Thursday, May 14, 2020

Earl Peirce, Jr.-Aside No. 1

I guess I made a discovery the other day without realizing it. The subject is Earl Peirce, Jr. His first published story, "Doom of the House of Duryea," was originally in Weird Tales in October 1936. More than six decades later it was included in the anthology Acolytes of Cthulhu (2001). I guess the implication is that "Doom of the House of Duryea" takes place in the same universe in which H.P. Lovecraft's so-called Cthulhu Mythos is set. That implication seems to rest solely on Peirce's mention of a tome by Ludvig Prinn, a fictional historical character who is part of the Cthulhu universe. The problem is that Prinn was created not by Lovecraft but by his young pen pal Robert Bloch. Bloch and Peirce knew each other in Milwaukee. Both corresponded with Lovecraft. But the connection between Peirce's story and Lovecraft's universe appears to run only through Bloch. In other words, the Peirce bone may be connected to the Bloch bone, and the Bloch bone may be connected to the Lovecraft bone, but the Peirce bone is not directly connected to the Lovecraft bone, at least through "Doom of the House of Duryea."

My discovery, if you want to call it that, is that Peirce seems to have been the first writer after Bloch to have made reference to Ludvig Prinn. Bloch first mentioned the old sorcerer in "The Shambler from the Stars," published in Weird Tales in September 1935. (That's the story in which Bloch killed off his mentor Lovecraft.) Prinn's name next showed up in Bloch's story "The Faceless God," in Weird Tales for May 1936. Peirce's story "Doom of the House of Duryea" came along five months later, in the issue of October 1936. Lovecraft, then, missed it by two months, for his first published mention of Ludvig Prinn came in "The Haunter of the Dark," in Weird Tales for December 1936. (That's the story in which Lovecraft killed Bloch right back.) Prinn's name was mentioned later in stories by William Lumley ("The Diary of Alonzo Typer," with Lovecraft as ghostwriter, in Weird Tales, Feb. 1938), August Derleth, Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson, Stephen King, and so on. Peirce, though, seems to have been the first after Prinn's creator, Robert Bloch, and maybe he deserves a little credit for that.

Thanks to Wikipedia and the Internet Speculative Fiction Database.

Copyright 2020 Terence E. Hanley

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