The Lovecraft world is all abuzz with news that a previously unknown, 5,000 word letter from H.P. Lovecraft has been discovered. The letter (dated February 2, 1924) was from Lovecraft to then editor of WEIRD TALES, J. C. Henneberger. The letter was discovered by accident by James Machin at the Harry Ransom Center (HRC) at the University of Texas at Austin. The HRC is home to many different collections of various materials and is, in fact, where I discovered Hodgson’s letters to Coulson Kernahan many years ago.
This letter is important for a number of reasons, not the least of which is Lovecraft providing brief synopses of his novels, “Azathoth” and “The House of the Worm”, which were apparently never written or lost. I encourage everyone to go over to the site that explains the find and provides scans of the typewritten letter. It’s at:
This is one of the most significant finds in Lovecraft letters in many years but, I hear you ask, “what does this have to do with Hodgson?”
Unfortunately, Lovecraft does not mention Hodgson by name in the letter and, being written in 1924, this was still years before Lovecraft would even become aware of Hodgson. However, Lovecraft does mention the story “Fungus Island” by Phillip Fisher. Longtime readers of this blog will remember that I discussed Fisher’s story and it’s strong similarity to WHH’s “Voice in the Night” almost two years ago. (You can find the blog post where I talk about Fisher and the story itself here: https://williamhopehodgson.wordpress.com/2013/03/15/fungus-isle-by-phillip-fisher/.)
In the letter, Lovecraft has this to say about Fisher’s story:
Another man with promise is Phillip M. Fisher, Jr., who had a fine thing in a recent ALL-STORY, spoiled only by a tame ending obviously designed to suit the gentle Bob Davis. Told to let the human race go to hell, Fisher could accomplish wonders. His tale was called “Fungus Island”.
Given that Fisher’s story (mistakenly recalled by Lovecraft as “Fungus Island” rather than “Fungus Isle“) is so similar to Hodgson’s tale, it would seem reasonable to conclude that Lovecraft would have also enjoyed “Voice in the Night”. However, we have no evidence that HPL ever read this story by Hodgson or, indeed, any of Hodgson’s short stories other than the Carnacki series. Still, there may be a missing letter out there that might come to light someday and prove this theory.