|Born||Abraham Grace Merritt
January 20, 1884
Beverly, New Jersey, USA
|Died||August 21, 1943
Indian Rocks Beach, Florida, USA
|Pen name||W. Fenimore (one 1923 story)|
|Genres||Speculative fiction, supernatural fiction|
|Subjects||Weekly news supplement|
Born in Beverly, New Jersey, he moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1894. Originally trained in law, he turned to journalism, first as a correspondent and later as editor. He was assistant editor of The American Weekly from 1912 to 1937 under Morrill Goddard, then its editor from 1937 until his death. As editor, he hired the unheralded new artists Virgil Finlay and Hannes Bok and promoted the work done on polio by Sister Elizabeth Kenny.
His fiction was only a sideline to his journalism career, which might explain[weasel words] his relatively low output. One of the best-paid journalists of his era, Merritt made $25,000 per year by 1919, and at the end of his life was earning $100,000 yearly—exceptional sums for the period. His financial success allowed him to pursue world travel—he invested in real estate in Jamaica and Ecuador—and exotic hobbies, like cultivating orchids and plants linked to witchcraft and magic (monkshood, wolfbane, blue datura, peyote, and cannabis).
Merritt married twice, once in the 1910s to Eleanore Ratcliffe, with whom he raised an adopted daughter, and again in the 1930s to Eleanor H. Johnson. He maintained an estate in Hollis Park Gardens on Long Island, where he accumulated collections of weapons, carvings, and primitive masks from his travels, as well as a library of occult literature that reportedly exceeded 5000 volumes. He died suddenly of a heart attack, at his winter home in Indian Rocks Beach, Florida, in 1943.
||This section may contain original research. (November 2012)|
Merritt's writings were heavily influenced by H. Rider Haggard, Robert W. Chambers, and Gertrude Barrows Bennett (writing as Francis Stevens), with Merritt having "emulated Bennett's earlier style and themes." Merritt's stories typically revolve around conventional pulp magazine themes: lost civilizations, hideous monsters, etc. His heroes are gallant Irishmen or Scandinavians, his villains treacherous Germans or Russians and his heroines often virginal, mysterious and scantily clad.
What sets Merritt apart from the typical pulp author, however, is his lush, florid prose style and his exhaustive, at times exhausting, penchant for adjective-laden detail. Merritt's fondness for micro-description nicely complements the pointillistic style of Bok's illustrations.
Merritt's first fantasy story was published in 1917, "Through the Dragon Glass" in the November 14 issue of Frank Munsey's All-Story Weekly. Other short stories and serial novels followed in the Munsey magazines All-Story, Argosy All-Story, and Argosy:[a] The People of the Pit (1918), "The Moon Pool" (1918), The Conquest of the Moon Pool (1919), "Three Lines of Old French" (1919), The Metal Monster (1920), The Face in the Abyss (1923), The Ship of Ishtar (1924), Seven Footprints to Satan (1927), The Snake Mother (1930), Burn Witch Burn! (1932), Dwellers in the Mirage (1932), and Creep, Shadow! (1934). Meanwhile rather few of his stories appeared elsewhere: The Pool of the Stone God (in his own American Weekly, 1923), The Woman of the Wood (Weird Tales, 1926), The Metal Emperor (Science and Invention, 1927), and The Drone Man (Fantasy Magazine, 1934).
The Fox Woman and the Blue Pagoda (1946) combined an unfinished story with a conclusion written by Merritt's friend Hannes Bok. The Fox Woman and Other Stories (1949) collected the same fragment, minus Bok's conclusion, with Merritt's short stories. The book The Black Wheel was published in 1948, after Merritt's death; it was written by Bok using previously unpublished material as well.
Merritt was a major influence on H. P. Lovecraft and Richard Shaver, and highly esteemed by his friend and frequent collaborator Hannes Bok, by then a noted SF illustrator. Michael Moorcock and James Cawthorn list The Ship of Ishtar and Dwellers in the Mirage as two of the novels in their book Fantasy:the 100 Best Books, describing the former book as Merritt "at the peak of his powers", and Merritt's work as a whole being full of "memorable images". Gary Gygax, creator of the game Dungeons and Dragons, listed Merritt in "Appendix N" of the Dungeon Masters Guide and often noted that he was one of his favorite fantasy authors. In the Lensman series by E.E. Smith, there is a reference to the novel "Dwellers in the Mirage" in which the protagonist Kimball Kinnison references the book and a quotation from it "Luka--turn your wheel so I need not slay this woman!"
Merritt's work has been adapted numerous times in film and television. These include:
- Seven Footprints to Satan (1929), adapted from the novel of the same name and directed by Benjamin Christensen.
- The Devil-Doll (1936) adapted from the novel Burn Witch Burn! and directed by Tod Browning.
- Muñecos infernales (1961) adapted from the novel Burn Witch Burn! and directed by Benito Alazraki.
See also 
- "Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame". Mid American Science Fiction and Fantasy Conventions, Inc. Retrieved 2013-03-26. This was the official website of the hall of fame to 2004.
- Merritt, Abraham; Levy, Michael M. The Moon Pool, p. 303. Wesleyan University Press, 2004. ISBN 0819567078. "Abraham Grace Merritt was born on January 20, 1884, in Beverly, New Jersey, a small town outside of Philadelphia."
- Moskowitz, Sam. A. Merritt: Reflections in the Moon Pool. Philadelphia, Oswald Train, 1985. ISBN 99962-4-760-0
- Lee Server, Encyclopedia of Pulp Fiction Writers, Facts On File Inc (2002), p.131.
- E. F. Bleiler, "A.Merritt", in Bleiler, ed. Supernatural Fiction Writers. New York: Scribner's, 1985, pp.835-844. ISBN 0-684-17808-7
- Partners in Wonder: Women and the Birth of Science Fiction, 1926-1965 by Eric Leif Davin, Lexington Books, 2005, pages 409-10.
- A. Merritt at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database (ISFDB). Retrieved 2013-04-23. Select a title to see its linked publication history and general information. Select a particular edition (title) for more data at that level, such as a front cover image or linked contents.
- "I was extremely glad to meet Merritt in person, for I have admired his work for 15 years. ... he has a peculiar power of working up an atmosphere and investing a region with an aura of unholy dread" H.P. Lovecraft's letter to R. H. Barlow (January 13, 1934) 
- "Merritt, A[braham]" in An H.P. Lovecraft encyclopedia (2001) page 167. ISBN 0-313-31578-7
- Skinner, Doug (August 2005). "What's This? A Shaver Revival?". Fate. Retrieved August 26, 2009. "Shaver’s main literary model was Abraham Merritt. Merritt isn’t read much today, but his fantasy novels were quite popular throughout the ’20s and ’30s. Beginning with The Moon Pool in 1919, he produced a series of novels about underground caverns, lost races, ancient ray machines, shell-shaped hovercraft, and other marvels. He was also a member of the original Fortean Society and the editor of The American Weekly, a Sunday newspaper supplement that often featured scientific and historical oddities. Shaver thought Merritt had seen the caves but could only mention them in fiction. One might also suspect that Merritt’s novels had influenced Shaver’s beliefs."
- Moorcock and Cawthorn, Fantasy: The 100 Best Books,Carroll & Graf, (1988), p. 81-2,93-4.
- "Forgotten Father", James Maliszewski, Grognardia, Jan 20, 2010.
- Also known as The Curse of the Doll People, this Mexican horror film is usually said to have been inspired by Tod Browning's The Devil-Doll. But a closer examination shows that it was adapted directly from Merritt's novel. The film includes many characters, situations, scenes and speeches from the novel, none of which are present in The Devil-Doll. Yet the film does not credit Merritt with the story; it gives that honor to screenplay author Alfredo Salazar instead.
- Series bibliographies: "Argosy" (to 1920, from 1929); "All-Story Magazine" (1905–1920); "Argosy All-Story Weekly" (1920–1929). ISFDB. Retrieved 2013-04-23.
Further reading 
- Foust, Ronald (1989) A. Merritt. Starmont Reader's Guide #43. 104 pages. ISBN 0-930261-36-4
- Guillaud, Lauric (1993) L'aventure mystérieuse de Poe à Merritt ou l'orphelins de Gilgamesh. Paralittératures Volume 3. Editions du CEFAL. ISBN 2-87130-035-6
- Indick, Ben P. A . Merritt: A Reappraisal in Darrell Schweitzer (ed), Discovering Classic Fantasy Fiction, Gillette NJ: Wildside Press, 1986, pp. 87.
|Wikisource has original works written by or about:
- Abraham Merritt biography at the Science Fiction Hall of Fame
- A. Merritt at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
- Abraham Merritt at the Internet Book List
- Works by or about Abraham Merritt in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- Works by Abraham Merritt at Project Gutenberg
- Abraham Merritt at Project Gutenberg Australia
- A. Merritt public domain audiobooks from LibriVox
- Abraham Merritt at Locus Magazine's Index to Science Fiction
- Abraham Merritt at the Index to Science Fiction Anthologies and Collections, Combined Edition
- Abraham Merritt at the FictionMags Index
- Abraham Merritt at Fantastic Fiction
- Abraham Merritt at the Open Library
- Abraham Merritt at the Internet Movie Database