H.P. Lovecraft and the Horror Pulps

Some of pulp fiction's most enduring legacies are the genres of horror and science fiction. The publication of Weird Tales in 1923 gave birth to our modern fascination with the fantastic. Three years later, an immigrant from Luxembourg named Hugo Gernsback published a pulp dedicated to the weird, futuristic tales he cleverly coined "scientifiction": Amazing Stories began in April 1926.

Despised by the elite, sci-fi and horror pulp stories became incredibly popular. Providence local writer H.P. Lovecraft was one of the leading writers and editors of the horror genre.

The Pulp Uncovered exhibit features actual issues of the pulp magazines in which Lovecraft wrote, some of his original pulp manuscripts, and letters he wrote about his craft.

"I am Providence"

Today, critics consider H.P. Lovecraft the godfather of the modern horror genre. Lovecraft took "scary stories" out of the hands of the elite upper class and terrified the masses. Where spooky ghosts in white sheets once haunted the country homes of wealthy aristocrats, Lovecraft's tales created horrible monsters that lurched in outer space and invaded the city alleys of the lower class.

H.P. Lovecraft lived and worked most of his life in Providence-his home sat on what is today Brown's campus (across from the Hay Library, where the List Art building now stands). During his life, he wrote nearly 100,000 letters to fans and writers. Robert Bloch, future author of Psycho, was among those authors Lovecraft encouraged.

From 1914 until his death in 1937, Lovecraft also helped direct one of the country's leading independent presses, The United Amateur Press Association. Through his press, his pulp writings, and thousands of personal letters to fans and writers, Lovecraft created a cult following-a forerunner of 20th century zines and today's Internet groups.

After Lovecraft died in 1937, at age 46, local fans purchased a tombstone for him in Providence's Swan Point Cemetery. The tombstone reads, "I am Providence." The saying comes from a letter that Lovecraft wrote to James F. Morton in May of 1926. In it Lovecraft quoted Satan from The Life of St. Anthony by St. Athanasius, a Christian text:

"Once a demon exceeding high appeared with pomp, and dared to say, 'I am the power of God and I am Providence, what dost thou wish that I shall give thee?'"

John Nicholas Brown Center  .  357 Benefit Street  .  Providence, RI