H. Warner Munn

Harold Warner Munn
H. Warner Munn in 1978. Photo by Will Hart.
H. Warner Munn in 1978. Photo by Will Hart.
Born(1903-11-05)November 5, 1903
Athol, Massachusetts
DiedJanuary 10, 1981(1981-01-10) (aged 77)
Tacoma, Washington
Pen nameH. Warner Munn
OccupationNovelist, short story author, poet
NationalityUnited States
GenreFantasy, horror, poetry
Notable worksTales of the Werewolf Clan, Merlin's Ring

Harold Warner Munn (November 5, 1903 – January 10, 1981) was an American writer of fantasy, horror and poetry,[1] best remembered for his early stories in Weird Tales. He was an early friend and associate of authors H. P. Lovecraft and Seabury Quinn. He has been described by fellow author Jessica Amanda Salmonson, who interviewed him during 1978, as "the ultimate gentleman" and "a gentle, calm, warm, and good friend." He was known for his intricate plotting and the careful research that he did for his stories, a habit he traced back to two mistakes made when he wrote his early story "The City of Spiders".

A resurgence of interest in his work occurred during the 1970s due to its appearance in the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series and the successor fantasy series published with the imprint of Del Rey Books.

In addition to writing, Munn collected books and classic pulp magazines, including Air Wonder Stories, Amazing Stories, Astounding and other science fiction titles, along with Argosy, Argosy All Story, Cavalier, Weird Tales (to the end of the Wright publication series), and others. Also in his library were self-manufactured[clarification needed] books consisting of serialized stories extracted from magazines, notably works by George Allan England such as "Darkness and Dawn". About three fourths of his collection was ruined by exposure to weather during a relocation and had to be destroyed.

During his last years Munn lived in Tacoma, Washington in a house he had built himself. He did his writing either in his living room or in the attic room that constituted his library. During this time he was working on an additional volume of the Merlin series to be called The Sword of Merlin, which he did not live to finish. He was befriended at this time by the young writer W.H. Pugmire, who was influenced by Munn's work.

Early career

Munn's "The Werewolf's Daughter" was the cover story in the October 1928 Weird Tales

Munn was a major early contributor to the pulp magazine Weird Tales during the 1920s and 1930s, with the editorship of Farnsworth Wright. Munn's first, "The Werewolf of Ponkert" (1925 WT) arose from a comment by H.P. Lovecraft suggesting a story written from the werewolf's point of view.[1] Munn's resulting tales became the first of a series, "The Tales of the Master". The series included a serial, "The Werewolf's Daughter" (1928 WT) and this and the initial story appeared as The Werewolf of Ponkert (1958). Munn later continued the Werewolf Clan stories; these dealt with the descendents of the werewolf in the first story. The plots of the Werewolf Clan tales revolved between the struggle between the titular family and "The Master", a supernatural villain that Munn based on Charles Maturin's Melmoth the Wanderer.[1] When the change of editors of the magazine from Farnsworth Wright to Dorothy McIlwraith; McIlwraith used different writers, Munn's major market was eliminated. Munn later reworked the other stories and added extensively to the series, most of these tales appearing initially in Robert Weinberg's "Lost Fantasies" series, and then in book form as Tales of the Werewolf Clan #1: In the Tomb of the Bishop (1979) and Tales of the Werewolf Clan #2: The Master Goes Home (1979).[2]

The two series of works for which he is known best, his Merlin saga and the Tales of the Werewolf Clan, were both started during the Weird Tales period. King of the World’s Edge, the first Merlin novel, was written as early as 1925. On publication (Weird Tales, 1936) it was compared favorably to the stories of Robert E. Howard, of whose fiction Munn confessed to being a great admirer. The novel starts in the last days of King Arthur, and follows the adventures of Myrdhinn (Merlin) and a Roman centurion, who leave Britain for new lands to the West, and find themselves in the kingdom of the Aztecs.

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