W. H. Pugmire

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Wilum Hopfrog Pugmire
Pugmire signing books at the World Horror Convention on March 28, 2008
Pugmire signing books at the World Horror Convention on March 28, 2008
Born(1951-05-03)May 3, 1951
United States
DiedMarch 26, 2019(2019-03-26) (aged 67)
Seattle, Washington
OccupationShort story writer
GenreWeird fiction, horror fiction
Literary movementCosmicism

Wilum Hopfrog Pugmire (born William Harry Pugmire; May 3, 1951 – March 26, 2019), was a writer of weird fiction and horror fiction based in Seattle, Washington. His works typically were published as W. H. Pugmire (his adopted middle name derives from the story of the same title by Edgar Allan Poe) and his fiction often paid homage to the lore of Lovecraftian horror.[1] Lovecraft scholar, biographer, and literary executor S. T. Joshi described Pugmire in 2011 as "the prose-poet of the horror/fantasy field; he may be the best prose-poet we have,"[2] and "perhaps the leading Lovecraftian author writing today."[3]

Pugmire's stories have been published in anthologies and magazines such as The Year's Best Horror Stories, Weird Tales, Year's Best Weird Fiction, and many more. The Tangled Muse and An Ecstasy of Fear, major retrospectives of his work, were published in 2010 and 2019, respectively.


Born May 3, 1951, to a father active in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a Jewish mother,[4] Pugmire grew up in Seattle.[5] Following one year in college,[6] he served as a Mormon missionary in Omagh, Northern Ireland for eighteen months, where he corresponded with horror writer Robert Bloch and first began writing fiction.[5][7] After returning from his Mormon mission in 1973, Pugmire came out as gay to the church, was given psychiatric treatment, and requested excommunication, which lasted for about 25 years.[5][8] Pugmire's lover of many years, Todd, died in his arms from a heroin overdose in March 1995.[9] In the early 2000s, he reconnected with the church and was rebaptized, telling the church's leadership that he would be a "totally queer Mormon, but celibate."[5][10] He described himself as an eccentric recluse, "the Queen of Eldritch Horror," and a "punk rock queen and street transvestite".[1][11]

When a student at Franklin High School and into the 1970s he played vampire 'Count Pugsly' at Jones' Fantastic Museum in Seattle, a character based on the look of Lon Chaney's vampire in London After Midnight.[12][13] Issue #69 of Forrest J Ackerman's Famous Monsters of Filmland featured a dedication to Pugmire in his 'Count Pugsly' guise.[13][14] In the documentary film The AckerMonster Chronicles!, Pugmire described how he was influenced by Ackerman's magazine and showed the audience the issue in which his photo appeared.[15]

After treatment in a cardiac unit, Pugmire died at home in Seattle on March 26, 2019,[16] prompting numerous eulogies and career retrospectives.[17][18][19][20][21]


Pugmire first began writing fiction during his Mormon mission in Northern Ireland,[5][10] but grew discouraged with his work and stopped until the mid-80s.[22] Returning to Seattle, he became a figure in the local punk rock scene and launched a zine, Punk Lust, in April 1981.[23] Pugmire's time in Ireland led him to discover the works of H. P. Lovecraft,[8][24] and eventually Henry James, Oscar Wilde, and Lovecraft would become his strongest literary influences.[22][25] Many of Pugmire's stories directly reference "Lovecraftian" elements (especially Nyarlathotep).[8][26] A self-described "obsessed writer of Lovecraft horror",[27] his stated goal was to "dwell forevermore within Lovecraft's titan shadow",[8][28] claiming that "being Lovecraftian is my identity as an artist".[7] Pugmire was quoted in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer as saying that his writing was "a form of personal exorcism".[29][30]

Pugmire set many of his stories in the Sesqua Valley, a fictional location in the Pacific Northwest of the United States which for him served the same purpose as the fictional Arkham / Dunwich / Innsmouth nexus did for Lovecraft, or the Severn Valley for Ramsey Campbell.[25][26][31]

Critical response[edit]

Asimov's Science Fiction magazine, in their review of Sesqua Valley and Other Haunts, stated that "Pugmire's devotion to his sources transcends mere pastiche, and his style is neither overwrought nor too sparse."[32] Publishers Weekly, reviewing Uncommon Places: A Collection of Exquisites, said that readers "with an appetite for the weird and the decadent will find Pugmire's work a rich confection."[33] The site's review of Monstrous Aftermath: Stories in the Lovecraft Tradition, stated that "horror fans fond of baroque prose" should enjoy the collection, noting "a knack for injecting gallows humor", but adding that those "looking for memorable plots and vivid characterizations ... will have to look elsewhere."[34] Fantasy Magazine's review of The Weird Inhabitants of Sesqua Valley, while observing "the love-it-or-hate-it nature of even the best Lovecraftian style", noted that there were "many pleasures to be had" in the collection of "surprisingly humanistic" tales.[35] The New York Review of Science Fiction's review of The Tangled Muse stated that Pugmire's writing revealed "a mastery of language and vocabulary that brings to mind the work of Clark Ashton Smith", noting a "distinct homoerotic theme or undercurrent that is neither gratuitous nor inconsistent but rather genuine and often central to characterization and storytelling."[36]

Editor and scholar Scott Connors has written that, stylistically, Pugmire "owes as much to Oscar Wilde and Henry James as to HPL and Poe, creating a truly unholy fusion that defies academic boundaries between 'mainstream' and 'genre' fiction."[37] Writing for Weird Fiction Review, Bobby Derie stated that Pugmire "wrote Lovecraftian fiction without the formulaic trappings of the mythos, wrapped in a sensuous prose and characters with easy, fluid sexuality".[38] Issue 28 of The Lovecraft eZine was devoted to Pugmire—"one of our greatest Lovecraftian writers"—with tributes from S. T. Joshi, Joseph S. Pulver Sr., and others; in it, Lovecraftian author and editor Robert M. Price described Pugmire as "the Oscar Wilde of our time ... the most revered and beloved figure in the Lovecraftian movement today."[28] Author Laird Barron listed him as one of "the best contemporary horror/weird fiction" small-press authors,[39] and a writer who "puts forth a new baroque masterpiece every other year".[40] Nick Mamatas, in a 2009 interview, stated that Pugmire and Thomas Ligotti were "the best Lovecraftians today".[24] Lovecraftian writers Mike Davis and Will Hart both called Pugmire "the world's greatest living Lovecraftian writer."[41] Silvia Moreno-Garcia, in a Washington Post review article, spoke of Pugmire's "decadent, lush prose".[42] S. T. Joshi described Pugmire's writing style as "richly evocative",[43] writing in his scholarly analysis of Cthulhu Mythos fiction, The Rise and Fall of the Cthulhu Mythos, that Pugmire's work contains "some of the richest veins of neo-Lovecraftian horror seen in recent years."[44] However, Joshi has been more critical of Pugmire's nonfiction writing, proclaiming "no one takes him seriously as a critic."[45]

Works by Pugmire[edit]


Originally published mainly in fanzines and small press magazines,[46][47] Pugmire produced a steady stream of book collections beginning in 1997. Centipede Press published two major retrospectives of his work: The Tangled Muse in October 2010,[36][48] and An Ecstasy of Fear in June 2019.[49] Earlier stories were often rewritten substantially by Pugmire if republished (notably in Weird Inhabitants of Sesqua Valley and The Tangled Muse).[24]

The following are short story/novelette collections (with occasional inclusions of poetry) unless otherwise noted.

  • Tales of Sesqua Valley (1997, Necropolitan Press)
  • Dreams of Lovecraftian Horror (1999, Mythos Books, ISBN 978-0-9659433-4-5)
  • Songs of Sesqua Valley (2000, Imelod Publications; collection of sonnets)
  • Tales of Love and Death (2001, Delirium Books, ISBN 978-1-929653-15-7)
  • A Clicking in the Shadows and Other Tales (2002, Undaunted Press; with Chad Hensley)
  • Sesqua Valley and Other Haunts (2003, Delirium Books; 2008 Mythos Books paperback reprint contains three new stories)
  • The Fungal Stain and Other Dreams (2006, Hippocampus Press, ISBN 978-0-9771734-3-3)
  • Weird Inhabitants of Sesqua Valley (2009, Terradan Works, ISBN 978-1-4486-9954-4)
  • The Tangled Muse (2010, Centipede Press, ISBN 978-1-933618-78-4)
  • Gathered Dust and Others (2011, Dark Regions Press, ISBN 978-1937128098)
  • Some Unknown Gulf of Night (2011, Arcane Wisdom Press, ISBN 978-1935006114)
  • The Strange Dark One: Tales of Nyarlathotep (2012, Miskatonic River Press, ISBN 978-0-9821818-9-8)
  • Uncommon Places: A Collection of Exquisites (2012, Hippocampus Press, ISBN 978-1-61498-023-0; prose-poetry collection)
  • Encounters with Enoch Coffin (2013, Dark Regions Press, ISBN 978-1-62641-000-8; with Jeffrey Thomas)
  • Bohemians of Sesqua Valley (2013, Arcane Wisdom Press)
  • The Revenant of Rebecca Pascal (2014, Dark Renaissance Books, ISBN 978-1-937128-83-8; novel; with David Barker)
  • These Black Winged Ones (2014, Myth Ink Books)
  • In the Gulfs of Dreams and Other Lovecraftian Tales (2015, Dark Renaissance Books, ISBN 978-1-937128-49-4; with David Barker)
  • Monstrous Aftermath: Stories in the Lovecraftian Tradition (2015, Hippocampus Press, ISBN 978-1-61498-133-6)
  • Witches in Dreamland (2018, Hippocampus Press, ISBN 978-1-614982-30-2; novel; with David Barker)
  • An Ecstasy of Fear (2019, Centipede Press, ISBN 978-1-61347-085-5)
  • An Imp of Aether (2019, Hippocampus Press, ISBN 978-1-61498-276-0)

Selected anthology and magazine appearances[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Wilum Pugmire". Centipede Press. Retrieved 21 April 2019.
  2. ^ Pugmire, W. H. (2011). The Tangled Muse. Foreword by S. T. Joshi. Centipede Press. p. 15. ISBN 978-1-933618-78-4.
  3. ^ Joshi, S. T. (2010). I Am Providence: The Life and Times of H. P. Lovecraft. Hippocampus Press. p. 1043. ISBN 978-0-9824296-7-9.
  4. ^ Thomas, Jeffrey (26 February 2009), "An Interview with W. H. Pugmire", Punktalk, archived from the original on 13 August 2018, retrieved 31 January 2021, My best friend in high school was Jewish, and that began a Jewish identification. Later I learned that I AM Jewish on my mom's side of the family.
  5. ^ a b c d e Jepson, Theric (4 February 2010). "Latter-day Saint, Latter-day Lovecraft: an interview with W.H. Pugmire". A Motley Vision. Retrieved 1 February 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. ^ Pugmire, W. H. (5 April 2012). "Happy Birthday, Bho Blok". A View from Sesqua Valley. Retrieved 19 August 2013.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. ^ a b Cushing, Nicole (11 May 2012). ""…Fiction that is Audaciously One's Own": An Interview with W.H. Pugmire". Litggressive. Retrieved 17 April 2019.
  8. ^ a b c d "Love For The Craft: The Weird Tales Of W.H. Pugmire". The Monarch Review. 1 March 2016. Retrieved 28 January 2018.
  9. ^ Powers-Douglas, Miranda (2005). Cemetery Walk. AuthorHouse. pp. 114–15. ISBN 978-1-4208-6826-5.
  10. ^ a b "Latter-day Saint, Latter-day Lovecraft: an interview with W.H. Pugmire" by Theric Jepson, A Motley Vision, 4 February 2010.
  11. ^ "Biographical Material", in The Fungal Stain and Other Dreams by W. H. Pugmire (New York: Hippocampus Press, 2006) ISBN 0-9771734-3-7.
  12. ^ Humphrey, Clark (2006). Vanishing Seattle. Arcadia Publishing. p. 114. ISBN 978-0-7385-4869-2.
  13. ^ a b Pugmire, W. H. (30 November 2012). "Remembering Count Pugsly". A View from Sesqua Valley. Retrieved 19 April 2019.
  14. ^ Famous Monsters of Filmland, September 1970, p. 4
  15. ^ Brock, Jason V (Director) (2012). The AckerMonster Chronicles! (Documentary). USA: JaSunni Productions, LLC.
  16. ^ Joshi, S. T. (31 March 2019). "My Friend, Wilum Pugmire". stjoshi.org. Retrieved 15 November 2020.
  17. ^ "W.H. Pugmire (1951–2019)". Locus. 27 March 2019.
  18. ^ Derie, Bobby (27 March 2019). "Editor Spotlight: W. H. Pugmire". Deep Cuts in a Lovecraftian Vein. Retrieved 22 April 2019.
  19. ^ Kramer, Bret (1 April 2019). "WH Pugmire, 1951-2019". Sentinel Hill Press. Retrieved 22 April 2019.
  20. ^ Davis, Mike (8 April 2019). "In memory of our friend W.H. Pugmire: video and audio interviews, and more". Lovecraft eZine. Retrieved 22 April 2019.
  21. ^ Nyfors, A.R. (May 2019). "In Memory Of Seattle Horror Writer, Magazine Editor Wilum Pugmire". www.punkglobe.com. Retrieved 31 January 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  22. ^ a b Eden, Deirdra A. (22 July 2011). "Interview with Author W. H. Pugmire". A Storybook World. Retrieved 7 May 2019.
  23. ^ Hamlin, Andrew (26 January 2016). "Punk snot dead". The Seattle Review of Books. Retrieved 16 April 2019.
  24. ^ a b c Mamatas, Nick (21 December 2009). "Wilum Hopfrog Pugmire, The Interview". Livejournal. Retrieved 10 May 2019.
  25. ^ a b Hoenigman, David (15 March 2012). "An Interview With Wilum Hopfrog Pugmire by David Hoenigman". The Bailer. Retrieved 10 May 2019.
  26. ^ a b Steele, Justin (3 January 2013). "Interview: W.H. Pugmire". The Arkham Digest. Retrieved 1 May 2019.
  27. ^ Pugmire, W. H. (12 June 2013). "The H Word: Lovecraftian Horror". Nightmare Magazine. Retrieved 13 May 2019.
  28. ^ a b "Issue #28 – December 2013". The Lovecraft eZine. 6 December 2013. Retrieved 21 April 2019.
  29. ^ Bartley, Nancy (30 October 1988). "Ghost Writers – Seattle's Horror-Fiction Authors Find Our Region's Gloomy Days Nourish Their Creative Spirits". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. p. K1.
  30. ^ Joshi, S. T. (6 April 2019). "More on Wilum, and Other Matters". stjoshi.org. Archived from the original on 15 April 2019. Retrieved 17 April 2019.
  31. ^ Draa, Douglas (26 November 2013). "The WEIRD Bookshelf: An Interview with Wilum "Hopfrog" Pugmire". Weird Tales. Archived from the original on 10 February 2014. Retrieved 21 April 2019.
  32. ^ Di Filippo, Paul (2004). "On Books". Asimov's Science Fiction. Archived from the original on 20 February 2012. Retrieved 18 April 2019.
  33. ^ "Uncommon Places: A Collection of Exquisites". Publishers Weekly. 18 June 2012. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  34. ^ "Monstrous Aftermath: Stories in the Lovecraftian Tradition". Publishers Weekly. 22 August 2016. Retrieved 18 April 2019.
  35. ^ Dansky, Richard. "The Weird Inhabitants of Sesqua Valley by W.H. Pugmire". Fantasy Magazine. Archived from the original on 26 January 2019. Retrieved 15 November 2020.
  36. ^ a b "Wilum H. Pugmire's The Tangled Muse", by Peter Rawlik, The New York Review of Science Fiction, October 2011, Issue 278, pages 13–14.
  37. ^ Connors, Scott (Fall 2011). "A Kinship with Monsters: Review of The Tangled Muse by W. H. Pugmire". Dead Reckonings. New York: Hippocampus Press. 1 (10): 24–26. ISSN 1935-6110.
  38. ^ Derie, Bobby (15 September 2014). "A Brief History of Sex in Weird Fiction". Weird Fiction Review. Retrieved 21 April 2019.
  39. ^ Barron, Laird (12 March 2017). "Authors to Read (Part II)". Laird Barron. Retrieved 18 April 2019.
  40. ^ Barron, Laird (21 December 2017). "The Black Barony 1". Laird Barron. Retrieved 18 April 2019.
  41. ^ "Update on W.H. Pugmire" by Mike Davis. The Lovecraft Ezine. November 26, 2011. Accessed October 10, 2021.
  42. ^ Moreno-Garcia, Silvia; Tidhar, Lavie (13 January 2021). "Let's talk about fantasy and science fiction books that have fallen off the radar". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 28 January 2021.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  43. ^ Joshi, S. T. (2007). Icons of Horror and the Supernatural: An Encyclopedia of Our Worst Nightmares. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 123. ISBN 978-0-313-33781-9.
  44. ^ Joshi, S. T. (2008). The Rise and Fall of the Cthulhu Mythos. Poplar Bluff, MO: Mythos Press. p. 268. ISBN 9780978991180.
  45. ^ Joshi, S. T. "Review of A Look Behind the Derleth Mythos, by John Haefele". Retrieved 25 October 2013.
  46. ^ Entry for PUGMIRE, WILLIAM “WILUM” H. (1951– ), The Locus Index to Science Fiction: 1984–1998, accessed 5 February 2013.
  47. ^ "Summary Bibliography: W. H. Pugmire". Internet Speculative Fiction Database. Retrieved 23 April 2019.
  48. ^ "The Tangled Muse". Centipede Press. Retrieved 17 April 2019.
  49. ^ "An Ecstasy of Fear". Centipede Press. Retrieved 24 June 2019.
  50. ^ "Contents Lists: Space and Time, Issues 20-49". The Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Weird Fiction Magazine Index. Retrieved 13 May 2019.
  51. ^ Sammons, Brian M. (10 May 2016). "Interview with author W.H. Pugmire by Brian M. Sammons". Dark Regions Press. Retrieved 10 May 2019.
  52. ^ "Publication: The Year's Best Horror Stories: XV". Internet Speculative Fiction Database. 1 March 2015. Retrieved 3 May 2019.
  53. ^ "Publication: Tales by Moonlight II". Internet Speculative Fiction Database. 17 January 2013. Retrieved 3 May 2019.
  54. ^ "Publication: The Year's Best Horror Stories: XVIII". Internet Speculative Fiction Database. 1 September 2015. Retrieved 3 May 2019.
  55. ^ "Publication: Love in Vein: Twenty Original Tales of Vampiric Erotica". Internet Speculative Fiction Database. 14 April 2014. Retrieved 3 May 2019.
  56. ^ "Publication: The Darker Side: Generations of Horror". Internet Speculative Fiction Database. Retrieved 3 May 2019.
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  71. ^ "Nightmare's Realm: New Tales of the Weird and Fantastic". Dark Regions Press. Retrieved 8 May 2019.
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  73. ^ "Weirdbook #38". Wildside Press. Retrieved 15 November 2020.

External links[edit]