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 of August 1923 to original Weird Tales editor Edwin Baird, HPL talks a bit of business and literary theory before describing his plan to visit a legendary site of dark mystery and monster-inhabited potholes with his friend C.M. Eddy, Jr. Then as a bonus we'll hear him describe how the plan worked out in a letter to Frank Belknap Long from November 8 of the same year.
Music by Troy Sterling Nies. Our thanks to Necronomicon Press for their book H.P. Lovecraft: Uncollected Letters, to Arkham House for Selected Letters Vol. I and to Fenham Publishing for their book The Gentleman from Angell Street.
Here are the front and back of our exciting new acquisition, an actual handwritten letter from HPL to Clifford M. Eddy, Jr. This one was written in November of 1924, about a year after the letters that we read in this episode. Although it's written on stationery from the Hotel Vendig in Philadelphia, the fact that HPL turned the letterhead upside-down suggests he was not actually writing from the hotel. HPL and his wife Sonia used the stenographer's office at the Vendig during their honeymoon in March of 1924, so they could re-type the manuscript of "Under the Pyramids" to meet the Weird Tales publication deadline. It's possible HPL picked up some of the letterhead on that occasion and saved it for later use.
Just a few years after these letters were written, Chepachet, Rhode Island began to host an annual Ancient and Horribles Parade. Coincidence?