News | March 25, 2024

Autograph manuscript of H. P. Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness Published for First Time

SP Books

A page from the new edition of H. P. Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness

At the Mountains of Madness, written on the back of letters and other paraphenalia by H. P. Lovecraft, has been reproduced for the first time by SP Books

The manuscript also reveals how H.P. Lovecraft was seen among his friends, including their nicknames for him, and includes typed letters from James F. Morton, J. Morris Robinson and Maurice W. Moe.

H. P. Lovecraft had been fascinated by the Antarctic continent since childhood and may have been influenced to write At the Mountains of Madness after reading a short story in Weird Tales in November 1930 called A Million Years After by Katherine Metcalf Roof.  

Lovecraft completed At the Mountains of Madness on May 1, 1931, and typed the manuscript himself. The story was initially rejected by Weird Tales but in the autumn of 1935 his agent Julius Schwartz resubmitted the novel to Astounding Stories and it was finally published in serial form in February, March, and April of the following year.  

The text published in Astounding Stories differs in several aspects from  the original manuscript version. Firstly, Lovecraft wished to correct an error he made in his description of Antarctica, two land masses separated by a frozen sea, a hypothesis that proved false following an aerial exploration of the continent in 1935. Numerous passages are crossed out by him. In addition, the editors of Astounding Stories made modifications of which Lovecraft was unaware, dividing his long paragraphs to make them shorter, altering his punctuation and eliminating his British spelling, evengoing so far as to eliminate around 1,000 words from the end of the  novel.  

On his  death, Lovecraft commissioned R. H. Barlow to be his literary executor. Although Barlow was not mentioned in Lovecraft’s will, he was entrusted with this important task by Lovecraft’s aunt. Barlow donated most of Lovecraft’s manuscripts, archives and correspondence to the John Hay Library at Brown University which houses a remarkable collection of rare books, editions and manuscripts. 

The new SP Books edition features an introduction and foreword by Lovecraft specialists S. T. Joshi and David Camus.