"The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown"
-Lovecraft

Content Editor's Note: This is an excellent reference list. Please use it to avoid noding works which are still under copyright protection. That is, anything before 1923 is fair game. Anything published in 1923 or later is off-limits. The copyright status of Lovecraft's post-1923 works in particular is uncertain but Arkham House lay claim to it. Err on the side of caution, we don't really know.

Update:
Please note that Lovecraft’s fiction is still considered to be under copyright by Arkham House,
and any texts presently available on the web without their consent are in violation of that copyright
.

Poems:

Works:

Cthulhu Mythos stories:

Movies based on Lovecraft:

See also: Lovecraft Encyclopedia

Lovecraft was quite an interesting historical character. He was raised in an atmosphere of almost total seclusion in a big old house in Providence, Rhode Island. His father died in early middle age in a mental institution, leaving his mother to pamper and coddle the young Howard to an almost-criminal degree. Lovecraft spent his young years playing alone, reading, writing and staying up all night. He was either a really sickly child or a complete hypochondriac.

Lovecraft, for the record, hated astrology. He was an amateur astronomer. He also showed an early interest in chemistry and history. While he was young, he adopted the eighteenth century as his personal historical ideal, even going so far as to adopt archaic modes of writing ( "Aftronomy," "Inveftigat'd," "God Save the King!") He would have done well in school, but he kept having problems with his nerves. Many biographers have posthumously diagnosed him with schizoid tendencies and/or hypoglycemia.

Perhaps due to his ridiculous upbringing, he grew up an insecure, shy, ineffectual man, which he compensated for by adopting a snobbish attitude, at least in his letters. During his middle years (he only lived to be 46) he took up the cause of racial purity and Anglo-Saxon supremacy. Immigration to his beloved Providence home angered him. He probably wrote over 100,000 letters during his lifetime to many correspondents, mostly members of the amateur writers' community in the 1920's and 30's. His celibacy was apparently a close rival to Sir Isaac Newton's, excepting his brief and troublesome marriage to a woman named Sonia Greene. I'm guessing they knocked boots maybe four or five times before they separated, tops.

Neophyte Lovecraft fans are best warned about his languid, adjective-riddled style, the heir apparent of Edgar Allan Poe. Personally, I feel that he had the ability to use chunky, compound-complex sentences in a very effective way, a suitable tool to create mood. His stories are usually VERY short on dialog.

Anyway, he got old, poor, and sick. He recanted a lot of the bigoted, neurotic views of his youth and unfortunately turned a destructive hand to some of his earlier work. His place in literary history is established in spades: He wrote stories designed solely to give readers the creepy-crawly shivers, without pretense to philosophical or sociological themes. "Lovecraftian" has become an adjective all its own.


As a personal note, probably the finest example of Lovecraftian film is "The Ninth Gate" by Roman Polanski. Not that it's a triumph of the silver screen or anything, but they got the mood right. As far as my Lovecraft biographies tell me, almost all the other information on these nodes is mostly correct.

Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890 - 1937)

Early life

H. P. Lovecraft clawed himself free of the unnameable horror of being imprisoned alive in the womb at 9:00 A.M. on August 20, 1890, bewildered to find himself in a house at 194 Angell Street in Providence, Rhode Island. Howard screamed in terror to discover his father, Winfield Scott Lovecraft, was a traveling silverware salesman. His mother, Sarah Susan Phillips Lovecraft, was a descendant of George Phillips, who, in turn, was one of the first pilgrims to America. Winfield Lovecraft suffered an astounding nervous breakdown when Howard was just three, and crawled back into the grave five years later.

Youth

Howard was a sickly boy, frequently plagued by illness (both mental and physical) throughout his childhood. This did not diminish his love for the unspeakable (not to mention thankless) profession of writing. He wrote poetry and stories starting in childhood, but did not begin to be recognized for them until 1913, when he wrote an attack, in verse, on the insipid love stories that filled the pulp magazines in those days. Who could have pictured the unimaginable surprise on his face when the President of the UAPA (United Amatuer Press Association) wrote him and asked him to join? Lovecraft eventually became the President of the UAPA himself, but before this would occur, he would have begun writing the tales of complete and utter horror which turn even today's readers into terrified puddles of quivering flesh.

Marriage

Shortly after his mother's death in 1921, Howard met the unnameable beast that he would subsequently make his wife. Sonia Haft Greene, a Russian Jew living in Brooklyn, married H. P. Lovecraft on May 24, 1924, and ran a hat shop for a while, until, of course, misfortune overtook them and the hat shop went belly-up. She subsequently became quite ill, and entered a sanitorium. Howard moved back to Providence in 1926 and divorced Sonia in 1929.

Death

Some of Lovecraft's most famous writings were written after his return to Rhode Island. He continued to write until he succumbed to the unspeakable cancer that moved through his intestines on March 10, 1937. It was mainly due to two of his friends that we have any of his works today. August Derleth and Donald Wandrei had some of Lovecraft's works put into a hardbound edition in 1939, and Derleth subsequently finished many of Lovecraft's incomplete works.

Hello there! Your friendly defender of truth and justice here to provide you with a short primer designed to crush mercilessly beneath my bootheels a number of misconceptions surrounding the life and works of H.P. Lovecraft, a mindblowingly scrumptiously amazing author. With no further ado, I present...

Lovecraft Myths and Misconceptions Dispelled Vigorously!


The man was a total recluse. Never left New England!
Yeah, yeah, you know the drill. Lovecraft is constantly portrayed as an introspective hermit who maintained his friendships through voluminous correspondence and ne'er dared venture from the seclusion of his home.

In reality, Lovecraft traveled widely (frequently to visit friends) and wrote about his voyages in often lengthy travelogues. He trekked as far north as Quebec and as far south as De Land, Florida. To me, that implies he was anything but reclusive. His travelogues include what is Lovecraft's most sprawling work at 75 000 words: A Description of the Town of Quebeck, in New France, Lately Added to His Britannick Majesty's Dominions. Whew, what a title!

And gay too! The gayest gay that ever nanced down the pike!
Haha, sometimes it seems every historical figure or famous author has at least one person out there claiming they were flaming homosexuals. I think a good counter for this myth is to note that he was (albeit briefly) married to a woman who described him as an "adequately excellent lover." If that's not enough to convince you, let me share a few scraps of Lovecraft's letters:

"As a matter of fact—although of course I always knew that paederasty was a disgusting custom of many ancient nations—I never heard of homosexuality as an actual instinct till I was over thirty ... which beats your record! It is possible, I think that this perversion occurs more frequently in some periods than in others—owing to obscure biological & psychological causes. Decadent ages—when psychology is unsettled—seem to favour it. Of course—in ancient times the extent of the practice of paederasty (as a custom which most simply accepted blindly, without any special inclination) cannot be taken as any measure of the extent of actual psychological perversion."

-H.P. Lovecraft, letter to J. Vernon Shea,14 August 1933.

"So far as the case of homosexuality goes, the primary and vital objection against it is that it is naturally (physically and
involuntarily-- not merely 'morally' or aesthetically) repugnant to the overwhelming bulk of mankind..."

-H.P. Lovecraft, letter to August Derleth, 16 February 1933

Well, there you go. Unless he was very much in denial, the man seems to have been more inclined to homophobia than homosexuality. Actually, Lovecraft biographies often express that he was somewhat asexual, preferring intellectual pursuits to physical distractions.

The Necronomicon is like totally absolutely REAL. I've seen it myself!
No, it bloody well isn't. Lovecraft invented the fabled book for his stories and that's that, you tremendous moron. Lovecraft himself was often plagued with letters inquiring as to the reality of his concocted Necronomicon. Here is just one example from his correspondences of our boy asserting that the Necronomicon is fictional and was devised entirely by him:

"Regarding the Necronomicon—I must confess that this monstrous & abhorred volume is merely a figment of my own imagination! Inventing horrible books is quite a pastime among devotees of the weird, & ... many of the regular W.T. contributors have such things to their credit—or discredit. It rather amuses the different writers to use one another's synthetic demons &imaginary books in their stories—so that Clark Ashton Smith often speaks of my Necronomicon while I refer to his Book of Eibon ... & so on. This pooling of resources tends to build up quite a pseudo-convincing background of dark mythology, legendry, & bibliography—though of course none of us has the least wish actually to mislead readers."

-H.P. Lovecraft, letter to Miss Margaret Sylvester, January 13, 1934

Righto, jolly good. Necronomicon not real. You get the picture. There's been a metric fuckton of fake Necronomicons popping up. A website I came across mentions more than ten of them, though most are parodies and inside-jokes. One which qualifies as entirely a hoax (rather than a joke or spoof) is the Simon Necronomicon, published (you can buy it on Amazon, for the love of god!) by a mysterious man named Simon whose hobbies seem to include slinging tremendous quantities of bullshit. Incidentally, this sometimes goes by the clever nickname of the Simonomicon.Whatever, numerous copies of this exist in text on the web so you can go decide for yourself. A google search will also find you some nice essays giving evidence that the Simon Necronomicon is pure unadultered crap.

I heard from my aunt's third-cousin twice removed that Lovecraft's creations were often inspired by Sumerian mythology! Fancy that!
This misconception is the work of that blasted Simon Necronomicon I was just telling you about. It compares Lovecraft's characters to similar figures in Sumerian mythology. Cthulhu is mentioned as being remarkably similar to the Sumerian Ctha-la or Kutulu. These claims should be taken with a dumptruck full of salt because there is no Ctha-la or Kutulu in Sumerian mythology. Or Babylonian. Thoroughly erroneous and entirely a fabrication of the infamous author of the Simon Necronomicon.

Word on the street is Lovecraft didn't like ice cream! How obscene!
Absurd! I have right here an exerpt from a letter by Lovecraft which proves otherwise!

"There are twenty-eight varieties this season, and we sampled them all within the course of an hour."

-H.P. Lovecraft , about ice cream, letter to Maurice W. Moe, July 30 1927

SEE?! And for those who say this isn't really a widespread Lovecraft misconception but rather something I made up so I could share the coolest Lovecraft quote ever... Quiet, you bastards! How dare you not be smitten by H. P. Lovecraft talking about ice cream!?


references:
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0380751925/qid%3D1011724504/sr%3D2-2/ref%3Dsr%5F2%5F11%5F2/103-4273181-4185456
http://www.hplovecraft.com/life/myths.htm
http://www.amk.ca/quotations/hp-lovecraft/page-8
http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/9879/necfake.htm
http://members.fortunecity.com/moderan/nonfic/20thgothic4.html
http://www.epberglund.com/RGttCM/nightscapes/NS15/ns15nf02.htm

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