From his astounding tales of cosmic horror to his massive effect on modern popular culture, few authors of the genre have made such an impact as H. P. Lovecraft. Even so, not much is known about Lovecraft himself, and the writer was an enigma when he was alive and active. It was in the mid-20th century people began to notice his work, and since then his stories have become much more famous all over the world.
An Insidious Influence
From an early age, Lovecraft was often ill, sickly, and weak. Howard Phillips Lovecraft was born on August 20th, 1890, in Providence, Rhode Island to a wealthy household. But a bad economy in the 1930s meant that the family lost most of their money, and when his grandfather died, they had nothing. The young and aspiring writer became severely depressed and spent almost all of his time as a shut-in. Lovecraft continued living with his mother well into adulthood, where madness and darkness were his influences.
Prolific Writing Abound
Lovecraft’s most written genre is cosmic horror. His influence is felt across all manner of storytelling today in music, TV, movies, and video games. Famous directors like Guillermo Del Toro take inspiration from Lovecraft and use his style throughout their own works. H. P. Lovecraft’s career didn’t last, and he only carried on writing for around 11 years until his death at 46. But like the creatures he wrote about in his books, Lovecraft’s work is timeless.
Works of Great Note
There is a lot of work that Lovecraft left, yet he never wrote a single novel. Most of his works consist of 102 short stories, each separate but with common themes. One of the most common is the pursuit of hidden or occult knowledge. Some of Lovecraft’s most standout works are:
- The Call of Cthulhu
- At the Mountains of Madness
- The Dunwich Horror
- The Shadow Out of Time
- The Beast in the Cave
From classic horror to civilization destruction to cosmic weirdness, Lovecraft’s works are extensive. Today, academics and writers alike still study his writing. And some of his stories even come into theological and religious debates, such as alternative history.
The Cthulhu Mythos
Lovecraft is known for many stunning exploratory literary works, but there’s one that pretty much everyone has heard of. The Cthulhu Mythos, first mentioned in the classic Call of Cthulhu, tells the tale of a great leader of the Old Ones. A giant tentacled beast, Cthulhu, once resided and presided over the Earth until his civilization was destroyed, sending him into a deep slumber. In the stories, religious zealots and cults aim to resurrect and call forth “the Old One”.
Expanded Works in Modern Culture
Cthulhu, and many of Lovecraft’s works have influenced modern-day culture in a huge way. Cthulhu’s description alone is present in many sci-fi and horror creations. For example, the Swiss artist H. R. Giger cited Cthulhu and other Lovecraftian beasts as the inspiration for the Alien in the 1979 movie.