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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Derleth: Letters

Currently for sale at LW Currey:

Derleth, August. THREE TYPED LETTERS SIGNED (TLsS). Each 1 page, dated 15 July 1963, 24 July 1963 and 3 August 1963, to "Dear Kirby McCauley" or "Dear Mr. McCauley," signed "August Derleth." On executive-size Arkham House stationery with Utpatel illustration at top. . These letters mainly constitute one half of a running argument between Derleth and McCauley about a civil rights issue involving a man in an exclusively white neighborhood who sold his house to a black, thereby breaking an agreement to not do so. McCauley apparently sided with the neighbors. Derleth's position seems a little squishier. On the one hand, he writes, "I don't happen to be prejudiced," but elsewhere in the same letter, writes, "I think we can't doubt that the Negro is racially inferior; that is, he will probably not always stay that way, but as at present the race is generally inferior to the white. This may be due to evolutionary as well as socially and economically important factors." Elsewhere he writes that "Catholics aren't supposed to think, only do what the clergy directs." A revealing look at racial attitudes circa 1963. The letters also deal in passing with minor Arkham House business matters, Derleth's writings, and McCauley's search for Henry Whitehead letters. Kirby McCauley was probably the most important literary agent of horror, fantasy and sf writers in the boom years of the 1970s and 1980s. Faint creases where folded for mailing, fine. Excellent content. (#102368)

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