H.P. Lovecraft–Master Of Horror

I have posted on H.P. Lovecraft before, but I thought I would give a short biography on this master of the macabre. Universally known as the twentieth centuries master of the horror genre, his uniquely bizarre tales are hard to duplicate but often imitated. Though he is now celebrated, he died a penniless man who wrote novellas and short stories in near absolute seclusion. Below is a video on his work and also a link to his collected stories.

“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.”

—H.P. Lovecraft

Author (1890–1937)

Horror fiction author H.P. Lovecraft wrote short stories, novels and novellas, including “The Call of Cthulhu” and The Case of Charles Dexter Ward.

Synopsis

H.P. Lovecraft was born on August 20, 1890, in Providence, Rhode Island. The horror magazine Weird Tales bought some of his stories in 1923. His story “The Call of Cthulhu” came out in 1928 in Weird Tales. Elements of this story would reappear in other related tales. In his final years, he took editing and ghostwriting work to try to make ends meet. He died on March 15, 1937, in Providence, Rhode Island.

Early Life

A master of fantastical horror stories, H.P. Lovecraft was born Howard Phillips Lovecraft in 1890, in Providence, Rhode Island. Lovecraft had an unusual childhood marked by tragedy. His traveling salesman father developed a type of mental disorder caused by untreated syphilis when he was around the age of three. In 1893, his father became a patient at the Butler Hospital in Providence and there he remained until his death in 1898.

A sickly child, Lovecraft spent many of his school years at home. He became an avid reader, devouring works on a variety of texts. Lovecraft loved the works of Edgar Allan Poe and developed a special interest in astronomy. As a teenager, he did attend Hope High School, but he suffered a nervous breakdown before he could earn his diploma. Lovecraft became a reclusive figure for several years, choosing to stay up late studying and reading and writing and then sleeping late into the day. During this time, he managed to publish some articles on astronomy in several newspapers.

Writing Career

Lovecraft started out as a would-be journalist, joining the United Amateur Press Association in 1914. The following year, he launched his self-published magazine The Conservative for which he wrote several essays and other pieces. While he had reportedly dabbled in fiction early on, Lovecraft became more serious about writing stories around 1917. Many of these early works were influenced by the writings of Lord Dunsany, an Irish author of fantasy tales, as well as Lovecraft’s early favorite Edgar Allan Poe.

The horror magazine Weird Tales bought some of Lovecraft’s stories in 1923, giving him his first taste of literary success. The following year, he married Sonia Greene. The couple lived together in New York City for two years before splitting up. After his marriage failed, Lovecraft returned to Rhode Island and began work on some of his best stories. “The Call of Cthulhu” came out in 1928 in Weird Tales, and it perhaps best illustrated Lovecraft’s efforts at creating an otherworldly type of terror.

Lovecraft introduced readers to the first of many supernatural beings that would wreak havoc on humankind. Elements of this story would reappear in other related tales—collectively known by many as the “Cthulhu Mythos.” These later stories reflected Lovecraft’s own philosophical ideals. According to American Heritage magazine, Lovecraft once wrote, “all of my tales are based on the fundamental premise that common human laws and emotions have no validity or significance in the cosmos-at-large.”

Death and Legacy

In his final years, Lovecraft was barely able to support himself. He took editing and ghostwriting work to try to make ends meet. Lovecraft died of cancer on March 15, 1937, in Providence, Rhode Island. He left behind more than 60 short stories and a few novel and novellas, including The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. Lovecraft’s passing was mourned by his devoted following of colleagues and aspiring writers with whom he corresponded and collaborated. Two of these friends, August Derleth and Donald Wandrei, formed a publishing company called Arkham House to promote and preserve Lovecraft’s work.

Since his death, Lovecraft has earned greater acclaim than he enjoyed during his lifetime. He has been an inspiration to such writers as Peter Straub, Stephen King and Neil Gaiman. His stories have also served as the inspiration for numerous films, including 2011’s Hunters of the Dark and 2007’s Cthulhu. As Stephen King explained to American Heritage magazine, “Now that time has given us some perspective on his work, I think it is beyond doubt that H.P. Lovecraft has yet to be surpassed as the twentieth century’s greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale.”

 

Career

  • In 1913, a chance incident led H. P. Lovecraft out of this seclusion, helping him to take up writing as his career. Some Fred Jackson wrote a series of insipid love stories in a pulp magazine called ‘Argosy’. Reading them, he became so infuriated that he wrote a letter attacking Jackson.
  • Written in verse, the letter evoked angry response from Jackson’s fans, giving rise to a heated debate between Lovecraft and Jackson’s defenders. Lovecraft’s letters soon caught the attention of Edward F. Daas, President of the United Amateur Press Association (UAPA).
  • In 1914, Lovecraft joined UAPA on the invitation of Daas, launching his own paper, ‘The Conservative’ in 1915. He ran thirteen issues of it, concurrently contributing large number of poems and essays in other journals like ‘The Providence Evening News’ and ‘The Asheville (N.C.) Gazette-News’.
  • Slowly coming out of his seclusion, Lovecraft submitted ‘The Alchemist’, a short story he had written in 1908 before he entered his reclusion, to ‘United Amateur’. It was published in the November 1916 issue of the journal. It was also his first published short story.
  • Sometime now he came in contact with W. Paul Cook, a leading figure in the tradition of amateur journalism. He not only widened Lovecraft’s knowledge of supernatural literature by supplying him with books, but also encouraged him to undertake systematic study in the subject and write more fictions.
  • Encouraged by Cook, Lovecraft began to write fictions, producing ‘The Tomb’ and ‘Dagon’ in the summer of 1917. Thereafter, he produced number of short stories although until 1922 poems and essays remained his preferred mode of literary expression.
  • He also corresponded regularly with friends through letters, eventually becoming the century’s most prolific letter-writer. Over the course of his life, he had written 100,000 letters, consisting of several million words. Many of these were written to fellow writers like Robert Bloch, Henry Kuttner, Robert E Howard and Samuel Loveman.
  • He also corresponded regularly with friends through letters, eventually becoming the century’s most prolific letter-writer. Over the course of his life, he had written 100,000 letters, consisting of several million words. Many of these were written to fellow writers like Robert Bloch, Henry Kuttner, Robert E Howard and Samuel Loveman.
  • In February 1924, he was commissioned by J. C. Henneberger, founder and owner of ‘Weird Tales’, to ghost-write a story for magician Harry Houdini, and was offered $100 for it. He had been contributing to the magazine since 1923 and agreed to ghost write because of the lucrative offer.
  • In March 1924, H.P. Lovecraft got married and relocated to Brooklyn. After detailed research on pharaohs, he wrote ‘Imprisoned with the Pharaohs’. It was published in the May-June-July 1924 edition of ‘Weird Tales’ in Houdini’s name. Later the two men collaborated on several other projects.
  • 1924 also saw the formation of a literary circle, known by the name of ‘Kalem Club’ around Lovecraft. At the urging of its members, he now began to submit number of otherworldly stories to ‘Weird Tales’.
  • Although initially he enjoyed life in New York the good time did not last long. Very soon he started facing financial problem and discord at home. He now tried to secure work, but failed to get any. Eventually on April 17, 1926, he returned to Providence without his wife.
  • H.P. Lovecraft spent the last years of his short life in Providence, producing a vast amount of celebrated work. ‘The Call of Cthulhu’, completed in 1926 is one of his most memorable works. He also traveled to places, looking for the perfect locales for his stories.
  • In 1927, he wrote a short novel called ‘The Case of Charles Dexter Ward’. However, he himself found it “cumbrous, creaking bit of self-conscious antiquarianism” and therefore left it to be published posthumously. Later critics however found it to be one of his finest works.
  • Some other notable stories he wrote during this period were ‘Downwich Horror’ (1928), ‘At the Mountains of Madness’ (1931), ‘The Shadow over Innsmouth’ (1931), ‘At the Mountains of Madness’ (1931), ‘The Shadow out of Time’ (1934-1935), Concurrently, he also continued corresponding with his friends, producing a vast number of letters.
  • In spite of producing number of masterpieces, H.P. Lovecraft never earned much and spent his last years in poverty. That was mainly because he was too shy to promote himself; consequently, his works were mostly published in pulp magazines, which did not pay much.
  • The last two or three years of his life were especially hard. During this period, he lived with his surviving aunt in a dingy house, surviving on his income from ghost-writing and a small inheritance that was about to dry up. He had by then lost interest in selling his works.
  • Along with his financial woes, he also had to put up with the pain caused by his intestinal cancer. In spite of such hardships, he continued to write letters, often going without food to pay for the cost of mailing them.

Original Article:

https://www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/h-p-lovecraft-267.php

Write Fearlessly

About G.Edward Smith

A stranger in a strange land...
This entry was posted in Thursday Thoughts and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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