A Lovecraft Library
There are so many Lovecraft texts in and
out of print that it's difficult to determine where to start and what
to prioritize in order to build proper collection. Well, I've
that for you to some extent. The following is the most economical
organization of volumes that will give you the most complete Lovecraft
library. I'm far from finished reading/collecting Lovecraft
volumes, but what I have is listed on this page.
Note that it
is easy to encounter sticker-shock when searching for a particular book
on this list. However, in many cases you can fin a
reasonably-priced volume by searching outside of the obvious
Amazon/eBay marketplaces. Additionally, many of these books are
reprinted as updated editions, of which the more recent editions are
often more correct and complete, so it sometimes pays to wait.
If you want all of Lovecraft's solo fiction in one place, there is
really only one volume to get.
H.P. Lovecraft: The Complete Fiction
(Barnes & Noble Collectible Editions)
I had been wanting this book for some
time, but was reluctant to buy it without thumbing through it
first. I happened to find a copy with the cellophane broken, and
I was able to see the contents. Two things I especially liked
were that the contents were in chronological order of publication (or
maybe composition; I haven't looked into this question yet) and all the
stories were prefaced by a short paragraph by S.T. Joshi (plus a short
biographical piece at the front of the book) giving the dates and
context of each. I bought it and have been working my way through
This collection includes many works that cannot be found in almost any
other collection, and certainly not all of them all in one
volume. These include Lovecraft's earliest stories as well as
hard-to-find pieces like The History
of the Necronomicon and the discarded draft of The Shadow over Innsmouth, as well
as (just as a bonus), the essay Supernatural
Note that you are strongly encouraged only
to buy the 2nd edition of this volume. The original edition is
notorious for typographical errors. There is nothing to say "1st"
or "2nd edition" on or in the book (except the year: 1st = 2008, 2nd
edition = 2011), but apparently they have two
distinct differences: the bookmark of the 1st edition is yellow; the
2nd edition's is purple. Also, the 1st edition has gold on the
facing side of the pages, whereas it is silver on the 2nd edition.
*My main criticism of this collection
(other than the fact that the pages are so thin that they're too easy
to tear when reading in bed) is that it claims to be his "complete
fiction," without including almost any of the "collaborations." I
put that in quotes even though in many cases the collaborator merely
suggested the premise either when contracting Lovecraft as a
ghost-writer or in a letter. It is a mistake to overlook these
works (as most volumes do) since they represent about a third of his
fiction output, plus most were written toward the end of his life, when
his skill was arguably at his greatest.
To get all those tales, see the
Collaborations section below.
More about this volume here: http://www.hplovecraft.com/writings/sources/hplf.aspx. Update: There's a new collection of just
the Cthulhu Mythos stories for the same price, although this is a
better deal and, like I said
above, includes his early and
There are many other collections as well,
often with extras such as critical essays or early drafts of individual
stories. Some are illustrated quite nicely as well. There
are far too many collections to list them all, and it depends on your
intent: literary analysis, collector, etc. A good (though
incomplete) list can be found here.
These are each good starting points for anyone interested in
Lovecraft's fiction. They give a sampling of some of his better
works (particularly the first volume below) while introducing
details about the author that make him as interesting a subject as his
works. But the annotations can just as easily be ignored by any
isn't especially interested. Also, they're simply large
paperbacks, making them very portable, as opposed to some of the more
"collectible" volumes that you wouldn't toss in a backpack.
Granted, Lovecraft is neither so ancient an author nor so obscure in
his references that he is inaccesible without supplimentary
annotations. However, I found the notes tremendously helpful as
well as just plain interesting. They cover everything from
vocabulary (even etymology), history, and context such as biographical
details including from which texts Lovecraft derived certain bits of
knowledge and/or inspiration.
I break these editions down to their table of contents (and the
reverse; I list in which volumes individual stories may be found) on this page.
The Dell series
The Annotated H.P. Lovecraft - H.P.
Lovecraft, S.T. Joshi, et al
Annotated H.P. Lovecraft - H.P. Lovecraft, S.T. Joshi, Peter
Beware when tracking down the Penguin
especially online. In the UK there is a similarly-titled series
of (also by Penguin) called the Penguin Mini Modern Classics, all of
which have contents different than in those listed above.
Weird Stories (1999)
on the Doorstep and Other Weird Stories (2001)
The Dreams in the Witch House: And
Other Weird Stories (2004)
Annotated H.P. Lovecraft - Leslie S. Klinger
Although there's some overlap in all of
the above, these volumes each have their own character and unique
selling points, so they're worth owning even if you already have any
other editions. I have all of the above. Klinger is currently working on a
second volume in his series.
Lovecraft's collaborations have been collected (completely or usually
only partially) in a number of volumes. I could list some of
those here to try to make a complete library, but your best bet is the
following two volumes which collect and
annotate all the collaborations which Lovecraft primarily wrote.
(Note: There are a very few additional stories that he assisted with
such as Henry S. Whitehead's Cassius
and Bothon, which are not
collected. Again, the exceptions are discussed on the page
covering the annotated volumes.)
The Crawling Chaos and Others: The
Annotated Revisions and Collaborations of H.P. Lovecraft, Volume 1 -
H.P. Lovecraft and S.T. Joshi
Coil and Others: The Annotated Revisions and Collaborations of H.P.
Lovecraft, Volume 2 - H.P. Lovecraft and S.T. Joshi
This is the only volume you need. It is complete. The
original edition had been out of print for some time, so used copies
skyrocketed in value (upwards of $100). However, the 2nd edition
is now available, so this is an affordable addition to your
library. It may as well be considered an annotated volume as well
since it is more than simply a poetry collection.
The Ancient Track: The Complete Poetical
Works of H.P. Lovecraft by H.P. Lovecraft and S.T. Joshi
Lovecraft was famous for his correspondence, and indeed he probably
wrote more letters than all his other writings combined, though I've
never had the means to attempt a comparative word count to assess that
hypothesis. Aside from the famous Arkham House collections, most
volumes collect letters specifically with certain individuals.
Here are the collections I'm aware of as of this writing:
Selected Letters I (1911-1924)
Letters II (1925-1929) (Arkham House)
Letters III (1929-1931) (Arkham House)
Letters IV (1932-1934) (Arkham House)
Letters V (1934-1937) (Arkham House)
Solitude: The Letters of H.P. Lovecraft and August Derleth
Leiber and H.P. Lovecraft: Writers of the Dark (Wildside Press)
Lovecraft: Letters to Alfred Galpin (Hippocampus Press)
Lovecraft: Letters to Elizabeth Toldridge & Anne Tillery Renshaw
Lovecraft: Letters to Henry Kuttner (Necronomicon Press)
Lovecraft: Letters to James F. Morton (Hippocampus Press)
Lovecraft: Letters to Rheinhart Kleiner (Hippocampus Press)
Lovecraft: Letters to Samuel Loveman and Vincent Starrett
Lovecraft: Letters to Richard F. Searight (Necronomicon Press)
H. P. Lovecraft: Letters to Robert
Bloch and Others (Hippocampus
to Freedom: The Letters of H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard
(Two volumes; Hippocampus Press)
Fortunate Floridian: H.P. Lovecraft’s Letters to R.H. Barlow
(University of Tampa Press)
(Lovecraft Letters Volume 1:) Mysteries of Time and Spirit: The Letters
of H.P. Lovecraft and Donald Wandrei (Night Shade Books)
Letters Volume 2: Letters from New York (Night Shade Books)
Lovecraft in the Argosy: Collected Correspondence from the Munsey
Magazines (Necronomicon Press)
Also: Miscellaneous Writings.
Lovecraft's letters. Might also be filed
into the section below.
Lovecraft wrote on many subjects, and these collections give an idea of
his many interests. They also reveal much about him as a
person, his interests and (self!-)education and such. For
example, it has been pointed out that the "Travel"
collection puts to rest the myth that Lovecraft was a hermit or recluse
all his life.
Collected Essays, Volume 1: Amateur
Essays, Volume 2: Literary Criticism
Essays, Volume 3: Science
Essays, Volume 4: Travel
Essays, Volume 5: Philosophy; Autobiography & Miscellany
Lovecraft is revealed through all
of his writings, but biographies of his life are helpfully in putting
all his work in context.
The Private Life of H.P. Lovecraft -
Sonia Green (his ex-wife; written under the name Sonia H. Davis)
I Am Providence: The Life and Times of H.P.
Lovecraft (2 vols, hardcover) - S.T. Joshi (Hippocampus Press);
this restores 150,000 words cut for space reasons from the original
edition, and is also thoroughly revised and updated in regard to new
information on Lovecraft that has come to light since 1996. It may be
considered the last word on Lovecraft biography.
Magick: The Writings and Philosophy of H.P. Lovecraft - S.T.
Joshi (Wildside Press, December 1996)
Lovecraft Encyclopedia - S.T. Joshi with David E. Schultz
(Greenwood Press, 2001)
Sources: Essays on H.P. Lovecraft - S.T. Joshi (New York:
Hippocampus Press, 2003)
and Fall of the Cthulhu Mythos - S.T. Joshi (Poplar Bluff, MO:
Mythos Books, 2008)
These are all (again!) by S.T. Joshi and cover topics relating to the
genre of "weird fiction." There are many, many more books out
there, but I pulled these titles from Joshi's website because they
showcase the scope of scholarship peripheral to Lovecraft. That's
in addition to all the texts (even journals) with literary criticism
about Lovecraft's works.
Sixty Years of Arkham House: A History and
Bibliography (Arkham House, 1999)
Tale (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1990)
Modern Weird Tale (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2001)
Evolution of the Weird Tale (New York: Hippocampus Press, 2004)
of Dreams: Some Notes on Weird Poetry (Sydney: P'rea Press, 2008)
and Contemporaries: Some Notes on Horror Fiction (New York:
Hippocampus Press, 2009)
Fiction (two volumes)
There is so much more I could include here, but things diverge wildly
at this point, so I will instead just list some categories for you to
The Lovecraft circle - Lovecraft
corresponded with a number of authors during his lifetime, influencing
them (and vice versa). Many elements in his works appeared
(almost always with his encouragement) in others' stories, and he often
returned the favor. Additionally, he mentored and critiqued
several writers such as Clark Ashton Smith, Frank Belknap Long, Robert
E. Howard, and Robert Bloch, to name a few.
Cthulhu Mythos - This is a huge category. The so-called
Cthulhu Mythos has been extended
directly by many authors beyond the Lovecraft circle of his day.
This category begins with many of the stories from the Lovecraft circle
mentioned above, but continues prodigiously today. For example,
Neil Gaimen and Wilum Pugmire famously continue the
tradition. (August Derleth did so badly as well.) See the
Black Wings anthology
by Joshi; now working on the fourth
volume as of this writing) for examples of the most current writings in
the field. There are a number of volumes of short fiction and
novels that play with Lovecraft's characters, settings, and other
creations. A good example I'm reading at the moment is Reanimators by Pete Rawlik.
Choasium and a few other publishers also produce topic-specific
anthology collections of work based on Lovecraft's stories. For
example, Eldritch Chrome is one of several volumes of
futuristic or sci-fi stories. Other anthologies are based in
other time periods (e.g., Frontier Cthulhu) and/or built around certain HPL stories (e.g., "Innsmouth," "Shadow out
of Time," etc.).
criticism - There is no end to scholarship in the field of
interpreting and dissecting Lovecraft's work. In addition to the
collections of essays, there are/have been many journals dedicated to
the author, both in print and out. See, for example, this list
for a sampling of
- Finally, there are those whose work does not tie
into Lovecraft's universe, but whose authors clearly took something
from it. Stephen King was strongly influenced at an early
age. Clive Barker's urban fantasy worlds and creatures
have clear parallels with the Dream Lands and other works. And so
- His essay "Supernatural Horror in Literature"
provides more than a summer reading list, and that is only the
beginning of what influenced Lovecraft. Obviously there's a lot
of Poe and Lord Dunsany. Joshi has also compiled and annotated
collections of works Lovecraft internalized during his life.
There is also H.P Lovecraft's Book
Horror which collects some of
these works along with original b&w illustrations. It was
published by Barnes & Noble in 1993 and can be found fairly
Update #1: There is also an annotated edition
out. I haven't had a copy in-hand to compare if the story
Update #2: Recently published (2015) were two collections:
H. P. Lovecraft’s Favorite Horror Stories. Vol.1: The Ghost of
Fear and Others and Vol.2: The Dead Valley and Others.
Comics Adaptations - For the
most part you can skip the film adaptations since none of those has
come close to the qulaity of the source material, but many of the
graphic novels have done a good job. In particular I would
recommend The Lovecraft Anthology
(2012, two volumes; multiple artists in each, usually very faithful to
source material) and the At the
Mountains of Madness graphic
novel (2010 Sterling) by I. N. J. Culbard. Additionally, there
are many "spin-off" stories of varying quality that expand the mythos
beyond straight adaptations. See titles by Boom Comics, for
Role-playing and other games -
Lovecraft's loosely-connected stories create the impression of a
universe, so it's natural that gamers would try to inhabit it. In
addition to the role-playing manuals and resources (Call of Cthulhu by Chaosium being
the most famous, but Lovecraft also obviously influenced Dungeons & Dragons right from
the start), there are also some very
advanced board games such as Mansions
Madness. The miniatures alone are gorgeous works in
many cases. There are also several customizable card games (CCGs)
based on Lovecraft's stories.
Movies - Lovecraft has been the
basis of films literally countless times. These include
everything from strict adaptations of his stories to being merely an
influence. He has even been the subject of at least a couple
documentaries. An overview of many of these films can be found here.
Music - Like film, Lovecraft
has influenced many, many musicians. In some cases, whole concept
albums have been based on his works. Other times, the influence
has been more subtle. As list of a great many of these recordings
can be found here.