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Frank Belknap Long
by Joseph Payne Brennan
Illustration by Robert Arrington
Frank Belknap Long, Guest of Honor at the 5th World Fantasy convention, scarcely needs any
formal introduction. Short-story writer, poet, novelist, editor, biographer, critic and reviewer, Long
has been publishing steadily in professional markets for well over fifty years. He was an early and
frequent contributor to Weird Tales and an intimate friend of H. P. Lovecraft. (He estimates that he
and Lovecraft exchanged over a thousand letters during the course of their friendship.)
The work of Long cannot be fitted neatly into any one category. He has written straight fantasy,
macabre stories, science fiction, detective stories, adventure, Gothics and some tales which probably
defy rigid categorization. Dozens ofhis stories have been anthologized — some many times —
translated and dramatized. It seems certain that stories such as "The Hounds of Tindalos," "Second
Night Out" and "A Visitor from Egypt" will be causing shudders as long as people go on reading.
Long was a charter member of the Kalem Club, a group of writers centered about Lovecraft
during his residence in New York. His book, Howard Phillips Lovecraft, Dreamer on the Nightside,
is basic and essential reading for anyone intrigued by the great Providence fantaisiste. With the
possible exception of Lovecraft's wife, it seems unlikely that anyone knew H.P.L. better than Long.
On the maternal side directly descended form one of the Mayflower crew, Long was born and
brought up in New York City. In some respects his boyhood was average and even typical, but he
possessed an introspective bent which led him frequently to books. He became a dedicated reader
at an early age. First prize in a letter contest in a boy's magazine resulted in his joining the United
Amateur Press Association. Somewhat later, his story, "The Eye Above the Mantel," published
in The United Amateur, brought a letter of congratulations and encouragement from Lovecraft. It
was the beginning of a lifelong friendship.
Long's first story in Weird Tales, "The Desert Lich," was published in 1924. He became a regular
and frequent contributor to "the Unique Magazine." Subsequently he published in Astounding,
Thrilling Wonder Stories, Strange Tales, Marvel Tales, Startling Stories, etc. —to mention only
Long's first volume, a book of verse entitled A Man from Genoa and Other Poems, published in
1926, is now a rare and highly-prized collector's item.
Here it might be noted that his success did not come easily nor overnight. He worked very hard for
several years with little financial return and only occasional encouragement. At this time, he was far
from unacquainted with printed rejection slips.
But once he began to publish professionally, he rapidly climbed up the slippery ladder of freelance endeavor. Although for several years he worked as associate editor on magazines — notably
Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine — he not only survived but prospered in the fiercely competitive