“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.”

H. P. Lovecraft

In the year 1890, under the gibbous moon, a thing fantastical in nature, yet unknown to mankind, a small being, yet great at the same time, was born.

I’m talking, of course, about the birth of H.P. Lovecraft.

Howard Philips Lovecraft c 9 years old.

Howard Philips Lovecraft was born on the 20th of August 1890 and died March 15th 1937. He was an American writer of weird fiction and horror fiction. He never got the recognition he deserved during his lifetime. In fact, he wasn’t even able to support himself from his earnings as a writer.

He met his sad end in poverty, finally succumbing to cancer at the age of 46.

Chances are you’ve heard his name. But if you haven’t, you’ve most definitely heard of his work.

Iä! Iä! Cthulhu fhtagn!

H.P Lovecraft was the one who established the genre of cosmic horror (or Lovecraftian horror) that slithered into the mainstream in recent years. This includes the whole Chthulhu Mythos and its slimy, tentacly, unimaginable cosmic glory.

Lovecraft’s Life

Even though it is undeniable that the writer H. P. Lovecraft changed modern horror forever, the person H. P. Lovecrat’s life was a very sad one.

Lovecraft was born in Providence, Rhode Island. At an early age, tragedy already crept its way into young Howard’s life. His father, Winfield Scott Lovecraft, committed suicide when Howard was just 3 years old. During his lifetime, Lovecraft insisted that his father was a hard-working man who died from psychosis related to overworking himself. But the truth is everything but.

Winfield’s Death Certificate shows that he had late-stage syphilis. This disease wasn’t treatable back then, and even today, if treated in the later stages, it leaves permanent damage to many organs. Lovecraft’s father probably got this disease from visiting the brothels behind his mother’s back. At the end of the day, whether Lovecraft was misleading everyone or was genuinely believing he was a good man remains a mystery.

After his father died, Lovecraft and his mother went to live with his maternal grandparents. His mother, Susie Philips Lovecraft, always pampered him. His grandfather, Whipple, became like a father to him, and it was he who planted the love for reading into young Howard’s mind. It was at this young age that Lovecraft was introduced to his earliest literature influences, like the Metamorphoses and Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.
An image of Whipple Van Buren Phillips.

When his grandmother Robie died, it affected everyone. But, it affected Howard the most. After her passing, he started having recurring nightmares, from which he later drew inspiration for his writing. The influence of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, specifically Dore’s illustrations of the poem, caused him to dream about the “night-gaunts” which he put into his stories thirty years later.

Bad luck did not stop for the Lovecraft family. In 1904, after the collapse of his business, his grandfather died from a stroke. This had terrible implication for Howard and his mother. They were not able to pay the upkeep of his grandfather’s mansion, so they had to move to a small duplex. Lovecraft himself called this period the darkest time of his life.

The same year, Lovecraft started high-school, a turbulent period for him due to his many mental breakdowns. It’s not like Lovecraft didn’t enjoy high school. He loved it; in fact, he was fascinated with chemistry. He liked astronomy too. But, he wasn’t good at either due to lack of gift in maths. During his final year of high school, he had his worst breakdown yet and he dropped out of school.

He never came back to graduate.

Lovecraft’s Early Works

Lovecraft joined the United Amateur Press Association in 1914, aspiring to become a journalist in a very turbulent world that was at the dawn of WWI. But, journalism didn’t work out for him, and the following year, he launched his self-published magazine, naming it The Conservative. Here, he wrote several pieces and essays.

It was around 1917 that Lovecraft got into fiction, mainly influenced by the writing of Lord Dunsany and his Mythos. Also, Lovecrafts earliest works drew inspiration from Edgar Allan Poe whom Lovecraft admired.

His first horror publications were for Weird Tales, a small pulp magazine. They bought some of Lovecraft’s stories in 1923, and with this, Lovecraft tasted the first real success in literature.