A. Merritt

A. Merritt books and biography

A. Merritt

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Abraham Merritt (January 20, 1884-August 21, 1943), who published under the byline A. Merritt, was an American editor and author of works of fantastic fiction.


Born in New Jersey, he moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1894. Originally trained in law, he turned to journalism, first as a correspondent, and later as editor. He was assistant editor of The American Weekly from 1912 to 1937, then its editor until his death of a heart attack in 1943. His fiction was only a sideline to his journalism career, which might explain his relatively low output.

Merritt married twice, once in the 1910s to Eleanore Ratcliffe, with whom he raised an adopted daughter, and again in the 1930s to Eleanor H. Johnson.


His reputation has not stood well over the years among speculative fiction fans and critics, but at one time he was a major influence on H.P. Lovecraft and highly esteemed by his friend and frequent collaborator, the noted SF illustrator Hannes Bok.

Merritt's stories typically revolve around conventional pulp magazine themes: lost civilizations, hideous monsters, etc. His heroes are gallant Irishmen or Scandinavians, his villains treacherous Germans or Russians (depending on the politics of the time) and his heroines often virginal, mysterious and scantily clad.

What sets Merritt apart from the typical pulp author, however, is his lush, florid prose style and his exhaustive, at times exhausting, penchant for adjective-laden detail. Merritt's fondness for micro-description nicely complements the pointillistic style of Bok's illustrations, and often serves to highlight and radicalize the inherent fetishistic tendencies of pulp sf.

In 1917, he published his first fantasy, "Through the Dragon Glass", in Argosy All Stories Weekly. This was followed by many more tales, including People of the Pit (1918), The Moon Pool (1919), The Metal Monster (1920), The Face in the Abyss (1923), The Ship of Ishtar (1924), The Woman of the Wood (1926), Seven Footprints to Satan (1927), Burn, Witch, Burn! (1932), Dwellers in the Mirage (1932), Creep, Shadow! (1934), and The Drone Man (1934).

The Fox Woman and the Blue Pagoda (1946) combined an unfinished story with a second, concluding part that was written by Merritt's friend Bok. The Fox Woman and Other Stories (1949) collected the same fragment, minus Bok's conclusion, with Merritt's short stories. The book The Black Wheel was published in 1948, after Merritt's death; it was written by Bok using previously unpublished material as well.

This article might use material from a Wikipedia article, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

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Dwellers In The Mirage

Fox Woman And Other Stories

The Metal Monster

The Moon Pool

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