The Newcomer's Guide to Robert E. Howard

Everything you need to know

Conan the Barbarian and Conan the Cimmerian

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Did Howard ever refer to Conan as “Conan the Barbarian”?

He did not. Despite being the most commonly used epithet over the years, the creator of the character widely known as Conan the Barbarian never referred to him as such, neither in the stories, nor in his drafts, synopses or letters.

So what did Howard call him?

In the stories, Conan is most often referred to, or refers to himself, as “Conan the Cimmerian,” or “Conan of Cimmeria.” He is also once referred to as “Conan of the black hair,” “Conan the northron,” “Conan the Throat-slitter,” “Conan the buccaneer,” “Conan of the Barachan pirates,” and twice as “Conan of Aquilonia” and “Conan of Ghor,” referring to his status as , respectively, king and hetman of those places. In his letters, Howard always referred to Conan, when he used an epithet at all, as “Conan the Cimmerian.”

If not Howard, then who came up with “Conan the Barbarian” then?

There are two possibilities: Farnsworth Wright, editor of Weird Tales, used the phrase in promotional material for the magazine. The second is Howard’s friend Tevis Clyde Smith, as recalled by Novalyne Price:

Bob thought a minute. “Every way, but mostly with a character, I suppose. I’ve got a character going now-” “Conan, the Barbarian,” Clyde interrupted. “A ruthless barbarian who loves, fights, and battles the supernatural.”

One Who Walked Alone, page 20

It’s unclear who came up with it first, but in terms of print, Wright would appear to be the first to use “Conan the Barbarian” in publishing.

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Written by alharron

23 December, 2010 at 12:19 am

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