Lyon Sprague de Camp was a science fiction and fantasy author born in New York City on November 27, 1907. His first published story was "The Isolinguals" in the September 1937 issue of Astounding Science Fiction. He went on to write numerous novels, short stories and non-fiction works in his long career.
Some of de Camp's most famous works were the short novels Lest Darkness Fall (1939), The Wheels of If, (1940) and The Glory That Was (1960). He also wrote the "Harold Shea" series with Fletcher Pratt as well as the Tales from Gavagan's Bar. de Camp is often credited for a resurgence of interest in Robert E. Howard's Conan character, and he wrote several novels about Conan.
L. Sprague de Camp was the guest of honor at the 1966 World Science Fiction Convention and has won the Nebula Award as a Grandmaster (1978) and the Hugo Award in 1997 for his autobiography, Time and Chance. In 1976, he received the World Science Fiction Society's Gandalf Grand Master award. In 1995, he won the first Sidewise Award for Alternate History Lifetime Achievement Award.
Like many authors who wrote in the fantastic canon, de Camp was a materialist who also wrote works examining society, history, technology and myth. Though overshadowed by his popular fiction, deCamp wrote a number of less-known but significant works that explored such topics as racism, which he noted is more accurately described as ethnocentrism. He pointed out that no scholar comparing the merits of various ethnicities has ever sought to prove that his own ethnicity was inferior to others.
De Camp also liked to debunk doubtful history and claims of the supernatural, and to describe how ancient civilizations produced structures and architecture thought by some to be beyond the technologies of their time, such as the Pyramids of Ancient Egypt. Works in this area include Citadels of Mystery and The Ancient Engineers. Among his many other wide-ranging non-fiction works were Lost Continents, The Great Monkey Trial (about the Scopes Trial), The Ragged Edge Of Science, Energy and Power, Heroes of American Invention. The Day Of The Dinosaur, The Evolution Of Naval Weapons (a United States of America government textbook) and Teach Your Child To Manage Money.
The author also wrote biographies of two prominent but personally flawed fantasy writers, Robert E. Howard and H. P. Lovecraft. The latter, the first major independent biography of the now-famous writer, is criticized by many fans of Lovecraft as unflattering and unbalanced.
During World War II, de Camp worked at the Philadelphia Naval Yard with fellow authors Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein.
De Camp died on November 6, 2000, only seven months after his wife of sixty years, Catherine Cook de Camp, died. He died on what would have been her birthday.