Saturday, January 26, 2008

This is what you may miss ... Google Group

The Google Group Discussion is picking up. Join soon. :)
Dave, make sure you alert me to just before it is due out. I'll want a copy. Will it be for sale on Horror Mall?
On 23 Dec 1925 HPL wrote this {to Aunt Lillian} Orton also spoke of C. {sic} Warner Munn - youthful weird author whom Cook has encouraged ... this young Atholite (age 23) is very well connected, being a cousin of the owner of Scientific American; but is not extensively cultivated or well-read himself. His erudition seems wholly confined to weird amtters, & he shews no disposition to broaden in literary taste.
HP Lovecraft: Letters From New York.
It seems unlikely that Munn knew Lovecraft prior to 1925.
Lovecraft {to Wandrei} in 26 June 1928 says, in part, I spent two weeks in absolute rusticity - with a friend who has taken a Vermont farmhouse for the summer ... Tonight Cook & I are going over to Munn's place to inspect his weird library. Are you not green with envy? Just at this moment I am sitting beside a country road half way up the hill toward Sentinel Elm. {Joshi & Schultz' note says: This locale may have inspired Sentinel Hill in Dunwich Horror.}
Mysteries of Time And Spirit: Letters of HP Lovecraft and Donald Wandrei.

----- Original Message ----
From: Dave Goudsward
Sent: Saturday, January 26, 2008 11:10:14 PM

The description of the visit to Mystery Hill in Munn's letters is a
problem. In a nutshell, he recollects being told about Culdee Monks and
having to deal with a locked fence. These indicate a visit after after
Lovecraft's death. Culdee Monks were owner William Goodwin's theorized
site builders. He had bought the property in 1936 as proof of Viking
Settlements but changed his theory to one of Irish monks. But that
doesn't appear until late 1937, early 1938 at the earliest. The fence
was still being discussed in January 1937, so even with an early thaw,
there's no way that Lovecraft could encounter that fence in this mortal

Since Munn is adamant he visited with HPL, he must be blurring a
post-1937 visit with a pre-1937 visit. In that case, HPL could have
visited on any number of trips. HPL could have visited the site in 1921,
23, 28, 34 or 35, based on Selected Letters and the biographies.

Munn had been interviewed by Philip Shreffler previously (for Lovecraft
Companion), and the description he gave Shreffler of the visit does not
match the visit as Munn later wrote to Burleson. So we're either looking
at multiple visits or a really bad memory.

The gist of my theory is that Lovecraft, as he did in so many other
places, used details from the visit in the text of The Dunwich Horror.
The obvious detail is the skull-strewn altar stone atop the hill. The
sacrificial table is visually at the center of the site and the locals
had no shortage of claims of Indian skeletons found in the area. Making
the assumption that inquiries in town about the site would send the
Lovecraft's party to the property owner, they would be sent to the far
side of the hill to see Fred Duston.

The path that Armitage, Rice and Morgan took to Seth Bishop's house in
the story parallels the topography one would take if one was going from
Fred Duston's house through the woods to the old Seth Pattee house. The
Pattees formerly owned the property and the access path to the site is
across from their house. Fred Duston had bought the property in 1927, so
that makes 1928 my best guess, with plenty of time to write the Dunwich

My original research was published by Mystery Hill in monograph form as
Horror on the Hill (1990). Frankly, the research was incomplete, the
editing ham-fisted and the publisher unable to reproduce photos so he
hand-sketched versions of the shots. When copies show up on Ebay, I buy
them to get them out of circulation permanently. It's not only an
embarrassment to me as an author, it's edited down to the point where
salient notes were deleted making it poor scholarship.

I have a booklet do out later this year on Lovecraft in the Merrimack
Valley that will include the full text in all it's over-annotated glory.
It'll be out before Samhain. In the meanwhile, you can see the
sacrifical table at the very bottom of my website at

Munn, by the way, would use Mystery Hill and the Culdee monks in his own
novel, Merlin's Ring (1974).

chris perridas wrote:
> Outstanding Dave. If you ever want to publish any notes on the blog,
> you have a green light. Otherwise, we look forward to any insights
> you want to share.

> What years do you think he visited?

> ----- Original Message ----
> From: Dave Goudsward

> I was first drawn into Lovecraft's orbit back in 1986. I was working as
> the manager up at Mystery Hill in NH where I met Don and Molly Burleson.
> Don had published a piece in the Journal of the New England Antiquities
> Research Association that confirmed that Lovecraft had visited Mystery
> Hill with H. Warner Munn. I've spent the last 20 years looking at that
> visit. I'm convinced Lovecraft visited the site twice, the first one
> being *before* he wrote The Dunwich Horror, meaning Sentinel Hill's
> description of standing stones surrounding a sacrificial altar is based
> on Mystery Hill.

--- Michelle Souliere

Hear, hear. There's just something about him.

Portland, ME

On 1/25/08, Jeff Barnes

It is interesting, Chris, because he haunts me, too.

I found myself fascinated by the man every since I came across his work (when I was in my late teens). I just felt a kind of connection to him -- can't really explain it.

Does anyone else feel this way?


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