October 2011 | Nate Pedersen

The Grimoires of Lovecraft

As Halloween fast approaches, it's time to bundle up beside a fire and read a scary story late into the night. One of my favorite horror authors is H. P. Lovecraft, a writer who holds a special place in the heart of many bibliophiles for the wonderfully evocative (if entirely fictional) grimoires that populate his stories. I can't think of a fake collection I'd rather own than a complete run of the arcane tomes mentioned in Lovecraft's (and related authors') stories.

Lovecraft wrote in a letter once, "As for seriously-written books on dark, occult, and supernatural themes--in all truth they don't amount to much. That is why it's more fun to invent mythical works like the Necronomicon and Book of Eibon."

I couldn't agree more.

Let's take a look at a few fake collection highlights:
The Book of Eibon (aka Liber Ivonis). " ... that strangest and rarest of occult forgotten volumes ... " Said to have been passed down through a series of archaic translations from a prehistoric original written in a lost language.

De Vermis Mysteriis (aka Mysteries of the Worm). The work of Ludwig Prinn, an alchemist and necromancer, who lived to an enormously advanced age before being burned at the stake in Brussels during the 16th century witch trials.

Cultes des Ghoules. A book of black magic written by Francois-Honore Balfour in 1702, published in France and denounced by Church authorities. Very few copies survived the subsequent suppression.

The King in Yellow. A banned and censored play, by an unknown author rumored to have committed suicide after publishing it in 1889. Anyone fortunate enough to obtain a copy, but foolish enough to read the play's infamous Second Act, goes mad or suffers some other terrible fate.

Pnakotic Manuscripts. Ancient manuscripts of occult lore passed down through the ages in the hands of secret cults. Long-protected by a mysterious organization known as the Pnakotic Brotherhood. Rumors exist of an English translation made in the 15h century that was subsequently lost.

And, of course, the Necronomicon itself--the fictional grimoire to end all fictional grimoires. Written in the 8th century by the "Mad Arab" Abdul Alhazred, the Necronomicon contains a history of the Old Ones and spells for summoning them. Its tortured history includes unnatural deaths, attempted suppression, and a variety of rumored translations (including one into English by the magician John Dee).

This representative shelf from my fake book collection would be the envy of occult collectors the world over.

What are some of your favorite fake books?