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H.P. Lovecraft’s Favorite Authors

My ideal weird author would be a kind of synthesis of the atmospheric tensity of Poe, the cosmic range & luxuriant invention of Dunsany, the bottom-touching implications of Machen, & the breathlessly convincing unrealism of Algernon Blackwood.

to Clark Ashton Smith, 26 March 1931

I wish there could be a single writer with the sheer genius of Poe, the imaginative scope of Blackwood, and the magical prose of Dunsany!

to August Derleth, 30 April 1932
| Ambrose Bierce | Algernon Blackwood | Robert W. Chambers |
| Walter de la Mare | Lord Dunsany | M.R. James | Arthur Machen |
| Gustav Meyrink | Edgar Allan Poe | M.P. Shiel | Clark Ashton Smith |
Ambrose Bierce (The Ambrose Bierce Appreciation Society)

“Bierce seldom realises the atmospheric possibilities of his themes as vividly as Poe; and much of his work contains a certain touch of naivete, prosaic angularity, or early-American provincialism which contrasts somewhat with the efforts of later horror-masters. Nevertheless the genuineness and artistry of his dark intimations are always unmistakable, so that his greatness is in no danger of eclipse.” (“Supernatural Horror in Literature,” 408)

Algernon Blackwood (Infotainment: Blackwood)

“Aside from Poe, I think Algernon Blackwood touches me most closely—& this in spite of the oceans of unrelieved puerility which he so frequently pours forth. I am dogmatic enough to call The Willows the finest weird story I have ever read, & I find in the Incredible Adventures & John Silence material a serious & sympathetic understanding of the human illusion-weaving process which makes Blackwood rate far higher as a creative artist than many another craftsman of mountainously superior word-mastery & general technical ability...” (to Vincent Starrett, 6 December 1927)

“He actually analyses and reproduces faithfully the details of the persistent human illusion of—and out-reaching toward—a misty world of vari-coloured wonders, transcended natural laws, limitless possibilities, delighted discoveries, and ceaseless adventurous expentancy.... Of all Blackwood’s voluminous output, only a golden minimum represents him at his best—but that is such a marvellous best that we can well forgive him all his slush and prattle. It is my firm opinion that his longish short story The Willows is the greatest weird tale ever written. (with Machen’s The White People as a good second.) Little is said—everything is suggested!” (to Fritz Leiber, 9 November 1936)

“It is safe to say that Blackwood is the greatest living weirdist despite unevenness and a poor prose style.” (to Willis Conover, 10 January 1937)

Robert W. Chambers (Robert W. Chambers - Research Project)

“I think The Yellow Sign is the most fascinating product of Chambers’s pen, & altogether one of the greatest weird tales ever written. The brooding, gathering atmosphere is actually tremendous. The Harbour Master gave me quite a wallop in 1926 when I read it...” (to J. Vernon Shea, 28 January 1933)

Walter de la Mare (The Walter de la Mare Society)

“De la Mare can be exceedingly powerful when he chooses, and I only wish he’d choose oftener. Don’t miss the volume of short stories entitled, The Return—especially Seaton’s Aunt, The Tree, and Out of the Depths. I’m making space for Walter in my article.” (to Frank Belknap Long, 11 June 1926)

Lord Dunsany (Dunsany Net)

“Of Dunsany I like best of all the Dreamer’s Tales. Plays hold me less than stories, & Dunsany’s newer work has less appeal because of the increasing note of visible irony, humour, & sophistication. I hope that Don Rodriguez represents a return to the earlier mood. I saw Dunsany in 1919, when he lectured in Boston. He is the most wholesome & delightful person imaginable.” (to Clark Ashton Smith, 11 January 1923)

“Truly, Dunsany has influenced me more than anyone else except Poe—his rich language, his cosmic point of view, his remote dream-world, & his exquisite sense of the fantastic, all appeal to me more than anything else in modern literature. My first encounter with him—in the autumn of 1919—gave an immense impetus to my writing; perhaps the greatest it has ever had...” (to Clark Ashton Smith, 30 July 1923)

“Dunsany does not deal much in horror, but weaves a strangely potent fantastic beauty which has its roots in primitive myth & folklore. I know of no other writer who so magically opens up the enchanted sunset gates of secret & ethereal worlds. He influenced me overwhelmingly about a decade ago—my White Ship period—& if you liked that, you would like Dunsany himself still better. I’d be inclined to advise you to read his Gods of Pegana, A Dreamer’s Tale, The Sword of Welleran, The Book of Wonder, & Time & the Gods. It is sheer music, colour, ecstasy, & dream.” (to Miss Elizabeth Toldridge, 21 February 1929)

M.R. James (The Ghost Stories of M.R. James)

“M.R. James joins the brisk, the light, & the commonplace to the weird about as well as anyone could do it—but if another tried the same method, the chances would be ten to one against him. The most valuable element in him—as a model—is his way of weaving a horror into the every-day fabric of life & history—having it grow naturally out of the myriad conditions of an ordinary environment...” (to Emil Petaja, 6 March 1935)

Arthur Machen (Friends of Arthur Machen)

“Machen is a Titan—perhaps the greatest living author—and I must read everything of his.” (to Frank Belknap Long, 3 June 1923)

“...there is in Machen an ecstasy of fear that all other living men are too obtuse or timid to capture, and that even Poe failed to envisage in all its starkest abnormality. As you say, he is greater than our Eddie in ability to suggest the unutterable; tho’ I cannot call him so great as an artist generally, since his narration lacks the relentless force and unified impressiveness which make any work of Poe one concentrated delirium. About Machen as an essayist I know absolutely nothing—but I ask no more of him than to have written The Three Imposters.” (to Frank Belknap Long, 8 January 1924)

“In Machen, the subtlest story—The White People—is undoubtedly the greatest, even though it hasn’t the tangible, visible terrors of The Great God Pan or The White Powder.” (to Robert E. Howard, 4 October 1930)

Gustav Meyrink

“Also lapp’d up Gustav Meyrink’s The Golem, lent me by little Bobby Barlow. The most magnificent weird thing I’ve come across in aeons!” (to James F. Morton, 4 April 4 1935)

Edgar Allan Poe (Qrisse’s Edgar Allan Poe Pages)

“When I write stories, Edgar Allan Poe is my model.” (to Rheinhart Kleiner, 20 January 1916)

“But Poe was my God of Fiction.” (to Rheinhart Kleiner, 2 February 1916)

“Since Poe affected me most of all horror-writers, I can never feel that a tale starts out right unless it has something of his manner. I could never plunge into a thing abruptly, as the popular writers do. To my mind it is necessary to establish a setting & avenue of approach before the main show can adequately begin.” (to Clark Ashton Smith, 18 November 1930)

“Poe has probably influenced me more than any other one person. If I have ever been able to approximate his kind of thrill, it is only because he himself paved the way by creating a whole atmosphere & method which lesser men can follow with relative ease.” (to J. Vernon Shea, 19 June 1931)

“Next to Blackwood, Poe stands first in basic seriousness and convincingness—though his themes tend to centre in limited manifestations of the terrestrially gruesome, and in sinister twists of morbid human psychology. In total effect he probably transcends Blackwood, and indeed all rivals; that is, what he does tell is told with a potent art and daemonic force which no one else can even approach.” (to Fritz Leiber, 9 November 1936)

M.P. Shiel (M.P. Shiel ~ The Lord of Language)

“One of my favourites is M.P. Shiel, whose House of Sounds is a marvellous tour de force comparable to its obvious Poesque prototype The Fall of the House of Usher. The first half of Shiel’s novel The Purple Cloud is also a veritably stupendous piece of work.” (to Fritz Leiber, 9 November 1936)

Clark Ashton Smith (The Eldritch Dark)

“Smith is an American Baudelaire—master of ghoulish worlds no other foot ever trod.” (to Rheinhart Kleiner, 14 December 1921)

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