Thursday, November 23, 2006

Houdini, Lovecraft, and C. M. Eddy

How did Lovecraft and Eddy meet? That's not an easy question. S. T. Joshi (1) researched this and is still puzzled. The basis of evidence lies on three forms of documentation. The first, a memorial by Muriel Eddy in 1945. The second memorial in 1961 which adds a great deal to the first, yet seems to faintly apocraphal. (2) The third is Lovecraft's extant correspondence.

Sometime in October 1923 Eddy is called "the new Providence amateur" (3).

At this time, Eddy was probably unknown to Lovecraft - though this is highly debated - and established as a writer. "Sign of the Dragon" appeared in Mystery Magazine on 1 September 1919.

Eddy moved into amateru journalism, and met Lovecraft. Muriel Eddy and her husband encouraged Lovecraft to submit to Weird Tales. They knew Edwin Baird well. Eddy was also pushing stories to Weird Tales "Ashes" and "Ghost Eater" were rejected. Lovecrfat took them, amended them, and baird quickly accepted the new versions.

On 20 October 1923, Lovecraft writes "Here ... is "Ghost Eater" ... I made two or three minor revisions ... it ought to be fairly acceptable to an editior...". In late October, Eddy is writing "The Loved Dead" about a necrophile. It apparently was wholly rewritten by HPL with much of his typical verbosity of the period (Joshi compares "The Hound".). This was published and was the tale that made Weird Tales a household name. The scandal rocked Indiana and had the censors banning it. Naturally, everyone wanted to read Weird Tales. In a sense, this saved Weird Tales from bancrupcy.

One last story was revised by HPL - "Deaf, Dumb, and Blind" revised by HPL in Feb. 1924. be continued ...

(1) H. P. Lovecraft: A Life, S. T. Joshi, Necronomicon Press, 1996, pp. 304 - 307.
(2) Joshi states, "I am frankly skeptical..." and "{the 1961 version} written in a gushing and histrionic manner, makes statements not found in the first..." and "the first seems on the whole quite reliable".
(3) Joshi quotes from a letter to Frank Belknap Long on 7 October 1923.

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