A few weeks ago I wrote an article in which I boldly stated that “I rarely buy the same book twice because a better cover comes along” and briefly mentioned my ‘vanity’ collection of H.P. Lovecraft titles. It’s true, I will buy anything bearing his name if it doesn’t already reside on my shelves, despite the fact that I may have several copies of the same volume under different covers. I just can’t help it, I don’t know exactly what spurs me on to indulge in this largely pointless endeavour apart from imagining myself as a custodian of sorts who seeks to amass and preserve these browning sheaves of paper from the ravages of time.
I bought my first set of Lovecraft anthologies back in 1985. They were published by Granada/Grafton and each of the four thick volumes bore the most garish cover imaginable which I have since traced back to an artist called Tim White. I was nineteen years old or thereabouts at the time and absolutely devoured their contents in a matter of weeks. I almost became one of Lovecraft’s impossibly driven characters poring over antiquarian manuscripts in a bid to find the arcane formula and sigils required to summon a foul, eldritch creature from its millennial slumber. I still have those books to this day – my ‘reading copies’ and they show surprisingly little in the way of ageing which is quite odd.
But, I digress. I have featured a few Lovecraft covers in a previous article relating to skulls (here) but never covered the great man in his own article. Here then is a small selection of covers taken from a very long and overcrowded shelf dedicated entirely to the great Mr Howard Phillips Lovecraft;
The Watchers Out Of Time And Others (with August Derleth)
This one is the most prized book in my Lovecraft collection – a first edition of 5070 copies from Derleth’s own Arkham House Press published in 1974 with a stunning cover by Herb Arnold.
The Lurking Fear And Other Stories
Panther’s 1970 reprint of this anthology featuring somewhat bizarre cover artwork by Michael McInnerney
The Horror in the Museum & Others – Version 1
This 1971 Beagle Boxer collection only contains two fully co-credited pieces by Lovecraft with Elizabeth Berkeley but one of those stories is The Crawling Chaos and therefore fully deserves Lovecraft’s name on the cover. The rest of the contents omit Lovecraft’s name but all of them were revised by him to some extent. The fabulously psychedelic cover art is sadly uncredited.
The Horror in the Museum & Others – Version 2
Another version of this anthology, this time by Panther in 1975. Many of the stories contained in the above version have been substituted with other tales here and so this slightly tatty, fragile volume was a worthy purchase in the end.
The Case Of Charles Dexter Ward – Version 1
One of the surprisingly few full length novels penned by Lovecraft and published in 1970 by Panther. More psychedelic cover art, this time with a symbolic bent by an artist called Stanley Mouse.
The Case Of Charles Dexter Ward – Version 2
Yet another version of this fantastic novel, again published by Panther but this one dates back to 1963. I thought I’d include this one as the garish uncredited cover art and lurid tagline makes the book look more like a tale of flesh eating zombies than an atmospheric tale of a New England antiquarian dabbling in the black arts to uncover dark mysteries.
The Doom That Came To Sarnath And Other Stories
Published in 1976 by Ballantine Books with a wonderfully strange cover by Murray Tinkelman, I particularly love the horned, devilish graphic above Lovecraft’s name.
The Shuttered Room And Other Tales Of Horror
This volume has been my most recent acquisition, again published by Panther in 1970 with a great cover which is credited to ‘Picture Post’.