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H. P. Lovecraft

H. P. Lovecraft H. P. Lovecraft[1†]

Howard Phillips Lovecraft, known as H. P. Lovecraft, was an American writer of weird, science, fantasy, and horror fiction[1†]. He was born on August 20, 1890, in Providence, Rhode Island, U.S., and died on March 15, 1937, in Providence[1†][2†][1†]. Lovecraft is best known for his creation of the Cthulhu Mythos[1†], a series of stories that describe ordinary New Englanders’ encounters with horrific beings of extraterrestrial origin[1†][2†].

Early Years and Education

Howard Phillips Lovecraft was born on August 20, 1890, in Providence, Rhode Island, USA[3†][2†]. His father, Winfield Scott Lovecraft, was a traveling salesman of jewelry and precious metal, working for ‘Gorham & Co.’[3†]. His mother, Sarah Susan, was the daughter of Whipple Van Buren Phillips, a noted businessman[3†].

In 1893, when Howard was three years old, his father suffered a nervous breakdown, possibly from untreated syphilis[3†]. Subsequently, he was admitted to ‘Butler Hospital,’ a psychiatric and substance-abuse hospital, in Providence where he lived until his death in 1898[3†]. After his father was hospitalized, Howard moved with his mother into his maternal grandfather’s family home[3†]. Here, he lived with his mother, grandparents, and aunts, Lillian Delora Phillips and Annie Emeline Phillips[3†].

His maternal grandfather, Whipple Phillips, was a great influence on young Howard and instilled in him a great appreciation for classical literature and poetry[3†]. He encouraged him to read, and gave him many books[3†]. Lovecraft was interested in science from childhood, but lifelong poor health prevented him from attending college[3†][2†]. He was drawn to astronomy and chemistry, and the writings of gothic authors such as Edgar Allan Poe[3†][4†].

Due to what he termed a “nervous breakdown”, Lovecraft never finished high school and instead only dabbled informally in his passions[3†][4†]. He made his living as a ghostwriter and rewrite man and spent most of his life in seclusion and poverty[2†]. His fame as a writer increased after his death[3†][2†].

Career Development and Achievements

H. P. Lovecraft began his writing career by writing essays for the United Amateur Press Association[1†]. In 1913, he wrote a critical letter to a pulp magazine that ultimately led to his involvement in pulp fiction[1†]. He became active in the speculative fiction community and was published in several pulp magazines[1†].

Lovecraft moved to New York City, marrying Sonia Greene in 1924, and later became the center of a wider group of authors known as the "Lovecraft Circle"[1†]. They introduced him to Weird Tales, which would become his most prominent publisher[1†]. Lovecraft’s time in New York took a toll on his mental state and financial conditions[1†]. He returned to Providence in 1926 and produced some of his most popular works, including The Call of Cthulhu, At the Mountains of Madness, The Shadow over Innsmouth, and The Shadow Out of Time[1†]. He would remain active as a writer for 11 years until his death from intestinal cancer at the age of 46[1†].

From 1923 on, most of Lovecraft’s short stories appeared in the magazine Weird Tales[1†][2†]. His Cthulhu Mythos series of tales describe ordinary New Englanders’ encounters with horrific beings of extraterrestrial origin[1†][2†]. In these short stories, Lovecraft’s intimate knowledge of New England’s geography and culture is blended with an elaborate original mythology[1†][2†]. His other short stories deal with similarly terrifying phenomena in which horror and morbid fantasy acquire an unexpected verisimilitude[1†][2†].

The Case of Charles Dexter Ward (1927; published posthumously 1941), At the Mountains of Madness (1931, published 1936), and The Shadow over Innsmouth (1931, published 1936) are considered his best short novels[1†][2†]. Lovecraft was a master of poetic language, and he attained unusually high literary standards in his particular fictional genre[2†].

First Publication of His Main Works

H. P. Lovecraft’s literary career spanned two decades, during which he published numerous works that have since become classics in the horror and science fiction genres[1†]. Here are some of his main works, along with information about their first year of publication:

These works showcase Lovecraft’s unique blend of horror, science fiction, and cosmicism, and they have had a lasting impact on the genres[1†]. His works continue to be widely read and have influenced countless authors[1†].

Analysis and Evaluation

H. P. Lovecraft’s work has been the subject of extensive analysis and evaluation. His unique blend of horror, science fiction, and cosmicism has had a lasting impact on these genres[6†][7†]. Lovecraft’s work is characterized by his intimate knowledge of the short story form, his study of horror literature, and his creation of a body of tales that continue to influence many contemporary authors[6†].

However, Lovecraft’s writing style has also been criticized. Notably, Edmund Wilson, in his essay “Tales of the Marvellous and the Ridiculous,” stated flatly: "Lovecraft was not a good writer"[6†][7†]. Wilson pointed out Lovecraft’s frequent prolixity and his tendency to rely on adjectives such as “terrible”, “horrible”, “hellish”, etc., to achieve eerie effects[6†][7†]. These criticisms highlight some of the stylistic weaknesses in Lovecraft’s work.

Despite these criticisms, Lovecraft’s work continues to be studied and appreciated for its thematic depth and narrative structure[6†][7†]. His stories, particularly those that form the Cthulhu Mythos, represent a significant contribution to the field of speculative fiction[6†].

Personal Life

H. P. Lovecraft was known for his reclusive lifestyle[1†]. He was born and raised in Providence, Rhode Island, and spent most of his life in New England[1†]. After his father’s institutionalization in 1893, he lived affluently until his family’s wealth dissipated after the death of his grandfather[1†]. Lovecraft then lived with his mother, in reduced financial security, until her institutionalization in 1919[1†].

Lovecraft moved to New York City, marrying Sonia Greene in 1924[1†]. However, his time in New York took a toll on his mental state and financial conditions[1†]. He returned to Providence in 1926[1†].

Despite his marriage, Lovecraft was known to have few close relationships, and he spent much of his life in relative seclusion[1†]. His personal interests were largely intellectual, and he was known to be interested in a wide range of subjects[1†][8†].

Lovecraft’s personal life was marked by hardship and poverty[1†][2†]. His health was poor, preventing him from attending college and leading to a life of seclusion[1†][2†]. Despite these challenges, Lovecraft maintained a prolific output as a writer until his death from intestinal cancer at the age of 46[1†].

Conclusion and Legacy

H. P. Lovecraft’s legacy is profound and enduring. Despite living on the margins and suffering increasingly dire financial constraints, his influence on literature has been significant[9†]. When he died in 1937, he was a fringe figure in literature, but over the years his stories and ideas influenced countless other writers[9†].

Lovecraft’s creations have had a profound effect on American popular culture[9†][10†]. His literary corpus, based around the idea of cosmicism, posits that humanity is an insignificant part of the cosmos and could be swept away at any moment[9†][1†]. This philosophy, simultaneously his personal philosophy and the main theme of his fiction, has been influential in the genre[9†][1†].

His works, largely set in a fictionalized version of New England, often deal with civilizational decline, a theme he believed was reflective of the West during his lifetime[9†][1†]. Despite his early political views being conservative and traditionalist, and holding a number of racist views for much of his adult life[9†][1†], his influence on the genre of weird, science, fantasy, and horror fiction is undeniable[9†][1†].

Lovecraft’s intimate knowledge of New England’s geography and culture is blended with an elaborate original mythology in his Cthulhu Mythos series of tales[9†][2†]. These stories describe ordinary New Englanders’ encounters with horrific beings of extraterrestrial origin[9†][2†]. His other short stories deal with similarly terrifying phenomena in which horror and morbid fantasy acquire an unexpected verisimilitude[9†][2†].

In conclusion, H. P. Lovecraft’s work has left a lasting impact on the genre of weird and horror fiction. His unique blend of cosmicism, elaborate mythology, and intimate knowledge of New England has influenced countless writers and will continue to do so for generations to come[1†][2†][10†][9†].

Key Information

References and Citations:

  1. Wikipedia (English) - H. P. Lovecraft [website] - link
  2. Britannica - H.P. Lovecraft: American writer [website] - link
  3. The Famous People - H. P. Lovecraft Biography [website] - link
  4. The Guardian - Ten things you should know about HP Lovecraft [website] - link
  5. Wikipedia (English) - H. P. Lovecraft bibliography [website] - link
  6. eNotes - H. P. Lovecraft Analysis [website] - link
  7. The Project Gutenberg - H. P. LOVECRAFT, AN EVALUATION [website] - link
  8. The H.P. Lovecraft Archive - His Life [website] - link
  9. ThoughtCo - Biography of H. P. Lovecraft, American Writer, Father of Modern Horror [website] - link
  10. The H.P. Lovecraft Archive - H.P. Lovecraft in Popular Culture [website] - link
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