In the News

Library of Congress Junior Fellows Display Collection Treasures

July 27, 2016—The Library of Congress Junior Fellows Summer Interns today presented more than... read more

The FDR Presidential Library to Open "In the Footsteps of John Muir" Exhibit

HYDE PARK, NY -- On Monday, August 1, 2016, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential... read more

Hunting Library of the Counts du Verne at Sotheby's Paris in October

On 5 October 2016, Sotheby’s Paris will have the honour of dispersing a selection... read more

Exceptional Example of Action Comics #1 Could Reach $750K at Heritage Auctions

DALLAS - An unrestored copy of Action Comics #1 - featuring the first appearance... read more

Bernie Wrightson Trove of Original Illustration Art Debuts at Heritage Auctions

DALLAS - A stunning group of original art by illustrator Bernie Wrightson--lead by his... read more

Artists-Signed Folio Leads at Chiswick Auctions

On Wednesday 20th July Chiswick Auctions held a successful sale of Printed Books and... read more

New Book on Upstate New York's Printing History

The engaging, lost story of an influential, 1920s Western New York private press is... read more

Pamplin International Collection of Art and History Releases 2015 Exhibit Catalog

Portland, Ore. (July 2016) - Leading historical preservationist Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr. has... read more

Follow us on TwitterLike us on Facebook
Auction Guide
Advertise with Us
2015 Bookseller Resource Guide
Special Report

Lovecraft’s Providence

Lovecraft’s First Book?

Shadow Over Innsmouth is considered Lovecraft’s first published book. About four hundred were printed, only half of which were bound and circulated. One of several Lovecraft works for sale at L. W. Currey, Inc.

The question of H. P. Lovecraft’s first published book depends both on one’s definition of “published” and “book.” In addition to the two-hundred-copy edition of The Shadow Over Innsmouth, there are some other contenders. Print runs were small, and publication—that is, the action of making work available to the public—non-existent, but these items are of great interest to collectors.

In 1920, a pamphlet containing Lovecraft’s essay “Looking Backward” appeared in a run of forty copies. The essay was also published in an amateur press journal called The Tryout. “The Materialist Today,” a twelve hundred-word essay by Lovecraft, was published in the little magazine Driftwind and also prepared as a pamphlet in a run of fifteen copies for private circulation in 1926.

An unbound set of “The Shunned House” printed by W. Paul Cook at The Recluse Press in 1928 is highly collectible. This one is offered by Bloody Rare Books.

More interesting for lovers of weird fiction is “The Cats of Ulthar.” This tale, which reflects Lovecraft’s interest in the work of Lord Dunsany, was published in 1920 in The Tryout and then printed as a chapbook in 1935 by Lovecraft associate R. H. Barlow, who used the name The Dragon-Fly Press. Forty-two copies were printed and given to Lovecraft as a Christmas gift; Lovecraft then distributed copies to his other friends.

W. Paul Cook founded The Recluse Press in order to preserve the work of some of the best amateur press writers, including Lovecraft. He went as far as to print three hundred copies of Lovecraft’s “The Shunned House” in 1928, but a fire and economic difficulties meant that most copies were not bound. In 1929, Cook bound five, and Barlow bound three in snakeskin and one in morocco for Lovecraft. Barlow also sold a number of the unbound sheets, and the purchasers of these sheets occasionally bound them on their own. After Barlow’s death, August Derleth, co-founder of Arkham House Publishers, gained possession of the sheets that had survived the fire. He sold about fifty sets in an unbound state, and then bound the last hundred sets in 1961 for sale under the Arkham House imprint.

There are a significant number of counterfeit editions of “The Shunned House”—forgers made lithographic reproductions of the sheets and bound them in morocco for sale. Some unbound sheets were signed by Lovecraft, and many include inscriptions. However, real surviving sheets have also been known to feature fraudulent Lovecraft signatures.

Nick Mamatas is the author of the Lovecraftian novels Move Under Ground and, with Brian Keene, The Damned Highway. His Lovecraftian short fiction has appeared in the anthologies and magazines Weird Tales, Lovecraft Unbound, New Cthulhu, Dark Wings II, Shotguns vs Cthulhu, and Innsmouth Free Press. His non-Lovecraftian books include an anthology of regional ghost stories co-edited with Ellen Datlow Haunted Legends and the novel Sensation.
comments powered by Disqus