“The Selected Authorship of H.P. Lovecraft”
The fiction of H.P. Lovecraft appeared in pulp magazines and amateur journals, and he had a substantial readership in his own lifetime, if not a remunerative career. The posthumous establishment of Arkham House by August Derleth and Donald Wandrei set the stage for subsequent 20th century appreciation of Lovecraft’s work, later enriched by the publication of five volumes of Selected Letters (1965-1976), which contributed significantly to appreciation of both author and work. While biographers L. Sprague de Camp and S. T. Joshi, particularly in the latter’s exhaustive I Am Providence, treated Lovecraft’s life in the round, some of his correspondence has proven more interesting to readers than others. Network analysis and visualization suggest that the Lovecraft of Selected Letters differs substantially from the figure treated by many scholars and fans. This likewise holds true for the “Lovecraft Circle,” a construct that is near-ubiquitous in the literature, but which compresses decades of relationships to create an artificial collective. As Lovecraft’s publication in the pulps provided a selective, often heavily edited, version of his authorial self, so have Lovecraft Studies and the wider world of Lovecraft fandom focused on select portions of a larger correspondence, making a Circle of many overlapping circles.