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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We offer a pair of letters this month, both to HPL's Welsh friend and fellow amateur Arthur Harris. In the first, from September 1, 1934, HPL writes from his vacation on Nantucket, sharing the history of the island and touching on the Roman era in Britain. In the second, from February 26, 1936, Lovecraft describes his trips to New Haven and New York City, rhapsodising about the new Hayden Planetarium.
And if you haven't already noticed it, please do check out the update about Paul Campbell below!
Music by Troy Sterling Nies. Thanks again to Hippocampus Press for their book Letters to Rheinhart Kleiner and Others.
We found these images of Harris' journal Interesting Items on David Haden's ever-interesting blog Tentaclii. We don't know if the Christmas cover pictured here is the same one HPL mentions in this letter, but it is an inviting scene!
Although the postcards and folder that HPL sent to Harris have not been preserved, he sent a lot of postcards from that same Nantucket trip to other friends, and you can see several of them in the Brown Digital Repository. They also have a folder which, if not exactly the same, is no doubt quite similar to the one he sent to Harris.
HPL mentions being gifted by his friend Ernest Edkins with a book about London with "Pennell plates". The illustrator in question was Joseph Pennell, an American artist who was known for landscapes and architectural renderings. He had contributed to a few different books about London, but HPL might well have been referring to the one shown below, which came out in 1928.
Here's that wonderful cross-section view of the new Hayden Planetarium HPL visited. You can learn lots more about that as well at David Haden's blog. No doubt Maria Mitchell would also have found it very impressive.
Our thanks to HPLHS member Joseph Ryan for allowing us to scan his copy of "Causerie", which just might have been Lovecraft's personal copy. On the third page shown here you can see one of the handwritten corrections. It's a tiny sample, but it does look like HPL's handwriting....