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Lovecraft was quite an interesting historical character. He was raised in an atmosphere of almost total seclusion in a big old house in Providence, Rhode Island. His father died in early middle age in a mental institution, leaving his mother to pamper and coddle the young Howard to an almost-criminal degree. Lovecraft spent his young years playing alone, reading, writing and staying up all night. He was either a really sickly child or a complete hypochondriac.

Lovecraft, for the record, hated astrology. He was an amateur astronomer. He also showed an early interest in chemistry and history. While he was young, he adopted the eighteenth century as his personal historical ideal, even going so far as to adopt archaic modes of writing ( "Aftronomy," "Inveftigat'd," "God Save the King!") He would have done well in school, but he kept having problems with his nerves. Many biographers have posthumously diagnosed him with schizoid tendencies and/or hypoglycemia.

Perhaps due to his ridiculous upbringing, he grew up an insecure, shy, ineffectual man, which he compensated for by adopting a snobbish attitude, at least in his letters. During his middle years (he only lived to be 46) he took up the cause of racial purity and Anglo-Saxon supremacy. Immigration to his beloved Providence home angered him. He probably wrote over 100,000 letters during his lifetime to many correspondents, mostly members of the amateur writers' community in the 1920's and 30's. His celibacy was apparently a close rival to Sir Isaac Newton's, excepting his brief and troublesome marriage to a woman named Sonia Greene. I'm guessing they knocked boots maybe four or five times before they separated, tops.

Neophyte Lovecraft fans are best warned about his languid, adjective-riddled style, the heir apparent of Edgar Allan Poe. Personally, I feel that he had the ability to use chunky, compound-complex sentences in a very effective way, a suitable tool to create mood. His stories are usually VERY short on dialog.

Anyway, he got old, poor, and sick. He recanted a lot of the bigoted, neurotic views of his youth and unfortunately turned a destructive hand to some of his earlier work. His place in literary history is established in spades: He wrote stories designed solely to give readers the creepy-crawly shivers, without pretense to philosophical or sociological themes. "Lovecraftian" has become an adjective all its own.

As a personal note, probably the finest example of Lovecraftian film is "The Ninth Gate" by Roman Polanski. Not that it's a triumph of the silver screen or anything, but they got the mood right. As far as my Lovecraft biographies tell me, almost all the other information on these nodes is mostly correct.