Friday, April 21, 2006



I have recently acquired a copy of the 1905 yearbook of the Hope Street High School. This was the seventh graduating class, and would have been HPL's freshman year. Unfortunately HPL is not in the book. It is rare to see an undergraduate in an old style yearbook.

In that year, he was one of 585 students [1] with 23 instructors. Lovecraft mentions a Mrs. Blake ("a fat old English teacher") but she is not listed as an instructor or student teacher. The article in conflict was the 12 October 1906 column for the Pawtuxett Valley Gleaner. [2] This would have been HPL's sophomore year and just prior to his November collapse.

Some notes of interest are:

"The freshmen are a noisy, boisterous lot and not worthy of our slightest attention. We leave them to Mellin's Food {no information - CP} and the perambulator." [1. p. 13]

Some things never change, "The Lunch Counter is still in operation. 'The good die young'. ... At that rate the lunch counter will be here as the ages roll by."

Athletics take up 13 of the 62 non-advertising pages. The most horific oration during the year was "The Influences of the Witches in Macbeth", which won a place under literary oration. [1, p.53]. "...Shakespeare's witches are supernatural beings, the personification of temptations ... some secret evil desire which responds to the witches' evil influences ... something weird and horrible..." [1, p.54, Philip Burbank, author]. One wonders if HPL was in the audience.

In the undergraduate address, "Freshmen, you poor children, your first year in High School is nearing its end. You have caused no end of trouble and fear, your childish pranks have set our nerves ajar, your stamping in the lunchroom has disgusted us. But then, you are only kids, and may some day, the faculty permitting, reach the goal so far off from you now, the Senior class, the class of 1908." [1, p.61]

Update, 21 April 2006

Mellin's, I've discovered through private correspondence and research, is a baby formula, which makes the "pun" quite understandable as a "put down". Lovecraft was often fond of slang and schoolish ridicule of his friends.

1 The Blue and White 1905, p. 11
2 HP Lovecraft A Visionary and a Dreamer, 2001, p. 49


gugon said...

So what exactly do we make of his absence from the yearbook? Was he sick during this time? Is there an index with his name listed?

Chris Perridas said...

He was indeed sick off and on for his entire career of high school. I did search the index and found no listing of him, any of the teachers he later had (apparently they came and went like any educatioanl system) or his classmates such as the Munroe brothers.

Through private correspondence, I've learned that there may be a reference to HPL in another yearbook - but the rarity of acquiring this text will be remote. Naturally there were only several hundred printed of each year book.

I'll glean more as I have time for research of the text.

Michelle said...

Mellin's Food is some sort of oatmealy childhood ingredient, if I am not mistaken. Somewhere I have a copy of a curious little alphabet book they gave away as a promotional item way back when, which has some wonderfully odd illustrations in it. I'll see if I can dig it up for you!

Chris Perridas said...

Outstanding information, Michelle. We do real research here!


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