The first comprehensive biography of Robert E. Howard, the enigmatic creator of Conan the Barbarian and progenitor of the sword and sorcery genre, who published hundreds of short stories and poems before taking his own life at the age of thirty.
You may not know the name Robert E. Howard, but you probably know his work. His most famous creation, Conan the Barbarian, is an icon of popular culture. In hundreds of tales detailing the exploits of Conan, King Kull, and others, Howard helped to invent the sword and sorcery genre.
Todd B. Vick delves into newly available archives and probes Howard’s relationships, particularly with schoolteacher Novalyne Price, to bring a fresh, objective perspective to Howard's life. Like his many characters, Howard was an enigma and an outsider. He spent his formative years visiting the four corners of Texas, experiences that left a mark on his stories. He was intensely devoted to his mother, whom he nursed in her final days, and whose impending death contributed to his suicide in 1936 when he was just thirty years old.
Renegades and Rogues is an unequivocal journalistic account that situates Howard within the broader context of pulp literature. More than a realistic fantasist, he wrote westerns and horror stories as well, and engaged in avid correspondence with H. P. Lovecraft and other pulp writers of his day. Vick investigates Howard’s twelve-year writing career, analyzes the influences that underlay his celebrated characters, and assesses the afterlife of Conan, the figure in whom Howard's fervent imagination achieved its most durable expression.
“Todd B. Vick surveys the entire panoply of Robert E. Howard's times and life. Early twentieth-century Texas, so important to a young writer who almost never crossed its borders except in the mighty treads of his imagination, becomes a player in the action fully as much as Conan or Solomon Kane—and Renegades and Rogues is a truly outstanding biography because of it. The book is a terrific read that will grab you like the brawny iron arms of Khosatral Khel and not let you go.”
Roy Thomas, former editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics and author of the Conan the Barbarian comic
“Renegades and Rogues is a compelling read. Vick does an outstanding job in portraying Howard’s family life, in describing the major incidents of his literary career, and especially in providing insightful details into the remarkable resurgence of Howard’s work in various media after his death.”
S. T. Joshi, author of I Am Providence: The Life and Times of H. P. Lovecraft