November 24th, 2014


H. P. Lovecraft Was A Racist ... Should We Care?

Howard Phillips Lovecraft (August 20, 1890 – March 15, 1937), known as H.P. Lovecraft, was a writer of horror and dark fantasy. His best known works are The Call of Cthulhu, The Dunwich Horror, At the Mountains of Madness, and The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath.

Though never reaching any form of fame during his life, posthumously he became one of the best known genre writers in the western world due to the dedication of his friends, August Derleth and Donald Wandrei, who together formed Arkham House, a publishing company formed at first to preserve the fiction of Lovecraft.

Lovecraft’s work has been the inspiration of many genre writers as well as artists and musicians and a full list would be impossible to compile, but here is a partial list: Stephen King, Ramsey Campbell, Bentley Little, Joe R. Lansdale, Alan Moore, Junji Ito, F. Paul Wilson, Brian Lumley, Caitlín R. Kiernan, William S. Burroughs, and Neil Gaiman. Though Lovecraft and I share worldviews diametrically opposed to each other, I freely acknowledge him as one of the Top 5 inspirations for my own voyage into the writing life.

Recently, Lovecraft has come under attack from the Political Correctness crowd, especially over the annual award given by the World Fantasy Convention which is a bust of Lovecraft called The Howard because the reality is that H. P. Lovecraft was a racist. And that accusation is not up for debate. Lovecraft was also an anti-Semite, a sexist, and his distaste for homosexuals was well known (I refuse to call him a homophobe as he never displayed fear toward them and as a writer words mean something to me). Lovecraft was also a classic neurotic.

I do not support Lovecraft’s worldview. I will repeat that because this is the Internet where people freely ignore what other’s write and make wild assumptions about motives and messages. I do not support Lovecraft’s worldview. In fact, just for troll protection (which trolls will ignore anyway because if they didn’t they would approach something almost close to being human), here it is repeated all by its lonesome in caps which is what only trolls can read:


My personal goal as a writer is that someday 50% of my earnings from writing will come from my literary ventures. And if World Fantasy keeps the Howard, if by some odd twist of fate I might actually someday win the award, I will display my Howard without guilt or shame because as Lovecraft scholar S. T. Joshi wrote in an essay defending the Howard, “The WFA bust acknowledges Lovecraft’s literary status in the field of weird fiction and nothing more.”

Yes, Lovecraft was a mess, but he has been dead nigh on 70 years. He can’t defend himself nor can he change his mind, but he left behind a body of inspiring work that made the field of weird fiction much richer in diversity and the simple, sheer amount of enjoyable literature from the pens of others who write in the shadow of the Old Gentleman From Providence.

And if your distaste or hatred for Lovecraft lessens your appreciation of today’s weird fiction, that is your problem, not mine. All writers of weird fiction write from their dark spot. All readers of weird fiction read from their dark spot. So whether reader or writer, you’re no angel yourself in spite of your protests, so don’t give yourself airs. I have no problem acknowledging Lovecraft’s sins, but I feel no need to damn the dead for their inequities and turn my back on an author pretending he never had any influence over my world.