I spent most of the weekend writing, so my reading was pretty minimal. I did a partial reread of Frank Belknap Long’s memoir, H.P. Lovecraft: Dreamer on the Night Side, and sections from Lovecraft Remembered, an Arkham House book that collected various essays by people who actually knew Lovecraft. All this reading about HPL is part of some research I’m doing for a story idea, but also because I enjoy reading about the writer.
I’ve come to the conclusion that Lovecraft’s reputation for being reclusive and misanthropic was pretty much wrong. He had many friends and he spent a lot of time visiting them. He even had ‘normal’ friends, people who lived in his neighborhood and who knew him just as a person and not the writer of Weird Tales. Over the years, folks who haven’t read about Lovecraft in depth have chosen to focus of the stranger aspects of the man’s life, as if someone who wrote such visions of cosmic horror couldn’t possibly be just a regular guy.
Not to say that he wasn’t strange in some ways, but I think that part of his personality has been blown out of proportion. The thing you see time and again in the memoirs is what a nice guy he was, and how he would go far out of his way to help friends. He was also very funny and even whimsical, and though his one long term relationship went down in flames, (He was briefly married to a woman named Sonia Greene) the reminiscences of several of his female friends show that more than one of them would have liked to have been closer than just friends to HPL.
I’m also reading a book about Lovecraft’s New York years, which is made up of the letters of one of HPL’s friends, George Kirk. Kirk and Lovecraft were part of a circle of friends, mostly writers, and Kirk makes no secret in his letters to his fiancé, that Lovecraft is the most fun member of the gang to hang out with. This is a contemporary report, as opposed to someone saying nice things about the departed.
Anyway, I know there are people who don’t want to let facts get in the way of a good story, and they’re going to cling to their image of H.P. Lovecraft as a strange and lonely man, living in seclusion in shadow-haunted Providence, but to a large degree, these folks are confusing the writer with his writing.