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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 9
  • Posted December 22, 2019

Tidings of Comfort and Joy? (Part 1)

HPL sends his aunt Lillian Clark a very telling Christmas letter. Written while he was living in Brooklyn, the letter is revealing about both HPL and those closest to him. Wishing you and yours a very merry Christmastime and a very Scary Solstice!

You can see this letter for yourself, including all the Christmas verses we left out, at the Brown Digital Repository. We thank them profoundly for making this and so much other material available online. Music by Troy Sterling Nies. Transcript by Olivier Decker.


Wendel MansionThis was the Fifth Avenue mansion of the crazy rich Wendel siblings circa 1905. The site is now the location of a huge office/retail building. You might have to have an NYT subscription to see it, but check out this great New York Times article about the Wendels.

And while you're surfing, learn more about the fascinating Byron Khun de Prorok!

Lovecraft hoped to get a job at the Paterson Museum, where his friend James F. Morton was a curator and which was founded in the very year HPL wrote this letter. HPL never got that job, but the museum did eventually get its own new building. It's still going and is worth a visit! Check it out here.

Lovecraft mentioned a number of interesting figures in the letter we didn't have time to talk about in the episode. One was Edward Arnold, whose recent obituary HPL and his aunts had noted. Lovecraft said it was too bad his mother didn't "snap him up". He was a member of one of the founding families of Rhode Island (which also included the infamous Benedict Arnold). HPL mentions astronomical articles by "Brainin" and "Upton". C.S. Brainin was the editor of The Amateur Astronomer in the late 1920s, and Professor Winslow Upton was the director of Ladd Observatory in Providence when HPL was a boy and wrote articles for the Providence Journal. He also mentions enjoying the "Hoppin conceptions", which is a reference to noted 19th-century Providentian book illustrator Augustus Hoppin.