My Forebears in the 18th Century

My maternal grandfather—born in 1833—and his generation seemed much closer to me than the generation of my parents, uncles, and aunts, born around the ’60’s; while my forebears in the 18th century (periwigged Devonshire squires and rural Anglican vicars on my father’s side, and New-England planters on my mother’s side) seemed closest of all. That sense of immediate personal kinship with the 18th century—its costume, architecture, literary style, thought, etc.—has never left me or even diminished. It’s that which sends me rambling around the country looking for Vieux Carré’s and Charlestons and Natchezes and Salems and Annapolises and Quebecs!


DESCRIPTION: In a letter to his friend and fellow writer E. Hoffmann Price, Lovecraft describes the affinity, the “sense of immediate personal kinship,” he feels for his maternal grandfather’s generation and for his ancestors in the eighteenth century.

CITATION: Lovecraft, H. P. “To E. Hoffmann Price.” 15 Feb. 1933. Selected Letters. Edited by August Derleth and James Turner, vol. 4, Arkham House, 1976, pp. 149-54.

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An Antiquarian Miracle

But the climate, O Sage, is only the beginning of the miracle from an antiquarian point of view. Indeed—there is nothing about the place so wholly important and distinctive as the astoundingly eighteenth century atmosphere—for in all verity I can say that Charleston is the best-preserv’d colonial city of any size, without exception, that I have ever encounter’d. Virtually, everything is just as it was in the reign of George the Third—indeed, ’tis easier to count the houses which are not colonial, than to attempt to count those which are.


DESCRIPTION: In a letter to his friend Maurice W. Moe, Lovecraft describes, with joy, his impressions of Charleston, South Carolina, and its colonial architecture.

CITATION: Lovecraft, H. P. “To Maurice W. Moe.” 4 May 1930. Lord of a Visible World: An Autobiography in Letters. Edited by S. T. Joshi and David E. Schultz, Ohio University Press, 2000, pp. 247-9.

As I Sit on Charleston’s Battery

Just now—as I sit in the sun on Charleston’s Battery, I am being pestered by dozens of coal-black pickaninnies of the average age of eight, who want (a) to dance a jig for my benefit in exchange for a penny, and (b) to black my already-blacked boots. Dey des nochally ca’n’t un’erstan’ wha de genmum ruther write letters than improve his personal appearance or advance his choreographic education! Damn hard little wasps to shoo off—but one doesn’t want to be cross with them.


DESCRIPTION: In a letter to an unknown acquaintance named Mr. Bantz, Lovecraft describes his trip to Charleston, South Carolina, and his interaction with the local African Americans there.

CITATION: Lovecraft, H. P. “To Mr. Bantz.” Selected Letters. Edited by August Derleth and James Turner, vol. 5, Arkham House, 1976, p. 178.