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H. P. Lovecraft

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"I tell you, I have struck depths that your little brain can't picture. I have seen beyond the bounds of infinity and drawn down demons from the stars... I have harnessed the shadows that stride from world to world to sow death and madness... Space belongs to me, do you hear?" — From Beyond, 1920[1]
Great and terrible
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Writer's block

Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890–1937) was an American author of horror, suspense, science fiction, and fantasy stories, including many works in the aptly named weird fictionWikipedia genre. He is best known as the creator of the Cthulhu mythos, which figure prominently in many of his stories.[2]

Much of Lovecraft's writing is concerned with the post-Enlightenment horrors of cosmic irrelevance and the idea that civilization is fragile and fleeting. Many misunderstand the common theme of people going mad upon seeing the alien beings in his work; the idea is that sanity is the denial of the true nature of the world and that seeing the creatures conflicts with one's deeply held beliefs (which takes on a whole new significance when you consider that the man was an extreme racist and xenophobe even by the standards of his day), not that the monster is just that scary.

Lovecraft is considered to be one of the most influential horror authors of the 20th century. His writing and style have been instrumental in inspiring writers in all fields, not to mention many imitators.[3] Notable authors who have owed their success and inspiration to Lovecraft include Alan Moore, Stephen King, Clive Barker and Robert E. Howard (the creator of Conan the Barbarian), to name just a few.[4] Howard and Lovecraft were actually good friends in life and collaborated on more than one story together.


Lovecraft had a laundry list of phobias. Besides drawing inspiration for his work from his dreams, the greater part of his work was also influenced by his feelings of discomfort around women, fear of foreigners and people of color, and a severe seafood allergy. He was a raging racist even by the standards of his time (at least for most of his life), which explicitly showed through in several of his writings. Most notably in arguably his best known work Call of Cthulhu the main character suspects his uncle was dead because he crossed a black person. The Rats in the Walls is infamous for having a cat named Nigger-Man, after Lovecraft's own cat.

Many of his works espoused the sanctity of the Anglo-Saxon people while condemning miscegenation and decrying other races and ethnicities, especially Asians, whom he was convinced would conquer the world. Notable works where he openly displayed his racism include The Street, The Horror at Red Hook, and his surprisingly obscure poem "On the Creation of Niggers".[5]

Lovecraft was also very open about his views in essays and the hundreds of letters he wrote during his lifetime. Besides his usual racism and xenophobia, Lovecraft revealed he was very supportive of fascism, white supremacy, aristocracies and elitism. He believed a society that implemented elements of all that, plus a generous dose of socialism, would create an ideal society to live in.

Unsurprisingly he greatly despised the American Republican Party. In a 1936 letter to fellow science fiction writer C. L. Moore, Lovecraft said that their ideas and beliefs deserved "the tolerance and respect one gives to the dead."[6] Of course, the Republican Party's policies were very different at the time (the Democrats were known for their advocacy of segregation, not that the Republicans were particularly progressive towards ethnic minorities either).

He apparently wasn't a fan of the Democratic Party either, as a lesser known 1929 letter to Woodburn Harris shows.[7] In spite of that, he showed support for Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the New Deal.[8]

Amazingly, despite his unease among women, general xenophobia and occasional anti-Semitism, he married a foreign-born Jewish woman, Sonia Greene.Wikipedia The two collaborated on a story The Horror at Martin's Beach and for a time lived together in New York City, something Lovecraft came to hate due to the city's tolerance of numerous foreign ethnicities and immigrants. The marriage unsurprisingly didn't last, collapsing after a mere two years. However, this seems to have been because of financial reasons than anything else, as the two weren’t exactly able to live together for most of the marriage.[9]

Whatever else he was, Lovecraft wrote great horror stories and lavished affection upon his black pet cat whom his grandfather named Nigger-Man and who makes a guest appearance in his short story "The Rats in the Walls".[10]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. H. P. Lovecraft, From Beyond
  2. Weinstock, J.R., in Forward to The Call of Cthulhu and Other Dark Tales (2009) Barnes and Noble, page X. ISBN 1435116437
  3. Curt Wohleber, The Man Who Can Scare Stephen King. American Heritage, December 1995.
  4. HP Lovecraft: The man who haunted horror fans. BBC, 22 March 2012.
  5. "On the Creation of Niggers" on Wikisource
  6. Quotations from H. P. Lovecraft's letters on Wikiquote
  7. While We are On the Subject of HP Lovecraft Quotes…, 3 November 2010.
  8. The Political Transition of Howard Philips Lovecraft., 18 October 2008.
  9. See the Wikipedia article on H. P. Lovecraft.
  10. "The Rats in the Walls" on Wikisource