Hunting down H.P.Lovecraft – outside 169 Clinton Street, Brooklyn, New York, location of the Horror at Red Hook
Not a particularly fantastic photo in its own right, but the context of where it was taken was, for me, utterly thrilling.
H.P.Lovecraft was an American horror writer (1890 – 1937) directly responsible for the conception of a body of work that was to form the Cthulhu Mythos – describing the machinations of a pantheon of Outer Gods and minions, sometimes mindless, otherwise sentient, cunning and malevolent beyond human experience.
I was 14 when I first discovered H.P.Lovecraft’s work and it literally warped my mind. I’ve been a devotee ever since. Both in fiction and in role-playing games (tabletop, not computer games).
In 1924, Lovecraft moved to Brooklyn Heights (Clinton Street) as a swift and unsatisfying marriage came apart. Born and raised in Providence, Rhode Island, much of Lovecraft’s life was coloured by mental, emotional and physical ailments. He certainly suffered some degree or form of xenophobia. Combined with a sort of anxious exhaustion which may have culminated in several nervous breakdowns during his time spent in Clinton Street, one product of his stay there was a story called The Horror at Red Hook.
Living in a first-floor apartment on the North West corner, it seems Lovecraft detested the crumbling, decaying aspect of the area, plus other aspects of the neighbourhood, causing him to write in one letter…
Something unwholesome — something furtive — something vast lying subterrenely [sic] in obnoxious slumber — that was the soul of 169 Clinton St. at the edge of Red Hook, and in my great northwest corner room “The Horror at Red Hook” was written
The story probably owes a lot to Lovecraft’s subjective views of the people who occupied the neighbourhood; ironic considering the rather gentrified state of Brooklyn Heights today.
Being there then, I was at first a little disappointed to see that this singular part of the terraced building had been subjected to fairly recent renovation. It lacked the veneer of the era. The area too, is all rather mundane. But, to stand at the doorway and consider the echoes of the man who once stood exactly where I was… that was something special. A faint, fragmentary connection to a man who regardless of his short-comings as a human being, has been an incredible influence on the shape and course of my life.
You might also enjoy these:
- Tracking down The Fog, John Carpenter (1980)
- Tracking down The Marsten House, Salem’s Lot (1979)
- Tracking down scenes from the world of Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in Devon and Cornwall
- Reasons to like Lovecraft: Byakhee
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