Howard Phillips Lovecraft was born this day in 1890. He died of cancer of the small intestine in 1937. Lovecraft’s greatest claim to fame these days is the creation of what has become known as the Cthulhu Mythos, although he started out writing fantasies in the vein of Lord Dunsany, richly detailed stories with a dreamlike quality.
As great as his contributions to weird fiction were, one could make the argument that his most lasting influence was on those writes who corresponded with him as well as those who came after. Those writers include but aren’t limited to Robert Bloch, Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howard, Stephen King, Henry Kuttner, Brian Lumley, August Derleth, and many others. (I know I’m leaving some out.)
I would argue that Lovecraft is to weird fiction what Tolkien is to fantasy. In both cases, the authors had a tremendous impact on the field, one that continues decades after their deaths. Both have many imitators as well as detractors. It is almost impossible to escape their influence.
I’m a relative latecomer to Lovecraft. I never really got into his work growing up. It’s only been in the last five to ten years that I’ve come to appreciate his work. There are still some majors stories by him that I’ve not read.
I think I’ll read some of them to celebrate his birthday.