Edward Lucas White

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Edward Lucas White (May 11, 1866 – March 30, 1934) was an American author and poet. Born in Bergen, New Jersey, he attended Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, in which city he did most of his work. From 1915 until his retirement in 1930, he was a teacher at the University School for Boys in Baltimore.

He wrote a number of historical novels, including The Unwilling Vestal (1918), Andivius Hedulio (1921) and Helen (1926); but he is best remembered as a fantasist, for stories such as "The House of Nightmare" and "Lukundoo" These short horror stories were based on his own nightmares. Two collections of his short fiction were published in his lifetime, The Song of the Sirens (1919) and Lukundoo and Other Stories (1927). He died by his own hand. On March 30, 1934, seven years to the day after the death of his wife, Agnes Gerry, he was found dead in the gas-filled bathroom of his Baltimore home. The coroner pronounced it a suicide.[1] His last book, Matrimony (1932) was a memoir of his happy marriage to her.

"Lukundoo", Lucas's most frequently anthologized story, is the tale of an American explorer in a remote section of Africa who incurs the wrath of the local witch doctor, who casts a spell on him. Hundreds of sore pustules erupt all over the explorer's body. As these develop, it becomes clear that each sore is actually a sort of homunculus: a tiny African man, emerging head-first from within the explorer's flesh. He is able to terminate the development of individual homunculi by beheading them as they develop, but there are too many for him to defeat them all – and some of them are on portions of his back which he cannot reach. The explorer's only option is suicide.

Two posthumous collections of his fiction have been published by Midnight House: The House of the nightmare (12547ac) edited by John Pelan and Sesta and Other Strange Stories (2001) edited by Lee Weinstein.[2] The latter contains mostly previously unpublished and uncollected material.

A much-revised utopian science fiction novel, Plus Ultra, was begun in 1885; White destroyed this draft, but began a rewrite in 1901. In 1918-19 he produced a novella, From Behind the Stars, which he later incorporated into the massive (S. T. Joshi estimates it at 500,000 words[3]) completed version of Plus Ultra, which remains unpublished.

Bibliography[edit]

Novels[edit]

  • El Supremo: A Romance of the Great Dictator of Paraguay (1916)
  • The Unwilling Vestal: A Tale of Rome Under the Caesars (1918)
  • Andivius Hedulio: Adventures of a Roman Nobleman in the Days of the Empire (1921)
  • Helen (1926)

Short Story Collections[edit]

  • The Song of the Sirens (1919)
    • "The song of the sirens", "Iarbas", "The right man", "Dodona", "The elephant's ear", "The fasces", "The swimmers", "The skewbald panther", "Disvola", "The flambeau bracket".
  • Lukundoo and Other Stories (1927)
    • "Lukundoo", "Floki's Blade", "The Picture Puzzle", "The Snout", "Alfandega 49a", "The Message on the Slate", "Amina", "The Pig-Skin Belt", "The House of the Nightmare", "Sorcery island".

History[edit]

  • Why Rome Fell (1927)

Autobiography[edit]

  • Matrimony (1932)

Further reading[edit]

  • "Fantasy and Outré Themes in the Short Fiction of Edward Lucas White and Henry S. Whitehead" by

A. Langley Searles. In

  • Douglas Robillard, ed. American Supernatural Fiction: From Edith Wharton to the Weird Tales Writers. New York: Garland,

ISBN 0815317352 (1996).

  • "Edward Lucas White: Dream and Reality" by S.T. Joshi, in Joshi, The Evolution of the Weird Tale.New York, Hippocampus Press. ISBN 0974878928 (2004), 39-45.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Edwardian Review
  2. ^ [1] at www.leeweinstein.net
  3. ^ Joshi, The Evolution of the Weird Tale (Hippocampus Press, 2004), p.43.

External links[edit]