A new 39 minute reading of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Horror Of The Heights” (1913). The blurb is via Wikipedia and has plot spoilers, the opening being… “The story is told through a blood-stained notebook, dubbed the ‘Joyce-Armstrong Fragment’.” Other aspects are quite Lovecraftian, although the writing isn’t.

If the reader is not to your taste, HorrorBabble has it on YouTube in a good steady British English reading, and there are other readings on Librivox here (40 mins), here (42 mins) and here (36 mins).

Archive.org has the original appearance in The Strand magazine 1913, complete with superb colour plates. I won’t show these here as they’re visual spoilers.

H.P. Lovecraft read a good deal of Conan Doyle, as a lad in his ‘detective phase’. Joshi states that… “he read every Holmes story published up to that time (circa 1903)” and that these formed a key template for his early boyish fiction writing. Lovecraft wrote that… “I used to write detective stories very often, the works of A. Conan Doyle being my model so far as plot was concerned.”

He later recalled he had dipped a toe back into new Holmes stories in 1908, but found these… “an odd (& rather mediocre) pair or series of tales” and thereafter gave up on Holmes. If he also sampled the best of the non-Holmes horror, ghost and weird stories of Conan Doyle appears to be uncertain.

A story by Doyle titled “The Horror Of The Heights” would certainly have attracted Lovecraft’s attention. Yet he would probably have not seen it in The Strand, but rather in Doyle’s non-Holmes 1918 book collection Danger! and other stories. This would surely have arrived in the Providence Public Library in multiple copies and then been noticed by Lovecraft once the initial rush of borrowing of it had subsided — perhaps circa 1919. But more likely the nature of this particular story might have been called to his attention by someone in his circle, at some point in the mid 1920s, before he fully formulated shoggoths. While it appears we have no evidence of such a reading that I know of, we do know that in 1924 Lovecraft was discovering overlooked items such as Wells’s collection Thirty Strange Stories (1897, read January 1924), and Wells’s classic The Time Machine (1895, read November 1924). He was also doing much ‘catch up’ reading for his essay Supernatural Horror in Literature, with the aid of the New York libraries, the many used bookstores, and the private libraries of friends. Could he also have been sampling the best “strange stories” of Doyle, Kipling and others at this time?