Organizing Lovecraft

In trying to get your head around HP Lovecraft's body of work, you might try organizing his stories any number of ways.  Because of the variety of styles, subjects, and approaches (e.g., solo vs. collaborative), his stories defy easy categorization.  Below are several attempts to organize Lovecraft's stories into one or more categories, sometimes tagging them with multiple criteria at the same time.


Throughout this page, I've tagged the stories thusly:
* = collaboration
(I) = independent of other stories (i.e., contains no explicit references to any elements of the Cthulhu Mythos or the Dream Lands)


Organized by word count

Note: See also this page which goes into more detail on this subject, including plotting the word counts across time to reveal trends.

Novellas
51,112    The Case of Charles Dexter Ward
42,589    The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath
40,881    At the Mountains of Madness

Long stories
27,026    The Shadow Over Innsmouth
26,624    The Whisperer in Darkness
25,323    The Shadow Out of Time

Shorter stories
17,524    The Dunwich Horror
14,789    The Dreams in the Witch House
14,389    Through the Gates of the Silver Key*
12,457    The Colour Out of Space
11,998    Herbert West–Reanimator
11,905    The Call of Cthulhu
9,320    The Haunter of the Dark
8,331    The Horror at Red Hook
8,164    The Lurking Fear
7,974    The Rats in the Walls

Micro stories
5,513    Pickman's Model
5,383    The Temple
5,025    The Nameless City
4,983    The Silver Key
4,316    Beyond the Wall of Sleep
4,262    He
4,160    The Tomb
3,765    The Strange High House in the Mist
3,679    Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family
3,659    The Festival
3,451    The Music of Erich Zann
3,415    The Moon-Bog
3,413    Cool Air
3,409    In the Vault
3,339    The Picture in the House
3,040    From Beyond
2,984    The Hound
2,982    Old Bugs
2,945    The Unnamable
2,810    Hypnos
2,768    The Quest of Iranon
2,712    The Very Old Folk
2,706    The Transition of Juan Romero
2,697    Sweet Ermengarde
2,695    The Doom that Came to Sarnath
2,595    The Outsider
2,530    The White Ship
2,517    Celephaïs
2,469    The Statement of Randolph Carter
2,229    The Street
2,216    Dagon

Flash pieces
2,039    A Reminiscence of Dr. Samuel Johnson
2,030    The Other Gods
1,761    Ibid
1,690    The Evil Clergyman
1,628    The Tree
1,516    Polaris
1,497    The Descendant
1,342    The Cats of Ulthar
1,212    The Thing in the Moonlight
1,166    The Book
1,149    Nyarlathotep
1,142    The Terrible Old Man
722    What the Moon Brings
698    Ex Oblivione
698    History of the Necronomicon
476    Azathoth
353    Memory

Juvenalia
I'm separating these out because they are shorter than most other works, and more importantly, they differ in the writing style of later works as well as being devoid of the themes that characterize Lovecraft's more mature stories.
3,681    The Alchemist
2,479    The Beast in the Cave
1,276    The Mystery of the Grave-Yard
779    The Mysterious Ship [Long Version]
563    The Secret Cave, or John Lees Adventure
457    The Little Glass Bottle
445    The Mysterious Ship [Short Version]

Revisions and Collaborations
These should probably be worked into the above categories, but they're the most neglected (i.e., under-read and under-reprinted) of his works with only a few exceptions.
29,573    The Mound*
19,204    The Last Test*
16,868    Medusa's Coil*
11,910    In the Walls of Eryx*
11,345    The Horror in the Museum*
10,962    Under the Pyramids*
10,542    Bothon*
10,186    Out of the Aeons*
9,987    Winged Death*
9,755    The Night Ocean*
8,471    The Trap*
8,196    The Diary of Alonzo Typer*
7,995    The Electric Executioner*
6,926    The Curse of Yig*
6,441    The Man of Stone*
6,081    The Challenge from Beyond*
5,859    The Horror in the Burying-Ground*
4,850    Two Black Bottles*
4,580    The Disinterment*
4,320    The Tree on the Hill*
3,307    Till A’the Seas*
3,248    Discarded Draft of The Shadow Over Innsmouth
2,998    The Crawling Chaos*
2,534    Poetry and the Gods*
2,380    The Horror at Martin's Beach*
2,326    The Green Meadow*
2,194    The Hoard of the Wizard-Beast*
1,778    Four o'clock*
1,376    The Battle that Ended the Century*
910    The Sorcery of Aphlar*
613    Collapsing Cosmoses*
332    The Slaying of the Monster*


Chronologically/Traditional groupings

Lovecraft's writings are usually parsed into three or four groups, chronologically.  This makes a bit of sense because it is clear that his style and focus shifted over the course of his writing career.  However, he didn't necessarily "switch" into a completely new mode between two stories.  In fact, many of his stories in one period show the beginnings of a subsequent phase that wasn't to fully flower until years later.

Early writings
1897?: The Noble Eavesdropper (nonextant)
1897: The Little Glass Bottle(I)
1898: The Secret Cave or John Lees Adventure(I)
1898: The Mystery of the Grave-Yard(I)
1898/1902: The Haunted House (nonextant)
1898/1902: The Secret of the Grave (nonextant)
1898/1902: John, the Detective (nonextant)
1902: The Mysterious Ship(I)

Macabre stories (approximately 1905–1920)
1905, April 21: The Beast in the Cave(I)
1907: The Picture (nonextant)
1908: The Alchemist(I)
1917, June: The Tomb(I)
1917, July: Dagon
1917: A Reminiscence of Dr. Samuel Johnson(I)
1917: Sweet Ermengarde(I)
1918, May?: Polaris
1918: The Mystery of Murdon Grange (nonextant)
1918/19: The Green Meadow (with Winifred V. Jackson)(I)
1919: Beyond the Wall of Sleep(I)
1919: Memory(I)
1919: Old Bugs(I)
1919, September 16: The Transition of Juan Romero(I)
1919, November: The White Ship
1919, December 3: The Doom That Came to Sarnath
1919, December: The Statement of Randolph Carter

Dream Cycle stories (approximately 1920–1927)
1920, January 28: The Terrible Old Man
1920: The Tree(I)
1920, June 15: The Cats of Ulthar
1920: The Temple(I)
1920: Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family(I)
1920?: The Street(I)
1920?: Life and Death (lost)
1920: Poetry and the Gods (with Anna Helen Crofts)(I)
1920, early November: Celephaïs
1920, November 16: From Beyond(I)
1920, early December: Nyarlathotep
1920, December 12: The Picture in the House
1920/21: The Crawling Chaos (with Winifred V. Jackson)
1920/21: Ex Oblivione
1921, January: The Nameless City
1921, February 28: The Quest of Iranon
1921, March: The Moon-Bog(I)
1921: The Outsider
1921, August 14: The Other Gods
1921, December: The Music of Erich Zann(I)
1921, September to mid-1922: Herbert West—Reanimator
1922, March: Hypnos(I)
1922, June 5: What the Moon Brings(I)
1922, June: Azathoth
1922, June: The Horror at Martin’s Beach (with Sonia H. Greene)
1922, September: The Hound
1922, November: The Lurking Fear(I)
1923, August–September: The Rats in the Walls
1923, September: The Unnamable
1923: Ashes (with C. M. Eddy, Jr.)
1923: The Ghost-Eater (with C. M. Eddy, Jr.)
1923: The Loved Dead (with C. M. Eddy, Jr.)
1923, October: The Festival
1924?: Deaf, Dumb, and Blind (with C. M. Eddy, Jr.)
1924, February–March: Under the Pyramids (with Harry Houdini)
1924, October 16–19: The Shunned House

Cthulhu Mythos/Lovecraft Mythos stories (approximately 1925–1935)
1925, August 1–2: The Horror at Red Hook(I)
1925, August 11: He(I)
1925, September 18: In the Vault(I)
1926?: The Descendant
1926, March: Cool Air(I)
1926, Summer: The Call of Cthulhu
1926, July–October: Two Black Bottles (with Wilfred Blanch Talman)(I)
1926: Pickman’s Model
1926: The Silver Key
1926, November 9: The Strange High House in the Mist
1926, Autumn? to 1927, January 22: The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath
1927, January to March 1: The Case of Charles Dexter Ward
1927, March: The Colour Out of Space
1927, November 2: The Very Old Folk(I)
1927, November 25: The Thing in the Moonlight (spurious)
1927: The Last Test (with Adolphe de Castro)
1927: History of the Necronomicon
1928: The Curse of Yig (with Zealia Bishop)
1928?: Ibid(I)
1928, Summer: The Dunwich Horror
1929?: The Electric Executioner (with Adolphe de Castro)
1929, December to early 1930: The Mound (with Zealia Bishop)
1930, May: Medusa’s Coil (with Zealia Bishop)
1930, February 24 to September 26: The Whisperer in Darkness
1931, February to March 22: At the Mountains of Madness
1931: Discarded Draft of The Shadow Over Innsmouth
1931, November? to December 3: The Shadow Over Innsmouth
late 1931: The Trap (with Henry S. Whitehead)(I)
1932, January to February 28: The Dreams in the Witch House
1932: The Man of Stone (with Hazel Heald)
1932, October: The Horror in the Museum (with Hazel Heald)
1932, October to 1933, April: Through the Gates of the Silver Key (with E. Hoffmann Price)
1933: Winged Death (with Hazel Heald)
1933: Out of the Aeons (with Hazel Heald)
1933, August 21–24: The Thing on the Doorstep
1933, October: The Evil Clergyman(I)
1933/35: The Horror in the Burying-Ground (with Hazel Heald)(I)
1933: The Hoard of the Wizard-Beast (with R. H. Barlow)(I)
1933: The Slaying of the Monster (with R. H. Barlow)(I)
late 1933?: The Book(I)
1934, May: The Tree on the Hill (with Duane W. Rimel)
1934, June: The Battle that Ended the Century (with R. H. Barlow)
1934, November to 1935, March: The Shadow Out of Time
1935, January: “Till A’ the Seas” (with R.H. Barlow)
1935, June: Collapsing Cosmoses (with R.H. Barlow)(I)
1935, August: The Challenge from Beyond (with C. L. Moore; A. Merritt; Robert E. Howard, and Frank Belknap Long)
1935, September: The Disinterment (with Duane W. Rimel)(I)
1935, October: The Diary of Alonzo Typer (with William Lumley)
1935, November: The Haunter of the Dark
1936, January: In the Walls of Eryx (with Kenneth Sterling)(I)
1936, Autumn?: The Night Ocean (with R.H. Barlow) (I)


Actual groupings

This is a modified version of the chronological groupings that pays more attention to the content than the dates each of written.  However, please note that there are many bridges between the Cthulhu Mythos and Dream Lands stories, so these are plenty elements common to one another.  These aren't separate universe, just different categories of Lovecraft's stories.

Note that this section is a work in progress.  I'm going through and evaluating and re-evaluating stories I'm reading for the first time or re-reading, respectively.  The question marks ("???") indicate stories on my "to read" list because I haven't yet decided if they are appropriately filed or not.

Early writings or "Juvenalia"
1897?: The Noble Eavesdropper (nonextant)
1897: The Little Glass Bottle(I)
1898: The Secret Cave or John Lees Adventure(I)
1898: The Mystery of the Grave-Yard(I)
1898/1902: The Haunted House (nonextant)
1898/1902: The Secret of the Grave (nonextant)
1898/1902: John, the Detective (nonextant)
1902: The Mysterious Ship(I)
1905, April 21: The Beast in the Cave(I)
1907: The Picture (nonextant)
1908: The Alchemist(I)

Note that the last three stories above are appropriately included in the next group, although they are "early writings" as well, so could be categorized either way.  I moved them up because, though they fit stylistically, they are chronologically closer to Lovecraft's earliest attempts.  It's too small to constitute a group, but perhaps they could be called "Early Macabre stories," which acknowledges both criteria by which they could be organized.

Macabre stories (approximately 1905–1920)
This group is distinct from the Dream Cycle stories or Cthulhu Mythos in that these lack elements that establish those stories as part of a common universe.  However, I did include The Picture in the House in this section because, even though it makes very brief mention of Arkham and the Miskatonic Valley, it is otherwise unconnected to themes such as the Dream Lands or the Other Gods.
1917, June: The Tomb(I)
1917: A Reminiscence of Dr. Samuel Johnson(I)
1917: Sweet Ermengarde(I)
1918: The Mystery of Murdon Grange (nonextant)
1918/19: The Green Meadow (with Winifred V. Jackson)(I)
1919: Memory (Note: Could perhaps fit in among the Dream Cycle or Cthulhu Mythos stories due to the presence of elements found more frequently in those groupings.)(I)
1919: Old Bugs(I)
1919, September 16: The Transition of Juan Romero(I)
1920: Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family(I)
1920: The Tree(I)
1920?: The Street(I)
1920?: Life and Death (lost; who knows where this should be appropriately filed?)
1920, December 12: The Picture in the House
1926, March: Cool Air(I)

Dream Lands stories (approximately 1920–1927)  (Also called the "Dream Cycle stories," a term I retained above, but changed here.)
This series includes stories that take place in the Dream Lands as well as unrelated tales that suggest alternate realities (e.g., From Beyond).  These often include elements like Randolph Carter, the Silver Key, and places in the Dream Lands such as Unknown Kadath and Ulthar.  However, what sometimes confuses this category is that Lovecraft sometimes transcribed his dreams, and they served as the basis for stories that weren't necessarily Dream Lands stories.

1918, May?: Polaris
1919, November: The White Ship(I)
1919, December 3: The Doom That Came to Sarnath
1919, December: The Statement of Randolph Carter
1919: Beyond the Wall of Sleep(I)
1920, January 28: The Terrible Old Man (Note: I'm not really sure where this should be placed.  The character has magical powers, but doesn't explicitly belong in the Dream Lands, though he later makes an appearance in "The Strange High House in the Mist").
1920, June 15: The Cats of Ulthar
1920: The Temple (Note: Early Mythos???)(I)
???1920: Poetry and the Gods (with Anna Helen Crofts)(I)
1920, early November: Celephaïs
1920, November 16: From Beyond(I)
???1920/21: The Crawling Chaos (with Winifred V. Jackson)
???1920/21: Ex Oblivione
???1921, January: The Nameless City
1921, February 28: The Quest of Iranon
1921, March: The Moon-Bog(I)
???1921: The Outsider(I)
1921, August 14: The Other Gods
1921, December: The Music of Erich Zann(I)
???1921, September to mid-1922: Herbert West—Reanimator
1922, March: Hypnos(I)
1922, June 5: What the Moon Brings(I)
???1922, June: Azathoth
1922, June: The Horror at Martin’s Beach (with Sonia H. Greene)
???1922, September: The Hound
1922, November: The Lurking Fear(I)
???1923, August–September: The Rats in the Walls
1923, September: The Unnamable
1923: Ashes (with C. M. Eddy, Jr.)
1923: The Ghost-Eater (with C. M. Eddy, Jr.)
1923: The Loved Dead (with C. M. Eddy, Jr.)
???1923, October: The Festival
1924?: Deaf, Dumb, and Blind (with C. M. Eddy, Jr.)
???1924, February–March: Under the Pyramids (with Harry Houdini)
???1924, October 16–19: The Shunned House
1926: The Silver Key
1926, November 9: The Strange High House in the Mist
1926, Autumn? to 1927, January 22: The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath
1932, January to February 28: The Dreams in the Witch House
1932, October to 1933, April: Through the Gates of the Silver Key (with E. Hoffmann Price)

Cthulhu Mythos/Lovecraft Mythos stories (approximately 1925–1935)
The Cthulhu Mythos stories take place in and around the earthly Arkham rather than in the Dream Lands, although they frequently acknowledge other worlds.  They include elements like Arkham/Miskatonic University, Innsmouth, R’lyeh, frequent references to the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred/the Necronomicon, the Pnakotic Manuscripts, and other documents, and of many "gods" and other alien beings such as Cthulhu, Dagon, the Elder Race, the Mi-Go, Nyarlathotep, the Old Ones, the Great Race of Yith, Shoggoths, Shub-Niggurath.

1917, July: Dagon
1920, early December: Nyarlathotep
1925, August 1–2: The Horror at Red Hook(I)
1925, August 11: He(I)
1925, September 18: In the Vault(I)
???1926?: The Descendant
1926, Summer: The Call of Cthulhu
1926, July–October: Two Black Bottles (with Wilfred Blanch Talman)(I)
???1926: Pickman’s Model
???1927, January to March 1: The Case of Charles Dexter Ward
???1927, March: The Colour Out of Space
1927, November 2: The Very Old Folk(I)
???1927, November 25: The Thing in the Moonlight (spurious)
???1927: The Last Test (with Adolphe de Castro)
1927: History of the Necronomicon
???1928: The Curse of Yig (with Zealia Bishop)
0001928?: Ibid(I)
1928, Summer: The Dunwich Horror
1929?: The Electric Executioner (with Adolphe de Castro)
1929, December to early 1930: The Mound (with Zealia Bishop)
1930, May: Medusa’s Coil (with Zealia Bishop)
1930, February 24 to September 26: The Whisperer in Darkness
1931, February to March 22: At the Mountains of Madness
1931: Discarded Draft of The Shadow Over Innsmouth
1931, November? to December 3: The Shadow Over Innsmouth
late 1931: The Trap (with Henry S. Whitehead)(I)
???1932: The Man of Stone (with Hazel Heald)
1932, October: The Horror in the Museum (with Hazel Heald)
1933: Winged Death (with Hazel Heald)
1933: Out of the Aeons (with Hazel Heald)
1933, August 21–24: The Thing on the Doorstep
1933, October: The Evil Clergyman(I)
1933/35: The Horror in the Burying-Ground (with Hazel Heald)(I)
1933: The Hoard of the Wizard-Beast (with R. H. Barlow)(I)
1933: The Slaying of the Monster (with R. H. Barlow)(I)
late 1933?: The Book(I)
1934, May: The Tree on the Hill (with Duane W. Rimel)
1934, June: The Battle that Ended the Century (with R. H. Barlow)
1934, November to 1935, March: The Shadow Out of Time
1935, January: “Till A’ the Seas” (with R.H. Barlow)
1935, June: Collapsing Cosmoses (with R.H. Barlow)(I)
1935, August: The Challenge from Beyond (with C. L. Moore; A. Merritt; Robert E. Howard, and Frank Belknap Long)
1935, September: The Disinterment (with Duane W. Rimel)(I)
1935, October: The Diary of Alonzo Typer (with William Lumley)
1935, November: The Haunter of the Dark
1936, January: In the Walls of Eryx (with Kenneth Sterling)(I)
1936, Autumn?: The Night Ocean (with R.H. Barlow) (I)


Further reading

   

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