4 Things You Didn't Know about H.P. Lovecraft

Bone up on the "cosmic horror maestro" for NecronomiCon Providence.

The Florida Keys have Hemingway Days. Louisiana throws the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival. Hannibal, Missouri, celebrates the Twain on Main Festival. And Rhode Island runs NecronomiCon Providence.

If that last item doesn’t conjure a mental picture, perhaps it’s time you got better acquainted with the late “cosmic horror” maestro, Howard Phillips Lovecraft — the inspiration for the International Conference and Festival of Weird Fiction, Art and Academia taking place August 20 to 23.

Lovecraft has risen to astonishing levels of fame since his death from intestinal cancer in 1937. And NecronomiCon — a supersized version of a similar Providence convention in 2013 — is a potent symbol of how popular his tales of murder, madness and ancient underwater aliens have become. In addition to readings, lectures and more than forty panels discussing the author’s work (examples: “New England Gothic,” “Oh, The Tentacles!”), the convention will feature walking tours of the city, a Providence Art Club exhibition of Lovecraft-inspired work and a costumed Eldritch Ball. necronomicon-providence.com

Here are a few facts to fend off confusion when visitors descend on our capital, talking Cthulhu, the author's infamous tentacled deity.

  1. Lovecraft was “the quintessential starving artist,” according to Leslie S. Klinger, editor of The New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft. But that doesn’t mean he was lazy. The self-described “Old Gentleman of Providence” wrote seventy stories, hundreds of poems and essays and an estimated 80,000 letters — one of which includes a line that appears on his headstone in Providence’s Swan Point Cemetery: “I Am Providence.”
  2. As much as he adored Providence, Lovecraft had mixed feelings about the ocean. “I have hated fish and feared the sea and everything connected with it since I was two years old.”
  3. Stephen King calls him the “twentieth century's greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale.” The director Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, Pacific Rim) has long wanted to turn the novella, At the Mountains of Madness, into a feature film.
  4. The market for Lovecraft merchandise is apparently limitless, ranging from baby books (C is for Cthulhu: The Lovecraft Alphabet Book) to board games (Arkham Horror) to beers (Narragansett Beer’s Lovecraft Honey Ale and Innsmouth Olde Ale). And did we mention “I [heart] Cthulhu” thong underwear?