Further to my request-essay on Lovecraft and Harlem and a later small update, I’ve now discovered that a lengthy 1934 letter to F. Lee Baldwin has just over a page from Lovecraft on the Harlem of the early 1930s. It’s in the Baldwin letters in pages 65-67. Curiously Harlem does not appear in the index. Nor is it folded into New York City in the index.

I was previously able to get some of the letter, but now have all of it as I have the book. There Lovecraft notes…

Black Harlem itself I largely know from ‘bus windows — the coach lines from Providence passing down Lenox or upper 7th Avenue through the heart of the district.

It seems to be implied that these long-distance bus trips occurred after his mid-1920s New York sojourn, and were part of his occasionally visiting New York City in the 1930s. Evidently he preferred the soaring ‘elevated’ as a more magisterial means to enter New York, but sometimes his travels must have deposited him at a location that meant had had to take the bus into the city.

He gives Baldwin a good account of the boundaries, history, demographics and inter-group rivalries of the Harlem area. I would guess much of this was gleaned in conversation when his friend Morton was living in the city, with certain aspects drawn from Whitehead and Sechrist — who were very familiar with the various origin-groupings and inter-group rivalries involved. Although generally Lovecraft was also remarkably well-informed about the demographics and locales of the city beyond Harlem. One even wonders if there was some sort of long-forgotten annual detailed demographic map for the city, being published in the 1920s and 30s? One might of course also credit his slow daily osmosis of information from the newspapers, week in week out, and his cuttings files — which must have been quite extensive by 1934. Such a pity they’ve not survived. Apparently Brown Library had the HPL press “clippings” collection in 1944, but their whereabouts appears to be unknown today.

Also in the Baldwin letters, and relevant to my recent ‘Rhoby’ post, is Lovecraft mentioning another small data point… that she was also an accomplished artist in terms of drawing and painting. He was lamenting that the talent for drawing did not appear to have descended to the male line, namely himself.