Origins of Conan the Barbarian in Cross Plains
CROSS PLAINS, TX (KTAB/KRBC) – Before The Lord of the Rings, The Witcher and Game of Thrones, a muscular barbarian named Conan was born in Cross Plains, Texas. Author Robert E. Howard moved here when he was just 13 years old.
“That’s what blows everyone’s mind. Here in this little old house in the middle of “Nowhere, Texas,” said Arlene Stephenson, president of the Robert E. Howard organization and museum.
While other West Texas boys dreamed of glory on the football field or a life on the ranch, Howard apparently knew from a young age that he wanted to be a writer. Inspired by the books he could get his hands on; Howard was an imaginative force that 1930s America had yet to experience.
“They credit Robert Howard with creating the sword and sorcery genre. He made it all up,” Stephenson told KTAB/KRBC. “Nobody else had written quite like that.”
His father’s job as a country doctor required them to move from town to town throughout his childhood, but Howard found an escape in writing. With no internet, television, or even radio at the time, his stories were a product of his own design.
“He just had a writing style. Most people would say that appeals to you,” Stephenson encouraged.
The Robert E. Howard Museum in Cross Plains is also Howard’s former home. While Conan was his best known character, the museum holds a record of his other interests – Howard writing in just about every genre you could want.
It is his prolific work that attracts scholars and fans around the world. The museum holds Robert E. Howard Days each year.
“I mean, they have people writing doctorates in Howard studies. There are masters in Howard studies,” Stephenson said.
Stephenson told KTAB/KRBC that people who follow Howard’s work have been dedicated to seeing him more widely accepted in academic circles — that doesn’t mean he’s not well received! His stories have been adapted into movies, TV shows, video games, and even a hit comic book series.
“I don’t know, he just had an impact,” Stephenson reflected. “It just seems to endlessly cross generations… Sometimes you might think they’re just, I don’t know, the tip of the iceberg.”
The museum is open daily by appointment only. Stephenson said the museum sells its books in person and online to customers around the world.