Scotty Henderson's


Cross Plainsman's Journal
"exegi monumentum aere perennius"

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The History of "A Probable Outline of Conan's Career"
by
Scotty Henderson



 
 
 

Two enthusiastic fans of Weird Tales and Robert E. Howard's Conan, in particular, worked out an outline of this famous barbarian's career based on the original stories they read in WT.

The year was 1936 when P. Schuyler Miller sent the original outline to Howard in Cross Plains, Texas. Howard was pleased that they went to so much effort and responded by correcting the outline and returning a letter to Miller dated March 10, 1936. Howard was to die by his own hand on June 11, 1936.
The outline was not published until two years later in a 1938 fan pamphlet, The Hyborian Age, by the science-fiction fan group the Los Angeles-New York Cooperative Publications (LANY Publications). Since then it seldom has been reproduced in original form. John D. Clark used segments of it to link the stories of the Gnome series. Later, it was ammended, and used extensively by L. Sprague de Camp to link original Conan stories and pastiches for all subsequent printings since the Gnome series released 1952-1954. Here is a point by point history.

1a. Miller sends original letter to Howard. Howard corrects some minor points and writes Miller and Clark back.

1b. A Probable Outline of Conan's Career by P. Schuyler Miller and John D. Clark, PhD., 1938, in The Hyborian Age fanzine, incorporating Howard's changes and the addition of Red Nails.

2. Dr. Clark revised and expanded the Outline in 1952 to tie together the Gnome Press books published by Marty Greenberg. It required revision to accommodate the fragments completed by de Camp and the historical stories he turned into Conan yarns. Copyrighted by Greenberg 1952, 1953, 1954, and 1955.

3. Clark, Miller, and de Camp further revised the essay for George Scither's Amra fanzine in Vol. 2, No. 4 in 1959. It is titled An Informal Biography of Conan the Cimmerian for the first time. Amra was copyright by George H. Scithers.

4. De Camp again revised it for the biographical paragraphs between stories for the 1966-1969 Lancer series. Copyright by de Camp 1966, 1967, 1968, and 1969.

5. Reprinted, and further expanded in The Conan Swordbook, pp 227-255, published Nov. 1969 and copyright by de Camp and George H. Scithers.

6. The original 1938 version is reprinted in Savage Tales #2, 1973

7. Reprinted again in Savage Sword of Conan #16 in 1977

8. In May 1979 the complete essay was published in The Blade of Conan, an Ace paperback reprinting notable Amra fanzine and other material about Howard. The introduction notes that the material was complete up to 1969. This indicates that the Ace reprints of the Lancer books used the same material at least until 1979. Both Miller and Clark as well as de Camp are noted as authors. The essay is still titled An Informal Biography of Conan the Cimmerian.

9. In November 1984, in the trade paperback Conan the Victorious by Robert Jordan, de Camp prints Conan the Indestructible for the first time. He makes no mention of the original authors Schuyler-Miller and John D. Clark. I suspect de Camp simply appropriated the material at this point as it had changed considerably from the early versions. Note that P. (Peter) schuyler-Miller (1912-1974) was dead by this time and John D. (Drury) Clark (1907-1988) while still alive, may have been sidelined by this time. This version contains additional material to cover the alternate timeline of the movie, Conan the Barbarian.

10. In Apr. 1985 it is reprinted in TOR's Conan the Triumphant by Robert Jordan. This was first released in a Trade edition Oct 1983 but since the essay is dated by de Camp 1984 I don't think it would have been printed in the earlier printing.

11. In 1986 de Camp reissues the essay in the TOR paperback Conan the Raider. Whether there were any changes remains to be checked.

12. In 1997 with the release of the Conan TV series starring Ralf Moeller, the latest Conan saga is published on their web site, http://www.conan.com. I recall reading the early version and it included the alternate timelines based on the movies and the TV series. As of July 2001 this site remains but the career outline has changed somewhat, no doubt due to input from fans at the site. In fact, it reads very close to the original in many ways, making no mention of pastiche stories or an alternate timeline.
 

Dec. 25, 1997
Vancouver, BC

Copyright 1997, 1998, 2001 by D. F. Scotty Henderson
updated Jan. 01, 1998
updated Aug. 14, 1999
updated July 15, 2001
 

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