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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 31
  • Posted May 24, 2020

Shea Part 3 — War, Peace, & Justice

In the sometimes uncomfortable finale of our three-part letter to J. Vernon Shea, HPL opines on weightier topics including the looming forces of war and peace, and issues of justice (social and otherwise) surrounding the famed Scottsboro Boys trial. CONTENT WARNING: This episode includes numerous bleeps, racist language, and painfully awkward discussion thereof. Listener discretion advised.

Our thanks again to our friends at Hippocampus Press for their book Letters to J. Vernon Shea, Carl F. Strauch and Lee McBride White, and its helpful footnotes.

stained glass

HPL mentions Lincoln Steffens in this letter, a famous liberal muckraking journalist who wrote about the corruption of politics in Rhode Island, St. Louis, and other places. If you want to hear more about corrupt Providence politics, we recommend the podcast Crimetown.

Another left-wing radical HPL cites is V.F. Calverton (born George Goetz), who founded Modern Quarterly magazine, published from 1923 to 1940.

The "Coates book" that HPL refers to is The Eater of Darkness by Robert Myron Coates, published in America in 1929 and described as "the first surrealistic novel in English". Coates went on to be a prominent art critic for The New Yorker.

In the section about art, HPL mentions having seen stained glass by noted designer Joseph G. Reynolds. That stained glass was installed at the East Liberty Presbyterian Church of Pittsburgh. You can see more photos at their website.

Lovecraft does mention George Bernard Shaw in a number of other letters, but usually in a list with other prominent writers with liberal leanings.

The "nice little Jew" HPL mentions at the very end of the letter was Julius Schwartz, who would go on to become a prominent editor of famous titles at DC comics, including both Superman and Batman. He also helped organize the first World Science Fiction Convention. Schwartz commissioned the collaborative story "The Challenge from Beyond", jointly written by Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, Frank Belknap Long, Abraham Merritt and C.L. Moore in 1935.

You can get a copy of The Lady Who Came to Stay from our friends at Hippocampus Press. We did!