Sauk City and August Derleth

This weekend I visited Sauk City, the hometown of the great American author August Derleth (1909-1971).  He wrote everything under the sun (poems, epic novels, mysteries, science fiction stories), but is best remembered– by me, at least– as a great author of weird fiction and horror fiction…including stories about zombies.

His most famous zombie tale is probably “The House in the Magnolias.”  He also published several collected editions of horror stories in his lifetime.  My favorite is Not Long For This World, which features tales that are as campy, silly, and strange as they are scary– and are often set in Sauk City or contiguous Prairie Du Sac.

While he was an important writer, Derleth was at least equally important as a great American editor and publisher.

If H. P. Lovecraft was the savior of American weird fiction, then August Derleth was its Saint Paul– the evangelist who got the word out.  Derleth founded Arkham House publishers in 1939 to specialize in Lovecraft’s work and stories by related authors.  It sustained this remarkable tradition of writing until the rest of the world began to take notice near the end of the twentieth century.

If you enjoy horror fiction and zombies, I encourage you to check out the work of August Derleth!

Here are some photos I took on my visit:

An August Derleth sign outside Leystra's Venture restaurant in Sauk City.  It had a miniature Derleth museum inside.
An August Derleth sign outside Leystra’s Venture restaurant in Sauk City. They have a miniature Derleth museum inside… and some excellent coconut pie!
August Derleth's final resting place.
August Derleth’s final resting place in Sauk City.
A historical marker that EVENTUALLY mentions Arkham House.
A historical marker that EVENTUALLY mentions Arkham House.
A sign for August Derleth Park.  (Hmmm.  What other weird fiction writiers deserve a park named after them?  PROVIDENCE, I AM LOOKING IN YOUR DIRECTION...)
A sign for August Derleth Park. (Hmmm. What other weird fiction writers deserve a park named after them? PROVIDENCE, I AM LOOKING IN YOUR DIRECTION…)
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