NecronomiCon to celebrate horror writer Lovecraft
FILE - This Feb. 8, 2007 file photo shows the Halsey House mansion in Providence, R.I., which served as the fictional home of Charles Dexter Ward, a young man in a 1927 novella by H.P. Lovecraft, who hailed from a prominent Providence family. Lovecraft, who went mad after trying to learn more about a mysterious ancestor, lived most of his life in Providence where he cultivated a habit of nearly nonstop letter writing and penned the horror tales for which he is remembered. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — If you've enjoyed the works of Stephen King, seen the films "Alien" or "Prometheus," or heard about the fictional Arkham Asylum in Batman, thank H.P. Lovecraft, the early 20th century horror writer whose work has been an inspiration to others for nearly a century.
The mythos Lovecraft created in stories such as "The Call of Cthulhu," ''The Case of Charles Dexter Ward" and "At the Mountains of Madness," has reached its tentacles deep into popular culture, so much that his creations and the works they inspired may be better known than the Providence writer himself.
Lovecraft's fans want to give the writer his due, and this month are holding what they say is the largest celebration ever of his work and influence. It's billed the "NecronomiCon," named after a Lovecraft creation: a book that was so dark and terrible that a person could barely read a few pages before going insane. The Aug. 22-25 convention is being held in Providence, where he lived and died — poor and obscure — at age 46 in 1937.
Howard Phillips Lovecraft was born in 1890. His parents both died in an insane asylum, his father when Lovecraft was just 8 years old, said S.T. Joshi, who has written a biography of Lovecraft and edited several collections of his work. He attended just three years of high school, leaving because of a nervous breakdown, Joshi said.
Besides a brief and unhappy marriage that took him to New York from 1924 to 1926, Lovecraft lived his whole life on Providence's East Side, close to Brown University. He wrote his most significant work after returning to Providence, publishing many of his stories in the magazine Weird Tales. He barely scraped together a living, but developed a wide network with fellow writers through letters, and wrote an estimated 80,000 of them in his lifetime.
Lovecraft said several times he could not live anywhere but Providence, a sentiment reflected in the gravestone his fans put up decades after his death: "I AM PROVIDENCE," a line they took from letters he wrote. The grave in a city cemetery is often visited today by fans, who leave trinkets or notes behind.
He was a fan of Edgar Allan Poe, a master of psychological horror, but Lovecraft tackled different themes.
He combined horror with science fiction and developed what is commonly referred to as cosmicism, the idea that man is inconsequential in the universe, that there are forces that defy human understanding in the cosmos, represented by gods or creatures who are far more powerful than us but also indifferent to us. To them, we are like ants or specks of dust. When we get in their way, we will be destroyed.