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Harbinger451.co.uk / 451 ePublishing Haus / The Lovecraftian / A Short Biography of H. P. Lovecraft
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H. P. Lovecraft, 1915

- A Short Biography of H. P. Lovecraft -

- by Peter Guy Blacklock -

Howard Phillips Lovecraft was born at 9 a.m. on August 20, 1890 in Providence, Rhode Island. His mother was Sarah Phillips Lovecraft, who could trace her ancestry to the arrival of George Phillips to Massachusetts in 1630, and his father was Winfield Scott Lovecraft, a travelling salesman for Gorham & Co., Silversmiths. Winfield died though when Lovecraft was only eight.

      Lovecraft proved a precocious youth; reciting poetry, reading, and writing at a surprisingly young age, though he suffered frequent illnesses, and his attendance at the Slater Avenue School was sporadic. Lovecraft was a great independent reader however and around 1898 he discovered science and astronomy. Between the ages of 9 and 17 he produced his own journals, The Scientific Gazette (1899-1907) and The Rhode Island Journal of Astronomy (1903-07), for distribution amongst his friends. His first appearance in print occurred in 1906, when he wrote a letter on an astronomical matter to The Providence Sunday Journal. Shortly thereafter he began writing a monthly astronomy column for The Pawtuxet Valley Gleaner, and later wrote columns for various other local newspapers.

      Throughout his youth Lovecraft experimented with writing short fiction but at the age of eighteen he would seem to abandon this. From 1908 to 1913 he pursued his astronomical interests and his poetry writing, though he still read the early pulp magazines of the day and their particular blend of genre fiction clearly interested him. He became so incensed at the insipid love stories of Fred Jackson in The Argosy that he wrote a letter, in verse, attacking him and his fiction. When the letter was published it caused a great deal of controversy and engaged Lovecraft in a clever but heated literary debate in the letter column of The Argosy and its associated magazines. The debate was noted by Edward F. Daas, President of the United Amateur Press Association (UAPA) and he invited Lovecraft in to the UAPA, he joined in 1914. He later became President and Official Editor of the UAPA and also briefly served as President of the rival National Amateur Press Association (NAPA).

      In 1915 Lovecraft started publishing his own paper, The Conservative (1915-23), and the whole time contributed an impressive amount of poetry and essays to other journals. In 1917 he was persuaded to start writing fiction again, writing "The Tomb" and "Dagon" in quick succession that summer. He kept up a steady flow of fiction from then, although until at least 1922 poetry and essays were still his preferred form of expression. Lovecraft also became involved in an ever-increasing network of correspondence with friends and associates, and he eventually became one of the greatest and most prolific letter-writers of that century.

      Lovecraft's mother died in 1921 - but only a few weeks later, as he attended an amateur journalism convention, he met Sonia Haft Greene. Slowly friendship turned to affection and they married on March 3, 1924. Lovecraft left his beloved Providence and moved into Sonia's apartment in Brooklyn. She had a successful hat shop on Fifth Avenue in New York but soon after the wedding her business went bankrupt. Although Lovecraft had several of his early stories published by the celebrated pulp magazine Weird Tales, (1923-54) his income was still meagre. Sonia's health suffered, spending time in a New Jersey sanatorium, but after recovering in early 1925, she went to Clevelend to take up a job - while Lovecraft moved into a single apartment near Red Hook, a particularly seedy area of Brooklyn.

      Lovecraft returned to Providence early in 1926, and the next ten years were the most productive of his life. Though he still felt affection for his wife they never lived together again and were divorced in 1929. He wrote his best fiction during those ten years, from "The Call of Cthulhu" (1926) to "At the Mountains of Madness" (1931) and "The Shadow out of Time" (1934-35). Lovecraft made a niche for himself as a writer of weird fiction and as a general man of letters though he never made any more than an adequate living financially. He nurtured the careers of many young writers, including August Derleth, Donald Wandrei, Robert Bloch and Fritz Leiber, to name but a few, and the deepening of the Great Depression led him to become a moderate socialist in outlook.

      The last years of his life were filled with hardship. His later stories becoming lengthy and obtuse, making them increasingly difficult to publish. He supported himself largely through the revisions of works by other writers. One of his closest correspondents, fellow genre writer Robert E. Howard, committed suicide in 1936. This event left Lovecraft deeply saddened and confused - and he was now suffering badly from the cancer of the intestine that would soon kill him too.
      Howard Phillips Lovecraft died on March 10, 1937, and was buried on March 18 in the Phillips family plot at Swan Point Cemetery.


This short biography is largely based on the slightly longer biography written by S. T. Joshi, which can be found
HERE on probably the best online resource for all things Lovecraft on the web - The H. P. Lovecraft Archive.

Please report any errors, omissions or otherwise comment on, discuss or debate this biography by replying to the blog post HERE!

Buy books by and about H.P. Lovecraft at Amazon.com

Buy books by and about H.P. Lovecraft at Amazon.co.uk


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- Yog-Sothothery -

a history of events in Lovecraft's fiction

principle characters from Lovecraft's fiction

creatures & monsters from his fiction

significant items & objects from his fiction

real & fictional places mentioned in his works
Mythos Builders:

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The Cthulhu Mythos:

Yog-Sothothery - expanded and developed

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