R. H. Barlow
country of citizenship: United States of America, Mexico
language of expression: Spanish, English, Nahuatl
educated at: University of California
occupation: anthropologist, linguist, writer, poet, historian
award received: John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, grant
Robert Hayward Barlow (May 18, 1918 – January 1 or 2, 1951) was an American author, avant-garde poet, anthropologist and historian of early Mexico, and expert in the Nahuatl language. He was a correspondent and friend of horror writer H. P. Lovecraft and was appointed by Lovecraft the executor of his literary estate.Born at a time when his father, Lieutenant Colonel Everett Darius Barlow, was serving with the American Forces in France, Barlow spent much of his youth at Fort Benning, Georgia, where his father was stationed but also moved from army post to army post in his earliest years. As a result, he never received much formal schooling but he was a brilliant youth and pursued his education on his own. Around 1932 Col. Barlow received a medical discharge, retired on disability from the army and settled his wife (Bernice Barlow) and son in the small town of DeLand, in central Florida where he built a lakeside homestead.
Family difficulties later forced Robert H. Barlow to move to Washington, D.C., where, in 1934, as the son of a retired army officer, he received treatment for over-strained eyes at an army facility before returning to DeLand in 1935. In 1936, he received training at the Kansas City Art Institute, where Thomas Hart Benton was one of his teachers, and subsequently at San Francisco Junior College. Barlow settled for a time with the Beck family in Lakeport, California, where he helped publish H. P. Lovecraft's Commonplace Book and several other items from Beck's Futile Press. From Lakeport was mailed the second and final issue of his legendary amateur magazine Leaves, which he and Lovecraft had planned together before the latter's death.
Following a suggestion from an interested counselor and friend, Barbara Mayer, that Barlow make the study of Mexico's antiquities his goal, he went to Mexico in 1940-41, studied at the Escuela Nacional de Ciencias Biologicas, and upon his return to California received the B.A. degree at the University of California in 1942. Returning to Mexico as a permanent resident, he joined the staff of the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico. In 1944 he received a Rockefeller Foundation and in 1946-48 a Guggenheim Fellowship. He became head of the Department of Anthropology at Mexico City College, which position he held at the time of his passing on January 2, 1951.
According to fellow anthropologist Charles E. Dibble, "In the brief span of a decade, Barlow gave Middle American research an impetus and perspective of enduring consequence. His contributions in Mexican archaeology, classical and modern Nahuatl, Mexican colonial history, and what he preferred to call "Bilderhandschriften" are of lasting importance." Dibble compared Barlow's zeal for searching for and deciphering little known or dimly recalled codices and colonial manuscripts to that of Zelia Nuttall. Barlow has been referred to as "the T. E. Lawrence of Mexico.
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