In July of 1935, Robert Bloch wrote to his epistolary mentor H. P. Lovecraft, care of Robert Barlow, whom Lovecraft was visiting in Florida. Bloch, then eighteen, wrote with excitement of an expanding network of writers and publishers he had met, either directly through Lovecraft or indirectly by his association with the influential author. The letter recounts a meeting of the Milwaukee Fictioneers, a group he had previously described as covering broad territory: “weird stuff … science fiction, western, detective, gangster, love, newspaper, sports, economics, novel, feature-syndicate, and radio fields ….” He continues with praise for Peter Lorre’s performance in “Mad Love,” entreating Lovecraft to “see it!”
Bloch, who would go on to pen Psycho, was perhaps the youngest of Lovecraft’s circle. Their correspondence began with a fan letter sent in 1933 and continued until Lovecraft’s death in 1937. Bloch was one of many in an expansive network of correspondents fueled by Lovecraft’s loquacity on paper. His correspondents included Barlow, August Derleth, Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, and Donald Wandrei. Through letters and circulated manuscripts, this network of writers formalized the imagined community developing around the pulp magazines like Weird Tales, Amazing Stories, and Fantasy Fan in which they published and read.
H.P. Lovecraft was at the center of this developing community. Shortly after his death in 1937, Barlow, acting as Lovecraft’s literary executor, delivered the first donation of manuscripts and correspondence to the Brown University Library. Today, the H. P. Lovecraft Collection includes extensive holdings of manuscripts, letters, editions of Lovecraft’s works in 20 languages, periodicals, biographical and critical works, and numerous collections of manuscript and printed materials of Lovecraft friends and associates. To support research in this significant collection, the Brown University Library recently announced the S. T. Joshi Endowed Research Fellowship for research relating to H. P. Lovecraft, his associates, and literary heirs.