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Robert E. Howard’s Letter to Two Nerds in the 1930s

November 4, 2021

I have mixed feelings about author Robert E. Howard. He’s written some of my favorite short stories, but he also murdered one of my favorite authors. I’ll get to that a little later.

The first part is about two nerds who were fans of Robert E. Howard in the 1930s. I’m not 100% certain these two fans were nerds, but they definitely had nerd tendencies. One fan was an educator, and the other was a chemist. Plus, they read Conan the Barbarian stories from this pulp magazine called Weird Tales. Yeah, they were nerds.

I’m not making fun of these two Robert E. Howard fans by calling them nerds. I’m the last person who has any business making fun of somebody else for being a nerd. I’m just calling them what they probably were. It makes explaining things easier.

Back in the 1930s, nerds didn’t have the internet; there was no social media, no email, and no television. There weren’t any comic books yet and no video games. By today’s standards, life would seem boring. There was nerd stuff like math and literature and philosophy and history and classical music, but there wasn’t much fun nerd stuff, except for Weird Tales and other pulp magazines.

I understand the nerds’ admiration for Robert E. Howard. Most normal people know Conan the Barbarian only because of some mediocre movies, but Robert E. Howard’s short stories are really good. Since Howard’s death, other authors have been allowed to write Conan novels, but they’re not the same. Any Conan the Barbarian story written by somebody other than Robert E. Howard is just a story about a barbarian who happens to be named Conan.

Anyway, the nerds wrote Robert E. Howard a letter, and then Robert E. Howard wrote them back! And he didn’t just send a quick thank you note. This was a long, well-written response. Obviously, the nerds were thrilled because they kept the letter, and it was later published in this 1967 edition of Conan (which reprinted a few of Howard’s stories from the 1930s).

The nerds’ letter was first published in this 1967 book.

The letter itself is going to be boring to anybody who isn’t a Conan fan. Even if I weren’t a fan of Howard’s Conan stories, I’d be impressed that Howard wrote a letter like this to people he had never met.

Robert E. Howard was just getting warmed up. Here’s more!

If you’re actually reading the letter, don’t worry; he’s about to wrap things up.

Unfortunately, Robert E. Howard committed suicide a few months after writing this note. That sucks. Robert E. Howard murdered one of my favorite writers.

The nerds had to have gone through a quick contrast of emotions: Oh my god! We’ve gotten this awesome response from a writer we admire! Oh my god! Robert E. Howard respects the work we put into our map and history! Oh my god! There’s the possibility of future correspondence with Robert E. Howard, one our favorite writers!

And then Robert E. Howard kills himself.


  1. I love it when two worlds collide. I collected all of Robert E. Howard’s books way back in the 70s and every one of the Conan comics as they came out. When they finally made the Conan movie I went out and bought a Betamax and the tape (100.00 for a single taped movie) and went to see it in the theatres over 50 times and them watched it countless times on Betamax. Alas, life changes meant I sold my Conan comic collection for a song but I carry the memories and still own his books and agree his stories were wonderful.

  2. That letter is a great read. What Howard doesn’t know about Conan reveals as much as what he does know. Thanks for publishing this.

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