Biography of H.P. Lovecraft

Howard Phillips Lovecraft was born in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1890. Lovecraft's father, Winfield Scott Lovecraft, was institutionalized in 1893 after a psychotic episode and died in 1898, leaving H.P. to be raised by his mother, Sarah Susan Phillips Lovecraft, and his maternal grandparents. Lovecraft has a particularly close relationship with his grandfather, who along with Susan helped introduce him to European art and various works of literature. Lovecraft's earliest known creative works, composed when he was a child, are poems modeled after Homer's Odyssey. Just before graduating from high school, Lovecraft suffered a nervous breakdown, and scholars have theorized that he suffered from a condition known as chorea minor, a rheumatic fever that causes uncontrolled movement.

In 1914, Lovecraft joined the United Amateur Press Association and became an avid journalist. He published the story "The Alchemist" in the UAPA journal in 1916, and began writing more fiction at the encouragement of his colleagues. In the Winter of 1918, his mother Susan Lovecraft also suffered a nervous breakdown, affecting Lovecraft deeply over the following year. In 1920, Lovecraft met the man who would become one of his most intimate friends over the course of his life, Frank Belknap Long. After 1920, Lovecraft also became more productive as a writer, publishing several stories that all take place in a fictional universe known as the "Cthulhu Mythos."

Between 1924 and 1926, Lovecraft was married to Sonia Greene, a fellow pulp fiction writer. The couple lived together in Flatbush, Brooklyn, where Lovecraft consorted with a circle of friends and writers known as the "Kalem Club." The marriage ended shortly after Greene moved to Cleveland to pursue a job, and in 1926 Lovecraft moved back to Providence, where he lived in a large Victorian house and continued to write. Although many of his stories were published in pulp magazines like Weird Tales, Lovecraft was never able to earn a livable salary through his fiction, and died in poverty at the age of 47.

After his death, critics positively reassessed Lovecraft's oeuvre, mostly consisting of short stories, and praised his ability to render dark themes concerning forbidden knowledge, fate, cosmology, and superstition. He is one of the major figures in what is known as "weird" fiction—a genre of speculative fiction that contains elements of fantasy, horror, and the supernatural. Lovecraft is still perhaps best known for originating the monster Cthulhu, and the greater Cthulhu Mythos, which Lovecraft's contemporary August Derleth would continue to develop across various works of fiction after Lovecraft's death.

Study Guides on Works by H.P. Lovecraft

First published in 1928 in the pulp magazine Weird Tales, "The Call of Cthulhu" is a short story by American author H.P. Lovecraft, an early twentieth-century short-story writer famous for his works of horror and science fiction. Farnsworth...