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 part one of this lengthy (three episode!) letter from February 4 1934, HPL writes to his friend J. Vernon Shea. Among the many topics he delves into are Lovecraft's youthful contemplations of suicide and what kept him from going through with it.
Our thanks to our friends at Hippocampus Press for their book Letters to J. Vernon Shea, Carl F. Strauch and Lee McBride White.
At left is a small sample of the hundreds of titles in the "Little Blue Book" series published by E. Haldeman-Julius. Lovecraft read many of the Little Blue Books and bought spare copies to send to friends and clients.
HPL uses the term "scientifiction" in this letter. That word was coined by Hugo Gernsback in 1916 and was used in the early years of the genre, but ultimately failed to catch on.
Many of the works of juvenile fiction that HPL enjoyed as a boy (and lamented as an adult) were written and/or published by Edward Stratemeyer, including the Rover Boys and Tom Swift series.