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August 21, 2017 | by  | in Books |
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Birthday of a Crafter of Horror

August 20, undoubtedly the date of many a person’s birthday. But there is one in particular that often goes unnoticed. One of my favourite authors, H.P. Lovecraft’s birthday is overlooked by most. In fact, many people are unaware of who he even is. To my dismay, at mention of his name I am often met with blank faces and a swift change of subject. Those who do recognise his name tend to merely think of him as “that guy who wrote about Cthulhu.” And so, as my gift to his memory, I am taking it upon myself to tell you about the man who changed the horror genre forever.

After much consideration, I have decided to merely list a few facts about H.P. Lovecraft in an attempt to avoid scaring readers away (I understand, I myself have a habit of skipping over the long articles):

  • Howard Phillips Lovecraft was never what you would consider “normal”. From a young age, he suffered from sleep paralysis and was haunted by “night gaunts,” a symptom of hallucinations brought on by the paralysis.
  • He barely attended school until the age of eight due to constant sickness, and even then he was pulled out of school after a year.
  • The adult Lovecraft is described by Wikipedia as “gaunt with dark eyes set in a very pale face (he rarely went out before nightfall).” (I think our campus goths need to up their game.)
  • Throughout his life he also suffered from the deaths of several close family members, including both of his parents (who both died in the same mental institution) and his grandfather, all of which impacted much of his view on life.
  • He is believed to likely have been asexual.
  • His close friend was called Samuel Loveman (which is fitting).
  • Lovecraft was very sensitive to criticism, and often gave up on trying to publish his works after they were rejected once. He never even tried to publish his novella The Case of Charles Dexter Ward because of his fear of rejection.

By this point you may be going “hey, didn’t you mention something about changing the horror genre or something? How exactly?” Yes I did dear reader, and here’s how. Before H.P. Lovecraft, the horror genre was based primarily around vampires, witches, werewolves, and murderers. So what did Lovecraft do? Write about elder gods that shape the nature of the universe and drive people fucking insane. And suddenly, horror could be about anything. You know how Stephen King is one of the most popular horror authors alive? He himself was inspired by Lovecraft. By breaking the boundaries of horror, H.P. Lovecraft opened up a whole world (and beyond) of possibilities. So maybe, if you ever come across one, have a read of one of his many (many, many) short stories. See what he’s about, other than just Cthulhu (don’t get me wrong, Cthulhu is popular for a reason). You never know, you might become a fan. I mean, who can resist the use of such words as phantasmagoria?

Happy birthday Lovecraft. In the genre of horror your legacy lies dreaming.

— A fan from Innsmouth

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