Howard Phillips Lovecraft was an American author who not only achieved fame after his death, but he successfully carved out his own sub-genre with his highly unusual and influential work, now known as “Lovecraftian Horror.” Some of his most famous works include "The Call of Cthulu," "The Necronomicon," and "The Dunwhich Horror." 

Both Of His Parents Were Committed

Howard had an unusual childhood, to say the least. His father, Winfield Scott Lovecraft, was diagnosed with psychosis and committed to Butler Hospital when he was three and died five years later.

His mother, Sarah Susan Phillips Lovecraft, wasn’t very physically affectionate and oddly enough, made Howard wear his dead father’s clothes around the house before she was eventually committed to the same institution as her husband in 1919. While hospitalized, she remained in contact with her son for two years, but sadly died after surgery complications.

Originally, Lovecraft Wanted To Be An Astronomer, Not A Writer


Young Howard Lovecraft missed quite a bit of school because he was a rather sickly kid. He didn’t let his health stop him from learning independently. He dove into chemistry, astronomy, and gothic literature on his own. He especially loved the work of Edgar Allen Poe, but originally wanted to be an astronomer when he grew up. While nowhere near as severe as his parents, Howard had his own brush with madness. He had a mental breakdown at one point, dropped out of high school, and spent five years isolated but eventually rejoined the world.

Contrary To Popular Belief, H.P. Lovecraft Was Not An Occultist

Despite the heavy occult elements in his work, Lovecraft was not a believer. Lovecraft did confess to having some “pagan inclinations” as a child and he always found the occult fascinating but contrary to popular belief, he was always skeptical, an atheist and a self-described materialist.

He Was Friends And A Co-Collaborator With Harry Houdini

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His skepticism eventually led him to a friendship and a co-collaboration with the grand illusionist and crusader against spiritualism, Harry Houdini. Together Lovecraft and Houdini collaborated on authoring the manuscript "The Cancer of Superstition." This project was cut short by Houdini’s untimely death in 1926 and the manuscript was lost for many years because his wife didn’t want Lovecraft to pursue it.

The long-lost manuscript that only made its way up to 31-pages, was an investigative piece into superstition throughout the ages. It was rediscovered in an old magic shop with various memorabilia and explores everything from necromancy to werewolves and cannibalism. It concludes with the line, “Most of us are heathens in the innermost recesses of our hearts.”

While Lovecraft explored the occult and the fantastical in his writings and Houdini deceived audiences with apparent superhuman abilities, both men were actually campaigning against superstition.

He Wasn’t Reclusive, He Was Just A Night Owl

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Many believe Lovecraft was a recluse for most of his life, however, this is only a half-truth. He did go out, but usually only after sunset. He has referred to himself as being reclusive in nature, but in the traditional sense of the word, it’s not an accurate description. If anything he was insecure and had mild social anxiety. People made him a bit nervous, probably because while his mother was deteriorating mentally, she would call him “grotesque” and “ugly” and hide him indoors when he was a child.

His sleep cycle also played a hand in his withdrawn lifestyle. He stayed up late when the world was still to write and research in peace, so naturally, he’d sleep most of the daylight hours away. Lovecraft did have friends and a wife, he simply wasn’t one to parade the streets or be the life of the party. He was introverted, thoughtful, and picky with whom he spent his time with, not a raving shut-in.

He Wasn’t A Fan Of Sex And Remained A Virgin Until He Was 34 Years Old

Despite what his last name implies, Lovecraft was not so crafty with lovin'. He later revealed that he remained a virgin until his marriage to Sonia Greene in 1924—he was 34 years old. He confessed to nervously devouring as many books on lovemaking techniques that he could find. Even after his grand wedding night performance, it seems he may have remained nervous, or simply didn’t like sex because Sonia later admitted that she would always have to initiate all sexual activity.

She wrote: “The very mention of the word sex seemed to upset him. He did, however, make the statement once that if a man cannot be or is not married at the greatest height of his sex-desire, which in his case, he said, was at age 19, he became somewhat unappreciative of it after he passed 30. I was somewhat shocked but held my peace.”

Lovecraft Absolutely Hated All Seafood

Lovecraft may have had the stomach for horror and science, but there was literally no tolerance for seafood in that man. There have been claims that he was an incredibly picky eater with the palate of a five year old, but his aversion to seafood ran deep. So deep in fact, it may have actually been a fear (perhaps brought on by his night terrors). He described aquatic-like creatures in his work such as, the fish people in The Shadow Over Innsmouth and the octopus-headed overlord of the sea creatures, Cthulhu. Tentacles were a big thing for him.

One account states a friend tried to steam Lovecraft clams for dinner and was thanked with "While you are eating that God-damned stuff, I'll go across the street for a sandwich; please excuse me."

He Suffered Severe Night Terrors Which He Explored In His Prose

Starting at the age of six, HP Lovecraft began suffering night terrors. Far worse than any nightmare, night terrors cause waking nightmares, sleep paralysis, or actual physical movement and screaming while in a sleep state. His dreams have inspired hi work, what he called “nightgaunts” haunted his sleep and later appeared in his stories as black, thin, faceless humanoids that tickle their victims into submission.

Lovecraft once wrote in a letter in 1918: “Do you realize that to many men it makes a vast and profound difference whether or not the things about them are as they appear?... If TRUTH amounts to nothing, then we must regard the phantasms of our slumbers just as seriously as the events of our daily lives…”

HP Lovecraft Is Not Beneath His Headstone

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The famous H.P. Lovecraft headstone vandalized with the words “That is not dead which can eternal lie, and with stranger aeons, even death may die," scrawled across its inscription, is not where the writer is spending eternity. That headstone was funded and installed in 1977 by a bunch of Lovecraft fans. One disturbed and overzealous fan decided to dig up Lovecraft’s corpse and found nothing. Had his corpse reanimated? No.

The real details of Lovecraft’s death are that in 1937 he died of cancer of the small intestine and was listed on his family’s monument and buried in Swan Point Cemetery. Also interesting to note, but comes as no surprise, Lovecraft kept a very detailed diary accounting his symptoms and experiences throughout his entire illness with scientific fascination.

Lovecraft’s Work Has Inspired So Much In Popular Culture

In addition to creating his own sub-genre, known as “Lovecraftian Horror,” Lovecraft has inspired many other genres, musicians, and pop-culture over the years. Arkham, for example, was actually a fictional city H.P. Lovecraft created and is used as a setting for many of his stories. Now Batman battles madmen and criminals, stuffing them away in Arkham Asylum.

Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead Films feature the book of the dead, based on Lovecraft’s Necronomicon–an actual Necronomicon has also been published. Even an episode of South Park featured the great Cthulu showing up to kill Justin Bieber.