Arkham House is a publishing house specializing in weird fiction founded in Sauk City, Wisconsin in 1939 by August Derleth and Donald Wandrei to preserve in hardcover the best fiction of H.P. Lovecraft. The company's name is derived from Lovecraft's fictional New England city, Arkham. Arkham House editions are noted for the quality of their printing and binding. The colophon for Arkham House was designed by Frank Utpatel.
In addition to volumes of H. P. Lovecraft's fiction, Arkham House has published collections of his letters to peers, friends and family. Among his correspondents were Arkham House founders, Derleth and Wandrei. (Arkham House's volumes of Lovecraft's letters are highly abridged; unabridged volumes of Lovecraft's letters to individual correspondents are progressively being issued by Hippocampus Press).
Arkham House also published fiction by many of Lovecraft's contemporaries, including Ray Bradbury, Robert E. Howard, Frank Belknap Long, Clark Ashton Smith, Robert Bloch, and Derleth himself; classic genre fiction by authors such as William Hope Hodgson, Algernon Blackwood, H. Russell Wakefield, Seabury Quinn, and J. Sheridan Le Fanu; and later writers in the Lovecraft school, such as Ramsey Campbell and Brian Lumley to whom Derleth gave their earliest publication in hardcover.
After World War II, Wandrei resigned his interest in the firm.
Despite the wealth of talented writers who appeared under the Arkham House imprint, it was not a financial success. Derleth wrote in 1970, "[T]he fact is that in no single year since its founding have the earnings of Arkham House met the expenses, so that it has been necessary for my personal earnings to shore up Arkham House finances."
After Derleth's death in 1971, Donald Wandrei briefly acted as editorial director but declined to resume his interest in the firm permanently.
He was succeeded by James Turner, who expanded the company's range of authors to include such prominent science fiction and fantasy writers as Michael Bishop, Lucius Shepard, Bruce Sterling, James Tiptree Jr., Michael Shea and J. G. Ballard, often publishing hardcover collections of shorter works. Turner's acquisitions took the publisher away from its roots in weird and horror fiction, and he was eventually dismissed by August Derleth's daughter April.
April Derleth became president of Arkham House in 2002, having appointed Peter Ruber as her consulting editor and the successor to James Turner. The house’s mission was to return to classic weird fiction, which Ruber sought to do. Ruber has drawn criticism for the hostile opinions of various authors he expressed in his story introductions within Arkham's Masters of Horror (2000). Rumours of his ill-health have circulated for some time and it appears his editorial duties at Arkham House have lapsed due to this.
August Derleth's children April and Walden (Wally) Derleth co-own the publisher. April runs the business while Wally has currently no direct involvement in its day-to-day operations.
The house's publishing schedule has slowed considerably in recent years. Only nine books were issued between 2000 and 2006 - In the Stone House by Barry N. Malzberg (2000); Book of the Dead by E. Hoffman Price (a collection of memoirs of writers known by Price, 2001); Arkham House's Masters of Horror (ed. Peter Ruber, 2000); The Far Side of Nowhere by Nelson Bond (2002); The Cleansing by John D. Harvey (a horror novel, 2002); Selected Letters of Clark Ashton Smith (ed. Scott Connors, 2003); Cave of a Thousand Tales by Milt Thomas (a biography of pulp writer Hugh B. Cave, 2004); Other Worlds Than Ours, another collection by Nelson Bond (2005); and Evermore (ed. James Robert Smith & Stephen Mark Rainey (a collection of tales in tribute to Edgar Allan Poe, 2006). No books have been issued under the Arkham House imprint alone since 2006. Books were previously published in almost every year since the publisher's founding in 1939 (except for 1940 and 1955/56), so the four-year gap 2006-10 could be seen to mark the lowest point thus far in Arkham House's publishing fortunes.
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