REVIEW: The Lovecraft Annual 2021. Hippocampus Press. Published late summer 2021.

The curry-brown cover of the 2021 Lovecraft Annual might seem to anticipate ‘hot stuff’ inside, and Lovecraftians who see the connection will not be disappointed. My guess is that this year’s colour choice was designed to sizzle nicely on the shelf, alongside the hot new Letters to E. Hoffmann Price which has an appendix containing Price’s East India Curry recipe.

Serving up the Annual’s spicy ‘appetiser’ is Horace A. Smith, co-author of a forthcoming book on Lovecraft’s experience of astronomy, the planets and various real cosmic phenomena. Here his title and subject is “Astronomy with Lovecraft’s First Telescope”. Perhaps in response to a magazine advert, Lovecraft had mailed off 99 cents of his juvenile allowance and received back an ‘Exclesior’ astronomical telescope. Smith reports on his own purchase of a vintage eBay example of the same, followed by his tests. There are found to be some small faults in the instrument, such as the need for balance of the extended tubes and some chromatic shifts in the lenses. But on a clear night the telescope is found to be quite adequate for seeing the moons of Jupiter. The ‘Exclesior’ could also serve as a terrestrial spy glass and even as a microscope. Lovecraft seems to have obtained this first telescope sometime in the first quarter of 1903, at age 12. Smith does not take the opportunity to link this telescope with the ‘sleuthing’ which Lovecraft also undertook at around this age. Selected Letters III reveals that the young Lovecraft, at around age 12/13, always carried a gun — a real revolver — with him and also had a set of disguises and false beards. This was to do with his boyhood detective work with the unofficial ‘Providence Detective Agency’, perhaps modelled on the Baker Street Irregulars of Sherlock Holmes or some other band of boys in the juvenile literature of the time. One imagines that a folding spy-glass might have offered this roving group useful long-distance surveillance of miscreants, as well as some fine viewing of craters on the moon, Mars and Orion’s belt.

A brief note in the Annual then tells of the recent arrival of the Belknap Long letters at the John Hay Library.

Duncan Norris’s “The Detestation of Mammon in Lovecraft” is a brisk and yet thoughtful survey of the various uses to which Lovecraft put money and gold in his tales. The two items were then widely considered to be freely exchangeable, due to what was known as the ‘Gold Standard’. This meant cash could be converted to gold on demand, a useful guard for the citizenry against a corrupt money-printing government. I might add that Providence was a centre for large-scale jewellery making, to which Lovecraft appears had a family connection via his father — but admittedly that is rather tangential to the idea of gold as an incorruptible currency. A survey of the uses of poverty and needy frugality in Lovecraft’s writings would of course be a whole other essay, but also a nice companion piece for “Detestation of Mammon”. Perhaps Norris might consider surveying this topic in a future Annual.

Next there is a brief note on the remarkable discovery of another historical Howard P. Lovecraft. Living in Los Angeles, of all places, and being of working age in 1917. Make of that what you will, Mythos writers of Hollywood.

Ken Faig Jr.’s “Lovecraft and the Irish” continues his long-standing interest in the Irish in Providence and their connections with Lovecraft. He opens by recalling the Irish domestic servants who were employed in Lovecraft’s boyhood home, and then explores the close juvenile friendship with the Branigan brothers. The focus here is on their family and home, rather than the free-range activities undertaken by the boys during their middle childhood. A painting of their father is reproduced in b&w on page 35 of the Annual, but the proportions are noticeably distorted. By the time of Lovecraft’s boyhood this neighbouring family had ‘married out’ and up, and had thus become only “a quarter Irish”. But it seems they compensated for their paternal dilution by becoming all the more fervently Irish in cultural terms. Faig finds that they made frequent visits across the water to the old pre-Troubles Ireland, and took delight in collecting what were presumably genuine Celtic antiquities. Faig draws our attention, via a Lovecraft letter, to the strange and presumably ancient votive bog-carvings they carried back. These found their way into Lovecraft’s growing mantelpiece museum of arcane curios, and he cherished them for the rest of his life. These were “grotesque” and had “a greenish patina” according to a letter by Lovecraft. I then wondered if these might have formed subconscious templates for the later ‘Cthulhu idol’, which at one point in the famous tale is also seen to be located in a swamp?

I would have welcomed Faig’s opinion on the social standing of Catholics in Providence circa 1902-1916, but no mention is made. One assumes the Irish of Providence were all practising Catholics. And when Faig’s essay states that Cardinal Mercier of Belgium stayed with the Branigan family in 1919 during his visit to the USA, such a thing seems almost certain. Surely a national Cardinal would only have stayed with a Catholic family known for devout attendance at church? But what did Lovecraft think of such matters, given his later reflexive rhetorical distaste for all things ‘Popish’? Did Providence’s long tradition of religious freedom and toleration give him a more open minded approach in his middle childhood and teenage years? This matter of religion and toleration perhaps deserves further investigation, though admittedly it may be difficult to pin down Lovecraft’s early attitudes to such things — beyond his well-known pagan play-acting in the local sylvan glades, and his teenage determination to avoid class prejudice in his friendships. Such as his friendship with the Swedish working-class immigrant Arthur J. Fredlund. The Swedes being then the largest new immigrant group in Providence, and as such formative in shaping Lovecraft’s aesthetic appreciation of ‘Nordic beauty’. The Irish were also a handsome lot, judging by the Providence Amateur Press Club, predominantly young Irish amateurs. Here the Club is given a paragraph by Faig but is ably documented in full elsewhere, with photos found by myself. Lovecraft’s supernatural Irish homecoming story “The Moon Bog” is touched on. Faig concludes with some later events relating to the Branigan family, and the fate of their house. He discovers a 1916 passport photo of Lovecraft’s long-ago close playmate John Joseph Branigan which, though small and shadowed, shows a handsome ‘Jonny Appleseed’ type of American lad.

David E. Schultz then goes “Following The Ancient Track” in pursuit of the early order in which Lovecraft’s poetry might have been presented as a collection. This ancient track leads into a briar-tangled swamp of ‘tentative lists’ with crossings-out, crumbling typescripts, abandoned booklets and more. But Schultz is a most able guide to such things, and leads his reader out the other side of the swamp with nary a scratch.

A brief note then anticipates the forthcoming book which will survey Lovecraft and his interest in astronomy and the planets. Ahead of this, some recent Lovecraft Annual essays on related topics are pointed out. This reminded me that the Lovecraft Annual could benefit from a single-volume keyword index, since there are now 15 volumes on the shelf and another is due very soon. Not everyone has access to the electronic version locked in academic databases, which is presumably searchable.

Raphael Hanon offers “Lovecraft’s Presentiment: Taphonomy as a Narrative and Horrific Element in the Tales of H.P. Lovecraft”. Taphonomy is the scientific study of the decomposition of creatures, specifically the reasoning and inference that can be applied to these remains. This aids in the solving of crime or the expansion of our knowledge of history and the earth sciences. Such factual but necessarily gory matters are here ably identified and surveyed in Lovecraft’s fiction. The details are found to be accurate even though… “Taphonomy was not yet a discipline when Lovecraft published his texts”. Which positions Lovecraft as something of a pioneer. But how much of a pioneer, I wondered? Were others also doing similar things in pulp and detective fiction? Sherlock Holmes is mentioned briefly, and we know Lovecraft read his adventures up to a certain date. It might then have been useful for Hanon to briefly quote a Sherlockian authority on the matter. I know that Conan Doyle had been a former doctor’s assistant in the slums of Birmingham in the West Midlands of England. But did he then use genuine taphonomy in the Holmes tales, and if so how often?

Hanon remarks that… “For an exhaustive review of Lovecraft’s use of science, the reader should refer to Gorosuk’s recent work.” This turns out to be a 2013 masters dissertation in French, freely available online. This focuses on science in “The Call of Cthulhu”, “The Shadow Over Innsmouth”, “The Shadow Out of Time”, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, and “At the Mountains of Madness”. I’d be interested to read an abridged version in English, if someone could translate it for a future Annual.

Dylan Henderson follows with a brilliant and well-written consideration of “The Promise of Cosmic Revelations: How the Landscape of Vermont Transforms “The Whisperer in Darkness””. I was ready for this consideration of Vermont, having very recently revisited “Whisperer” — though I had found myself a trifle disappointed by some of the tale’s clunkily over-explanatory lines and the relentlessly clueless narrator. Was “Whisperer” actually another self-parody like “The Hound”? But it seems not, judging by Lovecraft’s letters on its varied reception among ‘the gang’. It’s perhaps best thought of now as Lovecraft trying to overtly ‘please Farnsworth Wright’ at Weird Tales, which would seem to be one plausible explanation of it.

Henderson considers the densely wooded hills and still-unpaved mountain tracks of 1920s Vermont in relation to an encroaching modernity and the likely psychological impact of the ‘settled rural’ + ‘dark wilderness forest’ on an urban man of the period. Urbanites are even today often unsettled by deep countryside, and torn by the promise vs. the reality of the rustic life in a modern world. In the end I was not entirely convinced that Henderson’s claims about what Lovecraft might have been trying to do with the characterisation and landscape of the tale. His central claims, though well stated, didn’t quite seem to chime with the story I had just heard. But Henderson makes perceptive comments about the implied off-world cities of the ‘Outer Ones’ (the buzzing Mi-go from Yuggoth), and the false lure of knowledge and far-flung travel — the getting of which turns out to entail becoming a proto-Dalek ‘brain in a canister’ to be ferried around at the whim of alien entities. Many a modern inter-continental airline passenger might feel something similar. Lovecraft acutely felt the tension —in a new world of transatlantic airships, giant ocean liners, and the British flying-boat service which strung together even the furthest reaches of the Empire — between “a wish for infinite visioning and voyaging power [and] the familiar background which gives all things significance.” His modest and practical solution was to balance low-cost regional summer explorations with winter voyaging into the cosmic unknown via fiction and poetry. Along with his all-year vicarious enjoyment of travelogues in magazines, and the “infinite visioning” sometimes to be had from glimpses in the new medium of cinema newsreels or feature films set in exotic locations.

Brendan Whyte responds to the previous Lovecraft Annual with his “H.P. Lovecraft’s First Appearance in Print Reconsidered”. But — like the contributor to which he responds — somehow he has not discovered that a psychometrical apparatus was for weather forecasting and measurement. It has to do with measuring condensation and dew formation and is used for measurements alongside bulb thermometers. This relates also to “the colours of the thin films which the action of the weather produces upon glass” in collecting and condensing the condensation. Again, a chance has been lost to suggest a link between the young Lovecraft’s weather station apparatus and the strangely coloured “globules” in “The Colour out of Space”. Whyte does however very usefully suggest that the remote Amsterdam Evening Recorder newspaper was likely “lifting entirely and directly” its Lovecraft letter from a mid 1905 issue of The New York Herald. This seems very likely, though the Herald appearance has not yet been located. In which case we need find no connection of the young Lovecraft with a town some 100 miles NW of Providence.

Lovecraft himself appears next with his poem “New England Fallen”, a seemingly newly discovered version not in the latest The Ancient Track. There is a 1912 poem of that name in this definitive poetry collection, but it is far longer and definitely not as enjoyable to read. This short version has a verve and snap about it, and also a sentiment which reminds one of “The Street”. I would hazard a guess that it might also have been a private gift-poem, having been found handwritten on the back flyleaf of The Puritan Republic of the Massachusetts Bay in New England (1899). Perhaps a gift to Lovecraft’s then-elderly uncle and early mentor Franklin Chase Clark (1847-1915)? Incidentally, it appears that the formative Uncle still awaits a comprehensive study by Lovecraft scholars in terms of his interests, writings and publications — which went beyond the medical.

In the Annual the poem “New England Fallen” appears to have the typo fith for filth (“where fith corrupts”). It is of course possible that this is an early antiquarian touch from Lovecraft’s pen. The same can be found in All the Familiar Colloquies of Desiderius Erasmus, where the long-s word fiſh occurs in the line “where fish corrupts”, i.e. stinking and rotting fish. But the context of the “Fallen” poem is such that the word must be filth. A pity, since it would have been interesting to note Lovecraft conflating aliens and fish at so early a date.

Christopher Cuccia traverses “A Bridge through Chaos: The Miltonic in “Dagon” and Lovecraft’s Greater Cthulhu Mythos”, to examine the possible influence of Milton on the seminal tale of “Dagon”. Milton’s Bible-inspired cosmos and its monsters are found to be broadly comparable to those of Lovecraft. But I would have liked to have heard something about when and what Lovecraft read of Milton, prior to the writing of “Dagon” in the summer of 1917. Yes “Dagon” has the line in the story… “Through my terror ran curious reminiscences of [Milton’s] Paradise Lost, and of Satan’s hideous climb through the unfashioned realms of darkness.” But is Lovecraft here recalling his deep and recent reading of Milton, or just nodding distantly to the illustrations for it which struck him so forcibly as a child? These were found in…

an edition de luxe of “Paradise Lost” with illustrations by Dore, which I discovered one day in the east parlour

I can find no reference to his avidly reading Milton, other than his once recalling some oft-quoted ‘famous lines’ on the bucolic rustic life, and a passing remark in 1933 to Vernon Shea…

As for Milton — I don’t see how you … can argue away the distinctive charm of a large part of his work. He has the power of evoking unlimited images for persons of active imagination, & no amount of academic theory can explain that away

But that was in 1933, not 1916 or early 1917. And he doesn’t actually personalise it.

Marc Beherec then investigates “The Church That Inspired “The Horror at Red Hook” and the Fall of the House of Suydam”. At first glance Beherec appears to establish that Lovecraft knew the Syrians of the Red Hook were Christians, via a post-New York Dwyer letter. Beherec is correct but in a roundabout way, since he conflates the strange eastern music Lovecraft heard coming through the walls of his rented room (“A Syrian had the room next to mine”) with what is claimed to be Lovecraft’s 1927 knowledge that the Syrians of Red Hook were a variety of Orthodox Greek Christians (pages 141-142). This risks the reader misunderstanding what Lovecraft wrote at two different times. When Lovecraft wrote to Dwyer… “They belong for the most part to the Orthodox Greek Church” his comment was spurred not by Red Hook’s Syrians but rather by… “an old Turk [living at Clinton St.] under me, who used to get letters with outre stamps from the Levant. Alexander D. Messayeh.” The 1927 letter to Dwyer describes this man and then has a remark that observes that there is “a Greek strain” in the form of Christianity that then existed under the dominion of the Turks. Lovecraft was talking about the Greek influence on Christians living under Turkish dominion in the Near East, but he is not very specific and only by inference can the comment be seen to apply to Red Hook.

Most likely he did know the Red Hook Syrians were Christians, soon after arriving in Red Hook and after some initial confusion between i) the forever-unseen but oft-heard musical inhabitants of the room next to Lovecraft (“Syrian”), and ii) the seen and known “old” fellow living in the room under Lovecraft at Clinton Street (a “Turk”). The Syrians of Red Hook were indeed eastern Christians of various types and sects, fleeing the long persecution and massacres of Christians and Jews which has left the Middle East the impoverished monoculture it is today…

Renowned immigrant scholar Philip K. Hitti, himself a Maronite [i.e. an eastern Christian], observed that most Syrians designated Ottoman persecution, “the alien yoke of the Turks,” as “the chief cause of their emigration”. “Christianity overwhelmingly predominated in this immigrant group. The sources generally agree that roughly ninety percent of Syrian immigrants in the first wave to the United States were Christians” [almost entirely from the forested uplands of Mount Lebanon, and thus could also be called ‘Lebanese Christians’]. — from Gregory J. Shibley, New York’s Little Syria, 1880-1935 (2014).

The deep enmity between Christian Syrians and Turks is summed up by the old Syrian adage… “Wherever a Turk sets his foot, there the earth withers for a century”, and I imagine that even today they do not care to be confused with each other. Of course, Lovecraft may well have been confused himself. His supposed “Turk” in the room below, implied to be from “the Levant”, was possibly also a Syrian. Only an investigation of Mr. Alexander D. Messayeh will tell us more. In fact Messayeh was a Turk from Baghdad, the major and ancient city that lies far inland and to the east of the Levant coastal area and which at the time he came-of-age was then part of the fading Ottoman Empire. As a New York dealer in rare antiquities he would have had daily correspondence from across the Levant, which is what Lovecraft noted. The man can be known via various archival sources. The Daily News from New York, 4th May 1926 puts me on the right track…

Miss Kelly, 21, yesterday brought suit for $100,000 for “breach of promise against Alexander D. Messayeh, 52, internationally known art dealer.

A recent French thesis then clarifies the journalistic “art dealer” of 1926. Messayeh was actually a steady dealer in ancient antiquities, shipped by his brother from Baghdad to Britain, France and America…

he took part in the creation of the Plimpton collection [of ancient Babylonian tablets and cones], and in the enrichment of the British Museum [under the famous Budge] … [in 1912 in France] Father Scheil cites the name, referring to two people, “antique dealers, Bagdadians […] one of the brothers, Alexander D. Messayeh (more often called Alex) takes care of the American-front European business, while the second brother, Emil D. Messayeh, lives in Baghdad and manages supply [trading as ‘Messayeh & Ghanima’].” They had worked with the famous Budge to acquire Persian antiquities for the British Museum, as evidence by a letter… “In accordance with your wishes, we have made all possible inquiries against the Persian antiquities (…) we managed to obtain a statue (…)”. Letter from D. Massayeh and N. Ghamina to Dr. Budge, March 8, 1900.” — translated from La circulation des tablettes cuneiformes matheematiques, a 2017 thesis in French by Magali Dessagnes, for the University of Paris.

He entered the somewhat different trade in Babylonian tablets and cones and stamp-seals in circa 1913/1914, albeit according to a rival excavator who was talking to a big client and slighting Messayeh’s lack of expertise in such things. In 1931 a letter to Messayeh from the same rival abruptly chides Messayeh as an old-fashioned ‘object hunter’ — a trader unaware of a modern museum’s need for painstaking new scientific excavation methods and diligent documentation. Messayeh seems to have ceased trading from New York City at around that point. He made a late marriage in his old age, or perhaps brought his wife to the U.S.

Thus he was an urban Ottoman Turk from Baghdad (now Iraq), settled in New York City as a businessman rather than a Christian refugee fleeing persecution and massacre. Lovecraft was almost certainly right about his origin then, though unintentionally misleads by mentioning exotic postage stamps from the Levant (i.e. the long coastal stretch of the eastern Mediterranean from Aleppo down to the Suez Canal, and very far from inland Baghdad). Messayeh’s wide trading connections suggest he would have needed good English, and likely had fluency in various other languages. His religious background remains a mystery, and this question is not solved by the 1925 census for Clinton St. (my thanks to Ken Faig Jr. for this information). There Mr. Messayeh gave his name as a “Messeyek, Alex”, occupation as “Fireman”, born in the USA and aged “30”. All surely wrong. In the later 1940 census he seems to have told the truth… born 1875 in Baghdad. This fits with the dates for the brother who remained in Baghdad, in whose name the middle D. initial stood for “David”. If both brothers had “David” as a common middle name, that may even indicate a Jewish background. This may seem unlikely today, but at the end of the First World War “a third of the citizens of Baghdad were Jewish”.

Perhaps his 1925 census entry was because he was not keen for tax authorities to be able to readily cross-reference him. But I wonder if the seedy Clinton Street lodgings were also a way to avoid the lovely young Miss Kelly and her impending $100,000 law-suit?

“Art Man in $100,000 Love Suit”, 1926. The picture does not show the two people involved. The next day the same paper reported of him “ARABIAN KNIGHT ANGERED IN CELL IN [?]AM ARREST”.

The law-suit press-cutting confirms his age in summer 1926, 52. That age classed as “old” in those days, so Lovecraft was also correct there.

Beherec also gives some general figures for annual legal U.S. immigration of Syrians in 1924 (page 145), yet leaves unmentioned the important factor of the group’s local population growth in New York City from 1890-1924. His point about American over-reaction to this immigrant population would have been better made if he had noted the total local population — what is not stated is that around 10,000 Syrians were living in Brooklyn by 1930 (see the results of the 2017 research project Syrians in New York: Mapping Movement, 1900-1930, drawing on census data and using cutting-edge digital mapping). But Lovecraft was anyway aware of the more refined cultural and business aspects of the Syrian community in Brooklyn — for instance his tailor was a Syrian named Habib — and he took the trouble to show that the sinister newcomers in his tale were “eloquently repudiated” by settled locals. The newly arrived sect described in Red Hook are…

unclassified slant-eyed folk who used the Arabic alphabet but were eloquently repudiated by the great mass of Syrians” (The Horror at Red Hook”).

Beherec usefully spends several pages disentangling the various religious groups and sects involved in various Eastern religious presences in 1920s New York City, a matter which often utterly baffled the Catholic priests who came into contact with them and their unfamiliar ways. This aids the evaluation of various Red Hook churches as candidates for the key church described in “The Horror at Red Hook”, the church having been apparently mis-identified by earlier Lovecraftian researchers. The advice of deep experts on local churches is sought. The fact that most churches of that time and place really did have a basement dancehall is surely an interesting find, and it again confirms the documentary accuracy of ethnographic and demographic details in “Red Hook”. Also of interest is the relatively high water-table under some basements, which caused subsidence in later years, which make one think of the subterranean canals of the story and the collapsing buildings.

It is suggested by Beherec that Lovecraft at some point visited Manhattan’s ‘Little Syria’, the local source of the cross-city emigration from the late 1890s onward. Growing Syrian families had moved from the increasingly expensive Manhattan to the cheaper and more family-friendly properties of Brooklyn (Syrians in New York: Mapping Movement). I would have welcomed more evidence from the letters on this possible visit to the ‘Little Syria’ area in Manhattan, by 1925 a small area then becoming noted by guide books for tourists for its restaurants and spicy atmosphere. On the matters of the exact identification of the model for the church in the “Red Hook” story, and links with specific real people with the surname Suydam (very common in the city), I remain unconvinced by Beherec’s suggestions.

Toward the end Beherec gives a passage found in Kirk’s Diary. Kirk is talking of a Kalem meeting which frankly discussed sex… “one was a homo, one an avowed fetishist, one quite nothing were sex is concerned” wrote Kirk of the participants. (Lovecraft’s New York Circle, page 28). This sent me in search of the exact date of the meeting. It turns out that Lovecraft was away in Elizabethtown on Friday 10th October 1924 (as heard in the recent Voluminous podcast), having a break from ‘the boys’ and Sonia. Of the three attendees mentioned, we can assume that the first was Loveman (and that Kirk was thus aware of his homosexuality) but the other two are unknown. Presumably the Kalems were able to discuss sex so openly because Lovecraft was absent. The next day Lovecraft immediately returned early to Elizabethtown, Saturday 11th October, and it then seems sure that he had entirely skipped the Friday evening Kalem meeting (held at a “table” according to Kirk, so perhaps simply a cafe meet-up without McNeil).

Next in the Annual is James Goho’s “A Portrait of Charles Dexter Ward as a Haunted Young Man”. He suggests that Curwen can be understood as a ‘phantom’ — this being a specialist term currently in use among the Gothic Studies crowd in universities. Perhaps Goho’s most useful section here, for many outside the cloistered world of Gothic Studies, will be the seven pages offering a concise and straightforward plot summary of the novel. One hopes that lazy students will not use this as a crib in future, to avoid reading Dexter Ward. I recent heard the full book as the excellent vintage cassette tape reading, and can tell them that they would be missing out on quite a treat. Such a fluent and perfect reading must surely forever rebut the parroted claim that Lovecraft’s fiction is clotted and ‘unreadable’.

Duncan Norris hears “The Reverberation of Echoes: Lovecraft in Twenty-First-Century Cinema”, ably tracing Lovecraft’s themes and ideas in recent corporate and amateur screen productions. He makes the amusing point that the influence of Lovecraft is now so pervasive that even those who shun him are — unbeknown to themselves — still his followers. Norris is brisk and entertaining, and has a few sharp words for one big-name writer who professes to hate Lovecraft — yet who is on record as being proud of never having read “The Colour Out of Space” and other classic tales by the man. Norris also dips into soundtracks, and there is even some room in the capacious discussion for a quick thrash with Norwegian black metal rock bands.

Steven J. Mariconda’s annual column “How to Read Lovecraft” muses on Lovecraft’s sense of play, leading into a plausible consideration of how his sense of historical flow and juxtaposition may have been influenced by his formative study of devices such as Adams’ Synchronological Chart of Universal History (1881). Mariconda suggests this may be linked with the later ‘playing out’ of the Mythos as a linked and interpenetrated cross-story/cross-author timeline. This would also fit well with the synchronistic way Lovecraft understood time in his own self and memory.

Finally we have the book reviews. Ken Faig Jr. considers the new expanded volume of Kleiner letters. He tantalizes the reader with a remark on the Kleiner, Morton and Moe letters, stating that… “the fate of the originals is not known”. All we currently have are the transcripts. This makes me think that a future Lovecraft Annual might usefully have an overview of all possible ‘missing correspondent’ caches that are at all likely to still be lurking in someone’s attic, together with some indication of possible whereabouts (e.g. McNeil’s descendants in Wisconsin). Darrell Schweitzer then ably reviews the two-volume Letters to Family. Martin Andersson concludes with a review of the spicy new volume of Letters to E. Hoffmann Price and Richhard F. Searight. That’s the one with the curry recipe.

Postcard from Price and Lovecraft to Donald Wandrei, after the 25 and-a-half hour session of talk, curry and coffee that Lovecraft describes here as a “convocation of necromancers”. This marathon session occurred in New Orleans when Lovecraft first visited Price. Postcard dated 15th June 1932.