By S. T. Joshi
H. P. Lovecraft has become well-known because the best writer of supernatural fiction within the 20th century. yet how did a guy who died in poverty, without booklet of his tales released in his lifetime, turn into such an icon in horror literature? S. T. Joshi, the top authority on Lovecraft, lines intimately the process Lovecraft’s existence and indicates how Lovecraft was once engaged within the political, fiscal, social and highbrow currents of his time.
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Extra info for A Dreamer & A Visionary: H. P. Lovecraft in His Time
Even Lovecraft, with his seemingly boundless energy, must have had difficulty writing his other juvenile treatises and periodicals while the weekly deadline of the Rhode Island Journal continually impended. The journal was issued first weekly, then monthly; the following issues (a total of sixty-nine) survive: 2 August 1903–31 January 1904 (Volume I) 16 April 1905–12 November 1905 (Volume III). January 1906–April 1907. There are also two anomalously late issues, January and February 1909. 2 At the moment I wish to study only the issues of 1903–04.
In the winter of 1902 Lovecraft was attending the Slater Avenue School, but his statements lead one to believe that he stumbled upon astronomy largely of his own accord. The majority of his astronomy volumes were inherited from his maternal grandmother Robie Phillips’s collection; some of these are rather old and elementary school manuals dating to the 1870s or 1880s. These books are too old to have been used at Slater Avenue or at Hope Street High School (Lovecraft did not, in any event, take astronomy courses at Hope Street, even though they were offered), and some at least must have come from Robie’s library.
30 Lovecraft’s attendance at the Slater Avenue School (formerly located at the northeast corner of Slater Avenue and University Avenue, where St Dunstan’s Prep School now stands) changed all this, at least to some degree. He entered the for the first time in 1898, at the ‘highest grade of primary school’31 (presumably the fourth or fifth grade), but apparently withdrew at the end of the term in 1899. Lovecraft does not seem to have returned to Slater Avenue until the 1902–03 school year. During the interim he was, as before, left to satisfy his intellectual curiosity in his own way: his family could hardly have failed to see that the boy was naturally bookish and did not need much incentive to investigate any subject that caught his fancy.