H.P Lovecraft is considered one of the grandfathers of the horror novel. He created a Cthulu, a horrific cosmic space entity If H.P. However, if Lovecraft is the father of Cthulu, than August Derleth is it’s uncle. When Lovecraft died, Derleth and Donald Wandrei started Arkham House to continue publishing Lovecraft’s work. Arkham House today continues to publish tales of the weird and strange.
What does this have to do with children’s literature?
I’m getting there.
August Derleth. Best known as a publisher and writer of horror, Derleth was so much more. Often described as “a regional writer,” Derleth published extensively in his lifetime, in and out of the horror genre. Novels, natural histories, detective fiction, horror, poetry, biographies, ; Derleth grew up and lived in or around his beloved Sauk City Wisconsin for much of his life., and much of the area found its way into his writing. (Sauk City is near Madison, in case you’re wondering). He wrote extensively about his town and state, both in fiction and non-fiction, for adults and children.
Yes, children. Derleth’s Steve and Sim Mystery Series (aka The Mill Creek Investigators) was a ten volume mystery series set in Sauk City. That may seem like a lot, but depending on how you count it, the Hardy Boys has 58 volumes plus. Featuring the adventures of Steve Grendon and Sim(oleon) Jones, the stories focus on the two boys adventures. Because they focus on two boys, it could be compared to the Hardy Brothers adventures, except Steve and Sim were written by one man, set in a highly detailed specific local. The entire series is long out of print and mostly forgotten, although some volumes are easily found through interlibrary loans (the series had three different publishers). Today Derleth’s name now almost solely associated with horror, there is almost mention of him in children’s literature scholarship. But more important than scholars is the readers; as with everything featured here in The Looking Glass, the question is always, is it still worth reading today?
For the answer to that, you’ll have to wait ’til next week!