This week, just a plain postcard view of the John Hay Library of Brown University. Here we see it as was when it began receiving Lovecraft’s letters and papers. If I recall rightly these were first gifted by young Barlow in the late 1930s, shortly after Lovecraft’s death, and they were somewhat reluctantly received. Most postcard views from the Library’s first decades are from one side, but this photographer obviously had permission to go onto the Brown campus lawns to set up his tripod and make this face-on b&w picture (here enlarged and colourised). The design of the back of the card suggests the late 1930s. Possibly it was an official card, though in that case one would expect the back to state this. But perhaps the stamp-surround is actually Greek for “Brown”?
A complete historical survey of “H.P. Lovecraft and the Brown campus, staff and students” remains to be written (feel free), but we know that H.P. Lovecraft occasionally strode through these grounds, perhaps mostly to guide visiting guests such as Barlow and Morton toward eminent collections such as the Annmary Brown Memorial, the Harris Collection of poetry, and (very probably, for Morton) the Geology Dept. I seem to recall that in his later years he occasionally heard public lectures on the campus and paid at least one late visit to the astronomy club there and was impressed by how the science had progressed. It’s also not impossible that the shady grounds were simply a place to stroll with his aunt during the quiet heat of the July-August holidays, when students and faculty were away. After all, his home was just around the corner, and directly behind the Library building.
Thus it seems possible to imagine that, as he neared home after a walk in the grounds, he would admire the Library’s flashes of austere sun-struck frontage as seen through the summer leaves. Did he also ever imagine that his own letters and works would one day form the Library’s most popular and well-known collection? Almost certainly not. At summer 1936 even his poetry was overlooked by the Library’s enormous Harris collection, which apparently claimed to contain representative samples of all American poets of any note. As a sometime pulp writer all he might have vaguely hoped for in the mid 1930s was that, when the economic good-times returned, one of his young fans might at last hand-crank out a good-enough book collection of his tales. And that this hand-bound limited-edition might then somehow pass the sniff-test at the Library accessions desk, perhaps being accepted because it shone a sidelight on a curious and by-then forgotten corner of Brown’s campus history.