The King of the Pulps died on this date seventy years ago today. Henry James O’Brien Bedford-Jones, better-known to his millions of fans during the pulp era as "H. Bedford-Jones," passed away in his comfortable Beverly Hills home after forty years of living well off his pulp fiction.
Bedford-Jones was born in 1887 in Canada, though he spent most of his life in the U.S. Before his twenty-second birthday, he had sold his first story to one of the greatest pulps ever, Argosy. He went on to write over a million words of pulp adventure per year for decades. He has been called the "King of the Pulps" by men who should know, and I see little reason to argue. Bedford-Jones sold stories to Argosy, Weird Tales, Adventure, Blue Book...almost all of the major pulps. He wrote historical adventures of all kinds, Westerns, detective stories, SFF and horror. H. Bedford-Jones was an unstoppable pulp writing machine from 1909 to 1949.
While I can't be called a Bedford-Jones scholar, by any means, I have read some of his fiction. Despite cranking out his stories at an awesome rate, the man could write a quality adventure tale. HBJ's writing style is lean and economical and his characterization is good. His plots move right along and he generally nails historical details surprisingly well. I don't know where he found the time to do any research.
For several years, Altus Press has been publishing HBJ's entire corpus of work in quality uniform editions. Check them out here. Books of particular note to DMR readers would be the novels They Lived By the Sword and The Cross and the Hammer. The epic collection, Ships and Men, looks pretty damned cool as well.
If you're looking to just dip your toe into the water, Roy Glashan's Library has most of Bedford-Jones' popular "John Solomon" stories free as extexts. James Reasoner, an HBJ fan and a wildly prolific neo-pulpster himself, recommends the Wildside H. Bedford-Jones Megapack, which goes for just $.99. I would also personally recommend HBJ's novel on Gutenberg, Nuala O'Malley, a swashbuckler set in Renaissance Ireland.
For those wanting to know more about the man, King of the Pulps: The Life and Writings of H. Bedford-Jones by pulp scholars Peter Ruber, Darrell C. Richardson and Victor A. Berch, is an excellent resource. Also, This Fiction Business by HBJ himself is a great tutorial by a man who mastered the art of getting pulp editors to publish his work. For prospective authors wanting to write in the pulp tradition, it's a treasure-trove.