August Babies – HP Lovecraft & the Cthulhu Mythos
August did not have any compelling holidays to celebrate, so this month I’ll be posting about authors who were born in the month of August.
HP Lovecraft 8/20/1890 – 3/15/1937
Howard Phllips Lovecraft was born in Providence, Rhode Island and is best known for his short horror stories including “Call of Cthulhu” which has since sparked a great many tales, games and other media around the mythos. Howard was primarily raised by his mother and grandfather after his father was confined to a mental institution when Howard was only 3 years old. His mother was a very overbearing maternal figure and kept him home from school due to illness which may believe were psychosomatic. He did not begin to attend school full-time until the age of 13.
Howard’s grandfather was a businessman who enjoyed storytelling. It’s thought that this was the biggest influence in Howard’s literary pursuits. Many felt that Howard was a literary prodigy being able to recite poetry at the age of 3 and writing his own complete poems at age 6. he was continually encouraged to pursue his talents by his grandfather, who introduced Howard to the gothic horror genre that he would later become famous for.
Howard was always seen as a socially awkward and nervous throughout his life. He excelled in history, linguistics, chemistry and astronomy but due to his ineptitude of mathematics never graduated high school. It wasn’t until 1913 at the age of 23 that he joined an amateur journalist association and by the age of 31 was encouraged to start circulating his stories. By 34 he was a regular contributor to the newly founded Weird Tales magazine; he later turned down an offer of the editorship. It was around this time that Howard’s mother, suffering from hysteria and depression was committed to a mental institution until her death in May of 1921. The two remained close throughout her hospitalization.
Shortly after his mother’s death Howard attended a convention of amateur journalists in Boston where he met his future wife Sonia Greene. The two were married March 3, 1924 and relocated to Brooklyn at the behest of Sonia, who thought he needed a change of scenery in order to flourish. Greene supported the two of them through her hat shop. There he produced his most famous work “The Call of Cthulhu” in 1926. While he was never able to achieve commercial success during his life, partly due to his lack of confidence and drive to self-promote the Cthulhu works continue to be influential within the horror genre. Some have even called him the Edgar Allen Poe of the 20th century. Howard died of cancer at the age of 46 in his hometown of Providence.