Hugh B. Cave

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(July 11, 1910 – June 27, 2004)

Hugh B. Cave

Hugh Barnett Cave was a UK-born American author of horror, weird fiction and sf, one of the most prolific pulp writers of the 1920s and ’30s, selling some 800 stories, also including fantasy, adventure, westerns, crime stories, romances and nonfiction. During his writing career, he used many pen names, including Allen Beck, Carey Burnett, Justin Case, J. C. Cole, Jack D'Arcy, William Decatur, Paul Hanna, Rupert Knowles, R. T. Maynard, Max Neilson, Maxwell Smith, Geoffrey Vace, and John Wayne!

He corresponded extensively with fellow pulp writer Carl Jacobi, from 1932 until Jacobi's death in 1997. Selections of this correspondence can be found in Cave's memoir Magazines I Remember.

Relations with other pulp writers were not always so cordial. In the 1930s, Cave lived in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, but he never met H. P. Lovecraft, who lived in nearby Providence. The two engaged in a heated exchange of correspondence, however, regarding the ethics and aesthetics of writing for the pulps. At least two of Cave's stories are loosely attached to HPL's Cthulhu Mythos: "The Isle of Dark Magic" and "The Death Watch."

Cave wrote two stories for Astounding: "The Corpse on the Grating" (February, 1930) and "The Murder Machine" (September, 1930).

Popular culture critic Lee Server wrote that Cave was "a valued contributor to the two most honored magazines of the pulp era, Weird Tales and Black Mask (a distinction in itself, as most contributors to those two magazines wrote only for one or the other)."

One of his most remembered statements regarded writing: "Many of today's writers seem to think that obscurity is a virtue and have apparently decided that a reader who can't understand them will think them artistic.... The great writers of the past would not be remembered today had they fallen into this subtle trap."

Personal Life[edit]

Cave was born in 1910 in Chester, England, and moved during his childhood with his family to Boston, Massachusetts, following the outbreak of World War I. His first name was in honor of Hugh Walpole, a favorite author of his mother, who had been friends with Rudyard Kipling.

Cave attended Brookline High School. After graduating, he attended Boston University on a scholarship but had to leave when his father was severely injured. Cave worked initially for a vanity press, the only regular job he would ever have. He quit this position at the age of 20 to write for a living.

Cave was married twice — first to Margaret Long in a union that produced two sons before the couple began living apart — and to Peggy Thompson, who died in 2001. A war correspondent during World War II, Cave afterward settled in Jamaica where he owned and managed a coffee plantation and continued writing, adding novels as well as fiction and non-fiction sales to mainstream magazines. Cave was 93 when he died in Vero Beach, Florida, in 2004. His remains were cremated.

More Reading[edit]

  • Obituary by John Williams, The Guardian, July 9, 2004.
  • Bibliography at ISFDB.
  • Article on Cave and his work in Tightbeam #296, May, 2019.
  • Pulp Man's Odyssey: The Hugh B. Cave Story by Audrey Parente (Starmont House, Mercer Island, WA, 1987).

Awards, Honors and GoHships:

Person 19102004
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