The Blagger's Guide To... HP Lovecraft

Happy deathday to the father of modern horror

*This Thursday marks the 75th anniversary of the death of Howard Phillips Lovecraft – better known to his legion of fans as HP. He was born on 20 August, 1890, in Providence, Rhode Island, and was a sickly, lonesome child who was badly affected by the death of his father. He suffered acute night terrors and developed an interest in astronomy, two disparate threads that came together when he began writing the type of "cosmic horror" fiction with which his name has become synonymous, largely through the pulp Weird Tales magazine in the 1920s. He lived with his mother until her death in 1921, when he briefly married.

*Lovecraft is regarded more as a writer of ideas than a dazzling wordsmith. One reader apparently wrote to the magazine Astounding Stories, which published his novel At the Mountains of Madness (one of only three full-length Lovecraft works) in 1931: "Are you in such dire straits that you must print this kind of drivel?" The French novelist Michel Houellebecq admitted in his otherwise glowing 2005 biography, Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life: "'There is something not really literary about Lovecraft's work." Famous fans of the man who they say invented modern horror, however, include Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates and Jorge Luis Borges.

*Lovecraft developed what later became known as the Cthulhu Mythos, set around his fictional New England towns including Dunwich, Innsmouth and Arkham. He envisaged a cosmic war between the Elder Gods and the Great Old Ones such as dread Cthulhu, a slimy, tentacled, winged giant. He also created the Necronomicon – a fictional grimoire that many people since have believed to be real.

*Complaints of clunky writing pale against the other accusation regularly levelled at Lovecraft – that of racism. Lovecraft scholar Bruce Lord said: "Early apologists viewed Lovecraft's racism as an unimportant element that occasionally surfaced in the background of his literature; today it is viewed as a key element in understanding Lovecraft's fiction and the nature of the world he created with it." Biographer S T Joshi added: "I find Lovecraft's racism disappointing not merely because he expressed it so frequently ... but because this was one area where he refused to modify his thinking in the light of new evidence."

*Lovecraft makes the leap into fiction himself, becoming a character in several other books. Most recently, the writer Bruce Brown has penned two graphic novels for children, featuring a young Howard Lovecraft getting embroiled in Cthulhoid adventures – The Frozen Kingdom (2010) and The Undersea Kingdom (to be published in early April), both from Arcana Studios. HP appears in Ray Bradbury's story "The Exiles", Richard A Lupoff's Lovecraft's Book, and an Image Comics series, "The Strange Adventures of HP Lovecraft".

*Lovecraft might be more of a household name today had the Hellboy director Guillermo Del Toro's plan for a $150m 3D adaptation of At the Mountains of Madness, starring Tom Cruise, not hit the buffers last year over studio concerns about the classification it would receive. Other Lovecraft adaptations which have made it to the big screen include The Haunted Palace (1963), based on The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, the 1985 schlock-horror Re-Animator, based very loosely on Herbert West – Reanimator and two recent movies lovingly made by the HP Lovecraft Historical Society, The Call of Cthulhu and The Whisperer in Darkness.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Christopher Eccleston (centre) plays an ex-policeman in this cliché-riddled thriller

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey looks very serious as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

TV This TV review contains spoilers
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Wiz Khalifa performs on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park in Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury

music

Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars creator George Lucas

film

Arts and Entertainment

music

Arts and Entertainment
A shot from the forthcoming Fast and Furious 7

film

Arts and Entertainment
The new-look Top of the Pops could see Fearne Cotton returns as a host alongside Dermot O'Leary

TV

Arts and Entertainment
The leader of the Church of Scientology David Miscavige

TV

Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce, Boris Johnson, Putin, Nigel Farage, Russell Brand and Andy Murray all get the Spitting Image treatment from Newzoids
tvReview: The sketches need to be very short and very sharp as puppets are not intrinsically funny
Arts and Entertainment
Despite the controversy it caused, Mile Cyrus' 'Wrecking Ball' video won multiple awards
musicPoll reveals over 70% of the British public believe sexually explicit music videos should get ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and Ian Beattie as Meryn Trant in the fifth season of Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment

book review
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence