Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Clark Ashton Smith
Clark Ashton Smith (January 13, 1893 - August 14, 1961) was a poet, sculptor, painter, and in his time, a successful author of horror and science fiction short stories. It is for these stories, and his literary friendship with H. P. Lovecraft from 1922 until Lovecraft's death in 1937, that he is mainly remembered today. Clark Ashton Smith, H. P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard were the three most successful contributors to Weird Tales.
Smith spent the main part of his life in the small town of Auburn, California, living in a small cabin with his parents, Fanny and Timeus Smith. He began writing stories at the age of 11, of which some - The Sword of Zagan and The Black Diamonds - have recently been published. Both stories are written around a medieval, Arabian Nights-like setting. The Arabian Nights, as well as the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm and the works of Edgar Allan Poe, are known to have influenced the early writings of Smith.
Smith's formal education was rather limited - he only attended 8 years of grammar school and never went to high school. He preferred an autodidactic approach and is known to have read several encyclopedias from beginning to end.
A major influence on Smith was his association with the San Francisco poet George Sterling, who helped him to publish his first volume of poems, The Star-Treader and Other Poems, at the age of 19. The Star-Treader was received very favorably by the critics, who named Smith "the Keats of the Pacific." Smith made the acquaintance of Sterling through a member of the local Auburn Monday Night Club, to whose members he read several of his poems, with considerable success. The publication of Ebony and Crystal in 1922 was followed by a fan letter from H. P. Lovecraft, which was the beginning of 15 years of correspondence.
After his marriage to Carol Jones Dorman on 10 November 1954, he moved to Pacific Grove, California, where he set up a household together with her and her children. He spent most of his life in a state of poverty and was often forced to take menial jobs such as fruit picking and woodcutting in order to support himself and his parents.
Phases of preferred art forms
While Smith was always an artist who used multiple forms of expression, it is possible to mark three distinctive phases in which one form of art had precedence over the others.
Poetry: Until 1925
It was in this phase that Smith published most of his volumes of poetry, including the aforementioned The Star-Treader and Other Poems, as well as Odes and Sonnets published in 1918, Ebony and Crystal (1922) and Sandalwood (1925).
Weird Fiction: 1926-1935
It was during this period that Smith wrote most of his weird fiction and Cthulhu Mythos stories, possibly inspired by H. P. Lovecraft. Creatures of his invention include Aforgomon, Rlim-Shaikorth, and various others.
His short stories originally appeared in magazines Weird Tales, Strange Tales, Astounding Stories, Stirring Science Stories and Wonder Stories.
Some were also collected as Lost Worlds Vols 1 and 2 (LW denotes which volume the story appears in):
- The Last Incantation - Weird Tales, June 1930 LW2
- A Voyage to Sfanomoe - Weird Tales, August 1931 LW2
- The Tale of Satampra Zeiros - Weird Tales November 1931 LW2
- The Door to Saturn - Strange Tales, January 1932 LW2
- The Planet of the Dead - Weird Tales, March 1932 LW2
- The Gorgon - Weird Tales, April 1932 LW2
- The Letter from Mohaun Los (under the title of Flight into Super-Time) - Wonder Stories, August 1932 LW1
- The Empire of the Necromancers - Weird Tales, September 1932 LW1
- The Hunters from Beyond - Strange Tales, October 1932 LW1
- The Isle of the Torturers - Weird Tales, March 1933 LW1
- The Light from Beyond - Wonder Stories, April 1933 LW1
- The Beast of Averoigne - Weird Tales, May 1933 LW1
- The Holiness of Azedarac - Weird Tales, November 1933 LW1
- The Demon Of the Flower - Astounding Stories, December 1933 LW2
- The Death of Malygris - Weird Tales, April 1934 LW2
- The Plutonium Drug - Amazing Stories, September 1934 LW2
- The Seven Geases - Weird Tales, October 1934 LW2
- Xeethra - Weird Tales, December 1934 LW1
- The Flower-Women - Weird Tales, May 1935 LW2
- The Treader of the Dust - Weird Tales, August 1935 LW1
- Necromancy in Naat - Weird Tales, July 1936 LW1
- The Maze of Maal Dweb - Weird Tales, October 1938 LW2
- The Coming of the White Worm - Stirring Science Stories, April 1941 LW2
By this time his interest in writing fiction began to lessen and he turned to creating sculptures from soft rock.
- The Black Diamonds
- The Last Oblivion: Best Fantastic Poems of Clark Ashton Smith
- The Sword Of Zagan And Other Writings
- Letters Of George Sterling And Clark Ashton Smith
- The Freedom Of Fantastic Things
- The Black Book of Clark Ashton Smith
- A Rendezvous in Averoigne
- Selected Letters of Clark Ashton Smith
- Selected Poems
- The Emperor of Dreams
- The Double Shadow
- Lost Worlds hardcover 1971 ISBN 0854351116
- Lost Worlds Volume 1 paperback 1974 ISBN 0586039643
- Lost Worlds Volume 2 paperback 1974 ISBN 0586040862
- The Eldritch Dark - This website contains almost all of Clark Ashton Smith's written work, as well as a comprehensive selection of his art, biographies, a bibliography, a discussion board, readings, fiction tributes and more.
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