Coming of Conan, The

Contents and original publication:

• “Howard’s Letter to P. Schuyler Miller” (original to this volume)
• “H. P. L[ovecraft] Letter to Donald Wollheim” (original to this volume)
• “The Hyborian Age” by Robert E. Howard and John D. Clark (based on material by Howard from the fanzine The Phantagraph, Spring, August, and October/November 1936)
• “The Shadow Kingdom” (Weird Tales, August 1929)
• “The Mirrors of Tuzun Thune” (Weird Tales, September 1929)
• “The King and the Oak” (poem from Weird Tales, February 1939, plus additional material from “The Hyborian Age”)
• “An Informal Biography of Conan the Cimmerian” by John D. Clark and P. Schuyler Miller (original to this volume)
• “The Tower of the Elephant” (Weird Tales, March 1933)
• “The God in the Bowl” (rewritten by L. Sprague de Camp from an unfinished manuscript and published in Space Science Fiction, September 1952)
• “Rogues in the House” (Weird Tales, January 1934)
• “The Frost Giant’s Daughter.” (rewritten by L. Sprague de Camp from an unpublished manuscript and published in Fantasy Fiction, August 1953)
• “Queen of the Black Coast.” (Weird Tales, May 1934)

“The Frost Giant’s Daughter” was originally titled “The Frost-Giant’s Daughter.” When it didn’t sell, Howard rewrote it with different characters and retitled it “The Frost King’s Daughter.” For whatever reason, the title was changed to “Gods of the North” when it appeared in the March 1934 issue of the fanzine The Fantasy Fan. De Camp changed it back to the original title minus the hyphen. Howard’s original version has been found and reprinted in a number of volumes, all of which keep the hyphen to make it distinctive for the cognoscenti.

Both “The Hyborian Age” and an essay titled “A Probable Outline of Conan’s Career” by P. Schuyler Miller and John D. Clark, Ph.D appeared in The Hyborian Age, a chapbook – really a slightly fancier fanzine – published in 1938 by the LANY Cooperative, which consisted to two New York fans, Donald Wollheim and John Michel, and two Los Angeles fans, Forrest J. Ackerman and Russel Hodgkins. The “Informal Biography of Conan the Cimmerian” covers much of the same territory, a story by story breakdown of Conan’s life, but is rewritten from that original. You can see that as retyped by Edward A. Waterman here, although on another page he confusingly says that:

The essay was next published in parts between 1952 and 1954 for the Gnome Press books featuring Conan and edited by John D. Clark and L. Sprague de Camp: The Sword of Conan, 1952; King Conan, 1953; The Coming of Conan, 1953; and Conan the Barbarian, 1954 . Here, the essay was re-titled “An Informal Biography of Conan the Cimmerian” and excerpts were used as a bridge before and between each of the stories.

Note that the designation “The Hyborean Age” is dropped from the title page on this volume, presumably because it conflicts with Howard’s own spelling of “The Hyborian Age.” Nevertheless, it would return for King Conan and The Sword of Conan.

Villiers Gerson mentioned the book in the June 13, 1954 New York Times Book Review.

Filled the clash of swords, sorcery, and intrigue, they have a verve and dash seldom found in such thud-and-blunder stories. An unusual adult fairy tale well designed to while away an evening.

The Coming of Conan, by Robert E. Howard, 1953, title #33, 255 pages, $3.00. 5000 copies printed.

Hardback, red cloth with black printing. Jacket design by Frank Kelly Freas. “First Edition” stated on copyright page. Printed by H. Wolff. Back cover: 25 titles. Gnome Press address given as 80 East 11th St., N.Y. 3.

The Coming of Conan jacket front

The Coming of Conan jacket flaps

The Coming of Conan red cover

2 thoughts on “Coming of Conan, The

  1. I was looking through boxes after my move and found I have from Gnome Press first edition copies of the Coming of Conan(1953) and Conan the Conqueror (1950). What are these two books worth?
    Thanks,
    Roger

    • Roger, I’m sorry I haven’t replied. I just didn’t seen your comment until now. Apparently I always go past the page with the notification. That won’t happen in the future. But to answer your question, Gnome books depend heavily on condition. Conqueror can go for $600 in fine condition with a fine dust jacket or as little as $100 in only good condition. Coming ranges from $100-$400 for the same reasons.

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