News came down today of the death of April Derleth, the head of small publisher Arkham House. The publishing imprint had been founded by her father August Derleth and Donald Wandrei in 1939 to keep the works of H. P. Lovecraft in print. After World War II, Wandrei would leave the firm, putting control in the hands of August Derleth. Arkham House was not only responsible for the Lovecraft resurgence, but it also brought such writers as Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howard, William Hope Hodgson, Ray Bradbury and Robert Bloch to the attention of a wider reading public, as well publishing the first work of Ramsey Campbell and Brian Lumley
After Derleth's death in 1971, the publishing house was run by James Turner, who moved Arkham House more solidly toward science fiction. Turner left Arkham to found Golden Gryphon Press in 2002, April Derleth assumed control of Arkham House. Arkham House became a small shadow of what it had been, putting out books irregularly while other, newer small presses rose to meet the needs of a growing readership. Recently, in conjunction with Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, Arkahm House books began to reappear with both new and expanded older works planned. The death of April Derleth has caused Arkham House to announce that all sales and order fulfillment has been temporarily suspended.
April Derleth's younger brother Walden is half-owner of Arkham House. Whether he, or perhaps one of April's heirs (if any, I don't know the details of her private llife), or George Vandenburg of Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, or Peter Ruber (who assisted April Derleth) will run the publishing house is in question, as is -- indeed -- the future of the historic enterprise.
April Derleth was born in 1956, making her 55 or 56 years old. The cause of death has not been reported. Her loss at such a young age is sad.