Cover image for Lord of a visible world : an autobiography in letters
Lord of a visible world : an autobiography in letters
Lovecraft, H. P. (Howard Phillips), 1890-1937.
Uniform Title:
Correspondence. Selections.
Publication Information:
Athens : Ohio University Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
xix, 385 pages ; 24 cm

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3523.O833 Z48 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
PS3523.O833 Z48 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



In Lord of a Visible World, the editors have amassed and arranged the letters of this prolific writer into the story of his life. The volume traces Lovecraft's upbringing in Providence, Rhode Island, his involvement with the pulp magazine Weird Tales, his short-lived marriage, and his later status as the preeminent man of letters in his field.

In addition to conveying the candid details of his life, the volume also traces the evolution of his wide-ranging opinions. Lovecraft shows himself to be deeply engaged in the social, political, and cultural milieu of his time.

The editors, two of the leading Lovecraft scholars, have meticulously edited the text, transcribing the letters from manuscript sources and supplying explanatory annotations throughout. Lord of a Visible World is of interest to both the general reader and the scholar, presenting for the first time a well-rounded portrait, in his own words, of a writer whose work has fascinated millions of readers.

Author Notes

Howard Phillips Lovecraft, 1890 - 1937 H. P. Lovecraft was born on August 20, 1890 in Providence, Rhode Island. His mother was Sarah Susan Phillips Lovecraft and his father was Winfield Scott Lovecraft, a traveling salesman for Gorham & Co. Silversmtihs. Lovecraft was reciting poetry at the age of two and when he was three years old, his father suffered a mental breakdown and was admitted to Butler Hospital. He spent five years there before dying on July 19, 1898 of paresis, a form of neurosyphillis. During those five years, Lovecraft was told that his father was paralyzed and in a coma, which was not the case.

His mother, two aunts and grandfather were now bringing up Lovecraft. He suffered from frequent illnesses as a boy, many of which were psychological. He began writing between the ages of six and seven and, at about the age of eight, he discovered science. He began to produce the hectographed journals, "The Scientific Gazette" (1899-1907) and "The Rhode Island Journal of Astronomy" (1903-07). His first appearance in print happened, in 1906, when he wrote a letter on an astronomical matter to The Providence Sunday Journal. A short time later, he began writing a monthly astronomy column for The Pawtuxet Valley Gleaner - a rural paper. He also wrote columns for The Providence Tribune (1906-08), The Providence Evening News (1914-18), The Asheville (N.C.) Gazette-News (1915).

In 1904, his grandfather died and the family suffered severe financial difficulties, which forced him and his mother to move out of their Victorian home. Devastated by this, he apparently contemplated suicide. In 1908, before graduating from high school, he suffered a nervous breakdown. He didn't receive a diploma and failed to get into Brown University, both of which caused him great shame. Lovecraft was not heard from for five years, re-emerging because of a letter he wrote in protest to Fred Jackson's love story in The Argosy. His letter was published in 1913 and caused great controversy, which was noted by Edward F. Daas, President of the United Amateur Press Association (UAPA). Daas invited Lovecraft to join the UAPA, which he did in early 1914. He eventually became President and Official Editor of the UAPA and served briefly as President of the rival National Amateur Press Association (NAPA). He published thirteen issues of his own paper, The Conservative (1915-23) and contributed poetry and essays to other journals. He also wrote some fiction which titles include "The Beast in the Cave" (1905), "The Alchemist" (1908), "The Tomb" and "Dagon" (1917).

In 1919, Lovecraft's mother was deteriorating, mentally and physically, and was admitted to Butler Hospital. On May 24, 1921, his mother died from a gall bladder operation. While attending an amateur journalism convention in Boston, Lovecraft met his future wife Sonia Haft Greene, a Russian Jew. They were married on March 3, 1924 and Lovecraft moved to her apartment in Brooklyn. Sonia had a shop on Fifth Avenue that went bankrupt. In 1925, Sonia went to Cleveland for a job and Lovecraft moved to a smaller apartment in the Red Hook district of Brooklyn. In 1926, he decided to move back to Providence. Lovecraft had his aunts bar his wife, Sonia, from going to Providence to start a business because he couldn't have the stigma of a tradeswoman wife. They were divorced in 1929.

After his return to Providence, he wrote his greatest fiction, which included the titles "The Call of Cthulhu" (1926), "At the Mountains of Madness" (1931), and "The Shadow Out of Time" (1934-35). In 1932, his aunt, Mrs. Clark, died; and he moved in with his other aunt, Mrs. Gamwell, in 1933. Suffering from cancer of the intestine, Lovecraft was admitted to Jane Brown Memorial Hospital and on March 15, 1937 he died.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Arguably the father of modern horror fiction, H.P. Lovecraft has attained the status of a classic. Editors Joshi and Schultz have worked diligently to put his life, as told in his words through letters, in better perspective. This work succeeds, for the most part, because the editors are careful to give readers a context for the letters. In one letter, they explain, Lovecraft waxes philosophic about marriage"especially revealing in light of his virtual abandonment of his wife three years previously. There is always the danger of lack of balance in allowing an author!s posthumous words to speak for him; fortunately, that does not seem to be the case here. Lovecraft!s foibles (his racism and anti-Semitism, for example) are openly acknowledged, and some new and interesting facts are revealed, particularly regarding his state of mind when writing to other authors. Tracing not only Lovecraft!s life but his work is a daunting task, and the editors have done a commendable job. Recommended for academic libraries and larger public libraries."Alicia Graybill, Lincoln City Libs., NE (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

With this volume Joshi continues his previous work on Lovecraft by joining with Schultz to arrange excerpts from Lovecraft's letters into an autobiographical collage of his life. The editors estimate that Lovecraft left more than 75,000 letters, a body of text that exceeds his total output in fiction. Drawing from this trove of material, they arranged letters not in chronological order, but so the letters' contents follow Lovecraft from his childhood to his death. Joshi and Schultz provide 35 pages of textual apparatus: a glossary of names, notes, a list of sources to identify the recipient and date of composition for each excerpt, further reading, and an index. Throughout, the editors make clear their conviction about Lovecraft's merits as an author; but at the same time, they include excerpts that record his prejudice against Jews and non-Nordic peoples. Less damaging to Lovecraft's image are excerpts that reveal the curious circumstances of his marriage, which brought him out of Providence to New York City for an interval, and Lovecraft's insistence that the US would be a better place had its War of Independence failed. Suitable for libraries that have an interest in dark fantasy and one of its more notable practitioners. All undergraduate, graduate, faculty, and public collections. J. J. Marchesani; Pennsylvania State University, McKeesport Campus