Monday, November 22, 2010

Why Did Lovecraft Fall From a House?

In Lovecraftiana, there is an anecdote about Lovecraft headstrongly climbing up the frame of a new home near his n=home. He injured himself terribly, and he had his head packed in ice.

Even though this information came from Philbrick, I had always set it aside as apocryphal, or at least mistaken. Lovecraft was well known for doing foolish things late in life, and often got himself in precarious situations. However I could not sense any motivation for this incident, and much to suspect it was used to explain away his oddness.

I known he liked antiquarianism, and was mildly interested in drafting or drawing, but he never seemed to be an architect. Why climb a house?

Then I thought of a motivation today.

In late 1904 or early 1905 HPL decided to build a roof top weather station. For months I thought the equipment he used was borrowed, or hand-me-downs. It was very expensive. Or maybe he used a location like the city engineer's equipped station or the Ladd Observatory, or even the Providence Journal building.

Carefully re-reading his early 1907 digest of 1906 weather readings, it made me think that he had to have wanted to study roof design if he were going to nail on a large walk-out attachment on the roof of "The Rhode Island Journal" building. NOT the "Providence Journal Building" which for a long time I thought this may have meant, but the roof of 598 Angell Street.

This made the equipment quick to access at all times and essentially theft and tamper proof. Who would climb on top of the roof?

So, he may have been researching the right way to construct it based on carpenters' work, and slipped and fell. News would quickly spread through the neighborhood that the Little Professor got injured. And probably another fast trip for Dr. Clark to patch HPL up.

If this is even remotely probable, then we can actually begin to try to date this incident.

It is not easy to track the elusive Lovecraft, but with skill and reflection, we can try.

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