On this day 80 years ago, the world lost one of the greatest horror writers we’ve ever had.
Howard Phillips Lovecraft died on the 15th March in 1937 – only 46 years old. Whilst most bookworms will have heard about Lovecraft today, he was virtually unknown in his lifetime and didn’t achieve any major recognition for his work until after his death.
Though he may have died in poverty and never got to experience the many dedicated fans he has today, the American author has secured himself a spot in literature history.
And today, I’ll attempt to unveil a bit more about this reclusive author in 10 little, random facts that you (probably) didn’t know about Lovecraft – unless, of course, you’re a diehard fan!
1. He was the only child of a travelling salesman who sold jewellery and precious metals, and his mother could trace her ancestry to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1631.
2. When Lovecraft was three years old, his father became severely psychotic and was admitted to a psychiatric institution where he remained until his death in 1898.
3. Lovecraft’s mother was admitted to the same psychiatric institution as his father in 1919 after suffering from hysteria and depression for a prolonged period of time. She died there in 1921.
4. His interest in horror fiction began in his childhood when his grandfather would tell him horror stories.
5. “The cat is such a perfect symbol of beauty and superiority that it seems scarcely possible for any true aesthete and civilised cynic to do other than worship it.” He loved cats! He had one himself, and his work includes some pretty partial references to cats.
6. At the age of 33, Lovecraft married Sonia Greene, who was seven years his senior. They were married until his death in 1937.
7. Lovecraft had Harry Houdini as a client when the latter asked Lovecraft to do some ghostwriting for him.
8. Lovecraft was diagnosed with cancer of the small intestine in 1937 and lived in constant pain until his death in March that year.
9. He wrote a lot of letters – a lot. Though he may be best known for his horror fiction, the bulk of Lovecraft’s writing consisted of long letters about a variety of topics. Lyon Sprague de Camp, who wrote a Lovecraft biography, estimated that Lovecraft wrote about 100,000 letters in his lifetime!
10. Lovecraft is known to have dated some of his letters 200 years before the current date. His reasons for the inaccurate dates were that he thought the 18th and 20th centuries were the ‘best’. He saw the 18th century as a period of noble grace and the 20th century as a time of science.
Are you a fan of Lovecraft? Which fact did you find the most interesting, and have I missed the most important one?