I’ve been doing a little digging into Rheinhart Kleiner (1892–1949) after Lovecraft’s New York period, spurred by An H.P. Lovecraft Encyclopedia‘s comment that Lovecraft lost touch with Kleiner from the end of Lovecraft’s New York period through to 1936-37 (although Lovecraft did encounter him, as part of groups, on some of his New York visits in the 1930s). I wondered why they lost touch.

One reason might be that Kleiner appears to have been active as a hardline communist in New York during at least the later part of that period, a member of “Unit 36-S” of the New Deal’s Federal Writers’ Project. The New York City FWP was a body set up in 1934/5 and it was swiftly infested with bickering communist and socialist sects (seemingly to the detriment at that time of fellow Kalem member Arthur Leeds — see the chapter on Leeds in my latest book). Perhaps of relevance to this discovery is that fellow Kalem member George Kirk’s Chelsea Book Shop in New York was also cited in the official record as having been one of… “the two official book shops of the Communist party of the United States”.


I also stumbled on another curious mystery of Kleiner’s later years, which is the whereabouts of his c.1946 book Burrowings of an Old Bookworm. This is not currently on any bibliographic databases. Imprimatur (Vol.1, 1-3, p.31) noted of Paul W. Cook’s Vermont little magazine The Ghost

“The fourth number (July 1946) is entirely devoted to Burrowings of an Old Bookworm by Rheinhart Kleiner.”

Burrowings was apparently… “a long bookish memoir largely devoted to popular fiction he read during his boyhood” (L.W. Currey’s description of The Ghost). Burrowings is also mentioned in Rheinhart Kleiner’s death notice in Wilson Library Bulletin, 1949…

“Rheinhart Kleiner, trade writer; at [222 Demott Avenue, according to New York Times] Clifton, New Jersey; after a long illness; fifty-six. Well known in his field in England and Australia as well as in the United States, his latest book was Burrowings of an Old Bookworm.”

My suspicion would be that Burrowings may have been a circulated typescript memoir in carbon, rather than an actual book? I guess an inspection of The Ghost, currently available from L.W. Currey for $150, could yield more precise details.

An item I did discover is James Guinane’s self-published 46-page mimeographed booklet RK: Rheinhart Kleiner: a Memoir (1951). Guinane was a young Australian amateur journalist (Churingas) on the remote island of Tasmania, and he also presumably(?) corresponded with Kleiner. The booklet is described as…

“American amateurs receiving it can recall nothing to equal it in the artistic use of mimeographing … Forty-six pages of Guinane’s polished prose are divided into nine chapters on various phases of Kleiner’s personality and literary output.” (review in LOC X Collection 1324).

This is not yet scanned and online. There’s currently a cheap copy of it listed on Amazon USA, but sadly they won’t ship it to the UK.

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