Robert W. Chambers was a writer of short stories and novels who dabbled in cosmic horror themes early in his career before moving on to more conventional stories which were the bulk of his output. He would probably be completely unknown today if not for one dedicated fan: H. P. Lovecraft.

Lovecraft particularly enjoyed Chambers’ The King In Yellow, a tale of a play that drives readers mad, and incorporated references to it and the aforementioned King’s Yellow Sign into his later works. Other Chambers stories also influenced Lovecraft, such as The Harbor-Master, which has thematic similarities to The Shadow Over Innsmouth.

Chambers himself, though, mostly wrote ordinary stories that are held in disdain by weird aficionados; one edition of The Harbor-Master describes Chambers’ descent into “hackneyed romances which are now universally and deservedly forgotten.”

Perhaps that is the true horror. From beyond the grave another, more popular, author has forever tarred him with a genre he only dabbled with. Chambers’ other works, his bread and butter and passion, have been reduced to forgotten footnotes.

He wanted to be remembered as a writer of romantic historical fiction yet the weird is all that abides.

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