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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In a letter to his revision client Zealia Brown Reed Bishop dated August 25, 1929, HPL emphatically defends the editorial work of his young protege, Frank Belknap Long. He gives lots of writing advice before moving on to vivid description of some of his recent local travels.
You'll find this letter in The Spirit of Revision published by The H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society! Music by Troy Sterling Nies. Our thanks to Christian Matzke, Sean and Jackie McCall, Mary Sullivan, S.T. Joshi, and the John Hay Library.
Our book The Spirit of Revision is lavishly illustrated, but mostly in black and white. If you'd like to see some scans of the original letters (and some of the extra things HPL included) in color, along with portraits of Zealia, please check out the Spirit of Revision page on this very website!
The Fairbanks House in Dedham, about which Lovecraft waxes rhapsodic in this letter, is still open as a museum run by the Fairbanks Family organization. Normally they give tours from May to October, but this year their opening day is a little uncertain. But you can make a virtual visit! And maybe even donate to help them through these hard times.
Here's the 1909 map of Buzzards Bay that Sean found online. Onset Beach, where HPL vacationed with Frank Belknap Long's family, is at the northmost end of the bay. The aeroplane that Lovecraft rode in probably didn't get high enough to get this kind of vista, but it's fun to think of him getting a similar bird's-eye view.