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Essential Solitude:
The Letters of H.P. Lovecraft
and August Derleth

Edited by S.T. Joshi & David E. Schultz


Dust Jacket Text

In [the] first volume, Lovecraft’s relations to one of his most prominent colleagues and disciples, August Derleth (1909–1971), are recounted in the hundreds of letters they exchanged beginning in 1926. The youthful Derleth first wrote to Lovecraft, via Weird Tales magazine, in regard to an obscure work of weird fiction, and their subsequent correspondence deals extensively with the history of weird fiction, the two authors’ ongoing attempts to publish stories in pulp magazines, Derleth’s evolution into a sensitive writer of regional fiction and of detective stories, and debates over such issues as spiritualism, occultism, the literary use of coincidence, points of language and style, and other matters. Especially noteworthy are several letters by Lovecraft that Derleth interpreted as giving him permission to elaborate upon Lovecraft’s pseudomythology, which Derleth named the “Cthulhu Mythos.”

In [the] second volume of the letters of H.P. Lovecraft and August Derleth, the two authors—now noted luminaries in Weird Tales and the world of pulp magazines—continue to write letters on an almost weekly basis. Lovecraft, however, is plagued with self-doubt as a result of the rejection of At the Mountains of Madness by Weird Tales and other professional setbacks. Meanwhile, Derleth is beginning to make a name for himself in the realm of detective fiction with the creation of Solar Pons; he has also begun sensitive mainstream writing that is finding placement in prestigious little magazines of the period. Derleth himself surreptitiously submitted Lovecraft’s “The Shadow over Innsmouth” and “The Dreams in the Witch House” to Weird Tales; the former was rejected, the latter accepted. In all, Lovecraft wrote nearly 400 letters to Derleth, but only about 40 of Derleth’s letters to Lovecraft survive.

All the letters are exhaustively annotated by David E. Schultz and S.T. Joshi.

H.P. Lovecraft (1890–1937) has belatedly achieved universal recognition as the twentieth century’s premier author of supernatural fiction. Poet, essayist, philosopher, and man of letters, Lovecraft’s work has been translated into nearly thirty languages and is widely available in numerous prestigious and annotated editions. His letters—regarded by some as his greatest literary achievement—are now being published in unabridged form for the first time.

David E. Schultz is the editor of an extensively annotated edition of Lovecraft’s Commonplace Book (1987) and coeditor (with S.T. Joshi) of An Epicure in the Terrible: A Centennial Anthology of Essays in Honor of H.P. Lovecraft (1991). He has coedited several previous editions of Lovecraft’s letters and is also the coeditor of The Short Fiction of Ambrose Bierce: A Comprehensive Edition (2006).

S.T. Joshi is a leading authority on Lovecraft and the author of an exhaustive biography, H.P. Lovecraft: A Life (1996). He has prepared many annotated editions of Lovecraft’s fiction, poetry, essays, and letters, along with such critical studies as H.P. Lovecraft: The Decline of the West (1990) and A Subtler Magick: The Writings and Philosophy of H.P. Lovecraft (1996).


Volume 1
  • Introduction
  • A Note on This Edition
  • Abbreviations
  • Letters
    • 1926 (26 letters, 32 pages)
    • 1927 (43 letters, 64 pages)
    • 1928 (39 letters, 52 pages)
    • 1929 (40 letters, 66 pages)
    • 1930 (39 letters, 66 pages)
    • 1931 (54 letters, 127 pages)
Volume 2
  • Letters
    • 1932 (56 letters, 100 pages)
    • 1933 (46 letters, 83 pages)
    • 1934 (37 letters, 56 pages)
    • 1935 (24 letters, 47 pages)
    • 1936 (17 letters, 39 pages)
    • 1937 (3 letters, 8 pages)
  • Appendix
    • One for the Black Bag (H.P. Lovecraft)
    • The Weird Tale in English Since 1890 [excerpt] (August Derleth)
    • A Master of the Macabre (August Derleth)
    • H.P. Lovecraft, Outsider (August Derleth)
    • H.P.L.—Two Decades After (August Derleth)
  • Glossary of Frequently Mentioned Names
  • Bibliography
  • Index

Bibliographic Information

Essential Solitude: The Letters of H.P. Lovecraft and August Derleth. Edited by S.T. Joshi & David E. Schultz. New York, NY: Hippocampus Press; 2008; ISBN 978-0-9793806-4-8; Hardcover, 2 volumes, 880 total pages.

Purchasing This Book

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

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