Lovecraft: A Life
Warwick, Rhode Island: Necronomicon Press, 1996. First Limited. Hardcover. Fine / Fine. Item #80
pp. xii, 704. $40.00. First printing, October 1996. Necronomicon Press, Warwick, Rhode Island.
Twenty years after the publication of the first published biography by L. Sprague Decamp in 1975, Marc Michaud’s Necronomicon Press published an abridged version of Joshi’s 500,000+ word manuscript. Lovecraft: A Life hit the proverbial bookshelves in October 1996 and was buoyed by a review by Joyce Carol Oates in the New York Review of Books.
“S.T. Joshi’s meticulously researched H.P. Lovecraft: A Life suggests that Lovecraft, for all his championing of independent thinking, was much in thrall to his widowed, ailing mother Susie, who seems to have made of her son’s personal appearance (tall, gaunt, with a long, prognathous jaw and frequently blemished skin) an image of moral degeneracy. A neighbor recounts that “Mrs. Lovecraft talked continuously of her son who was so hideous that he hid from everyone and did not like to walk upon the streets where people would gaze at him,” a statement the neighbor considered “exaggerated.” (Mrs. Lovecraft was believed not to have been told the cause of her husband’s syphilitic dementia and death, and associated Lovecraft with his father. Yet it must have been she who encouraged her son to wear his deceased father’s clothes as a young man.) It would not be until Mrs. Lovecraft died while institutionalized, when Lovecraft was thirty-one years old, that he would try to free himself, at least sporadically, from his housebound, claustrophobic existence.” -Joyce Carol Oats. New York Review of Books, October 31, 1996
The book appeared in two states: a signed limited hardcover edition (250 copies) and a trade paperback edition. The limited edition sold out in a matter of days, leaving disappointed a large number of fans and collectors alike. NecroPress underestimated the demand for the limited edition. In their defense, the impact of Oates’ review could not have been predicted. The press had not been in the business of providing advance review copies to a critic of her importance.
The aftermarket demand for the limited edition would push dealer prices upward of $1,000 until the 2010 publication of the unabridged I AM PROVIDENCE from Hippocampus Press. This fine unread copy is from my personal collection. I was one of the lucky few to purchase during the 1996 preorder and it has decorated my shelves ever since. I waited for the paperback edition before reading. Signed by S. T. Joshi on the front free endpaper in bold blue marker.