Henry S. Whitehead: A neglected Master of the Weird is back in print
Although mostly forgotten, the Rev. Henry S. Whitehead was one of Weird Tales most popular writers between 1924 and 1933. Rev. Whitehead ,who was a Harvard Graduate, spent 8 years as acting archdeacon of the Virgin Islands for the Episcopalian Church. Towards the end of his short life Rev. Whitehead became a personal friend of HPL, who after traveling down to Florida to visit the Reverend described him so…..
“He has nothing of the musty cleric about him; but dresses in sports clothes, swears like a he-man on occasion, and is an utter stranger to bigotry or priggishness of any sort.”
It was during his years in the Virgin Islands that Rev. Whitehead gained a knowledge and understanding of the region, it’s peoples, their culture, beliefs and religions that gave his weird tales such a strong note of authenticity. The majority of his tales take place on the Island of St. Thomas and are 2nd to none when dealing with the region. It is just my opinion, but these are some of the finest stories dealing with Voodoo/Voudon that ever appeared in the pulps. Even if the Reverend wasn’t a believer, he still took the Islanders and their beliefs seriously and always treated the subject with respect. An uncommon, for it’s time, factorthat was to be found in Rev. Whitehead’s stories was the dignity and respect with which he treated the characters in his stories. There’s nary a cringe inducing moment in his stories dealing with the Islands. He wrote about human beings and portrayed them as human beings. This wasn’t exactly the most common way non-whites were portrayed during the pulp era. The Reverend, was for his time, an extremely progressive man.
The majority of Rev. Whitehead’s tales take place in the Virgin Islands and the majority of his stories appeared in the pages of Weird Tales Magazine. Several of which have been heavily reprinted. These are Cassius, The Lips, The Passing of a God and The Trap. All of which have been extensively anthologized during the 1960s and 70s. It’s of interest to mention that The Trap was co-written with H. P. Lovecraft.
The tales written by Rev. Whitehead are some of the most eerie, readable and entertaining horror stories out there. And they have also aged extremely well when one considers that the were written over 80 years.
Up until now, if you wanted to get you hands on a collection of Whitehead’s tales you needed some fairly deep pockets. Aside from the two (now) expensive and hard to find Arkham House collections and one Ash Tree Press collection. Plus there were only two paper back editions, which printed in the UK back during the 1970s. So these are also now sought after collectors editions.
Luckily that has been rectified by Wordsworth Books. Last year Wordsworth released the most complete collection of Whitehead’s tales that has ever been published. Last year the released Voodoo Tales: The Ghost Stories of Henry S. Whitehead. It contains 37 of the 46 stories that Rev. Whitehead had published. What’s even more amazing is the price. This thick, but compact, 691 pages of smallish print trade paperback cost’s on $3.60 over at Amazon! The low price is due to all of the stories having fallen into the public domain.
So use this opportunity to discover the weird thrills and joys of the genre’s greatest but sadly forgotten masters.
Introduction (by David Stuart Davies)
WEST INDIA LIGHTS
The Black Terror
West India Lights
The Shut Room
The Left Eye
The Napier Limousine
The Ravel Pavane
The People of Pan
The Chadbourne Episode
“‘—In Case of Disaster Only’”
The Great Circle
Obi in the Caribbean
JUMBEE AND OTHER VOODOO TALES
Passing of a God
THE BLACK BEAST AND OTHER VOODOO TALES
The Black Beast
Seven Turns In A Hangman’s Rope
The Projection Of Armand Dubois
The Moon Dial
Across the Gulf
This wonderful collection can be purchased b following the links below.