Autograph manuscript of "The Shunned House," inscribed and signed, 32 pages (11 x 8 5/8 in.; 279 x 218 mm), on the versos of various business letters and personal letters, mimeographed, typed and manuscript, of white and salmon-colored paper, [New York, mid-October–] 3 November 1924; some wear at edges, especially on first and last leaves, paper loss on last leaf, not affecting the text.
with: Typed manuscript of "The Shunned House," inscribed and signed, 29 (of 30) pages (11 x 8 5/8 in.; 279 x 118 mm), with autograph corrections in ink; minimal wear.
The complete heavily corrected manuscript of a classic American short story, with a corrected typescript (lacking only the final page, which contained only a few lines), both inscribed and signed by Lovecraft to Samuel Loveman.
This amazing manuscript clearly shows the careful development of a much loved American horror story. The story, which is based on the author's observations of a derelict house at 135 Benefit Street in his native Providence, R.I., is an entertaining blend of antiquarian horror and pseudo-science fiction. On the first page of the manuscript, Lovecraft toys with several variations before coming up with his memorable title: he tries out—and then scores through—"The Celler in Meeting Street," "The House in Meeting Street," and then replaces "Meeting" with "Benefit," the street's actual name. As with all the corrections in this manuscript, the original words, phrases, and paragraphs are still quite legible. On the verso of the first page of the manuscript, Lovecraft has worked out for himself in ink the genealogy of the principal characters of the story from 1763 to 1883.
While the rectos of these sheets are undisputably important for the insight they give into the creation of "The Shunned House," the versos may also be of interest to Lovecraft scholars and collectors, comprising as they do, letters from W. Paul Cook, Clyde Townsend, and others. If further proof of Lovecraft's frugality were needed, it is to be found here.
S. T. Joshi, in his definitive biography of Lovecraft, calls the story "a dense, richly textured story with convincing historical background and a fine sense of cumulative horror …. [T]he hideous climax (with a … genuine suprise ending) and the thought-provoking scientific rationale for the horror make this a noteworthy landmark in Lovecraft's early corpus" (H. P. Lovecraft: A Life, p. 350). Although Lovecraft was living in New York when he wrote this story, it is his first significant tale to be set in his hometown of Providence. On 16 November 1924, the author read the present manuscript to his close circle of friends. The story was very well received, especially by Samuel Loveman, who urged Lovecraft to have a typed copy ready by the 19th, so it could be shown to a reader at Knopf. Lovecraft, however did not finishing typing up the story until the 22nd. Presumably the present inscribed typescript is that copy. Loveman tried throughout the next year to promote the story, but with no luck (see also lot 79).
These autograph and typescript copies of "The Shunned House" constitute the most important Lovecraft manuscript ever to come on the market.
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