Robert Ervin Howard was an American author who wrote pulp fiction in a diverse range of genres. He is well known for his character Conan the Barbarian and is regarded as the father of the sword and sorcery subgenre. Howard was born and raised in the state of Texas. He spent most of his life in the town of Cross Plains with some time spent in nearby Brownwood.
A bookish and intellectual child, he was also a fan of boxing and spent some time in his late teens bodybuilding, eventually taking up amateur boxing. From the age of nine he dreamed of becoming a writer of adventure fiction but did not have real success until he was 23. Thereafter, until his death at the age of 30 by suicide, Howard's writings were published in a wide selection of magazines, journals, and newspapers, and he had become successful in several genres. Although a Conan novel was nearly published into a book in 1934, his stories never appeared in book form during his lifetime. The main outlet for his stories was in the pulp magazine Weird Tales.
Howard’s suicide and the circumstances surrounding it have led to varied speculation about his mental health. His mother had been ill with tuberculosis his entire life, and upon learning that she had entered a coma from which she was not expected to wake, he walked out to his car and shot himself in the head. Howard created Conan the Barbarian, in the pages of the Depression-era pulp magazine Weird Tales, a character whose cultural impact has been compared to such icons as Tarzan, Count Dracula, Sherlock Holmes, Batman, and James Bond. With Conan and his other heroes, Howard created the genre now known as sword and sorcery, spawning many imitators and giving him a large influence in the fantasy field. Howard remains a highly read author, with his best works still reprinted.