Henry Kuttner

Henry Kuttner (April 7, 1915 – February 3, 1958) was an American author of science fiction, fantasy and horror.

Henry Kuttner
Born(1915-04-07)April 7, 1915
Los Angeles, California, United States
DiedFebruary 3, 1958(1958-02-03) (aged 42)
Los Angeles, California, United States
Occupationshort story writer; novelist
GenreScience fiction, fantasy, horror
SpouseC. L. Moore (1940–1958)

Early life

Henry Kuttner was born in Los Angeles, California in 1915. Naphtaly Kuttner (1829–1903) and Amelia Bush (c. 1834–1911). The parents of his father, the bookseller Henry Kuttner (1863–1920), had come from Leszno in Prussia and lived in San Francisco since 1859; the parents of his mother, Annie Levy (1875–1954), were from Great Britain. Henry Kuttner's great-grandfather was the scholar Josua Heschel Kuttner. Kuttner grew up in relative poverty following the death of his father. As a young man he worked in his spare time for the literary agency of his uncle,[1] Laurence D'Orsay (in fact his first cousin per marriage), in Los Angeles before selling his first story, "The Graveyard Rats", to Weird Tales in early 1936. It was while working for the d'Orsay agency that Kuttner picked Leigh Brackett's early manuscripts off the slush pile; it was under his tutelage that she sold her first story (to John W. Campbell at Astounding Stories).[2]

Kuttner and Moore

Kuttner was known for his literary prose and worked in close collaboration with his wife, C. L. Moore. They met through their association with the "Lovecraft Circle", a group of writers and fans who corresponded with H. P. Lovecraft.[3] Their work together spanned the 1940s and 1950s and most of the work was credited to pseudonyms, mainly Lewis Padgett and Lawrence O'Donnell.

L. Sprague de Camp, who knew Kuttner and Moore well, has stated that their collaboration was so seamless that, after a story was completed, it was often impossible for either Kuttner or Moore to recall who had written what. According to de Camp, it was typical for either partner to break off from a story in mid-paragraph or even mid-sentence, with the latest page of the manuscript still in the typewriter. The other spouse would routinely continue the story where the first had left off. They alternated in this manner as many times as necessary until the story was finished.

Among Kuttner's most popular work were the Gallegher stories, published under the Padgett name, about a man who invented high-tech solutions to client problems (assisted by his insufferably egomaniacal robot) when he was stinking drunk, only to be completely unable to remember exactly what he had built or why after sobering up. These stories were later collected in Robots Have No Tails. In her introduction to the 1973 Lancer Books edition, Moore stated that Kuttner wrote all the Gallegher stories himself.[4]


Marion Zimmer Bradley is among many authors who have cited Kuttner as an influence. Her novel The Bloody Sun is dedicated to him. Roger Zelazny has talked about the influence of The Dark World on his Amber series.

Kuttner's friend Richard Matheson dedicated his 1954 novel I Am Legend to Kuttner, with thanks for his help and encouragement. Ray Bradbury has said that Kuttner actually wrote the last 300 words of Bradbury's first horror story, "The Candle" (Weird Tales, November 1942). Bradbury has referred to Kuttner as a neglected master and a "pomegranate writer: popping with seeds—full of ideas".[5]

William S. Burroughs's novel The Ticket That Exploded contains direct quotes from Kuttner regarding the "Happy Cloak" parasitic pleasure monster from the Venusian seas.

Mary Elizabeth Counselman believed that Kuttner's habit of writing under widely varied pseudonyms deprived him of the fame that should have been his. "I have often wondered why Kuttner chose to hide his talents behind so many false faces for no editorial reason... Admittedly, the fun is in pretending to be someone else. But Kuttner cheated himself of much fame that he richly deserved by hiding his light under a bushel of pen names that many fans did not know were his. Seabury Quinn and I both chided him about this."[6]

According to J. Vernon Shea, August Derleth "kept promising to publish Hank's and Catherine's books under the Arkham House imprint, but kept postponing them."[7]

The Cthulhu Mythos

A friend of Lovecraft's as well as of Clark Ashton Smith, Kuttner contributed several stories to the Cthulhu Mythos genre invented by those authors (among others). Among these were "The Secret of Kralitz" (Weird Tales, October 1936), "The Eater of Souls" (Weird Tales, January 1937), "The Salem Horror" (Weird Tales, May 1937), "The Invaders" (Strange Stories, February 1939) and "The Hunt" (Strange Stories, June 1939).[8]

Kuttner added a few lesser-known deities to the Mythos, including Iod ("The Secret of Kralitz"), Vorvadoss ("The Eater of Souls"), and Nyogtha ("The Salem Horror"). Critic Shawn Ramsey suggests that Abigail Prinn, the villain of "The Salem Horror", might have been intended by Kuttner to be a descendant of Ludvig Prinn, author of De Vermis Mysteriis—a book that appears in Kuttner's "The Invaders".[9]

Etchings and Odysseys No 4 (1984), edited by Eric A. Carlson, John J. Koblas and R. Alain Everts, was a special Kuttner tribute issue featuring three reprinted tales by Kuttner - "It Walks By Night", "The Frog" and "The Invaders," together with various essays on Kuttner, and an interview with his wife and fellow writer C.L. Moore.

Crypt of Cthulhu 5, No 7 (whole number 41) (Lammas 1986), edited by Robert M. Price, was a special Henry Kuttner issue collecting eight Cthulhu Mythos stories by Kuttner. (It did not include "Spawn of Dagon" or "The Invaders").

The Book of Iod: Ten Tales of the Mythos is a collection of Kuttner's Cthulhu Mythos stories edited by Robert M. Price (Chaosium, 1995). (It also contains three additional tales concerning 'Iod's dread tome' by Robert Bloch, Lin Carter and Robert M. Price). The Kuttner stories included are: "The Secret of Kralitz", "The Eater of Souls", "The Salem Horror", "The Jest of Droom-Avesta", "Spawn of Dagon", "The Invaders", "The Frog", "Hydra", "Bells of Horror" and "The Hunt" - thus, all the Mythos stories which had appeared in the special Kuttner issue of Crypt of Cthulhu, plus "Spawn of Dagon" and "The Invaders". The story "The Black Kiss" (printed here, as often elsewhere, under the joint byline of Kuttner and Robert Bloch), was in fact written entirely by Bloch; Bloch co-credited Kuttner on the tale due to using the character Michael Leigh from "The Salem Horror".[10] "Beneath the Tombstone" by Robert M. Price and "Dead of Night" by Lin Carter round out the volume. Price points out in his introduction to the volume that "Henry Kuttner's own private corner of the Cthulhu Mythos was, then, apparently derived in about equal measure from Lovecraft, Bloch, Zoroastrianism, and Theosophy." [11]

Later life

Henry Kuttner spent the middle 1950s getting his master's degree before dying of a heart attack in Los Angeles in 1958.

Known pseudonyms

  • Edward J. Bellin
  • Paul Edmonds
  • Noel Gardner
  • Will Garth
  • James Hall
  • Keith Hammond
  • Hudson Hastings
  • Peter Horn
  • Kelvin Kent (used for work with Arthur K. Barnes)
  • Robert O. Kenyon
  • C. H. Liddell
  • Hugh Maepenn
  • Scott Morgan
  • Lawrence O'Donnell
  • Lewis Padgett
  • Woodrow Wilson Smith
  • Charles Stoddard

Partial bibliography

Short stories

Tony Quade stories

  • "I. Hollywood on the Moon" (1938)
  • "II. Doom World" (1938)
  • "III. The Star Parade" (1938)
  • "IV. Trouble on Titan" (1941)

Elak of Atlantis stories

  • "Thunder in the Dawn" (1938)
  • "Spawn of Dagon" (1938)
  • "Beyond the Phoenix" (1939)
  • "Dragon Moon" (1940)

Thunder Jim Wade series (as by Charles Stoddard)

  • "Thunder Jim Wade" (1941)
  • "The Hills of Gold" (1941)
  • "The Poison People" (1941)
  • "The Devil's Glacier" (1941)
  • "Waters of Death" (1941)
  • "Orange by the Railway" (1942)

"Baldy" Stories

  • "The Piper's Son" (1945)
  • "Three Blind Mice" (1945)
  • "The Lion And The Unicorn" (1945)
  • "Beggars in Velvet" (1945)
  • "Humpty Dumpty" (1953)
  • "Mutant" (1953)




  • A Million Years to Conquer (1940), published in book form as The Creature from Beyond Infinity (1968)
  • Earth's Last Citadel (with C. L. Moore) (1943, first book publication 1964)
  • The Fairy Chessmen (1946, as Lewis Padgett, also retitled as Chessboard Planet and The Far Reality)
  • Valley of the Flame (1946, first book publication 1964)
  • The Dark World (with C. L. Moore (assumed)) (1946, first book publication 1965)
  • The Brass Ring (with C. L. Moore) (1946, nongenre, also published as Murder in Brass)
  • Tomorrow and Tomorrow (1947, as Lewis Padgett)
  • Fury (1947, first book publication 1950, later published under the title Destination: Infinity (1958))
  • The Day He Died (with C. L. Moore) (1947, nongenre)
  • The Mask of Circe (1948, first book publication 1971) (Illustrated by Alicia Austin in 1971)
  • The Time Axis (1949, first book publication 1965)
  • The Portal in the Picture (with C. L. Moore) (1949, also known as Beyond Earth's Gates)
  • The Well of the Worlds (1952, first book publication 1953)
  • Man Drowning (1952, nongenre)
  • The Murder of Eleanor Pope (1956, nongenre)
  • The Murder of Ann Avery (1956, nongenre)
  • Murder of a Mistress (1957, nongenre)
  • Murder of a Wife (1958, nongenre)


  • Ahead of Time
  • The Best of Henry Kuttner (split in paperback into two volumes, The Best of Kuttner 1 and The Best of Kuttner 2)
  • The Book of Iod
  • Bypass to Otherness
  • Chessboard Planet and Other Stories (with C. L. Moore)
  • Clash by Night and Other Stories (with C. L. Moore)
  • Detour to Otherness (with C. L. Moore)
  • Elak of Atlantis
  • A Gnome There Was
  • Hollywood on the Moon / Man About Time: The Pete Manx Adventures (with Arthur K. Barnes) (announced for 2011)
  • Kuttner Times Three
  • Line to Tomorrow and Other Stories of Fantasy and Science Fiction (with C. L. Moore)
  • The Michael Gray Murders (with C. L. Moore) (announced for 2012)
  • No Boundaries (with C. L. Moore)
  • Prince Raynor
  • Return to Otherness
  • Secret of the Earth Star and Others
  • The Startling Worlds of Henry Kuttner
  • Terror in the House: The Early Kuttner, Volume One
  • Thunder in the Void
  • Thunder Jim Wade
  • Two-Handed Engine: The Selected Short Fiction of Henry Kuttner & C. L. Moore
  • The Hogben ChroniclesKickstarter Project posthumously pushed by Neil Gaiman, F. Paul Wilson, Pierce Waters, Thomas L. Monteleone, and with special assist by Alan Moore.


Comic books


  1. According to Robert Bloch in his autobiography Once Around The Bloch BY: Tor Books, (1995), p. 95.
  2. Leigh Brackett "My Friend, Henry Kuttner." Etchings and Odysseys 4 (1984), p. 10.
  3. DeCamp, L. Sprague. Warlocks and Warriors, p. 167 (NY, Berkley 1971).
  4. http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/title.cgi?767085 Retrieved February 14, 2017
  5. Ray Bradbury, "Introduction: Henry Kuttner: A Neglected Master" in The Best of Henry Kuttner, Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1975, pp. vii–xii. "Pomegranate" is on p. vii; Shawn Ramsey, "Henry Kuttner's Cthulhu Mythos Fiction: An Overview", in The Horror of It All, Robert M. Price, ed.
  6. "Mary Elizabeth Counselman, "Hank and Weird Tales". Etchings and Odysseys 4 (1984), p. 38
  7. J. Vernon Shea, "Henry Kuttner: A Memoir", Etchings and Odysseys 4 (1984), p. 9
  8. His Mythos related stories were published in The Book of Iod in 1995, edited by Robert M. Price.
  9. Ramsey, p. 122.
  10. Robert M. Price, "Editorial Shards", Crypt of Cthulhu 41 (Lammas 1986), p. 2.
  11. "The Khut-N'ha Mythos" by Robert M. Price (ed) in Henry Kuttner, The Book of Iod (Chaosium, 1995), vi.
  12. p. 15
  13. Marcus Pan, Off The Shelf - "The World Treasury of Science Fiction", a book review, Legends Magazine, vol. 111, 2001

Further reading

  • Paul Dale Anderson. "Random Factors: The Recurring Themes of Henry Kuttner." Etchings and Odysseys 4(1984), 19-21.
  • Robert Bloch. "The Closest Approach" in Bloch's Out of My Head. Cambridge MA: NESFA Press, 1986, 47-53.
  • Robert Bloch. Once Around the Bloch: An Unauthorised Autobiography. NY: Tor Books, 1995, pp. 79, 94-98, 104-5, 157, 185, 238, 253, 350.
  • Ray Bradbury. "Henry Kuttner: A Neglected Master". Introduction to The Best of Henry Kuttner, NY: Ballantine Books, 1975, pp. vi-xii.
  • Don D'Amassa, "Henry Kuttner: Man of Many Voices" in Darrell Schweitzer (ed.), Discovering Classic Fantasy Fiction, Gillette, NJ: Wildside Press, 1996, pp. 122–125.
  • Various. "Recollections of Henry Kuttner By His Friends". Etchings and Odysseys 4(1984), 9-12, 38. Brief memoirs by J. Vernon Shea, Fritz Leiber, Robert Bloch, Leigh Brackett, Edmond Hamilton, and Mary Elizabeth Counselman.
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