As we get closer to Halloween I thought it might be a good idea to write about people, places and things that possibly pertain to the day or for most people like me the entire month. Ever since childhood I have been drawn to artists with a little darker nature. Not demonic satanic nature, just circumstances that made their lives a little darker than everyone else’s. To name just a few, my favorite writers are Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft. My favorite painter has always Been Van Gough, and my favorite composer is Beethoven. If you compare them all you can easily see that each one faced severe adversities. Some overcame and some were overcome. However it is the writers I wish to speak of in this week’s column.
Poe of course has always been a favorite of mine. He was never truly recognized for his contributions until he died. And then what made him famous? His worst critic. That’s right, the critic Rufus Wilmot Griswold wrote some scathing remarks about Poe in hopes of discrediting Poe upon the late author’s demise. However the decided effect was reversed and Poe became a hotly sought after writer. Besides Has anyone ever heard of RUFUS? Exactly! Up until this Poe’s remains were left in an unmarked grave but once the obit from Griswold was published he was given a proper headstone. Of course today nearly everyone one on earth recognizes Poe as the father of the modern crime story. Not to mention his science fiction writing and of course horror contributions. I might add as of this writing My son and I will be visiting Poe’s grave in Baltimore Maryland, also the museum in Richmond.
On the other hand for some reason very few people today know of H.P Lovecraft. I remember as a child watching a movie called “the unnamable.” It was back in the 1980s and of course it was a little cheesy but in all its cheesiness it was eerie. The story centered on a haunted house where a menacing looking creature roamed. It fascinated me to no end and I watched the movie every time it was aired. As I got older I realized the movie was loosely based on an H.P Lovecraft story. This intrigued me enough to seek out Lovecraft. Of course there was no internet back then so I used the only Google I had available and that was the local library. I checked out any and all the books Lovecraft had written and I was amazed at the man’s imagination and the depths he went when it came to the genre of horror and science fiction. Especially in the time in which he had lived. He no doubt like many others was influenced by Poe but he created some very memorable characters like Chthulu for instance. And like Poe, Lovecraft suffered from immense hardships. Born in Providence, Rhode Island, Lovecraft spent most of his life in New England. After his father was institutionalized for general paresis in 1893, he lived affluently, but his family’s wealth dissipated soon after the death of his grandfather. After this point, he was living with his mother in reduced financial conditions, until she was institutionalized in 1919. He became involved in the United Amateur Press Association and wrote essays for them. In 1913, he wrote a critical letter to a pulp magazine that ultimately led to his involvement in pulp fiction. He became active in the speculative fiction community and was published in several pulp magazines. Lovecraft moved to New York when he married Sonia Greene in 1924. He then joined the small “Kalem Club”, and would later become the center of a wider body of authors known as the “Lovecraft Circle”. They introduced him to Weird Tales, which would become his most prominent publisher. Despite this, his time in New York took a toll on his mental state, which coincided with increased financial pressures. Finding social and financial conditions there intolerable, he returned to Providence in 1926. After returning to Providence, he became increasingly active in his literary output, producing some of his most prominent works, including “The Call of Cthulhu“, At the Mountains of Madness, The Shadow over Innsmouth, and The Shadow Out of Time. He would remain active as a writer until his death from intestinal cancer at the age of 46. Most anything you want to know about Lovecraft and his works are easily found now with the use of the internet. I recommend you seek him out. He is a very interesting character. Just a little something to ponder.
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