coming eventsComing Events

September 7

PBA Galleries

September 8-10

Brooklyn Book Expo

September 13

Leslie Hindman

September 14

Forum Auctions

September 15-17

San Francisco Map Fair

September 26

Bonhams

September 27

Skinner

September 28

Swann Galleries

Find More Events in the FB&C Calendar

In the News

"Law's Picture Books" Published

Talbot Publishing is pleased to announce the publication of an important new title: “Illustrated... read more

Leslie Hindman Auctioneers to Open Eighth Regional Location in Atlanta 

Leslie Hindman Auctioneers, one of the nation's leading auction houses, will expand its regional... read more

Getty Museum to Exhibit Rare Michelangelo Drawing

LOS ANGELES - The Getty Museum will exhibit a rare drawing by one of... read more

Pre-Fire Chicago Map Sells for $200,000 at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers

J.T. Palmatary's rare birds-eye view of pre-fire Chicago sold just shy of $200,000 in... read more

Princess Diana's French Lesson Book With Extensive Handwriting Among Highlights at RR Auction

BOSTON, MA - Princess Diana's sterling silver card case sold for $20,974 according to... read more

Artbook Opens Expanded Book Space at MoMA PS1

LONG ISLAND CITY, NY - On September 21, Artbook @ MoMA PS1 opens the... read more

Carbon Dating at Oxford University Finds Bakhshali Manuscript Contains Oldest Recorded Origins of the Symbol ‘Zero’

OXFORD, 14 September 2017 - The origin of the symbol zero has long been... read more

Lincoln Consignments Accepted for Dec. 2 Historical Americana Auction at Heritage

DALLAS, Texas (Sept. 12, 2017) - A rare and exceptional Abraham Lincoln: Life-size Portrait... 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