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In addition to his classics of horror fiction, it is estimated that Lovecraft wrote 100,000 letters — or roughly 15 every day of his adult life — ranging from one-page diaries to seventy-page diatribes. Perhaps 20,000 of those letters have survived, in the hands of private collectors and at the John Hay Library in Providence.

In each episode of this podcast, we'll read one of these letters (or part of it) and then discuss it. In his letters HPL reveals an amazing breadth of knowledge of philosophy, science, history, literature, art and many other subjects, and forcefully asserts some highly considered opinions (some of which can be upsetting).

And of course his letters offer a fascinating window into his personal life and times. Although we've been working with Lovecraftian material for over 30 years, we still find interesting new things in his letters, and while we don't claim to be experts we look forward to sharing them with a wider audience.

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  • Episode 27
  • Posted April 26, 2020

Cats, Cheese and Hawaiians

In which Lovecraft speaks to Duane W. Rimel of many things, but most extensively on his fondness for cats. That leads to a discussion of local colloquialisms which then leads to an interesting discourse on local cheese nomenclature and the Owyhee Idaho Spud, among other things. It's a fun ride!

This letter was written November 19, 1934. Music by Troy Sterling Nies. Our thanks to Hippocampus Press for their Letters to F. Lee Baldwin, Duane W. Rimel, and Nils Frome.

Rimel's portraitHere is the portrait of Lovecraft that Rimel made using the linoleum carving technique. Although apparently originally intended for an earlier issue of Fantasy Fan, it was eventually published as an illustration of a short bio of HPL written by F. Lee Baldwin in Fantasy magazine in April of 1935. CLICK HERE to download a PDF of a typographical replica of the entire article, in which HPL describes his close encounter with a certain circus freak-show performer!

Idaho SpudLovecraft refers to the Idaho Candy Company and its signature product, the Owyhee Idaho Spud bar. It is not made with potato, but has a light cocoa flavored, soft marshmallow center drenched with a dark chocolate coating and then sprinkled with coconut. We're happy to report they're still in business and you can get your own Idaho Spud and other delicacies from their website. Although we haven't personally sampled all of it, we can attest that the butter toffee they make is quite wonderful.

Here's a look at the some of the ads for WLW that Sean found while researching this episode. WLW was one the country's most powerful radio stations in Lovecraft's day. You can learn more about them, and see bigger versions of these ads, here. WLW

Wind Shake textsWe checked in with our old friend Nick Offerman to see if in fact "wind shake" is prized by woodworkers. Apparently it is not, although other kinds of wood deformities, such as burl, do make for some very lovely furniture.

Rex Weldon coversIn later life Duane Rimel went on to write, among many other things, pulp erotica under the pen name "Rex Weldon". Here are some covers of just a few of his many books. Still haven't found that one about the tobacconists....

HPL used his own very personal spellings for dialects and the nicknames of his various correspondents, which makes this letter a different experience visually than it is aurally. Here are some of his idiosyncratic presentations:
Rimel = Rhi´-Mhel
F. Lee = Eph-Li
R.H.B. = Ar-E'ch-Bei

This is how Lovecraft renders the regional pronunciations of the word "half":
Cleveland = haff • Providence = häf [hahf] • Boston = hääf

The International Phonetic Alphabet had been conceived in the 1880s, but it was still under active development in Lovecraft's day, so it's not surprising if he never heard of it or thought to use it himself.