It always amazed me that an author who contributed so greatly to the literary world, who branched out in so many unexpected directions too, was only recognized for it posthumously. H.P. (Howard Phillip) Lovecraft was all but unknown in the writing world when he lived, and was only ever published in a handful of pulp magazines before he died sadly, in poverty. Yet his tortured visions of evil Elder Gods, whole entire mythos worlds, mountains and madness and magic oh my, endure to inspire to this very day and beyond. There isn’t a horror fan out there who hasn’t at least heard of Lovecraft and inevitably his greatest works, the collected Cthulhu mythos. What horror fan wouldn’t want to attend Miskatonic University?
Born on August 20, 1890, in Rhode Island, to father Winfield Scott Lovecraft and Sarah Susan Phillips, Howard was considered a prodigy who began reciting poetry at the ripe old age of three. At this same tender age, his father was institutionalized for what was termed “nervous exhaustion,” and Howard was left to be raised by his mother, two aunts, and maternal grandfather, who all encouraged Howard’s interest in reading. His grandfather even made up his own original tales of Gothic Horror to tell the young Lovecraft.
As a young child, and even as a an adolescent, Howard seems to have suffered horribly from night terrors, that he was being haunted by Nightgaunts, which eventually made it as an entire race into his Cthulhu mythos and Dream Cycle writings. As a young man, he continued to write and submit his stories to various magazines. First, he wrote as a complainant to The Argosy, a pulp magazine, for its insipid romances, and then later to more and more strange publications who learned to appreciate (if not monetarily value) his unique writing style. In his late years, Lovecraft often went without food to maintain the cost of mailing his letters and writings to various publications. In 1936, Howard was diagnosed with cancer of the small intestine, and passed away the following year in March.
Lovecraft’s influence can be seen all over modern and past horror, fantasy, and sci-fi genres, and pop culture, often without anyone realizing that that was a reference to his writings. How many of you out there have seen Dagon shall rise again! graffiti in the most unexpected places? South Park, with their famed spoofs of everything under the moon like Scientologists, did a three-part cartoon that had Cartman teaming up with a cat-like Cthulhu! Gaming Titan Blizzard Entertainment somehow managed to drop a whole bunch of Elder God mythos writings into World of Warcraft. Scooby-Doo has spoofed him, the Anime Fate/Zero had a giant sea monster summoned by using the phrase ‘Pn’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagi fhtagn’, which is a whole thing in the Cthulhu-verse, and don’t forget about the Necronomicon, the Book of the Dead that’s inspired some horror movie greats like the entire Evil Dead series!
Then there’s the music – everyone from Metallica to Deadmau5 is inspired by his writings, and they’ve made amazing songs as tribute, some bands even went so far as to do entire albums based on Lovecraft’s writings. And tabletop games! Dungeons and Dragons TSR has an entire chapter on Cthulhu in their sourcebook Deities and Demigods, there are all kinds of different Call of Cthulhu games, Arkham Horror, board games, dice games, role-playing games, and so much more!
That doesn’t even begin to touch on the writers inspired by Lovecraft, the likes of Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Terry Pratchett, Alan Dean Foster, and many more!
We hope you’ll join us today in remembering H.P. Lovecraft, his works, and all the works he’s inspired. What’s your favorite? Sound off in comments!