85-Year Anniversary of H.P. Lovecraft’s Death

Jason Fallo

Howard Phillips Lovecraft, more commonly known as H.P. Lovecraft, was an American author who specialized in science-fiction and horror literature. He’s well known in the literacy world for his creation of the Cthulhu Mythos, a series of tales revolving around a pantheon of ancient evil gods. 

85 years ago, H.P. Lovecraft died from terminal cancer of the small intestine. Since then, Lovecraft and all his writings have affected the way we look at science fiction and horror, and his name is commonly mentioned when talking about the pioneers of the genres.

Lovecraft was the only child of Winfield Scott Lovecraft and Sarah Susan Lovecraft. Lovecraft’s father was committed to Butler Hospital following a psychotic episode believed to be derived from late-term syphilis, which he died from 5 years later. After the death of his father, Lovecraft and his mother moved in with his maternal aunts and grandparents.

Though he’s celebrated for his writings, Lovecraft is often denounced for his personal views, mainly because he was extremely racist and anti-semetic even by the standards of the time. Every protagonist in his stories was in some way an educated white man, while the antagonists were often cults made up of different racial minorities. Lovecraft has also been known for occasionally being more subtle with his views, like in his novel The Shadow Over Innsmouth where the antagonists were believed to be an allegory for individuals of mixed race. Lovecraft’s racism was also prominent in his letters to his colleagues and in his poetry, and he had very little interest in hiding it.

Most of Lovecraft’s work was published in a magazine called “Weird Tales” but he also wrote a few novels/novellas and some poetry. While his work wasn’t very popular during his life, they went on to inspire several works of fiction from Steven King’s novels to Ridley Scott’s famous film Alien. In fact, Lovecraft’s creations are still being written about and reimagined. One of the most famous examples of this is the novel Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff, which flips the script of Lovecraft’s racism by featuring African American protagonists living during the Civil Rights movement. This proves that in the modern media, the Cthulhu Mythos has outlived Lovecraft and his discriminatory ideologies. It has become a staple of horror and science fiction that any person from any background can enjoy without having to support the white supremacy that was so entwined with the source material.