W. Paul Cook

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(1880 – January 22, 1948)

W. Paul Cook was a writer, printer and publisher who lived and wrote mostly in Vermont and Massachusetts. He wrote under his own name and in the 1930s, non-genre fiction under the pseudonym Willis T. Crossman, and was a leading figure in the hobbyist tradition of amateur journalism. In 1927 he published The Recluse, a one-shot amateur magazine that has a claim toward being a paleofanzine, at least.

Some of the material intended for a second issue of The Recluse appeared in The Ghost (5 issues, 1943–1947), a mundane-leaning zine which included an article on Farnsworth Wright and several pieces on weird fiction. Harry Warner, Jr. called it an “ideal fanzine, or something very close to it”.[1] Helen Wesson wrote:

… the biggest and best Fantasy mag pubbed, W. Paul Cook's GHOST, has this stipulation: "The GHOST is an amateur publication issued for love of the hobby known as Amateur Journalism. It cannot be bought from the publisher; and it is his wish that it never, at any time, under any circumstances, be sold."[2]

Cook was a friend of H. P. Lovecraft, a couple of whose early works he published in his 1918–1922 amateur magazine The Vagrant. He wrote "In Memoriam: Howard Phillips Lovecraft: Recollections, Appreciations, Estimates" (1941 chapbook from Walter J. Coates's Driftwind Press where Cook worked as a printer), which was republished as "An Appreciation of H. P. Lovecraft" in Arkham House’s Beyond the Wall of Sleep (1943) and as H. P. Lovecraft, A Portrait (Mirage Press, 1968).

The selection Willis T. Crossman's Vermont: Stories by W. Paul Cook edited by Sean Donnelly and Leland M. Hawes, Jr was published as print-on-demand by University Of Tampa Press in 2005. Donnelly went on to edit W. Paul Cook: The Wandering Life of a Yankee Printer (Hippocampus Press, 2007) where a brief biography is supplemented "With Selected Writings by And About Him", memoirs by contemporaries, bibliography etc.

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