'As for affectation - I'm not fond of any kind, but hate literary affectation the worst, because it is more permanent and subversive in its essence.'
'As to futility & work - I have come to the comfortably elderly condition of not caring a rap whether I do anything or not!'
'At night, when the objective world has slunk back into its cavern and left dreamers to their own, there come inspirations and capabilities impossible at any less magical and quiet hour. No one knows whether or not he is a writer unless he has tried writing at night.'
'Blue, green, grey, white, or black; smooth, ruffled, or mountainous; that ocean is not silent.'
'Bunch together a group of people deliberately chosen for strong religious feelings, and you have a practical guarantee of dark morbidities expressed in crime, perversion, and insanity.'
'But are not the dreams of poets and the tales of travellers notoriously false?'
'But more wonderful than the lore of old men and the lore of books is the secret lore of ocean.'
'Heaven knows where I'll end up - but it's a safe bet that I'll never be at the top of anything! Nor do I particularly care to be.'
'However - I am not quite such a solemn prig as you probably assume from my letters.'
'I am disillusioned enough to know that no man's opinion on any subject is worth a damn unless backed up with enough genuine information to make him really know what he's talking about.'
'I couldn't live a week without a private library - indeed, I'd part with all my furniture and squat and sleep on the floor before I'd let go of the 1500 or so books I possess.'
'I fear my enthusiasm flags when real work is demanded of me.'
'I never ask a man what his business is, for it never interests me. What I ask him about are his thoughts and dreams.'
'If I could create an ideal world, it would be an England with the fire of the Elizabethans, the correct taste of the Georgians, and the refinement and pure ideals of the Victorians.'
'If religion were true, its followers would not try to bludgeon their young into an artificial conformity; but would merely insist on their unbending quest for truth, irrespective of artificial backgrounds or practical consequences.'
'In the land of Sona-Nyl there is neither time nor space, neither suffering nor death.'
'It is a treadmill, squirrel-trap culture - drugged and frenzied with the hasheesh of industrial servitude and material luxury. It is wholly a material body-culture, and its symbol is the tiled bathroom and steam radiator rather than the Doric portico and the temple of philosophy.'
'Language, vocabulary, ideas, imagery - everything succumbed to my one intense purpose of thinking & dreaming myself back into that world of periwigs & long s's which for some odd reason seemed to me the normal world.'
'Life is a hideous thing, and from the background behind what we know of it peer daemoniacal hints of truth which make it sometimes a thousandfold more hideous.'
'Mere grotesqueness is very common; sly, malign madness sometimes lurks around the corner; and berserk, revolting murder under peculiarly messy and clumsy conditions is a matter of not infrequent record.'
'My fiction can't be compared with Poe's or Machen's, but I take no less pleasure in writing it on that account.'
'Now all my tales are based on the fundamental premise that common human laws and interests and emotions have no validity or significance in the vast cosmos-at-large.'
'Ocean is more ancient than the mountains, and freighted with the memories and the dreams of Time.'
'Of course, so far as personal taste goes, I'm no lover of humanity. To me cats are in every way more graceful and worthy of respect - but I don't try to raise my personal bias to the spurious dignity of a dogmatic generality.'
'Rome was so mighty that it could not fall. It had to vanish in a cloud, like so many of the mythical heros of antiquity, and to receive its apotheosis among the stars before men became fully aware that it had vanished from the earth!'
'Science, already oppressive with its shocking revelations, will perhaps be the ultimate exterminator of our human species - if separate species we be - for its reserve of unguessed horrors could never be borne by mortal brains if loosed upon the world.'
'Searchers after horror haunt strange, far places.'
'Sometimes I believe that this less material life is our truer life, and that our vain presence on the terraqueous globe is itself the secondary or merely virtual phenomenon.'
'The most merciful thing in the world... is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents.'
'The process of delving into the black abyss is to me the keenest form of fascination.'
'The vistas I relish most are those in which the sunset plays a transfiguring & glorifying part.'
'The world is indeed comic, but the joke is on mankind.'
'There are not many persons who know what wonders are opened to them in the stories and visions of their youth; for when as children we learn and dream, we think but half-formed thoughts, and when as men we try to remember, we are dulled and prosaic with the poison of life.'
'There be those who say that things and places have souls, and there be those who say they have not; I dare not say, myself, but I will tell of The Street.'
'Those who have watched the tall, lean, Terrible Old Man in these peculiar conversations, do not watch him again.'
'To the scientist there is the joy in pursuing truth which nearly counteracts the depressing revelations of truth.'
'Toil without song is like a weary journey without an end.'
'We shall see that at which dogs howl in the dark, and that at which cats prick up their ears after midnight.'
'What a man does for pay is of little significance. What he is, as a sensitive instrument responsive to the world's beauty, is everything!'
BooksIn addition to the links below you may also download any of the Lovecraft fiction in PDF format by clicking here.
Lovecraft's Original Pantheon
The “Lovecraft Mythos” is the term coined by the scholar S. T. Joshi to describe the imaginary mythical backdrop, settings, and themes employed by the American weird fiction writer H. P. Lovecraft. Lovecraft's mythos is the foundation of a fictional myth-cycle known as the “Cthulhu Mythos“, first recognized and developed by the writer August Derleth, that places a particular group of Lovecraft's stories into a separate and distinct category.
Lovecraft himself, however, never used the term Cthulhu Mythos, nor did he acknowledge any individual distinctions among his stories. Nonetheless, Lovecraft undoubtedly recognized an underlying unity of certain imagined settings and deities in his tales, though the closest he ever came to naming this collective world was the Arkham cycle (after the main fictional town) or Yog-Sothothery (after one of the primary gods).
AzathothAzathoth is described as both blind and idiotic and is regarded as the head of the Cthulhu mythos pantheon. The most powerful Outer Godyet mindlessAzathoth holds court at the center of the universe attended by a group of nameless entities known as the Other Gods, a collection of creatures called the Servitors of the Outer Gods, and the being Nyarlathotep, who immediately fulfills his random urges. Lovecraft referred to Azathoth as a "nuclear chaos" throughout his fiction, though it is not known whether the author employed nuclear to mean radioactive energy or simply to refer to Azathoth's central location. Since Nuclear Energy did not truly come of age until long after Lovecraft's death, we can assume the latter.
Yog-SothothYog-Sothoth is an Outer God and is coterminous with all time and space, yet is supposedly locked outside of the universe that we inhabit. Supposedly, Yog-Sothoth knows all and sees all, surpassing even Yibb-Tstll in wisdom. To "please" this deity could bring knowledge of many things. However, like most beings in the mythos, to see it or learn too much about it is to court disaster. Some authors state that the favour of the god requires a human sacrifice or eternal servitude.
Shub-NiggurathShub-Niggurath is an Outer God in the pantheon. She is a perverse fertility deity said to appear as an enormous cloudy mass which extrudes black tentacles, slime-dripping mouths, and short, writhing goat legs. Small creatures are spat forth, which are either reconsumed into the miasmatic form or escape to some monstrous life elsewhere.
NyarlathotepNyarlathotep differs from the other beings in a number of ways. Most of them are exiled to stars, like Yog-Sothoth and Hastur, or sleeping and dreaming like Cthulhu; Nyarlathotep, however, is active and frequently walks the Earth in the guise of a human being, usually a tall, slim, joyous man. Most of them have their own cults serving them, while Nyarlathotep seems to serve them and take care of their affairs in their absence. Most of them use strange alien languages, while Nyarlathotep uses human languages and can be mistaken for a human being. Finally, most of them are all powerful yet purposeless, yet Nyarlathotep seems to be deliberately deceptive and manipulative, and even uses propaganda to achieve his goals. In this regard, he is probably the most human-like among them.
CthulhuCthulhu is a Great Old One and is by far the most prominent member of the group. He currently lies in death-like sleep in the sunken city of R'lyeh somewhere in the Southeast Pacific Ocean. "When the stars are right", R'lyeh will rise from the sea, never to sink again, and Cthulhu will awaken and revel across the world, "ravening for delight". Though humans might worship Cthulhu as he lies sleeping, they are immaterial to his grand design (it is implied, however, that Cthulhu will ultimately require the assistance of his human cult to escape from his watery tomb in R'lyeh, but there are many other beings in the mythos that could fill this role, including the servants of Cthulhu himself). The tomb in which Cthulhu slumbers is locked with the great seal of the Old Ones however, which repels his spawn and that of other Great Ones. As a result, humans are almost assuredly required in his re-awakening.
DagonThe traditional fishy Dagon seems to have inspired H. P. Lovecraft in creating his story "Shadow Over Innsmouth", first published in 1936. This story is one of Lovecraft's best known ones as it introduced the Deep Ones, a race of water-breathing humanoids, servants to Dagon and Cthulhu. Though they strongly resemble fish and frogs, they can cross-breed with mainstream humanity and produce hybrids. This story also introduced their undersea city of Y'ha-nthlei and the port town of Innsmouth, Massachusetts, USA, mainly populated by these hybrids. The Deep Ones and their hybridic descendants are recurring figures in the stories of August Derleth and other of Lovecraft's "successors".
Elder ThingsThe Elder Things were the first alien species to come to the Earth, colonizing the planet during the Cambrian age. They stood roughly eight feet tall and had the appearance of a huge, oval-shaped barrel with starfish-like appendages at both ends. The top appendage was a head adorned with five eyes, five eating tubes, and a set of cilia for "seeing" without light. The bottom appendage was five-limbed and was used for walking and other forms of locomotion. The beings also had five leathery, retractable wings and five sets of tentacles that sprouted from their torsos. Both their tentacles and the slits housing their folded wings were spaced at regular intervals about their bodies.
Mi-goThe Mi-go are large, fungoid, crustacean-like entities the size of a man with an orb covered in sensory appendages in place of a head. Although they originate from beyond our solar system, they have set up an outpost on Pluto (known as Yuggoth in the mythos) and sometimes visit Earth to mine for minerals and other natural resources. The Mi-go normally communicate by changing the colors of their orb-like heads and by emitting odd buzzing noises, but they can also speak any human language with the appropriate surgical modification. The Mi-go can transport humans from Earth to Pluto (and beyond) and back again by removing the subject's brain and placing it into a "brain cylinder", which can be attached to external devices to allow it to see, hear, and speak.
Deep OneThe Deep Ones are a race of undersea-dwelling humanoids whose preferred habitat is deep in the ocean (hence their name). However, despite being primarily marine creatures, they can come to the surface and can survive on land for some time. All Deep Ones are immortal; none die except by accident or violence. They serve the beings known as Father Dagon and Mother Hydra, as well as Cthulhu. They are opposed by mysterious beings known as the Old Ones, whose powerful magic can keep them in check.
Arkham is a fictional city in Massachusetts. It is the creation of H. P. Lovecraft and is featured in many of his stories.
Arkham House, a publishing company started by two of Lovecraft's correspondents, August Derleth and Donald Wandrei, takes its name from this city as a tribute. Arkham is the home of Miskatonic University, which figures prominently in many of Lovecraft's works. The institution finances the expeditions in both At the Mountains of Madness (1936) and "The Shadow out of Time" (1936). Walter Gilman, of "The Dreams in the Witch House" (1933), attends classes at the university. Other notable institutions in Arkham are the Arkham Historical Society and the Arkham Sanitarium (sic).
Arkham's main newspaper is the Arkham Advertiser, which has a circulation that reaches as far as Dunwich. In the 1880s, its newspaper was called the Arkham Gazette.
Arkham’s most notable characteristics are its gambrel roofs and the dark legends surrounding the city for centuries. Occurrences such as the disappearance of children (presumably murdered in ritual sacrifices) at May Eve and other bad doings are accepted as a part of life for the poorer citizens of the city.
Arkham first appeared in Lovecraft's short story "The Picture in the House" (1920)—the story is also the first to mention "Miskatonic". It also appears in other stories by Lovecraft, including:
•"Herbert West—Reanimator" (1921–22), first story to mention "Miskatonic University"
•"The Unnamable" (1923)
•"The Colour out of Space" (1927)
•"The Dunwich Horror" (1928)
•At the Mountains of Madness(1931), one of the ships is named Arkham
•"The Shadow Over Innsmouth" (1931), first to mention "Arkham Historical Society"
•"The Dreams in the Witch House" (1932)
•"Through the Gates of the Silver Key" (1932–1933)
•"The Thing on the Doorstep" (1933), first to mention "Arkham Sanitarium"
•"The Shadow out of Time" (1934–1935)
Dunwich, Massachusetts (pronounced Dunn-ich) is a fictional town in the works of H. P. Lovecraft, most notably in the short story "The Dunwich Horror" (1929). Dunwich is found in the Miskatonic River Valley, which is a common setting for Lovecraftian tales. The inhabitants are inbred, uneducated, and very superstitious. The town itself is economically poor and has many decrepit and abandoned buildings. After the events in "The Dunwich Horror", all the road signs to the town disappeared.
Lovecraft may have named the town after the lost port of Dunwich in Suffolk, England. This town was the subject (though not mentioned by name) of the poem "By the North Sea" by Swinburne, which was printed in an anthology owned by Lovecraft. However, Lovecraft was more likely inspired by Greenwich, Massachusetts, a decaying rural village that has since been flooded to create the Quabbin Reservoir.
Although the English town is pronounced "Dunn-ich", the wich in Greenwich is emphasized, as is the case for many New England towns (for example, Ipswich). Lovecraft himself never specified how he preferred that Dunwich be pronounced.
This town first appeared in Lovecraft's short story "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" (1936).
Innsmouth is a coastal village located in Essex County, Massachusetts, between Newburyport and Arkham. Founded in 1643, Innsmouth was once a great trading center and major seaport. The War of 1812 brought an end to the town's prosperity when many of its sailors turned to privateering and were subsequently killed in raids against the British fleet. As a result, sea trade fell off considerably and most of the town's income came primarily from mills built along the Manuxet River. The town also relied on dwindling revenues from Captain Obed Marsh's increasingly profitless ventures in the Indies.
In 1840, Obed Marsh started a cult in Innsmouth known as the Esoteric Order of Dagon, basing it on a religion practiced by certain Polynesian islanders he had met during his travels. Shortly thereafter, the town's fishing industry experienced a great upsurge. Records indicate that in 1846 a mysterious plague struck the town, causing mass depopulation. In reality the deaths were caused by the Deep Ones themselves following the cessation of sacrifical rites in exchange for gold and fish in accordance with their compact with Obed Marsh's after he and his followers were arrested. The cult activity subsequently resumed and the interbreeding policy greatly increased, resulting in numerous deformities. Consequently, Innsmouth was shunned for many years, until 1927 when it came under investigation by Federal authorities for alleged bootlegging.
The Esoteric Order of Dagon was the primary religion in Innsmouth after Captain Obed Marsh returned from the South Seas with the dark religion circa 1838. It quickly took root due to its promises of expensive gold artifacts and fish, which were desired by the primarily-fishing town. The central beings worshipped by the Order were the Deep Ones, Father Dagon, Mother Hydra, and, to a lesser extent, Cthulhu. The Deep Ones were seen largely as intermediaries between the various gods, rather than as gods themselves. Even so, the cultists sacrificed various locals to the Deep Ones at specific times in exchange for a limitless supply of gold and fish.
The Esoteric Order of Dagon (which masqueraded as the local Masonic movement) had three oaths which members had to take. The first was an oath of secrecy, the second, an oath of loyalty, and the third, an oath to marry a Deep One and bear or sire its child.
The Esoteric Order of Dagon was seemingly destroyed when one of Obed Marsh's lost descendants sent the U.S. Treasury Department to seize the town. As a result, the town was more or less destroyed, and the Order was thought disbanded.
The Manuxet River is a fictional river that runs through Massachusetts and empties into the sea at the town of Innsmouth. There is a Manuxet River in Worcester, Massachusetts. However, Will Murray believes that Lovecraft based his fictional Manuxet on the Merrimack River. But how did he come up with the name? Murray thinks that Lovecraft invented the word Manuxet from root words of the Algonquin language.
To support his claim, Murray gives two reasons. First, even though Innsmouth itself was likely inspired by Newburyport, Lovecraft may actually have based the town on Gloucester, Massachusetts, which is located on Cape Ann on the coast. In fact, Lovecraft himself placed the real-life Newburyport to the north of Innsmouth in "The Shadow Over Innsmouth". Secondly, Lovecraft is known to have come up with the name for his fictional Miskatonic River by combining Algonquin root words. Murray believes that Lovecraft used a similar method to come up with Manuxet. In Algonquin, man means "island" and uxet translates to "at the large part of the river"; thus, when combined Manuxet means "Island at the large part of the river". Murray contends that this meaning is well suited to Innsmouth's placement at the mouth of the Manuxet. And Cape Ann itself (the alleged site of Innsmouth) is connected to the mainland by only a thin strip of land and might be thought of as an island.
This town first appeared in Lovecraft's short story "The Terrible Old Man" (1921)
The town is located on the coast of Massachusetts to the south of Arkham, another fictional place, and is based on Marblehead, Massachusetts, a real town that lies south of Salem. Lovecraft actually created Kingsport before he saw its real-life namesake. When Lovecraft visited Marblehead in 1922, he became enamored with the town and penned a glowing review in 1929 of his experiences there. Lovecraft wrote of seeing the snow-covered town at sunset and of experiencing his "first stupefying glance of [Marblehead's] huddled and [archaic] roofs". He also remarked that "that instant — about 4:05 to 4:10 pm., Dec. 17, 1922 — [was] the most powerful single emotional climax during my nearly forty years of existence."
Kingsport was founded in 1639 by colonists from southern England and the Channel Islands. It soon became a seaport and center for shipbuilding. Influenced by the Salem witch trials, the town hung four alleged witches in 1692. During the Revolutionary War, the port was briefly blockaded by the British when the town's merchants turned to privateering against the British fleet. In the 19th century, sea trade dwindled and the town turned to fishing as the main industry. Kingsport's economy continued to dwindle into the 20th century and today relies primarily on tourism for income.
Kingsport is featured in the following stories by Lovecraft:
•The Case of Charles Dexter Ward (1941), John Merritt mentions Kingsport and of strange rites that he had heard were performed there
•The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath (1926), Nyarlathotep expresses admiration for Kingsport's "antediluvian" architecture and marvelous seacoast
•"The Festival" (1925), the unnamed narrator is summoned to Kingsport to participate in a bizarre ceremony held by his distant relatives
•"The Silver Key" (1929), Randolph Carter has travelled back in time to the 1880s when he glimpses Kingsport's "old Congregational steeple on Central Hill" and realizes that the old church had been torn down to build Congregational Hospital
•"The Strange High House in the Mist" (1931), professor Thomas Olney meets the lone occupant of the eponymous dwelling, which lies atop a high cliff on Kingsport's coast
•"The Terrible Old Man" (1921), the eponymous resident of Kingsport lives on Water Street near the sea
•"The Thing on the Doorstep" (1937), a teenage Asenath Waite attended an all-girls school, the "Hall School", in Kingsport
Miskatonic University is a fictional university located in the equally fictional Arkham, Massachusetts.
Miskatonic University is evidently modeled on Ivy League institutions like Harvard, Yale, and Brown University. In Lovecraft's stories, the university's undergraduate body seems to be all-male, much like northeastern universities of Lovecraft's time. The only female student mentioned is Asenath Waite, of Lovecraft's "The Thing on the Doorstep" (1937), though she might have been a graduate student.
Miskatonic University is famous for its collection of occult books. The library at the university holds one of the few genuine copies of the Necronomicon. Other tomes held at the library include the Unaussprechlichen Kulten by Friedrich von Junzt and the fragmentary Book of Eibon.
Lovecraft concocted the word Miskatonic from a mixture of root words from the Algonquin language. Place-names based on the Algonquin tribe, which was nearly extinct by the 17th century, are still found throughout New England. Anthony Pearsall believes that Lovecraft's Miskatonic River, a fictional river that flows through Arkham, is based on the Housatonic River which extends from the Long Island Sound through western Massachusetts and western Connecticut.
Friends of /Lovecraftinfo:The Strange Sound of Cthulhu
A book documenting the music inspired by HPL.
The Eldritch Gazette
Founded by our good friend Woodruff, this will soon become the ultimate hub for all Lovecraft realted media.
Lovecraft inspired on-line comic strip developed by "Brian." What can I say about this strip... it's wierd.
The Unquiet Void
Mythos and Lovecraft handcrafted items for sale, as well as readings of some of Lovecrafts better known works.
*If you or your group would like to feature a link to your site on this web page please send me a message, and if possible, the image file you would like to have appear.
That is not dead which can eternal lie,
And with strange aeons even death may die.
Howard Phillips Lovecraft was born at 9 a.m. on August 20, 1890, at his family home at 454 (then numbered 194) Angell Street in Providence, Rhode Island. His mother was Sarah Susan Phillips Lovecraft, who could trace her ancestry to the arrival of George Phillips to Massachusetts in 1630. His father was Winfield Scott Lovecraft, a traveling salesman for Gorham & Co., Silversmiths, of Providence. When Lovecraft was three his father suffered a nervous breakdown in a hotel room in Chicago and was brought back to Butler Hospital, where he remained for five years before dying on July 19, 1898. Lovecraft was apparently informed that his father was paralyzed and comatose during this period, but the surviving evidence suggests that this was not the case; it is nearly certain that Lovecraft's father died of paresis, a form of neurosyphilis.
With the death of Lovecraft's father, the upbringing of the boy fell to his mother, his two aunts, and especially his grandfather, the prominent industrialist Whipple Van Buren Phillips. Lovecraft was a precocious youth: he was reciting poetry at age two, reading at age three, and writing at age six or seven. His earliest enthusiasm was for the Arabian Nights, which he read by the age of five; it was at this time that he adapted the pseudonym of "Abdul Alhazred," who later became the author of the mythical Necronomicon. The next year, however, his Arabian interests were eclipsed by the discovery of Greek mythology, gleaned through Bulfinch's Age of Fable and through children's versions of the Iliad and Odyssey. Indeed his earliest surviving literary work, "The Poem of Ulysses" (1897), is a paraphrase of the Odyssey in 88 lines of internally rhyming verse. But Lovecraft had by this time already discovered weird fiction, and his first story, the non-extant "The Noble Eavesdropper," may date to as early as 1896. His interest in the weird was fostered by his grandfather, who entertained Lovecraft with off-the-cuff weird tales in the Gothic mode.
As a boy Lovecraft was somewhat lonely and suffered from frequent illnesses, many of them apparently psychological. His attendance at the Slater Avenue School was sporadic, but Lovecraft was soaking up much information through independent reading. At about the age of eight he discovered science, first chemistry, then astronomy. He began to produce hectographed journals, The Scientific Gazette (1899-1907) and The Rhode Island Journal of Astronomy (1903-07), for distribution amongst his friends. When he entered Hope Street High School, he found both his teachers and peers congenial and encouraging, and he developed a number of long-lasting friendships with boys of his age. Lovecraft's first appearance in print occurred in 1906, when he wrote a letter on an astronomical matter to The Providence Sunday Journal. Shortly thereafter he began writing a monthly astronomy column for The Pawtuxet Valley Gleaner, a rural paper; he later wrote columns for The Providence Tribune (1906-08) and The Providence Evening News (1914-18), as well as The Asheville (N.C.) Gazette-News (1915).
In 1904 the death of Lovecraft's grandfather, and the subsequent mismanagement of his property and affairs, plunged Lovecraft's family into severe financial difficulties. Lovecraft and his mother were forced to move out of their lavish Victorian home into cramped quarters at 598 Angell Street. Lovecraft was devastated by the loss of his birthplace, and apparently contemplated suicide, as he took long bicycle rides and looked wistfully at the watery depths of the Barrington River. But the thrill of learning banished those thoughts. In 1908, however, just prior to his graduation from high school, he suffered a nervous breakdown that compelled him to leave school without a diploma; this fact, and his consequent failure to enter Brown University, were sources of great shame to Lovecraft in later years, in spite of the fact that he was one of the most formidable autodidacts of his time. From 1908 to 1913 Lovecraft was a virtual hermit, doing little save pursuing his astronomical interests and his poetry writing. During this whole period Lovecraft was thrown into an unhealthily close relationship with his mother, who was still suffering from the trauma of her husband's illness and death, and who developed a pathological love-hate relationship with her son.
Lovecraft emerged from his hermitry in a very peculiar way. Having taken to reading the early "pulp" magazines of the day, he became so incensed at the insipid love stories of one Fred Jackson in The Argosy that he wrote a letter, in verse, attacking Jackson. This letter was published in 1913, and evoked a storm of protest from Jackson's defenders. Lovecraft engaged in a heated debate in the letter column of The Argosy and its associated magazines, Lovecraft's responses being almost always in rollicking heroic couplets reminiscent of Dryden and Pope. This controversy was noted by Edward F. Daas, President of the United Amateur Press Association (UAPA), a group of amateur writers from around the country who wrote and published their own magazines. Daas invited Lovecraft to join the UAPA, and Lovecraft did so in early 1914. Lovecraft published thirteen issues of his own paper, The Conservative (1915-23), as well as contributing poetry and essays voluminously to other journals. Later Lovecraft became President and Official Editor of the UAPA, and also served briefly as President of the rival National Amateur Press Association (NAPA). This entire experience may well have saved Lovecraft from a life of unproductive reclusiveness; as he himself once said: "In 1914, when the kindly hand of amateurdom was first extended to me, I was as close to the state of vegetation as any animal well can be...With the advent of the United I obtained a renewal to live; a renewed sense of existence as other than a superfluous weight; and found a sphere in which I could feel that my efforts were not wholly futile. For the first time I could imagine that my clumsy gropings after art were a little more than faint cries lost in the unlistening world."
It was in the amateur world that Lovecraft recommenced the writing of fiction, which he had abandoned in 1908. W. Paul Cook and others, noting the promise shown in such early tales as "The Beast in the Cave" (1905) and "The Alchemist" (1908), urged Lovecraft to pick up his fictional pen again. This Lovecraft did, writing "The Tomb" and "Dagon" in quick succession in the summer of 1917. Thereafter Lovecraft kept up a steady if sparse flow of fiction, although until at least 1922 poetry and essays were still his dominant mode of literary expression. Lovecraft also became involved in an ever-increasing network of correspondence with friends and associates, and he eventually became one of the greatest and most prolific letter-writers of the century.
Lovecraft's mother, her mental and physical condition deteriorating, suffered a nervous breakdown in 1919 and was admitted to Butler Hospital, whence, like her husband, she would never emerge. Her death on May 24, 1921, however was the result of a bungled gall bladder operation. Lovecraft was shattered by the loss of his mother, but in a few weeks had recovered enough to attend an amateur journalism convention in Boston on July 4, 1921. It was on this occasion that he first met the woman who would become his wife.
Sonia Haft Greene was a Russian Jew seven years Lovecraft's senior, but the two seemed, at least initially, to find themselves very congenial. Lovecraft visited Sonia in her Brooklyn apartment in 1922, and the news of their marriage on March 3, 1924, was not entirely a surprise to their friends; but it may have been to Lovecraft's two aunts, Lillian D. Clark and Annie E. Phillips Gamwell, who were notified only by letter after the ceremony had taken place. Lovecraft moved into Sonia's apartment in Brooklyn, and initial prospects for the couple seemed good: Lovecraft had gained a foothold as a professional writer by the acceptance of several of his early stories by Weird Tales, the celebrated pulp magazine founded in 1923; Sonia had a successful hat shop on Fifth Avenue in New York.
But troubles descended upon the couple almost immediately: the hat shop went bankrupt, Lovecraft turned down the chance to edit a companion magazine to Weird Tales (which would have necessitated his move to Chicago), and Sonia's health gave way, forcing her to spend time in a New Jersey sanitarium. Lovecraft attempted to secure work, but few were willing to hire a thirty-four-year-old-man with no job experience. On January 1, 1925, Sonia went to Cleveland to take up a job there, and Lovecraft moved into a single apartment near the seedy Brooklyn area called Red Hook.
Although Lovecraft had many friends in New York--Frank Belknap Long, Rheinhart Kleiner, Samuel Loveman--he became increasingly depressed by his isolation and the masses of "foreigners" in the city. His fiction turned from the nostalgic ("The Shunned House" (1924) is set in Providence) to the bleak and misanthropic ("The Horror at Red Hook" and "He" (both 1924) lay bare his feelings for New York). Finally, in early 1926, plans were made for Lovecraft to return to the Providence he missed so keenly. But where did Sonia fit into these plans? No one seemed to know, least of all Lovecraft. Although he continued to profess his affection for her, he acquiesced when his aunts barred her from coming to Providence to start a business; their nephew could not be tainted by the stigma of a tradeswoman wife. The marriage was essentially over, and a divorce in 1929 was inevitable.
When Lovecraft returned to Providence on April 17, 1926, settling at 10 Barnes Street north of Brown University, it was not to bury himself away as he had done in the 1908-13 period; rather, the last ten years of his life were the time of his greatest flowering, both as a writer and as a human being. His life was relatively uneventful--he traveled widely to various antiquarian sites around the eastern seaboard (Quebec, New England, Philadelphia, Charleston, St. Augustine); he wrote his greatest fiction, from "The Call of Cthulhu" (1926) to At the Mountains of Madness (1931) to "The Shadow out of Time" (1934-35); and he continued his prodigiously vast correspondence--but Lovecraft had found his niche as a New England writer of weird fiction and as a general man of letters. He nurtured the careers of many young writers (August Derleth, Donald Wandrei, Robert Bloch, Fritz Leiber); he became concerned with political and economic issues, as the Great Depression led him to support Roosevelt and become a moderate socialist; and he continued absorbing knowledge on a wide array of subjects, from philosophy to literature to history to architecture.
The last two or three years of his life, however, were filled with hardship. In 1932 his beloved aunt, Mrs. Clark, died, and he moved into quarters at 66 College Street, right behind the John Hay Library, with his other aunt Mrs. Gamwell in 1933. (This house has now been moved to 65 Prospect Street.) His later stories, increasingly lengthy and complex, became difficult to sell, and he was forced to support himself largely through the "revision" or ghost-writing of stories, poetry, and nonfictions works. In 1936 the suicide of Robert E. Howard, one of his closest correspondents, left him confused and saddened. By this time the illness that would cause his own death--cancer of the intestine--had already progressed so far that little could be done to treat it. Lovecraft attempted to carry on in increasing pain through the winter of 1936-37, but was finally compelled to enter Jane Brown Memorial Hospital on March 10, 1937, where he died five days later. He was buried on March 18 at the Phillips family plot at Swan Point Cemetery.
It is likely that, as he saw death approaching, Lovecraft envisioned the ultimate oblivion of his work: he had never had a true book published in his lifetime (aside, perhaps, from the crudely issued The Shadow over Innsmouth ), and his stories, essays, and poems were scattered in a bewildering number of amateur or pulp magazines. But the friendships that he had forged merely by correspondence held him in good stead: August Derleth and Donald Wandrei were determined to preserve Lovecraft's stories in the dignity of a hardcover book, and formed the publishing firm of Arkham House initially to publish Lovecraft's work; they issued The Outsider and Others in 1939. Many other volumes followed from Arkham House, and eventually Lovecraft's work became available in paperback and was translated into a dozen languages. Today, at the centennial of his birth, his stories are available in textually corrected editions, his essays, poems, and letters are widely available, and many scholars have probed the depths and complexities of his work and thought. Much remains to be done in the study of Lovecraft, but it is safe to say that, thanks to the intrinsic merit of his own work and to the diligence of his associates and supporters, Lovecraft has gained a small but unassailable niche in the canon of American and world literature.
*The biography above first appeared in the H.P. Lovecraft Centennial Guidebook and was posted on the H. P. Lovecraft Archive web site with S.T. Joshi's permission.
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Cthulhu understands all of these questions; that's why the Elder Gods have put together this handy pamphlet for those confused and all too sane adolecent minds.
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- Status: Divorced
- Hometown: Providence, Rhode Island
- Orientation: Straight
- Body type: Slim / Slender
- Ethnicity: White / Caucasian
- Religion: Atheist
- Zodiac Sign: Leo
- Education: Some college
- Occupation: Writer