Who were the most popular writers of Weird Tales magazine? Most readers would name Robert E. Howard, H.P Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith. But we keep forgetting Seabury Quinn — the creator of the once incredibly popular occult detective Jules de Grandin.
Quinn, a resident of Washington D.C., was a law graduate. He served in World War I and subsequently started his writing career as a pulp fiction writer. His early stories include Demons of the Night (published in Detective Story Magazine), Was She Mad, The Stone Image, and The Phantom Farmhouse. Quinn also worked as a government lawyer during World War II.
Quinn’s main claim to fame was, of course, Jules de Grandin. Interestingly, he was not the first to develop the concept of occult detective. Notable examples from the past include Sax Rohmer’s Morris Klaw (check out The Dream Detective), and Algernon Blackwood’s John Silence: Physician Extraordinary. However, Grandin simply smoked his predecessors to ashes in terms of popularity. Right from their first adventure together on Weird Tales — The Horror on the Links — Grandin and Trowbridge was a blockbuster hit with the readers. The occult detective turned out to be one of the most popular attractions of Weird Tales and this led to Quinn’s lifelong association with the magazine.
Quinn’s work was even more popular than his iconic competitors like Howard and Lovecraft. He knew exactly what the readers wanted and dished out something unapologetically pulp and surprisingly non-repetitive with the right dose of sensuality. Also, he was Weird Tales’ most prolific writer by far.
You might try out The Complete Adventures of Jules de Grandin (Battered Box edition), but there is also a comprehensive 6 volume paperback series from Popular Library:
• The Adventures of Jules de Grandin,
• The Casebook of Jules de Grandin,
• The Hellfire Files of Jules de Grandin,
• The Horror Chambers of Jules de Grandin,
• The Skeleton Closet of Jules de Grandin.
• The Devil’s Bride (only Jules de Grandin novel)
Quinn’s last pulp story was Master Nicholas (1965) published in The Magazine of Horror. He died in 1969, just a week before his 80th Birthday.
Unlike Lovecraft and Howard, Quinn has faded away from public memory. Jules de Grandin brought him fame and fortune, but he was also panned by the critics, who described his works as “undistinguished”, and “stereotyped”. Nonetheless, Quinn was enormously popular, and he is still a guilty pleasure for old school readers. His works are delightfully pulpish, but as Robert Weinberg points out, they are “best when taken in moderate doses.”
Seabury Quinn ebook free:
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