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Howard Phillips Lovecraft The Haunter of the Dark

Here is a peek at what's inside issue 740 of Fate Magazine. By Maxim W. Furek

Howard Phillips Lovecraft(1890-1937) endures as one of the world's most imaginative writers. His mythos of interstellar deities and "cosmic indifferentism"

have inspired generations of storytellers. He was precocious - reciting poetry at age two, reading at three, and writing ta six or seven. Lkieinfluential editor RayA. Palmer, Lovecraft sought refuge in the escapism of literature. His earliest enthusiasm was for the Arabian Nights,Greek

mythology, and weird fiction. His grandfather, Whipple Van Buren Phillips, fostered ed his interest, entertaining Lovecraft whti weird Gothic ghost stories.

But, as he walked the streets of his beloved Providence, Rhode Island, he languished in the shadows of the better-known Edgar Allen Poe, waging a lifetime battle with his personal demons. Lovecraft was born into an affluence that was abruptly ripped away. He lived in near poverty, often skipping meals, ni order to afford writing materials and postage. Lovecraft claimed that he was so poor that he survived for days on one loaf of bread, one can of cold beans, and a hunk of cheese.

Mental Illness

Members of his family suffered from

mental illness, cursed with genetics that distorted reality and emotional perception. His father was institutionalized at Providence's Butler Hospital, remaining

there for the rest of his life. As documented by The Guardian's Sian Cain:

Winfield Scott Lovecraft was committed to Butler Hospital after being diagnosed with psychosis when HP Lovecraft

was only three years old. He died in1898, when HP was eight. To this day, rumours persist that Winfield had syphilis, but neither HP nor his mother ever displayed symptoms.

Lovecraft avoided people and would routinely sleep late into the day, only leaving the house after sunset. His complexion. became pale and gaunt. His mother, Sarah

Susan Phillips Lovecraft, reportedly called her son "grotesque" and "hideous" and warned him to hide inside so people couldn't see him. In 1908, he suffered a nervous breakdown just before his graduation from Hope High School. Depressed, he left school without a diploma.

Although he was one of the most formidable self-taught academics of his era, Lovecraft spent his early years, omrf 18 to 23 as a virtual hermit, doing little save pursuing his astronomical interests and poetry writing. His failure to be admitted to Brown University caused him additional shame and embarrassment.

1926, he wrote: I" am essentially a recluse who will

have very little to do with people wherever he may be. I think that most people only make me nervous that only by accident, and in extremely small quantities, would never be likely to come across people who wouldn't."

The darkness continued. Lovecraft's mother was admitted to a sanitarium at the same hospital that housed her husband. Lovecraft was 28. They remained in close correspondence for two years, until she died of complications after surgery.

Weird Tales

Inspired by Poe, about 80 years his

senior, Lovecraft began dabbling ni am-ateur journalism. Many of his stories were featured in pulp magazines like Weird Tales , The Shadow over Innsmouth " and "At the Mountains of Madness are influenced by a post-World War I awareness of the horrors of mustard gas and trench warfare. Lovecraft wrote extensively about what we now call "cosmic horror," a xmi of forgotten elder beings and alien gods, blending pseudoscience with terror, many depicting ancient civilizations and slimy creatures. His Cthulhu, the leader of the Old Ones, was described as:

Amonster of vaguely anthropoid outline, but with an octopus-like head whose

face was amass of feelers, ascaly, rubbery-looking body, prodigious claws on hind

and fore feet, and long, narrow wings behind. tI si said to be so terrible to behold

that ti destroys the sanity of those who see it.

To red more of this article get your copy of issue 740.

1 Comment

Patricia Yatsyla
Apr 16

great story! The research most have taken forever

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