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I Am Providence:
The Life and Times of H.P. Lovecraft

By S.T. Joshi


Dust Jacket Text

S.T. Joshi’s award-winning biography H.P. Lovecraft: A Life (1996) provided the most detailed portrait of the life, work, and thought of the dreamer from Providence ever published. But that edition was in fact abridged from Joshi’s original manuscript, and this expanded and updated edition restores the 150,000 words that Joshi omitted and, in addition, updates the texts with new findings.
     Howard Phillips Lovecraft was born to a well-to-do family in Providence, Rhode Island. As a child, he revealed remarkable precocity in his early interests in literature and science. Ill health dogged him in youth, rendering school attendance sporadic; and in 1908 he experienced a nervous breakdown that rendered him a virtual recluse for several years. In 1914 he discovered the world of amateur journalism and began slowly emerging from his hermitry. He wrote tremendous amounts of essays, poetry, and other work; in 1917, under the encouragement of W. Paul Cook and others, he resumed the writing of horror fiction, and his career as a dream-weaver began anew.
     In 1921 Lovecraft met his future wife, Sonia H. Greene, at an amateur journalism convention. It was at this time that he began expanding his horizons, both geographical and intellectual: he traveled widely, from New England to New York to Cleveland; and he absorbed such literary and intellectual influences as Lord Dunsany, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Arthur Machen. In 1924 he and Sonia decided to marry, and Lovecraft moved to New York to pursue his literary fortune. But, as the first volume of this biography concludes, his metropolitan adventure would be bittersweet at best.
     As the second volume of S.T. Joshi’s comprehensive biography of H.P. Lovecraft begins, we find Lovecraft dwelling in misery in a one-room apartment in Brooklyn Heights: his wife, Sonia, has had to move to the Midwest for work, and he must rely on the companionship of the Kalem Club, the informal band of friends in the New York area. In 1926, in part through the intervention of his close friend Frank Belknap Long, Lovecraft finally decided to return to his native Providence, Rhode Island, effectively ending his marriage. That return spurred the greatest spurt of literary creativity he would ever experience: in less than a year, such works as “The Call of Cthulhu,” The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, and “The Colour out of Space” would emerge from his pen, establishing Lovecraft as the leading weird fictionist of his generation.
     In spite of his increasing poverty, antiquarian travel occupied much of Lovecraft’s time, and he gained an impressive knowledge of such oases of antiquity as Charleston, Quebec, St. Augustine, and Richmond. These voyages both renewed his connection with the past and infused his literary work, as such later tales as “The Whisperer in Darkness” and “The Shadow over Innsmouth” drew ever more profoundly upon his far-flung travels.
     Intellectually, Lovecraft evolved as well. Recent developments in science confirmed his materialism and his atheism, and the onset of the Great Depression gradually caused him to reassess his political and economic theory; he emerged as a moderate socialist and advocate of the New Deal. Late in life he became a giant in the world of fantasy fandom—a development that foreshadowed his worldwide fame in the decades following his early death.

S.T. Joshi is the author of The Weird Tale (1990), The Modern Weird Tale (2001), and other critical and biographical studies of supernatural fiction. He has prepared textually corrected and annotated editions of H.P. Lovecraft’s work for Arkham House, Penguin Classics, and other publishers, as well as editions of the work of Ambrose Bierce, Arthur Machen, Lord Dunsany, and other weird writers. With David E. Schultz, he has begun a long-range project to edit Lovecraft’s collected letters, in a projected 25 volumes. Joshi is also the author of God’s Defenders: What They Believe and Why They Are Wrong (2003), The Angry Right (2006), and The Unbelievers (2011), and the editor of Documents of American Prejudice (1999), Atheism: A Reader (2000), In Her Place: A Documentary History of Prejudice against Women (2006), and other volumes. He lives in Seattle with his wife and several cats.

Praise for H.P. Lovecraft: A Life:

“A magnificent book which supersedes every other study of Lovecraft’s life—the definitive biography of Lovecraft, full of insights into his work. I found it compulsively readable and endlessly fascinating. It deserves to be classed with the major literary biographies”—RAMSEY CAMPBELL.

“S.T. Joshi’s impressive new biography can only add to his reputation as the most formidable scholar in the Lovecraft field.”—JACK SULLIVAN.

“Lovecraft has finally found his Boswell: erudite, insightful, comprehensive, and—for a change—sympathetic. It’s probably the first biography that Lovecraft himself would have approved of.”—T. E. D. KLEIN.

“S.T. Joshi’s admirable biographical study of Lovecraft provides the inevitable foundation for all future study of that enigmatic author.”—HAROLD BLOOM.

“Even for a reader relatively familiar with Lovecraft’s work and the gothic legend of his life, H.P. Lovecraft: A Life will contain illuminating surprises.”—JOYCE CAROL OATES.

“The massive H.P. Lovecraft: A Life . . . will surely stand for many years, if not forever, as the definitive biography as well as perhaps the most authoritative interpretation of [Lovecraft’s] work.”—R. D. MULLEN, Science Fiction Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Unmixed English Gentry
  2. A Genuine Pagan (1890–1897)
  3. Black Woods & Unfathomed Caves (1898–1902)
  4. What of Unknown Africa? (1902–1908)
  5. Barbarian and Alien (1908–1914)
  6. A Renewed Will to Live (1914–1917 [I])
  7. Metrical Mechanic (1914–1917 [II])
  8. Dreamers and Visionaries (1917–1919 [I])
  9. Feverish and Incessant Scribbling (1917–1919 [II])
  10. Cynical Materialist (1919–1921 [I])
  11. Dunsanian Studies (1919–1921 [II])
  12. A Stranger in This Century (1919–1921 [III])
  13. The High Tide of My Life (1921–1922)
  14. For My Own Amusement (1923–1924)
  15. Ball and Chain (1924)

  16. Notes

  1. The Assaults of Chaos (1925–1926)
  2. Paradise Regain’d (1926)
  3. Cosmic Outsidedness (1927–1928)
  4. Fanlights and Georgian Steeples (1928–1930)
  5. Non-Supernatural Cosmic Art (1930–1931)
  6. Mental Greed (1931–1933)
  7. In My Own Handwriting (1933–1935)
  8. Caring about the Civilisation (1929–1937)
  9. Close to the Bread-Line (1935–1936)
  10. The End of One’s Life (1936–1937)
  11. Thou Art Not Gone (1937–2010)

  12. Notes

Bibliographic Information

I Am Providence: The Life and Times of H.P. Lovecraft. By S.T. Joshi. New York, NY: Hippocampus Press; hardcover (2010; ISBN 978-0-9824296-7-9), paperback [2013; ISBN 978-1-61498-053-7 (set), 978-1-61498-051-3 and 978-1-61498-052-0 (individual volumes)]; 2 volumes, 1200 total pages.

Purchasing This Book

This book may be purchased in hardcover from Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble, in paperback from Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble, or directly from the publisher, Hippocampus Press.

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