Howard Phillips Lovecraft (HP Lovecraft), the American author, was born on the 20th August 1890 and died on the 15th March 1937. He is primarily known for his fictional work within the horror genre, founding the Cthulhu Mythos, a shared fictional universe, subsequently employed by his protege and many others.
He was born in Providence and spent the majority of his life in New England, and he began his literary adventure in the interwar period, where he published stories about the universe and humanities place within it, focusing on the concept that humanity is relatively unimportant and the cosmos doesn’t care. Lovecraft surrounded himself with a collective group of writers who created stories that shared concepts, designs and other details. This group was known as “The Lovecraft Circle” and he also frequently wrote to such authors and literary figures, amassing some 100,000 letters over his lifetime.
Unfortunately, writing never provided enough of an income for Lovecraft, as he wasn’t particularly well known during his lifetime and so at the time of his death, he was living in poverty. As with many authors, he is now viewed as a significant author of the 20th century and widely celebrated in the supernatural horror fiction world.
1. I have no illusions concerning the precarious status of my tales and do not expect to become a serious competitor of my favorite weird authors.
2. It would not be amiss for the novice to write the last paragraph of his story first, once a synopsis of the plot has been carefully prepared – as it always should be.
3. I am well-nigh resolv’d to write no more tales but merely to dream when I have a mind to, not stopping to do anything so vulgar as to set down the dream for a boarish Publick.
4. The earliest English attempts at rhyming probably included words whose agreement is so slight that it deserves the name of mere ‘assonance’ rather than that of actual rhyme.
5. In writing a weird story, I always try very carefully to achieve the right mood and atmosphere and place the emphasis where it belongs.
6. The appeal of the spectrally macabre is generally narrow because it demands from the reader a certain degree of imagination and a capacity for detachment from everyday life.
7. That metre itself forms an essential part of all true poetry is a principle which not even the assertions of an Aristotle or the pronouncements of a Plato can disestablish.
8. Even when the characters are supposed to be accustomed to the wonder, I try to weave an air of awe and impressiveness corresponding to what the reader should feel. A casual style ruins any serious fantasy.
9. The ‘punch’ of a truly weird tale is simply some violation or transcending of fixed cosmic law – an imaginative escape from palling reality – hence, phenomena rather than persons are the logical ‘heroes.’
10. The reason why time plays a great part in so many of my tales is that this element looms up in my mind as the most profoundly dramatic and grimly terrible thing in the universe.
11. The cat is classic whilst the dog is Gothic – nowhere in the animal world can we discover such really Hellenic perfection of form, with anatomy adapted to function, as in the felidae.
12. No formal course in fiction-writing can equal a close and observant perusal of the stories of Edgar Allan Poe or Ambrose Bierce.
13. To me, there is nothing but puerility in a tale in which the human form – and local human passions and conditions and standards – are depicted as native to other worlds and universes.
14. The end of a story must be stronger rather than weaker than the beginning, since it is the end which contains the denouement or culmination and which will leave the strongest impression upon the reader.
15. The monotony of a long heroic poem may often be pleasantly relieved by judicious interruptions in the perfect succession of rhymes, just as the metre may sometimes be adorned with occasional triplets and Alexandrines.
16. The monotony of a long heroic poem may often be pleasantly relieved by judicious interruptions in the perfect succession of rhymes, just as the metre may sometimes be adorned with occasional triplets and Alexandrines.
17. Atmosphere, not action, is the great desideratum of weird fiction. Indeed, all that a wonder story can ever be is a vivid picture of a certain type of human mood.
18. Cosmic terror appears as an ingredient of the earliest folklore of all races and is crystallised in the most archaic ballads, chronicles, and sacred writings.
19. Heaven knows where I’ll end up – but it’s a safe bet that I’ll never be at the top of anything! Nor do I particularly care to be.
20. Horrors, I believe, should be original – the use of common myths and legends being a weakening influence.
21. I couldn’t live a week without a private library – indeed, I’d part with all my furniture and squat and sleep on the floor before I’d let go of the 1500 or so books I possess.
22. In theory I am an agnostic, but pending the appearance of rational evidence, I must be classed, practically and provisionally, as an atheist.
23. Children, old crones, peasants, and dogs ramble; cats and philosophers stick to their point.
24. If I could create an ideal world, it would be an England with the fire of the Elizabethans, the correct taste of the Georgians, and the refinement and pure ideals of the Victorians.
25. But are not the dreams of poets and the tales of travellers notoriously false?
26. All of my tales are based on the fundamental premise that common human laws and emotions have no validity or significance in the cosmos-at-large.
27. Bunch together a group of people deliberately chosen for strong religious feelings, and you have a practical guarantee of dark morbidities expressed in crime, perversion, and insanity.
28. There be those who say that things and places have souls, and there be those who say they have not; I dare not say, myself, but I will tell of The Street.
29. To the scientist there is the joy in pursuing truth which nearly counteracts the depressing revelations of truth.
30. What a man does for pay is of little significance. What he is, as a sensitive instrument responsive to the world’s beauty, is everything!
31.Blue, green, grey, white, or black; smooth, ruffled, or mountainous; that ocean is not silent.
32. Certain of Poe’s tales possess an almost absolute perfection of artistic form which makes them veritable beacon-lights in the province of the short story.
33. I have concluded that Literature is no proper pursuit for a gentleman and that Writing ought never to be consider’d but as an elegant Accomplishment to be indulg’d in with infrequency and Discrimination.
34. Truth is of no practical value to mankind save as it affects terrestrial phenomena, hence the discoveries of science should be concealed or glossed over wherever they conflict with orthodoxy.
35. My nervous system is a shattered wreck, and I am absolutely bored and listless save when I come upon something which peculiarly interests me.
36. I do not think that any realism is beautiful.
37. One cannot be too careful in the selection of adjectives for descriptions. Words or compounds which describe precisely, and which convey exactly the right suggestions to the mind of the reader, are essential.
38.One superlatively important effect of wide reading is the enlargement of vocabulary which always accompanies it.
39. We should perceive that man’s period of historical existence, a period so short that his physical constitution has not been altered in the slightest degree, is insufficient to allow of any considerable mental change.
40. Life is a hideous thing, and from the background behind what we know of it peer daemoniacal hints of truth which make it sometimes a thousandfold more hideous.
41.Very few minds are strictly normal, and all religious fanatics are marked with abnormalities of various sorts.
42. I fear my enthusiasm flags when real work is demanded of me.
43. Adulthood is hell.
44. I am disillusioned enough to know that no man’s opinion on any subject is worth a damn unless backed up with enough genuine information to make him really know what he’s talking about.
45. But more wonderful than the lore of old men and the lore of books is the secret lore of ocean.
46. Man’s respect for the imponderables varies according to his mental constitution and environment. Through certain modes of thought and training, it can be elevated tremendously, yet there is always a limit.
47. The man or nation of high culture may acknowledge to great lengths the restraints imposed by conventions and honour, but beyond a certain point, primitive will or desire cannot be curbed.
48. One can never produce anything as terrible and impressive as one can awesomely hint about.
49. All rationalism tends to minimalise the value and the importance of life and to decrease the sum total of human happiness.
50. I could not write about ‘ordinary people’ because I am not in the least interested in them.
51. Searchers after horror haunt strange, far places.
52. The cat is such a perfect symbol of beauty and superiority that it seems scarcely possible for any true aesthete and civilised cynic to do other than worship it.
53. It is a mistake to fancy that horror is associated inextricably with darkness, silence, and solitude.
54. I am not very proud of being an human being; in fact, I distinctly dislike the species in many ways. I can readily conceive of beings vastly superior in every respect.
55. Toil without song is like a weary journey without an end.
56. Imagination is a very potent thing, and in the uneducated often usurps the place of genuine experience.
57. I never ask a man what his business is, for it never interests me. What I ask him about are his thoughts and dreams.
58. We shall see that at which dogs howl in the dark, and that at which cats prick up their ears after midnight.
59. The world is indeed comic, but the joke is on mankind.
60. Ocean is more ancient than the mountains, and freighted with the memories and the dreams of Time.