A Review of HP Lovecraft: The Mysterious Man Behind the Darkness by Charlotte Montague

I’m beginning to think that horror authors from the the turn of the century into the 1930’s must take their inspiration from rough childhoods and nightmares. Lovecraft has said he was influenced by Poe and it seems they were both haunted in many ways. Lovecraft was raised by a single mother who was entirely overprotective and raised him to think he was weak and sickly. He was also raised by 2 aunts and therefore didn’t have much in the way of strong male influences. It was thought, based on things Lovecraft wrote to friends and family about his health and symptoms, that he was not necessarily sickly but quite possible suffering from a form of autism, Asperger’s Syndrome. From early childhood into adulthood he dealt with and obsessive personality, tics, and fits of fainting and seizures. As he got older he enjoyed great and very close relationships with fellow amateur writers but his one attempt at marriage failed miserably as he was more interested in himself and his friends than any sort of romantic relationship.

This is the second biography I have read written by Charlotte Montague, the first being Edgar Allan Poe. This one was in the same format and just as interesting and entertaining. I really love how the chronology of his works and where he drew inspiration for these stories are woven together with facts from the things going on in his life because you can really tie together how life and various relationships influenced him. Unlike Poe, Lovecraft was able to sell many of his stories for, at the time, hefty sums. But like Poe, he never really gained much popularity in the literary world until decades after his death.

You must be very familiar with HP Lovecraft’s work if you’re going to read this biography though. There are complete plot summaries for most of his major works. While this is fantastic for someone like me who has already read all of his work in the past, there are a plethora of spoilers for those who are just beginning to visit his library. For me, it was a nice reminder of what I have read by him and a fun revisit.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book to fans of HP Lovecraft. This is a very in depth exploration of his life and work and I now feel I know so much more than I did before. Lovecraft wrote so many lengthy letters to friends and family throughout his short life that much of what is found in this book is words and revelations from his own mouth and mind.


A Review of Edgar Allen Poe: The Strange Man Standing Deep in the Shadows by Charlotte Montague

First of all, I just want to say, I’ve read everything by Poe as he was at one time my favorite author. He still is one of my favorites. I thought I knew a lot about his life through the articles I’ve read here and there over the years. I realized that I really knew not much of anything about him. His story is sad and very tragic.

Without getting into too much detail, because this is a book every Poe fan should read, one of the things that really stood out to me was how socially awkward Poe was. He fought with a good majority of his literary colleagues and was somewhat of a ladies man. Though he was fiercely loyal to Virginia, he received quite a few letters of admiration from friends, writers, and poets. He would read these letters to Virginia and they would laugh together. After her death, he couldn’t bear to be alone so began passionately pursuing several women he was acquainted with. The only thing that really stopped Poe from remarrying was his refusal and/or inability to give up drinking.

I was saddened by the circumstances of his death. He died a not very well liked man, clouded by scandals, alone, and in poverty. Though he had gained quite a bit of popularity due to his stories and poetry, he never made any money from any of it. It took him many years after his death to gain the fame and understanding of his genius that he truly deserved.

I ┬ádefinitely recommend this book. It is fully illustrated. It gives a synopsis of each of his more famous stories. There are explanations for things and events happening at the time that help to shed some light on the corresponding events in Mr. Poe’s life. Charlotte Montague wrote a series of these books on different historical figures and I intend to delve into her biography of HP Lovecraft next. I hope you enjoy this one as much as I did!