Robert Ervin Howard (January 22, 1906 – June 11, 1936) was a prolific American author and poet. He wrote pulp fiction in a diverse range of genres and is today most famous for the creation of the character of Conan the Cimmerian.
It seems to me that many writers, by virtue of environments of culture, art and education, slip into writing because of their environments. I became a writer in spite of my environments. Understand, I am not criticizing those environments. They were good, solid and worthy. The fact that they were not inducive to literature and art is nothing in their disfavor. Never the less, it is no light thing to enter into a profession absolutely foreign and alien to the people among which one's lot is cast; a profession which seems as dim and faraway and unreal as the shores of Europe... But whatever my failure, I have this thing to remember — that I was a pioneer in my profession, just as my grandfathers were in theirs, in that I was the first man in this section to earn his living as a writer.
Sailor Steve Costigan is a merchant sailor on the Sea Girl and the ship's champion boxer. His only true companion is a bulldog named Mike (after his brother and fellow boxer, "Iron" Mike Costigan). Costigan, one of Howard's humorous boxing pulp heroes, roamed the Asiatic seas with fists of steel, a will of iron, and a head of wood. A striking contrast between Howard’s barbarians and swordsmen, Costigan was a modern-day character, written in a humorous, Texas tall tale style. The Sailor Steve Costigan stories were very popular in the pages of Fight Stories, Action Stories, and the short-lived Jack Dempsey’s Fight Magazine. In a career that was made up largely from writing short stories about recurring characters, Howard wrote more stories about Costigan and his pugilistic ilk than about any of his fantasy heroes.
Novalyne Price (9 March 1908–30 March 1999) was a Texas-born schoolteacher who became close friends with and occasionally dated Robert E. Howard. Price taught English, public speaking and history between 1934 and 1936 at Cross Plains High School. She was interested in writing and initially met Howard for advice on becoming published. Common interests and personal chemistry, however, created a strong bond of friendship between the two. Despite personality differences, misunderstandings, and unsuccessful attempts to bring their relationship beyond casual dating, Price and Howard remained close until Howard's suicide in 1936.
After Howard's death, Price shifted her focus away from a writing career and strove to become the best teacher she could be, ultimately remaining a teacher until her retirement. While working as a teacher at Daniel Baker College, Price met and, in 1947, married William Ellis. Price's love of teaching and gift at speech-writing was recognized in 1981 with her admittance into the National Forensic Hall of Fame. In 1986 she wrote One Who Walked Alone, a memoir of her relationship with Howard. This was later adapted into the film The Whole Wide World in which she was played by Renée Zellweger.
A bunch of the girls were whooping it up
In the old Lip-stick saloon,
And the kid at the player-piano
Was twanging a jazzy tune,
When out of the night with perfume on his shirt
And stacomb upon his hair,
A young man staggered inside the door
And meowed like a grizzly-bear.
He kicked the kid off the piano stool
And sat him down to play.
The piano yowled like an old tom cat
To the tune of "Hip! Hurray!"
Says he, "Gals, you don’t know me,
But, by gosh, I know you,
And one of you is a classy dame,
And that one is Sal Snooboo!"
She squawked and somebody turned the lights,
Something went “Smack!” in the dark.
There was nothing for anybody to do
But to stand still and s****** and hark.
Somebody turned the lights on,
And Sally was standing there,
But the stranger wasn’t; he was done,
And Sal was arranging her hair.