Early life — [ edit ] Lovecraft c. Though it is not clear who reported Winfield's prior behavior to the hospital, medical records indicate that he had been "doing and saying strange things at times" for a year before his commitment. His death certificate listed the cause of death as general paresis , a term synonymous with late-stage syphilis.
In Sonia Greene ventured that Susie was a "touch-me-not" wife and that Winfield, being a traveling salesmen, "took his sexual pleasures wherever he could find them". According to the accounts of family friends Susie doted over the young Lovecraft to a fault, pampering him and never letting him out of her sight. It is unknown if Lovecraft was simply kept ignorant of his father's illness or if his later remarks were intentionally misleading.
When home Whipple would share weird tales of his own invention and show Lovecraft objects of art he had acquired in his European travels. Lovecraft also credits Whipple with being instrumental in overcoming his fear of the dark when Whipple forced Lovecraft, at five years old, to walk through several darkened rooms in the family home.
By his own account, it sent his family into "a gloom from which it never fully recovered. He recalls, at five years old, being told Santa Claus did not exist and retorting by asking why "God is not equally a myth".
He also examined the anatomy books available to him in the family library, learning the specifics of human reproduction that had yet to be explained to him, and found that it "virtually killed my interest in the subject. He began producing the periodical Rhode Island Journal of Astronomy, of which 69 issues survive, using the hectograph printing method.
The written recollections of his peers described him as both withdrawn yet openly welcoming to anyone who shared his current fascination with astronomy, inviting anyone to look through the telescope he prized.
He was forced to let the family's hired servants go, leaving Lovecraft, Whipple and Susie, being the only unmarried sister, alone in the family home. Within months he died due to a stroke at age After Whipple's death Susie was unable to support the upkeep of the expansive family home on what remained of the Phillips' estate. Later that year she was forced to move herself and her son to a small duplex. Much like his earlier school years, Lovecraft was at times removed from school for long periods for what he termed "near breakdowns".
He did say, though, that while having some conflicts with teachers, he enjoyed high school, becoming close with a small circle of friends. The exact circumstances and causes remain unknown. The only direct records are Lovecraft's own later correspondence wherein he described it variously as a "nervous collapse" and "a sort of breakdown", in one letter blaming it on the stress of high school despite his enjoying it. In another letter concerning the events of he notes, "I was and am prey to intense headaches, insomnia, and general nervous weakness which prevents my continuous application to any thing.
Whether Lovecraft suffered from a physical ailment, a mental one, or some combination thereof has never been determined. An account from a high school classmate described Lovecraft as exhibiting "terrible tics" and that at times "he'd be sitting in his seat and he'd suddenly up and jump. Accounts differ on how reclusive Susie and Lovecraft were during this time.
A friend of Susie, Clara Hess, recalled a visit during which Susie spoke continuously about Lovecraft being "so hideous that he hid from everyone and did not like to walk upon the streets where people could gaze on him. Lovecraft, though he never matched his mother's admiration of French literature, admired her knowledge and devotion to it. One of Lovecraft's later friends, C. Called "Providence in A. Lovecraft described Jackson's stories as "trivial, effeminate, and, in places, coarse. Lovecraft's biggest critic was John Russell, who often replied in verse, and to whom Lovecraft felt compelled to reply to because he respected Russell's writing skills.
Daas invited Russell and Lovecraft to the organization and both accepted, Lovecraft in April For the first time I could imagine that my clumsy gropings after art were a little more than faint cries lost in the unlistening void.
He contrasted this with his view of "professional publication", which he termed as writing for journals and publishers he considered respectable. He thought of amateur journalism as training and practice for a professional career.
Emblematic of the Anglophile opinions he maintained throughout his life, he openly criticized other UAPA contributors for their "Americanisms" and "slang". Often these criticisms were couched in xenophobic and racist arguments bemoaning the "bastardization" of the "national language" by immigrants.
Lovecraft published multiple criticisms of the US government's, and the American public's reluctance to join the war to protect England, which he viewed as America's homeland. Due in no small part to the encouragement of W.
Kleiner mentioned that "at every hour or so his mother appeared in the doorway with a glass of milk, and Lovecraft forthwith drank it. Though he passed the physical exam,  he told Kleiner that his mother "has threatened to go to any lengths, legal or otherwise, if I do not reveal all the ills which unfit me for the army. It is unclear what Susie may have been suffering from.
Clara Hess, interviewed decades later, recalled instances of Susie describing "weird and fantastic creatures that rushed out from behind buildings and from corners at dark. The nature of Susie's illness is impossible to ascertain. Her medical records were lost in a fire, and the only Lovecraft researcher to have seen them prior was Winfield Townley Scott.
His account describes Susie weeping often and speaking regularly about both her family's financial collapse and her son, whom she described as "a poet of the highest order. No matter their symptoms or situations, women were predominately diagnosed as Susie was with hysteria , a concept that women are inherently mentally frail due to having "thinner blood" as a result of menstruation and having a uterus.
After a period of isolation, he began joining friends in trips to writer gatherings, the first being a talk in Boston presented by Lord Dunsany , whom Lovecraft recently discovered and idolized. In early followed "Celephais" and "The Cats of Ulthar". The Cthulhu Mythos, a term coined by August Derleth , encompasses Lovecraft's stories that share a commonality in fictional locations and Lovecraft's invented pantheon of god-like beings known as The Great Old Ones.
It was at one such convention in July that Lovecraft met Sonia Greene. Lovecraft and Greene married on March 3, , and relocated to her Brooklyn apartment at Flatbush Avenue;  she thought he needed to get out of Providence in order to flourish and was willing to support him financially.
On New Year's Day of , Sonia moved to Cleveland for a job opportunity, and Lovecraft left Flatbush for a small first-floor apartment on Clinton Street "at the edge of Red Hook "—a location which came to discomfort him greatly. Loveman was Jewish, but was unaware of Lovecraft's nativist attitudes.
Conversely, it has been suggested that Lovecraft, who disliked mention of sexual matters, was unaware that Loveman and some of his other friends were homosexual.
Lovecraft made efforts to support his wife through regular jobs, but his lack of previous work experience meant he lacked proven marketable skills. After a few unsuccessful spells as a low-level clerk, his job-seeking became desultory. The publisher of Weird Tales attempted to put the loss-making magazine on a business footing and offered the job of editor to Lovecraft, who declined, citing his reluctance to relocate to Chicago; "think of the tragedy of such a move for an aged antiquarian," the year-old writer declared.
Baird was replaced with Farnsworth Wright , whose writing Lovecraft had criticized. Lovecraft's submissions were often rejected by Wright. This may have been partially due to censorship guidelines imposed in the aftermath of a Weird Tales story that hinted at necrophilia, although after Lovecraft's death Wright accepted many of the stories he had originally rejected. Added to the daunting reality of failure in a city with a large immigrant population, Lovecraft's single-room apartment at Clinton Street in Brooklyn Heights , not far from the working-class waterfront neighborhood Red Hook , was burgled, leaving him with only the clothes he was wearing.
In August he wrote " The Horror at Red Hook " and " He ", in the latter of which the narrator says "My coming to New York had been a mistake; for whereas I had looked for poignant wonder and inspiration … I had found instead only a sense of horror and oppression which threatened to master, paralyze, and annihilate me". It was at around this time he wrote the outline for " The Call of Cthulhu ", with its theme of the insignificance of all humanity.
In the bibliographical study H. Against the World, Against Life , Michel Houellebecq suggested that the misfortunes fed Lovecraft's central motivation as a writer, which he said was racial resentment. Lovecraft's name Back in Providence, Lovecraft lived in a "spacious brown Victorian wooden house" at 10 Barnes Street until The period beginning after his return to Providence—the last decade of his life—was Lovecraft's most prolific; in that time he produced short stories, as well as his longest work of fiction The Case of Charles Dexter Ward and At the Mountains of Madness.
He frequently revised work for other authors and did a large amount of ghost-writing , including " The Mound ", "Winged Death", and "The Diary of Alonzo Typer". Client Harry Houdini was laudatory, and attempted to help Lovecraft by introducing him to the head of a newspaper syndicate. Plans for a further project were ended by Houdini's death. Affecting a calm indifference to the reception of his works, Lovecraft was in reality extremely sensitive to criticism and easily precipitated into withdrawal.
He was known to give up trying to sell a story after it had been once rejected. Sometimes, as with The Shadow over Innsmouth which included a rousing chase that supplied action he wrote a story that might have been commercially viable, but did not try to sell it. Lovecraft even ignored interested publishers.
He failed to reply when one inquired about any novel Lovecraft might have ready: Greene moved to California in and remarried in , unaware that Lovecraft, despite his assurances to the contrary, had never officially signed the final decree. He lived frugally, subsisting on an inheritance that was nearly depleted by the time he died. He sometimes went without food to be able to pay the cost of mailing letters. He was also deeply affected by the suicide of his correspondent Robert E.
In early , he was diagnosed with cancer of the small intestine  and suffered from malnutrition as a result. He lived in constant pain until his death on March 15, in Providence. In accordance with his lifelong scientific curiosity, he kept a diary of his illness until close to the moment of his death. Lovecraft Memorial Square" and installed a commemorative sign at the intersection of Angell and Prospect streets, near the author's former residences.
Gale of Galaxy Science Fiction said that "like R. Howard , Lovecraft seemingly goes on forever; the two decades since their death are as nothing. In any event, they appear more prolific than ever.
What with de Camp, Nyberg and Derleth avidly rooting out every scrap of their writings and expanding them into novels, there may never be an end to their posthumous careers".
But "Mystery and Adventure" columnist Will Cuppy of the New York Herald Tribune recommended to readers a volume of Lovecraft's stories, asserting that "the literature of horror and macabre fantasy belongs with mystery in its broader sense. Wells , Aldous Huxley , Tolkien and others as one of the builders of mythicised realities over against the failing project of literary realism.
Subsequently, Lovecraft began to acquire the status of a cult writer in the counterculture of the s, and reprints of his work proliferated. In the status of classic American writer conferred by a Library of America edition was accorded to Lovecraft with the publication of Tales, a collection of his weird fiction stories. According to scholar S. Relevant discussion may be found on the talk page. February Learn how and when to remove this template message Several themes recur in Lovecraft's stories: Now all my tales are based on the fundamental premise that common human laws and interests and emotions have no validity or significance in the vast cosmos-at-large.
To me there is nothing but puerility in a tale in which the human form—and the local human passions and conditions and standards—are depicted as native to other worlds or other universes. To achieve the essence of real externality, whether of time or space or dimension, one must forget that such things as organic life, good and evil, love and hate, and all such local attributes of a negligible and temporary race called mankind, have any existence at all.
Only the human scenes and characters must have human qualities.