Robert E. Howard

Robert Ervin Howard (January 22, 1906 – June 11, 1936) was an American author who wrote pulp fiction in a diverse range of genres. He is well known for his character Conan the Barbarian and is regarded as the father of the sword and sorcery subgenre.

Howard was born and raised in Texas. He spent most of his life in the town of Cross Plains with some time spent in nearby Brownwood. A bookish and intellectual child, he was also a fan of boxing and spent some time in his late teens bodybuilding, eventually taking up amateur boxing. From the age of nine he dreamed of becoming a writer of adventure fiction but did not have real success until he was 23. Thereafter, until his death by suicide at age 30, Howard's writings were published in a wide selection of magazines, journals, and newspapers, and he had become successful in several genres. Although a Conan novel was nearly published in 1934, his stories never appeared in book form during his lifetime. The main outlet for his stories was the pulp magazine Weird Tales.

In the pages of the Depression-era pulp magazine Weird Tales, Howard created Conan the Barbarian, a character whose cultural impact has been compared to such icons as Batman, Count Dracula, James Bond, Sherlock Holmes, and Tarzan. With Conan and his other heroes, Howard created the genre now known as sword and sorcery, spawning many imitators and giving him a large influence in the fantasy field. Howard remains a highly read author, with his best works still reprinted.

Howard’s suicide and the circumstances surrounding it have led to speculation about his mental health. His mother had been ill with tuberculosis his entire life, and upon learning she had entered a coma from which she was not expected to wake, he walked out to his car and shot himself in the head.

Robert E. Howard Days are celebrated in Cross Plains over the second weekend each June.  This year's events take place on June 9th and 10th, 2017.  The Barbarian Festival is held inconjunction with Robert E. Howard Days each year.

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