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Essay Example: Drafts to H. P. Lovecraft — Part 1

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Robert E. Howard’s letters to H. P. Lovecraft represent the bulk of his extant letters, and differ from many of his letters to intimate friends not only in length, but in the breadth and depth of the material covered, including quotations from and citations of various reference works in support of Howard’s arguments. While some of Lovecraft and Howard’s correspondence is obviously spontaneous and brief, particularly the postcards, the longer letters are definitely planned and, in several cases Howard went through one or more drafts before arriving at the final letter. We know this because several of these draft-letters survive, and were published in the Collected Letters of Robert E. Howard – Index and Addenda (2015, Robert E. Howard Foundation Press). It may prove interesting, then, to examine where and how Robert E. Howard’s drafts to H. P. Lovecraft differ from his final letters.

There are four surviving drafts, all of which only survive in a partial state, so they will be examined side-by-side with the relevant portions of the final letters to illustrate the changes made. Text unique to the drafts will be colored red, while text unique to the final letters will be colored blue. Formatting (paragraph breaks, etc.) have been freely distorted to more clearly show were sections of text match up most closely.

1 July 1930

The first surviving letter in the Howard-Lovecraft correspondence, a partial draft for this letter survives, consisting entirely of a lengthy discussion of Howard’s theories on the Celts and their migration to the British Isles. Aside from some minor corrections, the main difference between the draft and the final letter is that Howard softened and refined many of his personal theories, adding some additional references and (as the whole work was typed) copying the Greek letters into the bank spaces by hand.

Read Part 2, Part 3, Part 4