[...] & I will ask you to pass it along—after as long a reading as you care to give it—to Robert E. Howard, Lock Box 313, Cross Plains, Texas. When many people want to see the same story, it is most convenient to start it circulating in this way.
— H. P. Lovecraft to R. H. Barlow, 17 Sep 1931 (OFF 8)
The two tales safely arrived, & I am glad the “Mts. of Madness” duly reached you. When you are entirely through with the latter, I would appreciate your sending it on to Robert E. Howard, Lock Box 313, Cross Plains, Texas.
— H. P. Lovecraft to R. H. Barlow, 25 Sep 1931 (OFF 10)
This morning I took out a big registered envelope with a “War Department” letter-head. I had visions of me shouldering a Springfield already, but it was from a gentleman named Barlow, at Fort Benning, Georgia, asking me for my autograph, for which purpose he enclosed a blank sheet of paper and a stamped self-addressed envelope. He also enclosed a 115 page ms. which he said Lovecraft had instructed him to forward me. It’s the Antarctic story which Farnsworth rejected, and which Lovecraft promised to let me read in the original.
— Robert E. Howard to Tevis Clyde Smith, Oct 1931 (CL2.273)
Which was followed shortly after by the first mention of Barlow in Howard’s letters:
When Mr. Barlow sent me the ms. he did not mention whether it should be returned to him, or to you, so I am sending it to you, as I suppose it was intended that I should.
— Robert E. Howard to H. P. Lovecraft, Oct 1931 (CL2.274, MF1.231)
No mention is made of the autograph, and this initial contact was not followed up immediately by either party, though, as was common in his letters, Lovecraft would make occasional comments on Howard’s fiction in Weird Tales to his young correspondent. (OFF 29) Around mid-December 1932, Barlow began to write to Lovecraft and Howard’s mutual correspondent and fellow pulpster E. Hoffmann Price (OFF 45, cf. BOD 52-53); where Barlow had initially asked Lovecraft and Howard for autographs, now he was becoming more ambitious in his collecting:
Dear Mr. Barlow:
Price tells me that you are interested in the collection of first drafts of Weird stories. I am sending by express, the first writings — or rather the first typings, since I do all my work on the typewriter — of “The Phoenix on the Sword”, “The Scarlet Citadel”, “Black Colossus”, and “Iron Shadows in the Moon”. Some of the pages seem to be missing from the first named story, but the others are complete. Hoping you will find them of interest, I remain,
[Robert E. Howard.]
P.S. “The Phoenix on the Sword” and “The Scarlet Citadel” have appeared in Weird Tales. “Black Colossus” is scheduled for the June issue, and “Iron Shadows in the Moon” has been accepted, but not scheduled.
— Robert E. Howard to R. H. Barlow, Dec 1932 (CL2.519)
Barlow was appreciative, and asked Howard to sign the title pages of the stories, which the Texan consented to do. (CL2.519) Lovecraft, meanwhile, continued to sing Howard’s occasional praises in his letters to Barlow: