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The Best 22 Books by H. P. Lovecraft [PDF]

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Today we bring you a great selection of the best books by H. P. Lovecraft in PDF format. But first, a little history about this wonderful American writer.

H.P. Lovecraft, in full Howard Phillips Lovecraft, was born on August 20, 1890, in Providence, Rhode Island, U.S.A. He was born into wealth, which ended with the death of his grandfather.

Lovecraft was interested in science from childhood, but lifelong ill health prevented him from attending college. He earned his living as a ghost writer and rewrote the man and spent most of his life in seclusion and poverty. His fame as a writer increased after his death.

In 1913, he wrote a critical letter to a pulp magazine that led to his involvement in pulp fiction. During the interwar period, he wrote and published stories centered on his interpretation of humanity’s place in the universe.

In his view, humanity was an unimportant part of an indifferent cosmos that could be swept away at any moment. These stories also included fantastic elements that represented the perceived fragility of anthropocentrism.

Beginning in 1923, most of Lovecraft’s tales appeared in Weird Tales magazine. His Cthulhu Mythos series of stories describes the encounters of New Englanders with horrible beings of extraterrestrial origin.

In these short stories, Lovecraft’s intimate knowledge of New England geography and culture is combined with an elaborate original mythology. His other short stories deal with equally terrifying phenomena in which horror and morbid fantasy take on an unexpected verisimilitude.

Lovecraft was at the center of a larger group of authors known as «The Lovecraft Circle». This group wrote stories that frequently shared details with each other. He was also a prolific letter writer.

He corresponded with many different authors and literary protections. By some estimates, he wrote approximately 100,000 letters during his lifetime. In these letters, he discussed his worldview and daily life, and tutored younger authors, such as August Derleth, Donald Wandrei, and Robert Bloch.

Throughout his adult life, Lovecraft was never able to support himself on his income as an author and publisher. He was virtually unknown during his lifetime and published almost exclusively in pulp magazines before dying in poverty at the age of 46, but he is now considered one of the most important authors of supernatural horror fiction of the 20th century.

Among his most famous stories are «The Call of Cthulhu», «The Rats in the Walls», «At the Mountains of Madness», «The Shadow Over Innsmouth» and «The Shadow out of Time».

His writings are the basis of the Cthulhu Mythos, which has inspired a host of pastiches, games, music and other media that draw on Lovecraft’s characters, settings and themes, constituting a broader subgenre known as Lovecraftian horror.

Lovecraft was a master of poetic language, and achieved an unusually high literary level in his particular genre of fiction.

H.P. Lovecraft died on March 15, 1937 in Providence.

1) The Beast in the Cave

The Beast in the Cave author H. P. Lovecraft

The Beast in the Cave is a short story that was written between the spring of 1904 and April 1905, when Lovecraft was only 14 years old. It was first published in the June 1918 issue of the amateur press magazine The Vagrant.

It tells the story of a man who gets lost exploring Mammoth Cave when he becomes separated from his guide. As he goes along and his torch expires, he loses hope of finding a way out.

Suddenly he hears non-human footsteps approaching him, so he picks up a stone and throws it towards the source of the sound and the beast is hit and collapses to the ground. Afterwards, the guide finds the man and they both examine the creature with the light of his torch.

2) The Alchemist

The Alchemist author H. P. Lovecraft

The Alchemist is a short story written in 1908, when Lovecraft was 17 or 18 years old, and first published in the November 1916 issue of United Amateur.

The story is told by the protagonist, Count Antoine de C, in the first person. Hundreds of years ago, Antoine’s noble ancestor was responsible for the death of a dark wizard, Michel Mauvais. The wizard’s son, Charles le Sorcier, swore vengeance not only on him, but on all his descendants, cursing them to death on their 32nd birthday.

Antoine has reached adulthood and his 32nd birthday is approaching.

3) The Tomb

The Tomb author H. P. Lovecraft

The Tomb is a short story written in June 1917 and first published in the March 1922 issue of The Vagrant. It tells the story of Jervas Dudley who, as a boy, discovers the entrance to a mausoleum belonging to the Hyde family.

After trying and failing to break the padlock, he lies down to sleep next to the tomb. Several years later, Jervas falls asleep again next to the mausoleum and when he wakes up he returns to his house, and goes directly to the attic, to a rotten chest, and there he finds the key to the tomb.

Once inside the tomb, Jervas discovers an empty coffin with the name “Jervas” inscribed on the plaque and begins to sleep in the empty coffin every night, but those who see him sleeping see him outside the tomb, not inside as he believes.

4) Dagon

Dagon author H. P. Lovecraft

Dagon is a short story written in July 1917 and is one of the first stories Lovecraft wrote as an adult. It was first published in the November 1919 edition of The Vagrant (issue 11). Dragon was later published in Weird Tales. It is considered by many to be one of Lovecraft’s most forward-looking tales.

The story is the testimony of a tortured, morphine-addicted man recounting an incident that occurred during his service as an officer during World War I. In the anonymous narrator’s account, his cargo ship is captured by an Imperial German sea raider in one of the most open and least frequented areas of the wide Pacific.

5) The Transition of Juan Romero

The Transition of Juan Romero author H. P. Lovecraft

It is a short story written on September 16, 1919 (written in less than a day) and first published in the 1944 Arkham House volume Marginalia.

Originally The Transition of Juan Romero consisted of an illustrative exercise (only for his small circle of correspondents), intended solely to quickly demonstrate what could be done with a desert setting that had been used in a story by Professor Philip Bayaud McDonald (which Lovecraft considered a “dull yarn”).

The story is about a mine that uncovers a chasm deep enough that no sounding line will reach the bottom. The night following its discovery, the narrator and one of the mine workers, named Juan Romero, venture inside. Romero reaches the abyss first and is swallowed by it. The narrator peers over the edge, sees something and loses consciousness. The next morning, both are found in their bunks.

6) The Temple

The Temple author H. P. Lovecraft

The Temple is a short story written in 1920, and first published in the pulp magazine Weird Tales #24 in September 1925. It is a nautical story during the days of World War I, in which the sunken remains of an ancient and elaborate city are seen at the bottom of the ocean.

The story is told as a “found manuscript” written by a lieutenant commander in the Imperial German Navy. He begins by stating that he has decided to document the events that led to his untimely end knowing that he will not survive to do so himself.

In the North Atlantic, after sinking a British freighter, the cruel lieutenant commander orders his submarine to dive, and later on surfacing they find the body of a seaman who died clinging to the exterior railing. Soon after, strange phenomena begin to occur.

7) Nyarlathotep

Nyarlathotep author H. P. Lovecraft

Nyarlathotep is a prose poem written in 1920 and first published in the November issue of The United Amateur.

The poem itself is a bleak vision of decaying human civilization, and explores the mixed feelings of despair and defiance in a dying society. The story is written in the first person and begins by describing a strange and inexplicable sense of foreboding experienced by humanity at large, in anticipation of a great unknown evil.

The story goes on to describe the appearance of Nyarlathotep as a «man» of the race of pharaohs, who claims to have been dormant for the past twenty-seven centuries, and his subsequent travels from city to city demonstrating his supernatural powers.

8) The Tree

The Tree author H. P. Lovecraft

The Tree is a macabre tale written by Lovecraft early in his career in 1920 and published in October 1921 in The Tryout. It is set in ancient Greece, specifically on Mount Maenalus in Arcadia.

The narrator relates that a beekeeper who lives next door told him a story about a tree in that area: emissaries of the “Tyrant of Syracuse” ask Kalos and Musides, two renowned sculptors, to each create a statue of Tyché, which must be of great size, a wonder of nations and a goal of travelers.

The two begin the work and, in time, Kalos falls ill, weakens and asks that twigs from certain olive trees in the grove be buried near his head. Subsequently, from the place where the twigs are buried, a huge olive tree grows at an incredible rate.

9) The Cats of Ulthar

The Cats of Ulthar author H. P. Lovecraft

The Cats of Ulthar is a short story written in June 1920.

In the story, an anonymous narrator tells the story of how a law came about that prohibits the killing of cats in a town called Ulthar. According to the narrative, there lives in the town an elderly couple who enjoy capturing and killing the townspeople’s cats. When a caravan of strays passes through the town, the kitten of an orphan (Menes) who was traveling with the gang goes missing.

Upon learning of the couple’s violent acts towards the cats, Menes invokes a prayer before leaving the town that causes the local felines to attack the cat killers’ house and devour them. Seeing the result, local politicians pass a law banning the killing of cats.

10) The Nameless City

The Nameless City author H. P. Lovecraft

The Nameless City is a horror story written in January 1921 and first published in the November 1921 issue of the amateur press magazine The Wolverine.

The nameless city of the story’s title is an ancient ruin located somewhere in the deserts of the Arabian Peninsula, and is older than any human civilization. In ancient times, the Nameless City was built and inhabited by an unnamed race of reptiles with a combined body between a crocodile and a seal, with a strange head common to neither, including a protruding forehead, horns, lack of a nose and a crocodile-like jaw.

11) Azathoth

Azathoth author H. P. Lovecraft

It is a novel written in June 1922 and published as a fragment in Leaves magazine in 1938, since it was never finished. It tells of the fictional being Azathoth who is the ruler of the Outer Gods and one of the main entities of Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos.

In Azathoth the protagonist of the story is a nameless man living in a dull city in the modern world. A world that has been stripped of imagination and belief in magic.

Every night, this man gazes out his window at the stars, until he finally comes to observe secret vistas unsuspected by the rest of humanity. One night, the gulf between his world and the stars closes and his mind ascends from his body to the limitless cosmos.

12) The Lurking Fear

The Lurking Fear author H. P. Lovecraft

The Lurking Fear is a horror story written in November 1922, it was first published in the January-April 1923 issues of Home Brew. It tells the story of a man (who is the narrator) and his two companions who decide to spend a night in a mansion with a horrible reputation.

According to legend, beneath the mansion lies an intricate network of subway passageways used by members of a cult led by Martense (its former owner).

The anonymous narrator of the story is someone who describes himself as a lover of the grotesque and the terrible who has dedicated himself to the pursuit of strange horrors. His companions are George Bennett and William Tobey. At the end of the story it is revealed what is found among the endless network of tunnels.

13) The Rats in the Walls

The Rats in the Walls author H. P. Lovecraft

The Rats in the Walls is a short story written between August and September 1923, first published in Weird Tales in March 1924. The story is set a few years after World War I and tells of Delapore, an American who moves to his ancestral estate in England after the death of his only son during the war.

After moving in, he frequently hears noises of rats moving behind the walls. Upon further investigation, Delapore learns that his family maintained a subway city, where they raised “human cattle” to satisfy their taste for human flesh.

Driven mad by the revelations of his family’s past, and by his anger over the death of his son, Delapore attacks one of his friends in the darkness of the cavernous city and begins to eat him.

14) The Festival

The Festival author H. P. Lovecraft

The Festival is a short story written in October 1923 and published in the January 1925 issue of Weird Tales. It tells the story of a young man (who is the anonymous narrator of the story) who visits the mysterious fishing village of Kingsport, Massachusetts for the first time, as his ancestors have invited him to celebrate an ancestral festival.

On the day of his arrival, he is asked to join a crowd of cowled figures making their way to a large white church atop a hill. There they participate in a Yule rite, while something amorphous squatted away from the light, noisily playing a flute.

Its sound summons a horde of hybrid things, winged and trained, that no sane brain could remember. These moved feebly, and when they reached the crowd of celebrants, the cowled figures grabbed and mounted them, and rode away.

15) The Shunned House

The Shunned House author H. P. Lovecraft

The Shunned House is a horror fiction novel written October 16-19, 1924. It was first published in the October 1937 issue of Weird Tales.

For many years, the narrator and his uncle, Dr. Elihu Whipple, have held a fascination with an old abandoned house on Benefit Street. Dr. Whipple has made extensive records tracing the mysterious, but seemingly coincidental, illness and death of many of those who have lived in the house for over a hundred years.

The narrator and his uncle decide to spend the night in the house, investigating the possibility of some supernatural force.

16) The Horror at Red Hook

The Horror at Red Hook author H. P. Lovecraft

The horror at Red Hook first published in January 1927 stars Malone, an Irish New York police detective, and the plot revolves around a sinister cult that worships the devil.

The story is set in Red Hook, a Brooklyn slum full of gangs and crime. It tells the story of the “case of Robert Suydam” in whose investigation Malone participated.

Suydam is a shabby recluse, who begins to be seen around town looking more radiant, plus news arrives of his engagement to a well-to-do woman. After the wedding they both leave on a ship and while on board a scream is heard and when the crew enters Suydam’s cabin, they find him and his wife dead, with claw marks on his wife’s body.

17) The Call of Cthulhu

The Call of Cthulhu author H. P. Lovecraft

The Call of Cthulhu is a short story by the American writer written in the summer of 1926, was first published in the pulp magazine Weird Tales in February 1928.

The first seed of the first chapter of the story, «The Horror in Clay», comes from one of the dreams Lovecraft had in 1919, which he briefly described in two different letters sent to his friend Rheinhart Kleiner on May 21 and December 14, 1920.

In the dream, Lovecraft is visiting an antiquity museum in Providence, trying to convince the elderly curator to buy a strange bas-relief that Lovecraft himself had sculpted, who initially mocks him for trying to sell something newly made to a museum of antique objects.

18) The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath

The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath author H. P. Lovecraft

This is a novella published posthumously by Arkham House in 1943, which was probably begun in 1926. It combines elements of horror and fantasy in a tale that illustrates the extent of mankind’s capacity to dream.

The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath has as its protagonist Randolph Carter, who in his dreams sees a majestic city he cannot reach and so longs to reach it that he prays to the gods of dream to reveal its whereabouts, but then it disappears completely from his dreams.

After this, in dream Carter consults the priests of a temple that borders the Dreamlands. They tell him that no one knows Kadath’s location, warn him of great danger, and suggest that the gods purposefully stopped his visions.

19) The Colour Out of Space

The Colour Out of Space author H. P. Lovecraft

The Color Out of Space is a science fiction and horror story written in March 1927 and first appearing in the September 1927 issue of Hugo Gernsback’s science fiction magazine Amazing Stories, which became one of Lovecraft’s most popular works.

In it an anonymous narrator describes his attempts to uncover the history and secrets of a place known to the inhabitants of the hills west of the fictional town of Arkham as the “blasted heath.”

This narrator, who is a surveyor from Boston, discovers that, many years ago, a meteorite crashed there, poisoning all living beings in the area, so that the vegetation took on an unpleasant taste, animals go mad and deform into grotesque shapes, and people go mad or die one by one.

20) The Case of Charles Dexter Ward

The Case of Charles Dexter Ward author H. P. Lovecraft

It is a short horror novel written in early 1927. It is set in 1928 Providence (which incidentally is Lovecraft’s hometown), and describes how Ward – a young man who has disappeared from a mental asylum – becomes obsessed with his distant ancestor, Joseph Curwen, a supposed wizard of unsavory habits.

Following this, Ward attempts to duplicate his ancestor’s qabalistic and alchemical feats, and uses this knowledge to physically resurrect Curwen. The bulk of the story concerns the investigation conducted by Ward’s family physician in an attempt to discover the reason for Ward’s madness.

The Case of Charles Dexter Ward was first published in abridged form in the May and July issues of Weird Tales in 1941 and in complete in Arkham House’s Beyond the Wall of Sleep collection in 1943.

21) The Very Old Folk

The Very Old Folk author H. P. Lovecraft

The Very Old Folk is a story found in a letter Lovecraft sent on November 3, 1927 to Donald Wandrei. It was first published in Scienti-Snaps magazine after the author’s death in the summer of 1940.

The story is the recording of a dream whose protagonist is a Roman military official in the Vascon country near Pompelo. He wishes to lead a military expedition into the countryside to crush the terrible hill folk who kidnap citizens and perform cruel rituals. These beings are the “very old folk” alluded to in the title.

The raid is led by a native son of Roman parents, and as the Romans approach the seat of the rituals something terrible attacks them. The story ends with the narrator waking up and claiming that it has been the most vivid dream in years.

22) The Dunwich Horror

The Dunwich Horror author H. P. Lovecraft

The Dunwich Horror is a horror story written in 1928, first published in the April 1929 issue of Weird Tales (pp. 481-508). It takes place in Dunwich, a fictional town in Massachusetts. It is considered one of the central stories of the Cthulhu mythos.

In the isolated, desolate and decrepit village of Dunwich, Massachusetts, Wilbur Whateley is the hideous son of Lavinia Whateley, a deformed and unstable albino mother, and an unknown father. Strange events surrounding his birth and early development. Wilbur matures at an abnormal rate, reaching manhood within a decade. The locals shun him and his family, and the animals fear and despise him because of his smell.