Edward Lucas White

American historian and writer

1866   -   1934

country of citizenship: United States of America
occupation: historian, novelist, poet

Edward Lucas White (May 11, 1866 – March 30, 1934) was an American author and poet. Born in the USA in Bergen, New Jersey, he attended Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, where he lived for the rest of his life. From 1915 until his retirement in 1930 he was a teacher at the University School for Boys in Baltimore. He published a number of historical novels, including The Unwilling Vestal (1918), Andivius Hedulio (1921) and Helen (1926), but he is best remembered for fantasy horror stories such as "The House of the Nightmare" and "Lukundoo" that were based on his own nightmares. Two collections of his short fiction were published in his lifetime, The Song of the Sirens (1919) and Lukundoo and Other Stories (1927). "Lukundoo", White's most frequently anthologized story, is the tale of an American explorer in a remote section of Africa who incurs the wrath of the local witch doctor, who casts a spell on him. Hundreds of sore pustules erupt all over the explorer's body. As these develop, it becomes clear that each sore is actually a sort of homunculus: a tiny African man, emerging head-first from within the explorer's flesh. He is able to terminate the development of individual homunculi by beheading them as they develop, but there are too many for him to defeat them all – and some of them are on portions of his back which he cannot reach. The explorer's only option is suicide. Two posthumous collections of his fiction have been published by Midnight House: The House of the Nightmare (12547ac) edited by John Pelan and Sesta and Other Strange Stories (2001) edited by Lee Weinstein. The latter contains mostly previously unpublished and uncollected material. During 1885 White began a utopian science fiction novel, Plus Ultra. He destroyed the first draft and started over in 1901, then worked on it for most of the rest of his life. The resulting monumental work—estimated by one critic at 500,000 words—remains unpublished, although a portion of it was released separately in 1920 as the novella From Behind the Stars. On March 30, 1934, seven years to the day after the death of his wife, Agnes Gerry, he committed suicide by gas inhalation in the bathroom of his Baltimore home. His last book, Matrimony (1932) was a memoir of his happy marriage to her.
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