This article was originally published on Ferretbrain. I’ve backdated it to its original Ferretbrain publication date but it may have been edited and amended since its original appearance.
The story so far: in 1969 August Derleth’s Arkham House publishing company put out Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos; though in subsequent years it would be revised by Jim Turner, this was mostly am embellishment on the original outline of the anthology set up by Derleth.
A few years later, August Derleth died. Whilst no one individual would replace him as self-appointed Pope of the Cthulhu Mythos fandom, Arkham House continued as a company under the auspices of his heirs and continued to make Mythos material a significant component of their catalogue. And that meant that sooner or later, an attempt at a sequel anthology was made…
New Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos
Coming nearly a decade after Derleth’s death, Arkham House decided to put out in 1980 this anthology of all-original Mythos stories with an intent of representing where the state of the art stood, much as the original stories in Tales represented the state of the art in 1969. The anthology was edited by Ramsey Campbell, who even at this early stage of his career could justifiably be seen as perhaps the biggest new talent in horror out of the crop of new writers showcased in Tales.
In his introduction, Campbell broke from the old Derlethian party line by noting that there is no settled “canon” for the Mythos, and that it’s better to emulate Lovecraft’s command of atmosphere, originality, and masterful command of story structure than it is to blindly follow his prose style or rehash his plots. These days, all of that is well-known and well-understood, but it was decidedly worth saying at the time, especially in an Arkham House release – and the fact that Arkham House were willing to put out such an introduction says something about how they had emerged from Derleth’s shadow in the intervening years.