Thursday, July 17, 2008

Update on a 2006 post: Lord Dunsany and the Irish

It's a great pleasure that so many people now read and use my blog for research and pleasure reading. I'm far from being a scholar on the subject of Lovecraft, but in 2006 I posted a note that included a reference by Mr. Kenneth Faig who in turn quoted a 1948 anecdote. My intention was to paint Lovecraft capable of dabbling in espionage. (I think he was). In passing, I mentioned that Dunsany was broad brushed as an IRA sympathizer. This was called in question by a reader. (Thank goodness for readers!) So, since I read all my comments, but no one else does, I want to make sure it's read. I'll add my entire entry. And all comments. (I still struggle with typos. Heh.)

And back in 2006, with maybe a few dozen people a week reading (Over 1000 unique readers a month now read), the blog was more (primarily) for my purposes of maybe writing a few Lovecraft essays (yet to happen) and I was a lot quicker to jot quick notes and do shorthand comments. In no way was I trying to say I knew first hand anything about Dunsany ( I still don't).

If anyone else wants to weigh in on the subject - any of the subjects - groovy. Lay it on.


"New Clue: Could HPL Have Ever Been a Spy?"

The answer apparently is yes. However, not between 1923 and 1926 with Houdini (we are still searching for THAT smoking gun) but in 1917 !!

Faig (1) reports in his 1999 essay that a 1948 memoir by Michael White (d. 1960) entitled "Fond Memories that Linger On" (The Fossil, January 1948) states Lovecraft collaborated with a paid British agent to exacerbate an Irish enclave of activists. Lovecraft presented the United Amateur Press Association at a Boston literary club in 1917 to which White was in attendance. White states that he knew of Demarest Loyd, a dandy-dressed English sympathizer was paid to out Irish (IRA) sympathizers. He enlisted Lovecraft's help - or they at least stumbled into one another's arms.

As usual, HPL was inconsistent in his vehemence, though. He adored Lord Dunsany, and probably did not know he was an IRA sympathizer. He attacked (2), though a series of published letters, John T. Dunn - a freind - and some of HPL's vitriolic spume spilled into the pages of The Conservative. White, himself, was a sympathizer. White was a close friend to Edith Miniter after HPL introduced the two of them. (Miniter once fancied by Lovecraft - see blog entry). Miniter's mother was keen on writing verse in Irish fashion.

This tantalizing bit of "historicical" gossip shows that Lovecraft was quite capable of espionage leanings. He was never shy about berating those he keenly felt were wrong-headed and dangerous to his personal belief systems.

Loyd had a Kentucky connection, having been stationed at Camp Zachary taylor in Oct 1918. He was born in Chicago in 1883 making him older than HPL - always a plus, since Lovecraft gravitated to older men. Both of his degrees were from Harvard making him a Boston mainstay. Lovecraft's Uncle lived in Boston. Loyd's British airs probably (?) reminded him of HPL's father.

1. Kenneth W Faig, Jr, The Unknown Lovecraft I: Political Operative, Crypt of Cthulhu 103, Vol. 19, No.,1, 1999
2. S T Joshi, "H P Lovecraft: Letters to John T Dunn", Books at Brown, Vol. 38&39, 1991-1992, published 1995, Providence, RI.
posted by Chris Perridas at 6:21 PM on Dec 30, 2006


gavinicuss said...
spelling error:
should be:

Thu Jan 04, 12:00:00 AM


Chris Perridas said...
No excuses ! Thanks for caring. And reading.

I tend to work on blog entries rapidly and have very little time. However, you folks do deserve better editing, so here's my new year's resolution !! Fewer typos, better editing.


Thu Jan 04, 07:08:00 AM


Magister said...
Dunsany was most definitely NOT an IRA sympathiser, even though he liked the Irish.

Thu Jul 17, 02:43:00 PM


Chris Perridas said...
First, Magister, I appreciate that you read the blog. I often write quickly, and want to be very careful in any event. This was a while back, and so I grabbed my copy of Crypt of Cthulhu 103 and made sure I didn't make an error.

I can't vouch for the first hand documentation, since it's annecdotal and not collaborative, but Mr. Faig did quote Fossil January 1948 by Michael White. It says, "Howard {Lovecraft} made one exception: he was an outspoken admirer of Lord Dunsany, and probably never knew at the time, and probably never knew, that the Dublin playwright was a trusted rebel of the Irishy. Dunsany "castle" is outside Dublin."

How this alleged collusion came about, or if it's true is beyond my ability to fathom or discern. Perhpas it is a smear, or maybe true.

I'm going to coalate this info and try to add a new post in case anyone else wants to contribute information.

In the meantime, your note and this note will amend the original blog post - until more information comes out.

The only controversial point I was attempting was that Lovecraft was no stranger to controversy and no stranger to flirting with espionage. Even that point is circumstantial as can be seen, but in cases of circumstance, multiple cases of flitting about the flame, may make one a moth.

Again, thanks for reading and especially for commenting. Greatly appreciated.


Thu Jul 17, 11:40:00 PM


laptop battery said...


Magister said...

Certainly good points!

Dunsany was a loud Unionist who never missed an opportunity to proclaim his views on Irish independence at the top of his voice. Fortunately for him, he was considered a little odd and nobody took him seriously (politically speaking he was a nobody, too). He also had a reputation for treating his workers and tenants fairly well.

His poor uncle, Sir Horace Plunkett, was more sympathetic to the Irish cause (supporting Home Rule, among other things), but because he was a politician HE was considered a threat and he had his house in Dublin burned down by the IRA.

The official biography, by Mark Amory, may not be particularly good, but at least Amory touches upon the subject now and then.

I have no idea why White thinks it necessary to put quotation marks around "castle". Dunsany Castle is a real castle, dating back to 1190, IIRC, and it has been in Dunsany's family since the father of the first Lord Dunsany married the heiress of the family who first owned it in 1403.


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