Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

Hmm, well maybe it isn't 1891. (HPL was barely 4-1/2 months old)

Happy 2011 !

On the first 2 days you will read about a Phillips family influence rarely spoken of. My thoughts are to bring new articles of history that impacted young Lovecraft (and sometimes of older Lovecraft), and mix that with Chrispy notes. While the theme is still Mr. Lovecraft, after 2700 posts, its time that Chrispy has a few words in edgewise from time to time. After all this is a web log, and theoretically it's supposed to be about the person writing it. Heh.

If you get a little too much of my poetry, my stories, or my blah-blah-blah, and yearn for Lovecraft then use the metatags to search your favorite topic on Lovecraft.

Have a great New Year !

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The New Year Draweth Nigh!

Well, Lovecraftians and followers of the blog, the days grow short.

It has been a good year, and one of many discoveries for me - and in the name of Lovecraft scholarship. I'm encouraged by the work being done - that I know of - and hope more people will email me when they can.

To those who emailed this year, THANK YOU for sharing, and allowing me to share with you.

The days of the digitally available Lovecraft is coming, so those of you who are strapped for cash and can't afford a $5,000 original Lovecraft letter keep the faith. One day it will be available on the Internet or as e-documents for scholarly pursuit.

Have a nice, and safe New Year, dear readers !

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Parable For Our Times

Well, what is a horror writer to do? Most of my stories are even close to 'PG', and I do like to make this blog family friendly. So, I searched through my old tales, and I have one that you may find somewhat amusing, somewhat poigant, and hopefully entertaining - if you like puns.

It is a bit appropriate for a Lovecraft blog, as much of his dark fantasy was about dealing with his inner bigotry of "others". So, with all apologies to Veggie Tales, I present:

From the Dark Side of Produce: When Vegetables Go Murderous.

The Story of Hashed Brown.

Spuds McTurkle was from Idaho, and very proud of it. Look, California could keep it's dancing raisins. Spuds was from the great state that had upturned his legendary dad: "Idaho Tate".

Scallions, however, were not hill vegetables. They were only half-roots, and he had no use for them or their odor. The old saying went: Put a scallion in the bin, and the whole lot will smell like bad garlic.

Spuds avoided their kind.

Until one day and that fateful bus trip to Ohio.

He'd always had his eyes on Ohio. It was high in the middle and round on both ends just like Spuds. He knew, just knew, that his destiny awaited there.

But the scallions, as was their ilk, were waiting. They'd had a contract out from McDonald's, and they wanted a piece of the golden arches in their pockets. Corporate didn't care where the french fires came from, and the public demand was fry high.

Though he only vaguely resembled a turnip, this day Spuds walked into a dark corridor, as if he were fresh from the farm and had tumbled off the truck. The place was bigger than all out doors,a nd as confusing as a corn maze, so Spuds took one fatal, wrong turn and ended in a corridor as dark as the underbelly of a furrow.

Instead of finding the ticket counter, he found scallions - with a potato slicer.

They fell upon him. His mottled skin was peeled from his body as fast as a pitchfork tine could flip a new potato. They went for the eyes, and slit them into a wet pile. As they slashed, the stench of raw potato was in the air.

Into a gunny sack the raw potato chunks went, and Spuds - just like that - was parted from the good earth forever.

- Chris Perridas

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Ghosts of Phillipses Past

I'm back from a few days of rest. It was a very quiet Christmas, just what Chrispy needed.

I also took a little time to do HPL research, and as usual uncovered some unbelievable items. I've been stunned so much, that I'm getting almost shock proof. Almost.

I uncovered a stirring memorial to Robie* Phillips that just about made me weep. I can't go into all the details right now, but suffice it to say it was a detailed eyewitness report of Robie's decline between Thanksgiving 1896 and January 1897.

It is hard for me to believe that hundreds of Lovecraft researchers missed these items, but they obviously were much more focused on Lovecraft and not his family. Those few who did care about the Phillips family, just didn't have the time and resources of instant information at one's fingertips as I have. As I stated before, I can do in one night on Google's archives what someone in the 1970's would take two weeks of vacation to do.

Google's search algorithms do not work well on the newspaper archives, unfortunately. I have to use the current reference dates made available by generous sources, and then slog through a mound of newspapers for those dates and several others on either side.

However, the theme of today's blog is "ghosts". About 8 years ago I stumbled over the name of H P Lovecraft. Who was he? Like many fans, I became obsessed with the details of his stories and life. Then something very bizarre began to happen.

Lovecraft took over my life.

At first it was a lark. People began to read. That was pretty exciting, and went well with my horror writing at the time. (I still think I turned out some very good stories and held my own with Stoker and other nominees). Then, it turned dark.

This year Lovecraft was not an obsession, I was possessed. The Phillips family, one after another, crawled inside my head and began to tell their life stories to me.

First the patriarch, Whipple Phillips laid out his business career to me in intimate and bloody detail.

Annie and Edward Gamwell were next, telling me about their beautiful wedding at 454 Angell Street, and how Gamwell slowly built up his publishing career from an obscure Brown University periodical to a Cambridge newspaper, and then collapsed into alcoholism.

Theodore Phillips senior and junior both chimed in to tell me about their life, though TWP II remains elusive and coy about how, when, and where he died. Through a kind genealogist of the Manton-Mitchell family, we compared notes and learned more about 612 Angell Street than any people have a right to know. Wow.

Lovecraft told me about his boyhood friends, their lives, their tragedies, and his own meteoric rise in astronomy - despite major illnesses - and then his collapse when he realized it would never come true. Then he had to tell me all about the Pykes and Metcalfs near 598 Angell. And how the city nearly wrecked Angell Street by widening of it. He has been quite yakkity about that kind of stuff.

And on it went even to this weekend with the intimate details of Robie Phillips death, and their subsequent trip to Moosup Valley and meeting Mrs Nancy Wood at Job D Place's home (who had just received a Tillinghast as a visitor).

Like a bizarre Dickensian drama, I have been commandeered by the ghosts of the Phillips clan, and honestly they and me have to have a sit down. I have quite a bit more of my life yet to live, and they need to chill out for a while. I can barely digest it all, much less tell you dear readers about all of it.

2011 will be about how I disseminate the massive details that I have uncovered, and blend it into what you kind correspondents have shared with me, as the Phillips and Lovecrafts and others of old Providence shared with you. It is a daunting task.

Edmund Morris just came out with the third - and last? - installment of Theodore Roosevelt's life. I can imagine what his life has been, and the sacrifices his family made for him to be rode on the Rough Rider's saddle.

Chrispy has a veritable mountain of obligations that live people are waiting upon, so sweet Phillipses, please !! you have waited a century and a half or more, can you just relax and let Chrispy work through all of this!

And you, kind blog readers, also be patient as I find the right time and conduits for this information. It is a story of drama and tears and Gilded Age drama, and Lovecraft's youth is that of a gifted boy in the Edwardian era that will cheer your heart as you root for him - despite knowing that it will all work out in the end, albeit very much differently than anyone (even he, HPL) foresaw.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

"chupacabra" comes to my neighborhood

Only a few miles from me, the legend finally comes to ME. After years of talking to Boyd Harris of Cutting Block Press to go on a chupacabra hunt (never any time) the legend shows up in my locale.

Nelson County residents baffled by carcass of unidentifiable animal

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Reflections on 2010

Finally, a chance to take a breath.

Chrispy has been inundated by the day job, and I had to cut back a little on the blog.

This year brought some of the current technology to the Lovecraft realm, but for the most part Lovecraft remains very soundly in the early 21 st century. A few brave souls have plunged into audio and YouTube, but it seems that MySpace and Twitter are going to begin to fade away. Email and Forums will continue to hang on, but the advent of texting, Facebook, and the ubiquitous appearance of mobile combination internet-computer-phone-multimedia devices has yet to make a dent into Lovecraft research. That is the future, however.

The new revelation that is also the biggest kept secret, it seems, is the explosion of free and instantly accessible archives of primary data on Google. Ancestry is still a paid format, but it is primarily a genealogical resource, and Mr. Faig has pretty definitively traced the Phillips family, and the Lovecraft family is pretty delineated as well. Google has tens of thousands of pages of newspapers now online, and millions of pages of 19th and early 20th century civic documents. It has been a treasure-trove of Lovecraftiana. Go forth and read !

What the cutting edge will now be is to use primary documents (newspapers for instance) to relate what Lovecraft was doing with what his friends, colleagues, and neighbors were doing. In essence to place Lovecraft in context with his society. I've spent virtually every day of 2010 doing this very thing, and have been quite excited - and astonished - how much HPL was a creature of his environment. When HPL declared "I am Providence", he really wasn't even close. Providence had moved far away from HPL, but it didn't seem like it to him at the time. He had immersed himself in nostalgia, and he didn't see the aging, rusting, swollen behemoth of industrialism that was becoming more democratically controlled, and crime-ridden. If he had looked, large sections of the 1920's Providence were very much like the New York he hated. Just not on his corner of Angell Street.

I should not have been taken aback by all of this, but so many writers have made Lovecraft so larger than life that he seems a caricature out of time and space. He clearly wasn't. He was a brilliant man intellectually coping with his world the best he could, and the fantasy he left us is a treasure and pleasure.

About 60% of my research time has been on Young Lovecraft (pre-1912) with some progress of dating specific incidents in his life, and creating logical arguments to show that the Phillips family mythology was sometimes true, sometimes false, and sometimes as yet unknown. I have made a great deal of progress.

For instance, when HPL was about 7 or 8, his neighborhood played a powerful influence on him. From thence came all his nostalgic recollections, and enjoyment. Neighbors introduced him to plays, friends came to the house and exposed him to adult conversations, introduced him to writing, printing, science, literature, and many other issues - some dark like racism and irreligion. These are the formative years of every child, so be not surprised that these were the key years for HPL.

About 40% of my research time has been spent on Whipple Van Buren Phillips. Due to primary documents now available, his business career can be more fully established and explained. In context he was not as powerful as a Vanderbilt, Carnegie, or Rockefeller, and even in Providence men such as Aldrich, Manton or Banigan were far wealthier, but WVP cut a wide swath. His genius was two-fold. He understood the power of the velocity of money, and he was able to quickly gauge who would be useful to him as business associates. His judgement was not infallible, and he made serious mistakes, but he always recovered and built a new fortune. He also associated with a conclave of - for lack of a better term - the Foster gang. From powerful Senator Aldrich to the future RI supreme court justice Clarke Johnson, his best friend, WVP used and manipulated western Rhode Island contacts (as early as 1855) to get inside information on business deals, and used the legislature to secure prominent business ventures. Every few years he and his colleagues placed into the acts of the legislature many new businesses, a process not available to just any Providence man.

For instance, we now know that after a bankruptcy, WVP associated with an old Foster RI fellow and began to peddle sewing machines. Through that activity, he uncovered and seized rights to a special machine that became as hot as pet rocks, and in that burst of glory became fantabulously rich again. This was on the eve of his triumphant building of his home on Angell Street. We also know that early on, he was involved in intra-state business trasactions. New York, West Virginia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Idaho were all places of interest. WVP was quick to litigate, and his lawsuits are legion in law literature. It was a trait of all the Phillips family, most likely extending from their proto-Republican and Federal-Period belief systems. And so much more to discuss!

Next year may see the death of blogging on the internet, so I'd like to make it more personal and worthwhile. In the close to 3000 posts I have done, no facet of Lovecraft has been left out. It is an archive that is useful for me, and available to anyone who reads this to learn more about HPL and his legacy. My greatest challenge is to write all this information up into a well argued set of historical treatises. I'm no longer a young person, and it is a lot of hard work. I already feel I'm faltering. Wish me luck.

This will be an intensive and time consuming process, and as that activity grows, the blog will have to fade into the background. I considered reposting old posts, but the only thing that gives is a continual feed to services who pick up and distribute. The blog isn't a visual media, and that is the future, and one I'm not capable of committing time and work to. Not when I can create books that will one day be available in electronic format.

I won't say that 2011 is the last year of the blog, that's up to the fast moving change of technology, but as I finalize commitments I have given to the blog, it will have to change somewhat in frequency.

Don't fear, though, I still have months and months of things I have to put up on the blog, so stay tuned for January !

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Thaumaturgists Predict Doom of Providence! (1905)

(What would Lovecraft Say?)

He must have been appoplectic over the predictive catastrophe. Unlikely he went to see the Fays at the Providence Opera House! Heh. One imagines him wanting to dash off a letter to the Providence Journal on this one. A decade later he would have. At the time he was way too involved in astronomy to perhaps diverge on this issue. It was probably school holiday, otherwise it would have been the talk of the Hope Street High School.

Providence, RI Jewelry Factory Explosion, Dec 1905
All Providence Scared Over Prediction of Christmas Disaster.

Special to The New York Times.

PROVIDENCE, R. I., Dec. 22.---A slight explosion in a jewelry factory, within a short block of the shopping district caused by a panic to-day among the several hundred employes[sic] in the building, two men being painfully injured and a dozen women fainting before any attempt was made to ascertain the nature of the trouble.

The explosion occurred in the Enterprise Building at 7 Eddy Street and was caused by the clogging of a waste pipe in the factory of the Cutler Comb Company. Fire started immediately after the explosion and two or three moments later the street below was filled with fire apparatus.

Seven of the girls in the jewelry concern of Hamilton & Hamilton, Jr., on the fifth floor fainted and others followed suit in other parts of the building. Dozens of the girls ran out on to the fire escapes and stood there screaming. Policemen spreading through the building drove them back and got all safely to the street. Two men were slightly hurt.

The fire was extinguished without trouble, the damage amounting to not more than $1,000.

It is believed that had it not been for the nervous tension existing throughout the city over the prediction that a boiler explosion would occur about Christmas time in a large store of this city the affair of this morning would hardly have been noticed by the employes[sic] in the building.

According to the stories in circulation the prophecy was made six weeks ago by "The Fays," who gave a three-nights' entertainment in the Providence Opera House, and who call themselves "thaumaturgists."

They claim to have foretold the Chicago theatre fire and other great calamities, and stories concerning the prediction have been circulated so peristently[sic] that the owners of the big stores, while realizing the absurdity of the prediction, have taken every precaution to guard against accident for the purpose of allaying the superstitious fears of the shoppers.

In every one of the big stores, it is said, there has been a careful inspection of the boilers, and last night one of the largest stores advertised in a local paper that the fires under the boilers in that store had been drawn, and that the elevators were being run with electricity.

The New York Times, New York, NY 23 Dec 1905

Friday, December 17, 2010

Winter Scene of Providence

This scene would have been when Lovecraft was about 10 years old give or take a few years.

By accounts, Lovecraft was not sensitive to the cold in his youth. Only later in life did he seem to develop a traumatic form of cold sensitivity.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Doomsday Comes to Providence (1907)

Here are vintage images from a Keith's Theater program. Note especially that (not pictured) that part of the bill was "Doomsday", "a scenic and electrical spectacle of the end of the world in 2005".

Shades of Nyarlathotep!

No evidence whatsoever young Lovecraft saw this.


Seller's Notes:

This is a vaudeville program from Keith's theatre in Providence, Rhode Island for the week of December 16, 1907. The proprietor was Edward F. Albee, the adoptive grandfather of Edward Albee the playwright. The bill included a ''clay modeler'', ''flying ring gymnists'', singers, ''Hebrew comedians: Hawthorne and Burt, jesters, singers and a one act comedy by Mr. and Mrs. Sydney Drew. Most intriguing was Doomsday, ''a scenic and electrical spectacle of the end of the world in 2005''! The 16 page program is filled with interesting local ads from Providence and surrounding towns. Included is a riding school, a wig maker and ''Painless Davis'', a dentist in Providence. The 5 1/2 by 9 1/2 inch program has a light stain at the top and unevenly trimmed pages. It's clean except for where the former owner wrote ''fair'', ''excellent'' or other editorial comments by the acts.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A new take on Nyarlathotep

Michael Immerso's book, Coney Island: The People's Playground speaks much of amusement diversions in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. (p.100 ff.)

Immerso paints a scenario where the preeminent amusement park of the day, Coney Island, had already by the late 1890's had mechanical devices that dazzled the imagination. Fred Thompsn's "A Trip to the Moon" invented the illusion ride that he had made prototypes of as early as the 1898 Omaha Exposition. Another of his illusion placed the audience members in a glass covered coffin and first buried them, passed them through an animated skeleton assemblage, and finally to a graveyard with winged beings.

By 1906, an illusion called "Pharoah's Daughter" had a statue that came to life to instruct the daughter of pharaoh of many horrific things.

William Ellis was another master. He produced illusion shows and rides named "Hereafter", "End of the World", "Orient", and "Hellgate".

Each and everyone of these were precisely the things that young Lovecraft fixated upon – demonic and gaunt animatrons, Ali Baba and Arabian Nights images, myths from Greece, Babylon, and Egypt. Other shows included the Johnstown Flood, the Italian earthquake, and trips to the North Pole.

We do not have to presume that Lovecraft saw any of these, but they made the newspapers. They also scaled down to road shows. We know this from an item sold on Ebay that featured an act: Doomsday: a scenic and electrical spectacle of the end of the world in 2005. This appeared in 1907 at the Providence Opera House.

From that program, we have the following details preserved*:

… a vaudeville program from Keith's theatre in Providence, Rhode Island for the week of December 16, 1907. The bill included a ''clay modeler'', ''flying ring gymnists'', singers, ''Hebrew comedians: Hawthorne and Burt, jesters, singers and a one act comedy by Mr. and Mrs. Sydney Drew. Most intriguing was Doomsday, ''a scenic and electrical spectacle of the end of the world in 2005'.

We can then read Nyarlathotep's poem, story, and even the parody of Providence in 2000 through these lenses. Lovecraft's dreams might truly have been influenced by reading of these spectacles, seeing the printed images of them, listening to people who had visited Coney island, or even seeing the 1907 Providence production of one of these shows – maybe this one specifically.

* As seen on an Ebay auction sale.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

WV Phillips, Gilded Age Tycoon

There seems to be a rumor that W V Phillips was growing impoverished in the 1890's. In fact, he was agressively looking for deals. My best guess is that WVP believed in the velocity of money. Money in a bank was for common people - he should have known, as he was a banker off and on from the 1850's.

I do not recall that I released this bit of detail before, in the blog, but here we have WVP buying into a very technological innovation. This was cutting edge stuff, almost science fiction. Rapid mail movement was the future, and WVP was not one to rest - he wanted to build and create. In the process, he was very Gilded Age, it was about getting money and making it work. I'm sure he also believed that progress was the future.

In 1891, WVP was a vigorpus 58 years old, and still had a large cash reserve from building the popular fringing device. He had just been in the Bruneau River valley on 10 October 1891 to insure the rebuilding of the dam was under way (Charles Wing had announced this on 11 July 1891). I'm pretty sure AJ Wiley was already employed to do the work out west.

Yet, WVP did not stand still. Read the article below. I have no clue how he met these people, but I suspect that at this time there was a bit of a Foster RI gang that was totally plugged into the burgeoning Washington scene, most likely through Sen. Aldrich. That is sheer speculation though. Other researchers will have to determine the veracity of this. WVP was a former postmaster, and it seems very likely that he was let in on this "information" as a sure investment.

There was a competing US Portelectric Co, and later I believe they merged together. There is no way to ascertain if WVP profited on this technology, though.

I tracked only two of the figures involved. WVP was not constrained to work within the New England worldview. This deal was made in West Virginia, and I know he had dealings with a Minnesota bank, as well as his Idaho work for gold and irrigation. Often, Edwin was used as a front for some dealings, and a wicked court case where Edwin gave some damaging testimony may have contributed to them parting company for a significant period. That is the other thing rarely known about WVP. He was litigious - as were all the Phillips clan. I have found court cases stretching years, some of them the foundation for modern case law. When he thought he was right, he had no fear going to court. Neither did other Phillips clan members.

OK, enough for now. Read the article below, and marvel at Phillips' tenacity in business.

Thomas Lemuel James was born in Utica, NY, 29 March 1831. He joined the Republican party at its inception, and under Fremont's campaign, was editor of the Madison County Journal. When Lincoln was inaugurated (1861) he was appointed inspector of customs, later became postmaster of New York City (1877). Garfield appointed him Postmaster General in March 1881, and he retired January 1882 to become president of Lincoln National Bank in New York City.

Col. Henry Huss, a Civil War hero (d. 1906) was from New York.

Monday, December 13, 2010

HPL in Pawtuxet Valley Gleaner

Google has just put up a series of Pawtuxet Valley Gleaners, many with HPL articles.

Be a Lovecraft researcher! Read the original articles - in context.

One link is placed above, attached to the title of this blog. Below is an image from one of the newspapers:

Note that it begins, "Written for the Gleaner ...". What will YOU discover?

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Aeronaut Plunges to earth at Providence

Images of an aeronaut plunging. The year, I believe, was in the 1890's.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

James W Phillips died

He was 70 and he died at the home of his carpenter son Walter.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Arsenic containing DNA

NASA Discovers New Life: Arsenic-based DNA

Chrispy has held off a few days to see if anything new would occur on this issue. Lovecraft speculated in his fantasy that advanced life forms frequently visited the past Earth, and even the current Earth. These entities were mysterious, and encounters with them often caused the ill-prepared to go mad, or die.

Late in life, HPL believed that men were mere vermin on a dust speck. Insignificant. His religious beliefs were essentially atheistic, and that upon death, the life energy disspated into nothingness. If pushed, he might have believed that atoms merely recycled themselves into other organisms.

A century has passed, and we are on the threshhold of discovering that there are millions (or more) worlds with the potential for various forms of life. The anthropological dilemna is about to be solved - are we alone, and if not, are they us?

Extremophiles have been popping up from undersea volcanic vents to hidden Antarctic lakes. Now, DNA is shown to have arsenic substituted for phosphorus. It would not be a hard stretch to see flourine substituted for oxygen. (Sulfur is the next element below oxygen, but Fluorine is a more mobile electronegative ion than a sulfate ion).

In some cases maybe silicon will be found to be substituted for carbon - if not in DNA, then in other molecular structures. Diatoms have a silicate exoskeleton, for instance.

One day we may meet one of "them", and the Lovecraftian nightmare may happen.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Things to Come

16 December and 22 December posts - Lovecraft's Providence is "Destroyed".

A Winter Scene of Providence.

And, soon, I am going to try to get up a number of "Phillips family" obituaries and newspaper notices. If you have a scrapbook, you will want these. They are devilishly hard to get, and I even knew what I was looking for.

If I get time over the holidays, I will type up some information about more of Lovecraft's neighbors. I even astonished myself at the hub-bub centered around 598-600 Angell Street, and even more so the startling revelations of 612 Angell Street (circa. 1880-1920).
In trade for all of this, I would love to know if anyone has discovered the death date of Theodore W. Phillips II. I know it is at least after June 1916, and believe it to be in late 1916.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Voltaire Molesworth book: Australian Lovecraft Connection

From the blog post:


Vol(taire Molesworth) was one of Australia's pulp writers, producing sf numerous novels in the 1940's. He also wrote Lovecraftian stories.

... With the assistance of Leigh Blackmore and James Doig, Graeme Phillips has produced a highly attractive Vol Molesworth Special Issue of his zine Cyaegha.

The issue includes Molesworth's tales "Let There Be Monsters!", "Arkaroo", and "Blinded They Fly" ... Molesworth's article on Lovecraft, "A Modern Master of the Macabre", written for a 1949 issue of Arna, the literary journal of Sydney University, is included ... There is a cover portrait of Molesworth by Tom Hubble ...

A figure little-known outside of Australian wartime sf, Molesworth deserves his place in history for these ventures into Lovecraftian horror. The 64-page staple-bound booklet will certainly appeal to Lovecraftian collectors.

Available by emailing Graeme Phillips at:

See also cyaegha's webpage at:

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Lovecraft Hated Horrible Smells

I found this little - ugh - gem on Sunday afternoon on the 23 November 2010 but could not bring myself to post it before Thanksgiving.

Imagine you are Howard Lovecraft. You are sensitive to all kinds of strong smells. In fact they make you ill. Especially anything that reaks of fishiness - a type of degenerative amine smell.

Now, do you have that firmly in your mind, Horror Lover?

Now, imagine you are attending Hope Street High School, a community school with all sorts of boys, from all sorts of backgrounds. And read this complaint by the Principal of Hope Street in 1912. While it is from several years after HPL attended, the conditions were explicit, and the conditions had lingered from the earliest days of the school.

Read on ...

As principal of the Hope Street High School I beg leave to present the following report for the year ending June, 1912:

...I wish to call attention to the condition of the boys' toilet room. At the time that the school was built the style of urinals installed was antiquated. At the Classical High School, which was erected a year before the Hope Street School, the urinal system is modern and hygienic. Even in the English High School, which was built many decades ago, the system is at least sanitary. At the Hope Street School the urinals are offensive, both in odor and appearance, and a positive menace to health. The toilet room is situated opposite the lunch room, and the caterer has spoken frequently of the noisome odors that permeate the basement. Teachers notice the odors as they pass the staircase on the floor above. Even pupils complain. The principal has done his best for several years to get these conditions abated. The means he has employed have been those of applying to all committees with any kind of jurisdiction over the high schools, including the Committee on Hygiene and the City Property Committee of the City Council. I make one more plea to have these offensive conditions removed at once and a modern and sanitary system installed, preferably one with standing slate and constant flow.

Charles E. Dennis, Jr.,

Welcome to the underside of Young Howard's world.

I can only envision that the urinal was of a trough method that gravity drained to a central area, and that there was no stain-resistant or non-porous barrier. Therefore, probably only highly permeable wood and mortar formed the back-splash? Otherwise, the conditions must have been intense.

Again, imagine you are Howard Lovecraft in that environment.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


I took the advice of Madame Scorpion from the other day, and I am slowing down here on the blog. It is busy season at the day job, I am researching for at least two non-fiction books, and I have a mountain of reading, correspondence, and obligations. I also have articles I am trying to write up. I've even stepped away from Dark Recesses - but don't stop supporting Bailey over there!

There is plenty of startling new things I could post on the blog, but some of it I am trying to judge whether to publish on the blog, or publish in other formats. Thanks to Mr. Faig and others for releasing some of it through the EOD or other avenues.

For those of you who actually read and enjoy my horror fiction, I have an archive of dozens of stories, and I have numerous unfinished stories. One of these days I'll restart a serial for you. From time to time, since a blog is supposed to be a "personal web log", I'll ask Mr. Lovecraft to step aside and put up a poem or two of mine.

I also have promised a Chester Munroe week, as much new information has appeared recently on his life.

I could almost do a Manton Campbell Mitchell month, I have recently discovered so much material, and a possible and exciting new connection of MCM and his family to Lovecraft.

I suppose from your perspective this is a bit of a tease, but it is intended as an explanation. I think a few people were addicted to a daily post on Lovecraft. I'm nto saying I won't get back to that next year, either. Yet, I only have so much time.

There are right now a few dozen Lovecraft blogs on blogger, facebook, and other places. Will Hart has done a service to the community by continuing to post old records, and new artistic works of his own. Please support him, and the rest of the Lovecraft community.

As the world has changed in a brief 3 years - the death of MySpace, the coming of Twitter and Facebook, the collapse of horror as a genre - so too this blog needs to change.

Chrispy has done thousands of posts, all accessible and searchable, on every aspect of Lovecraft and his Legacy. Go forth and read it!

I am turning more and more to historical research, which is very time consuming, and which it seems few others are doing these days. (Kudos to Dave G, Vance, and others.) I have a little time, the inclination, and if you permit the immodesty, the ability to do this and explain it.

We are in a period of western history that media insists upon controversy to survive. There is plenty in the Lovecraft world to be controversial about should I wish to have "ratings", and it is tempting to indulge, but esentially that's not where I am right now. I do notice that major Lovecraft authors have started to do this in their afterwards and forwards. Be careful those who throw stones in glass houses.

It is a shame that major biographies have about 150 pages or less on Lovecraft's first 20 years, and the reason is so little was previously known. Lovecraft did not spring up, as Athena from Zeus' brow, a weird tale writer. No more that Teddy Roosevelt was born a bull moose. Those first 20 years are tantalizing, and the hidden years are not so hidden as one first suspects. The digital age of information is rapidly falling upon us, and much good stuff is appearing.

Don't try to get rich on this digital wave. Do what you enjoy, and the money will come - someday.

It is annoying for a dedicated and obsessed fan of Lovecraft to have to spend literally thousands (like Chrispy has) of dollars to learn about HPL in depth. Not everyone can. I am fortunate and blessed, that I can. Some people in this world make dimes a day, and thus this avenue is closed to them. I hope the blog helps those who can't afford, or have some limited ability to access rare items on Lovecraft.

It's all very exciting, and our understanding of Lovecraft and his family is about to be upgraded. Hmm. Lovecraft 2.0?

Stay tuned, as this year closes, another dawns.

Thanks to all the readers of the blog! You make this a daily pleasure for Chrispy.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Lovecraft and High School

As loyal readers of the HPLblog know, Chrispy does research without a net. Sometimes errors are made as theses are created, but so much more the excitement.

A long running thesis is that Lovecraft was so sickly he could not attend school. Chrispy, for right or wrong, has denied this. Yes, young Howard got sick, sometimes very sick, but in the fin de siecle days and those years before antibiotics this happened in all families.

One persevered.

Another long standing theory is that Susan coddled HPL. Maybe shed did a little, as he was "spoiled", but for every indulgence she gave, grandfather was there to temper it. WVP had been orphaned at 14, and built and lost fortunes. His eye was on a grandson who would most likely inherit his mantle (certainly not Edwin).

Lovecraft attended school precisely twice (before late 1904). It is not a coincidence that these were precisely the years Lovecraft needed to "graduate" from both primary and grammar school.

Previously it was discussed that the Providence school system went from a 1A/B 5 yr old to 9A/B 13 yr old system, to a 1A/B 6 yr old to 8A/B 13 yr old system in 1902, whereby preparing continuity from grammar school to High School. This essentially created a "graded school" all the way from 1 to 12, a very familar system today.

The Providence school system was the premier and model system for virtually all other Eastern and many Midwestern systems. The educators went on the road giving seminars, and New York and Boston ofen followed the lead of Providence. The system believed strongly in co-educational environments and in social ethnic integration (but not necessarily black students, just sometimes).

The system was not at all lenient with truancy, and battled manufacturers who wanted children to work instead of going to school, and bristled when said that they did not educate to train for industry. If Lovecraft was simply dodging school, or Susan fearful of him mingling, then the school system would have went after them. There are many reports of this very issue in the historical record.

There was one major exception. Elites.

While the school system wished all students to associate for th e greater good of society and America, they understood that a classroom education for brilliant and elite pupils was lackluster, and gave great leeway for private education.

Thus enters Whipple - and perhaps for a time, Lillian. Whipple was not only a powerful man in Providence business society, with long established (at least back to the late 1850's) roots in Providence, but also was a recognized and established educator in his own right. His name appears on several state school documents from the 1870's. He was close friends with masons, bankers (brother-in-law Raymond G Place, for instance), Brown professors, legislators, aldermen, and the Foster mafia ran strong in Rhode Island politics - all the way to his best freind, Clarke Johnson being supreme court justice one day.

When Lovecraft said he was the grandson of Whipple Phillips, people raised an eyebrow and understood.

My thesis continues to be that the Providence school system compromised. That Howard Lovcraft could be educated at home as long as he "graduated" from primary and grammar school. Coincidently, the 4 room primary Slater Elementary school expanded to be a grammar school in 1902. This is why its senior administrator (Principal) "Abbie" Hathaway knew HPL so well.

Now, what about High School?

Lovecraft graduated late June 1903 from grammar school and should have immediately attended a high school the second Monday of Septmeber 1903. He was 13 after all. He would have clearly been eligible to be a Freshman.

He didn't.

Why? Too sickly? Me thinks not.

Whipple continued his private education. WVP brought in at least one tutor by the name of A. P. May for Fall 1903. He was a Brown University student studying for the ministry (if memory serves), and Lovecraft immediately recoiled and by January 1904 HPL was probably at war, openly mocking him - or at least he does in his science newsletter circulated to family members.

So what happened?

Sadly, on Monday, 28 March 1904, WVP passed on.

The Lovecrafts moved in June 1904 to 598 Angell Street next door to the Metcalf family (long residents at 600 Angell), and Susan entered Howard into Hope Street High School on the 2nd Monday of September.

There is debate about whether HPL accumulated enough credits for Brown University to accept him. No real way to answer this precisely after all these years, except that had HPL taken the entrance exams and passed algebra, I think he could easily have entered in 1909.

He didn't pass.

The other courses might have caused him to take some remedial work, but the senior staff at Hope Street High School knew him and probably backed him. Lovecraft says "they understood" him. They may have given his a few passes due to his several maladies. There is no hint otherwise.

Winslow Upton was still quite influential at Brown (once senior Dean), and while we can debate whether he backed Howard, we know from all accounts he was a kind and sympathetic man who loved his students, and his students adored him. It's hard to say that Upton groomed Lovecraft, for if he did, he would have been more insistent that he concentrate on math, but there is no doubt he knew Lovecraft - as did the entire staff at Ladd Observatory. I believe him when he says he had the keys.

I certainly believe that HPL got a personal introduction to Percival Lowell on January 1907. Many in Providence read HPL's astronomy newspaper features - a competition not so much with Upton's Providence Journal series, but with other sysndicated astonomy features of the time.

Howard had inherited some of Whipple's charisma, and people seemed to automatically believe "the Little Professor" was inevitable to be an astronomer or meteorologist.

If HPL had taken the August college exams and passed, he would have gotten into Brown, I believe.

He didn't.

He was in shock.

He had no immediate fall back plan, and must have been beyond devastated.

He had worked eevry day from late 1902 to become an astonomer, and at that point no one could help him further.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving !!!

It is only "Thanksgiving" in the U.S., but despite the mountain top experiences, and the valley endurances, we try to be thankful everyday.

In 1911 Lovecraft wrote a poem to his mother, and I'm sure he was thankful for his bowl of "puffed wheat" she left for him.

I'm thankful for many, many things, though I am deeply sorry Thanksgiving Day is only a speedbump between Halloween pumpkins and Christmas buying. We need more time to reflect on the good things of life, though sometimes we have to try very hard to find the silver lining in that grey cloud.

Thanks for reading the HPL blog.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Mitchell Loses Election

When you do research without a tightrope, you can easily make errors. However, I put it out there, and so here it goes.

The man I believe to be Manton Campbell Mitchell's father is John Mitchell. MCM was the boyhood playmate with HPL, Chester and Harold Munroe. I have not yet discovered how they met, but my working hypothesis is through Chester Munroe when HPL first attended Slater Avenue Primary school - though MCM should not have been in that school at that time, as he was nearly 2+ years older than HPL, and at least a year older than Chester.

In any event, Mitchell took Addison Munroe's democratic state legislative seat when Munroe was elected state senator. That was in 1910. In 1912 he narrowly lost, and the election results are presented here in an image from the Providence Evening Tribune, 6 November 1912.

Chrispy believes that HPL at this time was keenly interested in politics, and so it is relavent to his study. I also believe that John Mitchell was living in Theodore W Phillips' old home at 612 Angell Street during this period.

(You will see a fragment where Addison was relected as senator but now is not the time for that information on the blog.)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Lovecraft: circa 23 November 1926

From an auction comes this unique item. Seller's notes below.

Lovecraft, H[oward] P[hillips]. SUGGESTIONS FOR REVISION OF AN UNTITLED MYSTERY STORY, AUTHOR UNKNOWN. AUTOGRAPH MANUSCRIPT (AMs). 2 pages. Handwritten on 2 sheets of 8 7/8 x 11 1/4-inch paper. Undated, but verso of each sheet comprises a 2-page letter to Lovecraft from a Munich publisher dated 23 November 1926 on their letterhead. The bread-and-butter of Lovecraft's employment for most of the 1920s and '30s was fixing up the work of other writers. This ranged from critiquing to editing to extensive revision to collaboration to outright ghosting. Yet not a lot of the work he did for strangers has survived. The present document, therefore, has value for filling in part of that gap, and more unusually, in a genre we think of as foreign to him: the traditional mystery story. It's known that HPL revised all sorts of nonfictional work (history, textbooks, speeches) but this is the first example we have of fiction other than the weird tale receiving his professional attention, with detailed advice here about plotting, characterization, style, etc. What's interesting is what a quick study he was. Given the encyclopedic tendencies we've always seen in nonfictional interests, it shouldn't be surprising perhaps that he could familiarize himself so quickly with a strange genre. It makes one think he could have done the same -- with sufficient motivation -- for any kind of writing. Protean yet obsessive is another one of the paradox pairs that belong to Lovecraft. But the kind of revisionary work shown here also has a more direct bearing on his weird tales, which, after all, form the core of his work. In a 1929 letter to a young admirer (see LWC inventory #108100), he refers to the glibness of all his work up until the last two or three years. "The thing that has helped me shake off this incubus is, without doubt, my critical & revisionary work -- which compels me to analyze …. Bitterly as I hate this work, it has done me good by compelling me to pay more attention to the fundamentals of the writing process…" Light mailing creases, else fine. (#109136)

Price: $4,500.00

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.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Chrispy's Lovecraft Dream

Well I suppose it had to happen.

I woke up Friday night (actually very early Sayurday morning) after a dream. Maybe it's becuase I've been doing a DVD "Medium" TV marathon. Maybe too much of George Noory's Coast to Coast AM and "Workers in the Light". Probably way too much Lovecraft research, as I had just read a couple of September 1906 Providence Tribunes on Google News Archive before I went to bed.

In any event, Lovecraft appeared to me. Or more specifically, I was in Providence circa late 1920's, and he walked with me introducing me to neighbors and friends in a cordianl and convivial manner. It's a bit fuzzy after a few days, but I think we went to the Boston Store, by the Providence Opera House, met some business folks on Westminster, and while I don't recall a trolley ride, we sure covered a lot of terrain if we didn't.

He looked just as he always does in photos, and since I dream in color, it was in color. He had a typical Providence accent with a tinge of Western Rhode Island. Thankfully, there was no comment in the dream of my Kentucky accent.

There were no monsters, no weirdness, just a pleasant afternoon with HPL on the streets of Providence.

Egads, I spend way too much time reading about Lovecraft.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Providence Opera House Programs

Recently seen ...

4 antique programs from the Providence Opera House in Providence, Rhode Island.
Note Georgie Primrose's Minstrel show - coyly referred to in a White Christmas' "Minstrel Show", an Irving Berlin song.

That's a joke that was told
By the minstrel men we miss
When Georgie Primrose used to sing
And dance to a song like this:


Week of Jan 18, 1904 - Phoebe Davis as "Anna Moore" in "Way Down East" cover - The Earl of Pawtucket cast and synopsis inside - Includes advertisements for Coca-Cola, Palmer and Madigan Whiskey, Naragansett Lager & Ale and more.

Week of Feb 20, 1905 - Annie Russell in her new play "Jinny, The Carrier" cover - The Wizard of Oz cast and synopsis inside - Includes advertisments for Coca-Cola, Pope Automobiles (State Agt for "Oldsmobile"), Ford Cars, Stevens-Duryea Automobiles, Narraganset Lager & Ale, Beeman's Pepsin Gum, Moet Chandon champagne and more..

Week of Nov. 6, 1905 - George Primrose's Big Minstrels cover - Mlle. Modiste cast and synopsis inside - Includes advertisements for Stevens-Duryea automobiles, Coca-cola, Rigi cigars, Beeman's Pepsin gum Narragansett Lager & Ale and more..

November 1915 - Cousin Lucy and Some Baby cover and inside - Advertisements for Providence Auto Show, Occident, Victrola, Providence Brewing Company Bohemian Beer, Hanley's Brewery Bottling Brew, Narragansett Lager & Ale and more

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Nick Redfern Meets H. P. Lovecraft?

The pervasiveness of Lovecraft – or what is perceived as Lovecraft – is virtually everywhere. Today, Fortean phenomena and Lovecraftian fantasy is so intertwined as to be nearly indistinguishable.

As a case in point, I just finished reading Nick Redfern's Memoirs of a Monster Hunter, 2007, chapter 16 (page 236) we read, "But what was undoubtedly the creepiest … aspect of the night was a startling piece of imagery … a spectral snake-like entity … a monstrous life-form that had been conjured up out of a diabolical, Lovecraftian nightmare. The slithering menace positively oozed uneasiness and dread … and then it was over."

Redfern is a free-lance writer and a specialist in crypto-zoological mysteries and other paranormal phenomena. These would typically fall under the heading of Fortean (after the journalist Charles Forte and his several books on odd phenomena).

Lovecraft knew of Forte, and I believe was introduced to his work by a young Donald Wandrei who was captivated. Lovecraft was unimpressed; felt that it was much ado about nothing, and at worst an affront to scientific thought. He would have been fairly upset to consider anything Fortean impacting his purist and abstract attempt of mood setting horror.

Yet here we are. The images of Lovecraft, the monsters, are extracted from the context and set side by side with his images: Mothman and Night-Gaunts, Loch Ness monsters and shoggoths, or alien greys with froggish-beings.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Wheaton College and Susan Lovecraft

When then Susan Phillips (b. 1857) was about 14, she attended then Wheaton Female Seminary (founded c. 1834) in Norton, Massachusetts. She only spent one year there, and Chrispy does not know why she left, nor read anything about this.

The timing is interesting, and hopefully research will bring new ideas as to why in 1872, Susan left the school.

Here is an article very near the time she attended -i.e. compiled from data from 1875. Note the importance given to French, a specialty and long an avocation of Susan's. Otherwise, here is a portrait of the life she lived there.

(You can expand the images in a new window by clicking)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Manton Campbell Mitchell Update

When Lovecraft was a wee lad, he went to school and met Chester Munroe, his little brother Harold, and Manton Mitchell. Back then, Manton was keen on military things, so no surprise he grew up to be a military hero in WWI.

It turns out that there are several Phillips' tangents.

Col. Joseph P. Manton was MCM's grandfather. His mother met John B Mitchell and married, and while Chrispy can't find there addreses, it's clear that MCM lived in the neighborhood and attended Slater Avenue. In 1905, Col. Manton is listed on South Angell Street, but not the Mitchells. In fact, Chrispy can't find the Mitchells until John B Mitchell ran for and won Addison Munroe's legislative seat when Munroe became State Senator in 1910. Mitchell's address then was at 612 Angell Street.

Does that seem familiar? It is the home of Theodore W Phillips, brother of WV Phillips, and great-uncle to Howard. TWP died in 1904, and his adopted son TWP II soon rented out the big house, and eventually the Mitchells rented it - they didn't buy it because TWP II had it in 1915 when he had a lawsuit with a painter of the house.

Col. Manton held the business, The American Ship Windlass Company until 4 October 1911 when it moved to Philadelphia. Co. Manton died 16 October 1912, but by then Manton Mitchell, his grandson and namesake, was already at West Point. He graduated by 24 July 1909. He graduated 100th in merit, the same class that George S Patton graduated at 49th in merit.


If you check out the link, you will find that Manton entered West Point on 15 June 1905 at age 17 yrs 7 months. That puts his birth month at November 1887.

That's all for now, but stay tuned as we explore Lovecraft's childhood friendships in a future post.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010


Chrispy took a little time off from the blog while time traveling. I hope to tell you some of my discoveries from ancient Lovecraftian days soon.

It gets a little troubling when I am more familiar with Professor's Upton's retirement from Brown University administration, or Edward Gamwell's wedding, or Addison Munroe's battle to get the US Senate seat, than I am with Louisville in 2010.

I am living more in Lovecraft's Providence than I am here and now. The other day I got spitting mad when they decided to widen Angell Street from 90 feet to 100 feet and threaten the foundation of First baptist Church. I wanted to run out and join the protesters. Then I realized that it all happened in 1911 - a hundred years ago! Lovecraft had already fought and lost that battle to City Hall.

I have a lot more posts for the rest of the year coming up and some of them are pretty neat.

In the real world, Lovecraftians are working hard. Will Hart is recording more data for us to enjoy, Joe Pulver is writing books, and I could go on and on. I want to have a Chester Munroe week very soon with information from Vance Pollock.

I am convinced more and more that there is Lovecraft information that we have not yet tapped into. It is either wrapped up in an obscure piece of paper in some one's attic waiting to be sold on Ebay, or in one of the dozens of Providence newspapers now online in Google news archive. Collectors still have a lot of items in their safe hands, but I find that they have so few people to share with, they just keep it and treasure it. Hopefully Facebook will begin to change that and people will start talking and sharing more on Lovecraft.

See you tomorrow !

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Tracking the Elusive Lovecraft: 13-15 December 1897

Mr. Joshi tells us, "The first play he saw was "one of Denman Thompson's minor efforts". [p. 26, HPL:A Life, fn 77 = To Kleiner, 16 November 1916]

OK, but when?

We previosuly saw that he must have attended "Cymbeline" on Saturday, 25 December 1897. Luckily Chrispy was able to see in the Providence Nws of 9 December 1897, the announcemnet that on 13-15 December 1897, "The Sunshine of Paradise Alley" was produced at Providence Opera House under Robert Morrow's managership. "Real life, real people ... at the docks."

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

The Vermont Flood Really Happened !

The whole matter began, so far as I am concerned, with the historic and unprecedented Vermont floods of November 3, 1927. ... Of course many of the stray items mentioned other instances, but on analysis they all seemed to boil down to these three. In each case country folk reported seeing one or more very bizarre and disturbing objects in the surging waters that poured down from the unfrequented hills, and there was a widespread tendency to connect these sights with a primitive, half-forgotten cycle of whispered legend which old people resurrected for the occasion. - The Whisperer in Darkness *

This is a real newspaper "clipping":

(page 4)

Portsmouth, N. H., Saturday, November 5, 1927.

The Flood Horror

The flood horror, which without warning, practically submerged
the northern part of New Hampshire and much of
Vermont and a large part of Maine is. the worst catastrophe
that has ever visited New England in the.memory of our oldest
inhabitant. Portsmouth and Southern New Hampshire is
untouched but the sympathy of the entire people will go to
6ur northern citizens.

The entire country has been shocked and in many respects
The suffering will be even greater than that which followed the
Mississippi horror. It was like a lightning bolt from a clear
sky and it will cost untold suffering and financial loss. It was
unfortunate for the railroads just as they were getting on their
feet to have valuable bridges and road-beds swept away.

There is a deep lesson in these happenings which come
Without warning. The whole world is the object of many
catastrophies of late with the. result in loss of life and great
property losses. Greater preparations for safety must be made
and we must so regulate our lives as to be ever-prepared for
such visitations. Portsmouth extends its sympathy to Its northern brothers
and sisters and will do its part of relief and render all aid and
possible assistance.


The Whisperer in Darkness wasn't written until between February and September 1930. It incubated for nearly three years in Lovecraft's mind.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Margaret Mather Died - and Tracking the Elusive Lovecraft

During Christmas week {1897}, Lovecraft was taken to the Opera House to see his first Shakespearean play, Cymbeline, featuring Margaret Mather as Imogen. (S T Joshi).

On April 8, 1898 the New York Times revealed that Mather had died.

Death of Margaret Mather
Collapsed While Playing in Charleston and Never Regained Consciousness.

"…she was playing "Cymbeline" … and had gotten as far as the cave scene … just after changing to the character of Page, it was noticed that she began to omit her lines and to act in an eccentric manner …". {She played both Imogen, and Page}.

Indeed, theoretically Lovecraft could have only seen Mather between January 1897 and April 1898, as we read, "Margaret Mather's last theatrical venture was an ornate and interesting production of Shakespeare's "Cymbeline" with a judicious reduction of the text and a tasteful scenic dress. This cost a great deal of money, and was first exhibited in New York, at Wallack's Theatre, in January 1897 …"

She was in Boston on 6 December 1897. The image from Providence News of Wednesday, 22 December 1897, page 3, confirms precisely that Lovecraft could only have seen the play Monday through Saturday, with the matiness being on Saturday. Barring other evidence, the Saturday matinee was probably part of Lovecraft's Christmas gift - the Phillips tended to celebrate on Christmas Eve for the family gathering.

The very next week, a different show was produced.

It's unlikely that young Howard was aware of Mather's death, or cared. He was from 25 December 1897 and onward engrossed in reproducing what he saw before his captive audience of family members.

It is good to be able to place a newspaper ad, and historical reality, to his memories of childhood.

One final note, notice that Robert Morrow is clearly stated as the manager. He's the one that gave the free tickets as his own Christmas gift to his neighbors, the Phillips.

Monday, November 01, 2010

What Would Lovecraft Say?

RI to vote on dropping 'Plantations' from its name

The state's official name — The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations — is more than just a mouthful. To many, it evokes stinging reminders of Rhode Island's prime role in the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

Voters next Tuesday will decide whether to change the name by dropping the words "and Providence Plantations." The issue has been debated for years, but lawmakers last year authorized a ballot question for the first time following an impassioned debate over race relations, ancestry and history.

Supporters of the referendum see the ballot question as a chance to erase the state's links to slavery and remove a word they associate with human bondage and suffering. But opponents, including Gov. Don Carcieri, note that the state name actually has nothing to do with slavery and that, in any case, changing it will do nothing to alter history.

The Digital Internet Era and Lovecraft

I suppose Chrispy is on the cutting edge of societal evolution (to steal a Rushism). Chrispy was digital blogging before Lovecraftians knew much about what a weblog was. Times are a changin'.

In the older days, we had people who knew Lovecraft personally.

As that generation passed away, and I suppose Probst was one of the last, the new folks had to use Lovecraft's writings and library resources. In those days librarians were wonderful, they knew things and could say "we have it" or "they have it", and you planned your vacations and holidays around those locations. That generation and era is quickly passing.

These days a library is more likely to sell a collectible item for a $1 than to archive it away for future posterity. Some others are scraping volunteers and money to scan their valuable documents into digital archives. Progress is being made. The Dead Sea scrolls will soon be online after Herschel Shanks forced the issue, and FOIA (freedom of information acts) are unloosing goverment stuff, particularly in ufology, or political arenas.

But are Lovecraftians making use of this?

Not a lot, but Chrispy is seeing some movement. Bright lights are Dave Goudsward, and Will Hart, each in their own manner. Others are beginning to get the "bug". Hooray! Go fer it.

Without a doubt Lovecraft is obsessive. You want to know more, or write like him, or something. For a deqad materialist atheist, he sure does haunt a lot of people.

I suppose I've read five thousand pages of contemporary historical Lovecraft-era records. I post a lot of these on the blog. With google and other sources, I can do in minutes what people did in weeks back in the 1970's. Lovecraft is no longer an intellectual construct, or an abstract. He is flesh and blood living being who was influenced by every day events just like you and me. It just couldn't be seen before, becuase the canvas was too coarse. Not enough pixels. The sieve can now retain so much more.

He rode a balloon. Of course! Why not! There was a time that HPL adored "progress" and if he were alive in 2005, and was 21, he would have wanted to ride the space shuttle. However, at some point that all fizzled. He became antiquarian and lived in the past more than the future. But on one special day he went to the Brockton Fair and pretended to be an aeronaut. Yes, we now be that accurate.

One day, we'll find all kinds of Lovecraft material that will shock us. There won't be one great thing, it will be a hundred thousand little things that will sum up to a shocker.

When Halley's comet came, he rode a trolley to Rehoboth to see it near the Great Meadow. Yes, we can use online tools to determine that, and even use google sattelite imagery and astronomical software to reproduce the conditions. In 25 years, we'll be able to reproduce Lovecraft in 3-D watching Halley's comet, and ride with him on the Taunton-Providence Pike trolley. Maybe we'll even talk to him, and he'll give us an astronomical lecture, and tell us how bad he felt when he lost over 50 pounds with the measles earlier in 1910.

Back in 1904 he made a garden because it was the "in" thing to do. He read dime novels in 1898 because his new friends at Slater did. Then he wrote stories for them, most likely.

He did a hundred other things that make him eccentric to us, and yet they were common everyday events in his era - like cramming two pages on to a post card. Very 1905-ish. We can see it now, in contemporary historical documents.

As I write this, I listened to Jacques Vallee,who if you are a Fortean, ufology buff, or C2C'er you know who this is. He just did a book that was researched by using files on the internet. His collaborator assembled a dozen interested parties in many countries to sort through library files and this coalesced into a very different book that showed the human conditiona and experience produced ufo descriptions eerily similar to today's reports. More and more it may be more of psychological response to some type of physical stresses, not just visitors out there.

Now we come to Lovecraft. You, too, can play the Lovecraft game. Go to your favorite search engine and site, and begin taking those books you have on your library shelf, read them, and search for more depth on them. You will find things.

I know you may not be a scientist or historian, but you can learn. de Camp was a good man, but made errors. You will, too, but phone a friend, and talk to them. Take a night class or correspondence course to learn how to do research, and history, and think scientifically. Then go after that obscure individual who haunts you. I did, and have amassed significant findings.

I've traced the histroical trajectories of dozens of Lovecraft neighbors, friends, and acquaintances. I've followed instituitions to understand what impact they had on Lovecraft and his life.

Folks this does not have to be a spectator sport. I get emails from those who are working hard at uncovering brand new Lovecraft connections that have never seen the light of day before. This is what the internet is about. Collaboration.

Next year there is now no question but I have to start slowing down. Maybe I will slowly go to three times a week, but I have put so many things on the backburner they can't wait any longer. Despite the digital age coming, books are still the lingua franca of Lovecraft. They will be for another 15 years. In addition, the blog format is quickly fading. 21st centruy people want multidimensions, and reading is too slow. Thankfully, Will Hart and Wilum Pugmire (and others) are experimenting with this new media opportunity in their own way. I don't think I'm going to have the energy or time to do this, not do I have their talents. My talent is research, and I am making efforts to finalize this and put feet to the mission to get the thousands of posts here into a more permanent and readable format. Brian Keene does this same thing with his blog - not that I am Mr. Keene - but he shows the way.

2011 will be a great year. It will be the start of the digital era, and we must be ready for it. 4G is here, so what will 10G be like? Surely the PC box on the desk will be gone by 2020. 100,000 TV channels will come - it just won't be "television" any more. It will be something very Star-Trekkian. By then there will most likely be 30 Lovecraft channels alone.

So, stay tuned to the blog as we chronicle this as long as we can - and have readers. Email Chrispy if you have new ideas, or need a little help once in a while, or you just want to tell a little story. I do enjoy getting mail! I try to answer every mail I get, though some weeks it gets a little tough.

Remember, in the scheme of things while to you Lovecraft looks huge - especially if you try to buy all the $100 books coming out - only several thousands of the billions of people alive are even yet aware of what a Lovecraft is - or care.

You are very special!

Thank you for reading the blog.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

... In love-craft, Hallow-eve ...

Happy Halloween, 2010 !!!

William Allingham. *

The Autumn's fairy gold turns pale,
And twilight closes fast and chill.
And dirge-like winds, with lengthening wail,
Moan low, or rise w ith whistle shrill:
In winter's night the year declines,
Yet gaily we that night receive.
For thick with happy stars it shines,
Its IHesper, Hallow-eve !
Fresh-dawning Hallow-eve !
Sweet, new-old Hallow-eve !
For what thou wert, for what thou art.
Thrice welcome, Hallow-eve!

It freezes ; but no frost on earth
The seasons of the soul can blight;
Here bloom at once a Spring of mirth,
A Summertide of joy to-night;
Though days grow short, the fire's a sun
That will not set without our leave ;
Our hearts are flowering, every one,
In the beams of Hallow-eve!
Bright-blazing Hallow-eve !
Warm-glowing Hallow-eve !
Far sweeter flowers than April's dowers
Are these of Hallow-eve !

'Tis fruit-time, too; who can may snatch
Gold apples from the branch or pail;
But Fire and Water closely watch
The treasure, as in fairy tale:
And sure this is a fairy hour
That lets the ghostly world retrieve
A little while its ancient power,
In right of Hallow-eve !
Mysterious Hallow-eve!
Weird-mantled Hallow-evc!
Much joy and pain have cause more vain
Than ours of Hallow-eve!

Heaven's stars were used as lamps, of old,
The mist from future time to clear ;
By earth-stars are our fortunes told,—
The nuts in constellation here :
Glimpse of the patterns, gay or dull,
From which the Fatal Spinsters weave,
Or work our lives, like Berlin wool,—
Is caught at Hallow eve !
Love-sybil Hallow-eve !
Heart-prophet Hallow-eve!
A nut can hold the story told
All through by Hallow-eve !

Now Love in cabbage-stalk can read
Papyrus-wealth of mystic lore ;
Or raise full-grown from garden seed
A human crop like that of yore.
To-night, beforo the wasted fire
A semblance turns the drying sleeve;
The treasured thought, the heart's desire,
Takes place at Hallow-eve!
Yet truly, Hallow-eve,
In love-craft, Hallow-eve,
Thy magic, arms with needless charms
Our witches,—Hallow-eve!

Come, then! let none look sourly grave,
Nor creak, this night, in rusty talk !
Let cares take flight before our stave
As ghosts at crowing of the cock!
How many things that are indeed
Mere ghosts and shadows men believe
The sole true substance!—Men whose creed
Despises Hallow-eve.
Without one Hallow-eve,
Or time like Hallow-eve,
Of loving mirth,—how great a dearth
Is theirs—dear Hallow-eve !

*published in
Howitt's journal of literature and popular progress, Volume 2
By William Howitt, Mary Botham Howitt

Saturday, October 30, 2010

8 October 1885: Providence Cemeteries !

Happy Halloween !

Happy Halloween Eve

Lynn Bonnette
Mena, Arkansas, United States

“Pumpkin Carving Mice”
Miniature ACEO painting
2½” X 3½”

{From the Blog of Lynn Bonnette}: Every year I just have to get one of those little mini pumpkins from the grocery store, and this year was no different. When I brought it home and placed it in my studio, I started to wonder what small creature could possibly carve this little mini pumpkin into a Jack-O-Lantern. Then the answer came to me……………….! I painted this ACEO miniature using acrylic paint and graphite pencil on gesso treated Arches 300lb hot press watercolor paper, and finished it with a thin coat of acrylic varnish. The edges are painted black for a nice finished look.


Friday, October 29, 2010

Happy Halloween !!

A real life "ghost story" from the Providence News. Lovecraft read it? He'd trip !

Almost Halloween

A Victor Herbert hit from 1905 !
HPL was 15 years old. Ah, just a lad was he !
(Remember, all music was once new)

Those la - dy kill - ing- gen - tle - men
Who spend their time in hunting hearts,
I have encountered now and then -
To capture mine they've plied their arts !

I listen to each touching tale
Of passion deep
Of fond hopes lost
But when I answer,
{I} never fail ...
to always keep my fingers crossed.

... and the whole score is at:'LANTERN+GIRL+%22victor+herbert%22&hl=en&ei=aL-nTPHID4WKlwe0r5zADQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CCsQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=THE%20JACK%20O'LANTERN%20GIRL%20%22victor%20herbert%22&f=false

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Measles !!

Previously, the blog discussed that Lovecraft's terrible case of measles began about the 10th of January 1910 or so. We know this because he times it precisely to the appearance of Comet 1910 A. That date is precisely known as between 10 January and 31 January 1910.

Below is an extract from an 11 January 1910 newspaper which downplays the growing pandemic somewhat. However, it was growing spectacualrly, and it seems obvious that Lovecraft was somehow swept into this disease.

We know he was Christmas shpping Christmas Eve, and felt wel enough to send a scathing note about businessmen thinking the planet Venus was the aeronaut Tillinghast showing off (however Tillinghast was a hoaxter).

It may have been incubating in his system by 1 January 1910, and it could easily have erupted the exact day of this article.


11 January 1910
Providence Evening Tribune

Measles Statistics Are Uncertain
Figuring on Dr. Chapin's Estimate Would Show a Possibility of 2500 Cases in This City.

There appears to be nothing more uncertain than measles statistics. Apparently there has been an abnormal increase in the number of cases in the city, but, as Dr. Chapin says, not better tjan one case in 10 is reported. More reports have been coming in within the last week, but this means no real increase numerically of those reported sick.

Another misleading feature is the number of cases officially reported and recorded. According to the City hall records there were 61 cases reported up to the close of December and a total of 86 up to this morning. On the est9imate given by Dr. Chapin this would mean that there may be 860 cases in the city.

Here again there is room for figuring. When a man buys a dozen eggs he buys 12, and he knows what he gets – that is as to number, but he isn't sure always of the age of the product. When Dr. Chapin speaks of a case he doesn't mean it in the sense of one. A case of measles, as considered by Dr. Chapin, may mean a dozen or more sick in the same household. Whenever there is one or more sick in one family in one house, that is one case. Allowing as a conservative estimate three children to a family, and presuming that all are ill because there has been general exposure, the figuring would allow a possibility to-day of 2500 individual cases of measles in the city.

The publicity which has been given the subject, coupled with the information that the doctors were slow with their reports of measles, caused one physician to call up Dr. Chapin this morning and to say he had never reported measles because he did not know that was expected of him; seeing that it was, he turned in 23 reports right off the reel. And this meant perhaps that 76 children were down with the disease.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Loyal Minion of Cthulhu Dies !

Pftagn in R'lyeh, Paul.
Paul, World Cup 'psychic' octopus, dies in Germany
26 October 2010

BERLIN – Paul the octopus, who shot to fame during this year's football World Cup for his flawless record in predicting game results, has died peacefully in his sleep, his German aquarium said Tuesday.

"Management and staff at the Oberhausen Sea Life Centre were devastated to discover that oracle octopus Paul, who achieved global renown during the recent World Cup, had passed away overnight," the aquarium said in a statement.

"He appears to have passed away peacefully during the night, of natural causes," said Sea Life manager Stefan Porwoll.


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