Lord was born in 1931 in Louisiana. He first discovered the work of Robert E. Howard through his first Arkham House collection, Skull-Face and Others (1946). This began a life-long interest in Howard’s work, and in 1965 he became the literary agent for Howard’s heirs. The same year he purchased Robert E. Howard’s famous literary trunk, filled with tens of thousands of pages of unpublished stories, poems, and story fragments, from pulp writer E. Hoffmann Price.
The trunk, and Lord’s private collection of unpublished Howard fiction, provided a seemingly endless trove of new material for decades, published in places such as Fantastic Stories, Zane Grey Western Magazine, The Howard Review, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, numerous anthologies, and in his own magazine, The Howard Collector. In 1977 he worked with Karl Edward Wagner to release three seminal Conan books through Berkley, The Hour of the Dragon, Red Nails, and The People of the Black Circle, the first Conan collections to present the unaltered text of Howard’s stories from Weird Tales.
Lord received the World Fantasy Convention Award in 1978, and was the Editor Guest of Honor at the World Fantasy Convention in Austin, Texas in 2006. He received The Cimmerian‘s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005.
Read a personal remembrance from Black Gate blogger Barbara Barrett, who attended a birthday party for Glenn Lord at the Monument Inn in LaPorte, TX in November, after the jump.
A Remembrance of Glenn Lord
By Barbara Barrett
Dennis McHaney put together a book Anniversary: Glenn Lord and The Howard Collector that he published through Lulu last summer. He solicited and received tributes to Glenn from a number of Howard fans.
One of them, Rob Roehm, who is one of the Robert E. Howard Foundation Board members wrote an article: “Imagine.” His lead in paragraph is:
Imagine for a moment a world in which Glenn Lord didn’t discover the works of Robert E. Howard. Frightening, isn’t it?
My own experience with Glenn Lord have been a lot more limited. I first met him in Houston, Texas in 2009. He and his wife, Lou Ann got out of their car at the same time I did.
As I approached him, I held out my hand. He said in his quiet voice: “You’re Barbara Barrett.” That was just one example of his many kindnesses to Howard fans.
The second time we met was on November 17th 2011. I was in Texas to attend a birthday bash to honor his eightieth birthday. Just a couple of days before I left Dennis McHaney called Lou Ann Lord and asked if it was possible for them to meet me for lunch on Friday or perhaps dinner that night.
Lou Ann called me and we met in Galveston. He and Lou Ann picked me up about noon at my hotel and we drove to Casey’s, a seafood restaurant that was connected to Guido’s.
To say that I was a little nervous is nothing but the truth. I was still having a difficult time believing that he and Lou Ann would make time in their schedule so that I could talk to Glenn about Howard’s poetry. I did my best to prepare so that it would hopefully go well.
I brought copies of the Introductions he did for the poetry volumes that he edited: Always Comes Evening (my copy is the 1977 edition), Singers in the Shadows, Echoes From an Iron Harp and Shadows of Dreams. There were some added non-poetry questions too.
We ate pretty slowly. According to Dennis, Glenn loved to eat out. Lou Ann said she had eaten breakfast so she only ordered pecan pie and ice cream. The word “only” is the operative one though because the slice of pie was most generous and the scoop of ice cream was as big as a baseball. She didn’t finish it. Glenn ordered fried shrimp. Again, according to Dennis, this was his standard choice. I had fresh Cajun style redfish that was caught in the Gulf. It was delicious.
At first Glenn didn’t say much but later he became more talkative. I brought a tape recorder but his voice was so quiet and soft I could barely hear him so I did not use the recorder at all. Instead I took a few notes but even these were forgotten in the middle of an interesting subject.
The lunch with Glenn wasn’t as formal as an interview. We discussed many topics, some of which I talk about below and since it was more like a conversation than an interview, this report is also informal.
One of the things I learned was that Glenn and Lou Ann had been flown over to Spain for an all expenses paid trip when they were filming Conan. It took a few minutes to realize they were talking about the 1982 Conan movie.
They had some great anecdotes to tell including their ten or twelve year old daughter’s reaction to Arnold Schwarzenegger. After seeing how tall and big he was, she said she would hate to have to fight him.
I asked Glenn if he has seen the current Conan movie. He said he had and then commented that he thought it was an enjoyable movie, but that it wasn’t Howard.
My main purpose was to talk to Glenn about REH’s poems. But there were also other things I was interested in. The accounts of his locating and managing to gather thousands of sheets of REH’s typescripts are legendary and well known. I wanted to know his impressions about the people that he met.
He said that he liked both Lindsey Tyson and Dave Lee very much. From what he said, I had the impression that Clyde Smith was a little more difficult to get to know and when I asked if he had met Truett Vinson, he said that he saw him briefly when he came down the stairs. He didn’t actually have any conversation with him because Truett did not want to talk about his friendship with Howard.
We talked about the potential loss of any poems that were possibly sent to Truett in REH’s letters to him. Hopefully, they have not been destroyed and it’s possible that one of Vinson’s heirs, like those of Clyde Smith, could someday allow them to be copied, if they still exist.
Glenn also suggested the possibility that some of these poems may have already been included in the poetry volumes that REH wanted to publish, as well the collection of verse by Howard and his friends: Clyde Smith and Lenore Preece.
One of the stories he told me was about the microfilm copies of the Howard poems sent to Druid Press by Otis Kline. Although the transcripts themselves had been lost, Druid Press had put them all on microfilm. This was sent to Glenn who had to read them and then transcribe them line by line with a special magnifying glass. It was a slow process because there were quite a few poems.
We talked about “The Dust Dance.” In Glenn Lord’s introduction in the poetry book, Shadows of Dreams he says that it:
…reportedly once existed in lengthy form, but only excerpts of two variant versions are known to exist, both published in Echoes From an Iron Harp (Donald M. Grant, 1972); an additional four stanzas were found in the letters and I arbitrarily assigned them to “Version II” since the second stanza is found in a different context in “Version I.”
I remembered that Glenn had quoted this poem when I was at his 2009 birthday party in Houston so I asked if the complete poem has ever been found. He shook his head and said, “No.”
It was wonderful to just sit and converse with Glenn about REH’s poetry. It’s my favorite subject and to have someone who appreciates it equally is a memory that I will keep for a long time. We both quoted poetry. That was fun. In addition to “The Dust Dance,” it’s also the second time he quoted the last lines from “A Sonnet of Good Cheer.”
Fling wide the portals, rose-lipped dawn has come
To kiss our drowsy visions into life;
Let me arise, a-lust for love and strife
To follow far some distant, pulsing drum.
Upon my vibrant soul-chords passions strum;
With hot, red, leaping blood my veins are rife.
Gods, let me take the universe to wife!
Ere Death, the cold accountant, close my sum.
Then as I spake, methought fierce laughter came
Across the dying hills where sunrise shot;
“Fool, fool, you came unbidden to this game,
“And Death that takes you hence shall ask you not.
“From life, this and only this, may you claim;
“Living, to die, and dying, be forgot.”
I also realized I didn’t follow up on things I wish I had. As I re-read my notes, I wish I had asked more questions about his reactions to Lindsey and Dave Lee.
How long he spent with them? What kind of men were they? And, so forth.
Sadly, unless someone else has already asked him these questions, the answers are lost forever now.
Both Glenn and Lou Ann were gracious and it was a privilege to have this opportunity to talk with both of them alone and to listen to the background information relating to the discovery of the original Howard typescripts.
I was fortunate enough to see them again the next day at the Monument Inn in La Porte, Texas at his birthday party. Present were Glenn and his wife, Lou Ann, both their son and daughter and Glenn’s grandchildren.
Howardists that attended were: Rusty Burke, Paul Herman, Damon Sasser, Dennis McHaney, Todd Wood and David Hardy (with wife, Julie and daughter, Bridget along.)
The conversation was lively and there was much laughter. After we finished eating, Lou Ann served each of us a slice of homemade birthday cake. It had the flavor of a spice cake and was delicious.
All too soon, it was over. We were taking pictures and saying good bye to one another.
Most of us will see each other next June at Howard Days 2012. At the time I knew Glenn and Lou Ann wouldn’t be there. They haven’t been for several years.
Now I know there won’t even be any more birthday celebrations, unless they are memorials.
When Glenn and Lou Ann picked me up in the lobby the day before, they shook hands with me but I got warm hugs from both of them at the end of the party. All in all, a very special day with some very special people, and now, a special memory.
Glenn Lord’s contributions to Howard fandom are immense and his publications were far too many for me to list here. I only met him twice and liked both him and Lou Ann very much.
I think it’s more fitting that someone who knew him for decades give a better glimpse into who he was and what Howard fans owe to him.
In his December 2011 zine for the Robert E. Howard United Press Association, Rusty Burke puts it so well as he gives his reasons for attending the Glenn Lord’s birthday bash:
I wasn’t about to miss the eightieth birthday of one of the most important people in my life. What would my life have been like without Glenn Lord, without his friendship and his mentoring and his patience with my endless requests for material and information? Look over the past 53 years, beginning with Always Comes Evening, and think of all the books he edited or provided content for, all the fanzines he encouraged with his benevolence, all the scholarship that he worked tirelessly and without fanfare to promote. When I think of what we might not have had were it not for Glenn, and his dedication to Howard, I’m put in mind of a kind of reverse Ozymandias: without him, a wasteland, but fortunately we are able to look upon his works and rejoice.
Most of us are in shock. Still no word or further information available about Glenn’s death or funeral arrangements.