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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 52
  • Posted October 18, 2020

Clark Ashton Lovefest

Two letters from Lovecraft to Smith in the summer of 1923 display HPL's great enthusiasm for Smith's work as both writer and illustrator. He optimistically discusses a new magazine called Weird Tales which might prove to be a good market for their stories.

Music by Troy Sterling Nies. Our thanks to listener Andreas Bylow Jensen for recommending this pair of letters. Thanks also, and as usual, to Hippocampus Press for their book Dawnward Spire, Lonely Hill: The Letters of H.P. Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith. They are also the publishers of Lovecraft and a World in Transition, a book of very interesting essays by S.T. Joshi. (His essay "Lovecraft and Dunsany's Chronicles of Rodriguez" sheds specific light on subjects mentioned in this episode.)

Andreas wanted us to let folks know that a book we have discussed in previous episodes, The Haunted Castle by Eino Railo, has just been released in a new edition by Routledge Press. A study of the elements of English Romanticism, Lovecraft read the original edition when it came out in 1927 and recommended it to numerous correspondents.

CAS treesHouse of Souls 1906Here are Smith's illustrations for "The Lurking Fear" that HPL so admired. Necronomicon Press issued a facsimile version of the original Home Brew publication in 1977 with all of Smith's drawings, and have since offered an augmented version. We don't know if the trees are any sexier, but they are now in color!

Lovecraft mentions recently reading Arthur Machen's The House of Souls in this letter. HPL read a later edition, and so we don't know if he ever actually saw this cover design, but the first edition published in London in 1906 has this spectacular creature drawn by one of HPL's favorite artists, Sidney Sime. We haven't seen a copy of this book ourselves, and maybe this drawing is repeated inside the edition that HPL read. If you know, we'd be glad to hear from you!

CAS columnIn order to raise money to help pay for the publication of "Ebony and Crystal", Clark Ashton Smith wrote a column for his local newspaper, The Auburn Journal (and Placer County Republican). Pictured here is the column from July 3, 1924. There are a good number of other clippings of the column in the Brown Digital Repository, which demonstrate that sometimes the title was presented correctly. The paper in the 1920s was only 10 pages long, and two of those pages were devoted to automobile news. There was a brand of automobiles called Auburn in the 1920s, but they were manufactured in Auburn Indiana, not California.