H. P. Lovecraft

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(For other Cthulhus, see the Disambiguation page. There's also a Meade Frierson fanzine named HPL.)

(August 20, 1890 – March 15, 1937)

Howard Phillips Lovecraft, an influential American fan and pro, spent most of his life in Providence, RI, where he wrote weird fiction, a genre in which he was arguably the founder. He was one of the most significant early writers in the sf and fantasy genre. Beginning with his first published story in 1919, he wrote what he called "cosmic horror," the idea that the universe is essentially unknowable and inimical to humans, and There are Some Things Man was Not Meant to Know.

Cthulhu” by Alva Rogers, cover art for The Acolyte 9 (Winter 1945). Heritage Auctions sold the original ink drawing on April 25, 2023, for $25,000.

Most of his stories fit into the Cthulhu Mythos, which was awarded the 1945 Best Series Retro Hugo during CoNZealand in 2020. Arkham House was founded to bring his works back into print. I Am Providence is the definitive biography by S. T. Joshi (2 vols).

While HPL's reputation rests on his professional work, he was equally influential as a fan, maintaining a huge correspondence as well as publishing in fanzines. He was active in Amateur Journalism, and helped to bring the APA into fandom. He was a member of the National Amateur Press Association (NAPA) and the United Amateur Press Association (UAPA).


In his voluminous letters and essays, Lovecraft frequently expressed reprehensible opinions of Jews, Blacks, Catholics and immigrants. These sentiments crept into some of his fiction, as well. It’s debatable as to whether he was more or less racist than his contemporaries.

The original World Fantasy Award trophy statuette designed by artist Gahan Wilson was a bust of Lovecraft first presented at the 1st World Fantasy Convention in 1975. The use of this statuette was discontinued by the World Fantasy Awards committee in 2017 because of Lovecraft’s racism, reasons which many have found controversial.

See also:[edit]

Awards, Honors and GoHships:

Lovecraft Circle[edit]

1934 pencil sketch of Cthulhu by H. P. Lovecraft, gift to R. H. Barlow.

A group including many pro writers who were linked by the immense correspondence of Lovecraft, who made it a point to introduce his many like-minded friends to one another and encourage them to share stories, use each other's invented fictional trappings, and help each other succeed in the pulp field. Members included Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, and August Derleth.

Lovecraft Mythos[edit]

From Fancyclopedia 2, ca. 1959
Lovecraft Mythos – Howard Phillips Lovecraft practically dominated weird fiction in American proz till his death in 1937, and his mythos still march on in the hands of friends and pupils like Bob Bloch, Clark Ashton Smith, and August Derleth, who have added independently to the canon. The Mythos centers around the exile to Earth of the Great Old Ones, who had rebelled against the Elder Gods (not those of the Shaver Mythos, fergawdsake) and still scheme to try again. A touchstone for stories of this cycle is the exclamation "Ia! Yog-Sothoth!"; it's part of the ritual for opening the Path Whereby the Spheres Meet (Yog-Sothoth, as every good fan should know, is the Key and the Guardian of that Path's Gate) and rarely fails of utterance. The Necronomicon of Abdul Alhazred, the mad Arab, is a source of much knowledge of the Great Old Ones; other books of incredible secrets like the R'lyeh Text, Comte D'Erlette's Cultes des Goules, Freidrich von Juntztz' Unausprechlichen Kulten, and the Pnakotic Manuscripts have also proved baneful to over-curious folk. Dreadful events center around Arkham, where Miskatonic University has one of the few known copies of the Necronomicon, and whose neighboring towns Dunwich and Innsmouth are effectively in the hands of the Cthulhu Cult, as inquisitive scientists find out too late. The Great Old Ones themselves are numerous; important ones are Nyarlathotep, Their messenger, who originated the human race; Yog-Sothoth; Azathoth the Lord of All (a "blind, idiot god" who, Fritz Leiber conjectures, symbolizes the mechanistic cosmos); and Cthulhu the sea-god -- a being very like a cross between an octopus and a jellyfish, tho capable of "lumbering slobberingly" in pursuit of humans and such tasty morsels. Other approximately mortal creatures like the Deep Ones, Shaggoths, Tcho-Tcho People and suchlike which your compiler would rather not think about are more or less servants of the Great Old Ones.

Pronunciation of such names as Cthulhu has worried many fans -- Cthulhu, incidentally, was the first to be the subject of one of HPL's stories, whence the mythos are sometimes called "Cthulhu Mythos" -- who were not helped by Lovecraft's insistence that the name was rendered into those English letters phonetically. This is nonsense -- C has no definite phonetic value in English -- but would make the original some such sound as Kh-thool-hoo or Ss-thool- hoo. "Sykora used to pronounce it with a whistle in the middle; I heard him", says Damon Knight. "Thool-thool" is the only so-called authentic pronunciation Coswal has heard, which obviously evades the C problem. Harry Warner cites a valuable source of information, approved by weird authors: "Just give a click with the tongue at the start of the word, just as you do with many Russian words, and ignore the second H, with accent on the first syllable. I've never heard it pronounced, you understand, so that knowledge must be instinctive inheritance from the Old Days."

The catchphraseCthulhu fhtagn!” is a short form of “Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn,” first used in “The Call of Cthulhu” (Weird Tales, February 1928), which translates as “In his house at R'lyeh, dead Cthulhu waits dreaming.” (It is sometimes rendered as “Iä! Iä! Cthulhu fhtagn!” the form in The Shadow Over Innsmouth, a 1936 novella. The Cthulhu Cult uses “Iä! Iä!” a great deal; it seems to be Lovecraftian for Oy vey!)

Selected Works[edit]

The Shadow Over Innsmouth[edit]

The Shadow Over Innsmouth is a horror novella by Lovecraft, first published in 1936 by the Visionary Publishing Co., Everett, PA. In it, the Order of Dagon was the mysterious fraternity of devil-worshipers that took over that town.

Fungi from Yuggoth[edit]

Fungi from Yuggoth is a sequence of 36 sonnets Lovecraft wrote mainly between December 27, 1929, and January 4, 1930; they later appeared individually in Weird Tales and other magazines, and together in several collections.

In the mythos, Yuggoth is a planet at the very edge of Earth's Solar System, home to a race of fungoids, and a major stop for the Great Old Ones en route to Earth.

Supernatural Horror in Literature[edit]

Lovecraft wrote “Supernatural Horror in Literature,” a lengthy historical essay on weird fiction. It was originally written in the late 1920s in response to a request from his friend W. Paul Cook for publication in the magazine, The Recluse. A revised version of the essay was serialized in the 1930s in the fanzine, The Fantasy Fan. Lovecraft continued to revise the essay, and his final version was published in The Outsider and Others, a Lovecraft memorial volume, edited by August Derleth and Donald Wandrei in 1939, two years after Lovecraft's death. The version of the essay that appeared there became the official text of the essay, and it has been reprinted several times since then.

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