 404

Smith gave Lovecraft the name and address of Ione Weber, a lawyer in New York who made a specialty of suing Gernsback for non-payment; Lovecraft in turn passed the information to Heald, and Weber was apparently successful in getting her client’s money. (Dawnward Spire, Lonely Hill 483) This is perhaps why all of the subsequent Heald-Lovecraft collaborations appeared in Weird Tales. Payment from WT was on publication, which could sometimes be months or years after the story was accepted, and even that often late during the 1930s due to the pressures of the Great Depression, as a consequence, it appears Heald owed Lovecraft some monies for his ghostwriting, which she partially paid off by typing his “The Thing on the Doorstep”:

Meanwhile (my hatred of the typewriter being stronger every day) I have had a delinquent client type the story I wrote last August, & have started the carbon on the rounds of the gang–beginning with Dwyer.
—H. P. Lovecraft to J. Vernon Shea, 8 Nov 1933, Letters to J. Vernon Shea &c. 175
I lately had a client type my story of last August—”The Thing on the Doorstep” (which isn’t very satisfactory), & am circulating the carbon amongst the gang (you’ll get it in time).
—H. P. Lovecraft to R. H. Barlow, 13 Nov 1933, O Fortunate Floridian! 85

However, the stories were received with some praise by Weird Tales, even if Lovecraft’s friends quite clearly knew he had written most or all of them. One reader wrote in, unaware of the irony:

I cannot say enough in praise of the work of Hazel Heald. She is veritably a female Lovecraft. (Weird Tales Jun 1935)

It is likely that the financial and creative relationship would have gone on longer, but around 1934 Lovecraft ended it, though he and Heald continued to correspond. Lovecraft’s reasoning for this had nothing to do with the content of the writing, but personal and professional reasons:

But it doesn’t pay to do this sort of work—when one could have just as good chances of full pay with a piece nominally as well as actually one’s own. I’ve cut it out now—though the last two reliques of my collaboration (one more Heald opus & the collaboration with Sultan Malik) are yet to be printed.
—H. P. Lovecraft to Clark Ashton Smith, 9 Mar 1934, Dawnward Spire, Lonely Hill 544
I have refused point-blank to do any more such jobs for Mrs. Heald & old de Castro & others—& recently declined to collaborate with Price on a sequel to the “Gates of the Silver Key”. I simply can’t tackle so much when my time & nervous energy are so limited—& when so many stories of my own are veritably howling to be written.
—H. P. Lovecraft to Robert Bloch, Feb/Mar 1935, Letters to Robert Bloch & Others 130

This was not the end of Lovecraft’s collaborations, but it was largely the end of his remunerative collaborations; from 1934 on his revisions were often with fans, and on a non-paying basis. Of the stories “howling to be written,” only two were finished: The Shadow Out of Time and “The Haunter of the Dark” before Lovecraft’s death in 1937. Heald would write of Lovecraft in Weird Tales (Jun 1937):

I want to express my sorrow in the passing of H. P. Lovecraft. He was a friend indeed to the struggling author, and many have started to climb the ladder of success with his kind assistance. To us who really knew him it is a sorrow that mere words cannot express. His was the helping hand that started me in the writers’ game and gave me the courage to carry on under the gravest difficulties. But we must try to think that he is “just away” on one of his longest journeys and that some day we will meet him again in the Great Beyond.

Hazel Heald herself would largely drop from view; whether or not she continued to write is unknown, but no more weird or pulp stories are known from her.


Bobby Derie is the author of Weird Talers: Essays on Robert E. Howard & Others and Sex and the Cthulhu Mythos (2014).