Science fiction and horror fans will have a field day exploring Providence — the birthplace of H.P. Lovecraft. Widely dubbed the "father of modern horror," Lovecraft has become a cult figure since his life in the early 20th century. Many modern sci-fi and horror fiction writers and filmmakers have cited Lovecraft as influencing their work, from Stephen King to Guillermo del Toro. Lovecraft's relationship with his hometown ran deep, with descriptions of beloved Providence places sprinkled throughout his fiction. Today his presence can be felt at many historic sites and cultural attractions in the city.

H.P. Lovecraft

H.P. Lovecraft's Life and Legacy

Howard Phillips "H.P." Lovecraft was born in Providence in 1890. Both his parents were committed to the same psychiatric hospital (on separate occasions), and Lovecraft experienced his own (self-professed) "nervous breakdown" in high school. Still, he was an intelligent, eccentric child who developed a keen interest in chemistry, astronomy and Gothic horror, and he began publishing stories at a young age. Many of these early stories, heavily influenced by Edgar Allan Poe, were published in the pulp magazine "Weird Tales." This publication would go on to publish most of his work, even though he remained relatively unknown in his lifetime — despite authoring many short stories, poems and novellas, in addition to nearly 100,000 letters.

Lovecraft's literary legacy looms large, both in Providence and around the world. After he died in 1937, his genius began to be recognized, and today he's seen as one of the most prominent authors of his genre. In fact, "Lovecraftian" horror has become its own genre, signifying a cosmic horror emphasizing fear of the unknown. Numerous contemporary artists — novelists, filmmakers, poets, short story writers and visual artists — have named Lovecraft a major influence, forever cementing his place in horror literature and pop culture. And luckily for visitors to Providence, you can get an immersive look at the author through the many local attractions that commemorate his legacy.

Lovecraft Arcade

Major Lovecraftian Attractions and Events

A great starting point for diving into Lovecraftian culture in Providence, Lovecraft Arts & Sciences is a nonprofit hub for fans of so-called "weird fiction." The organization hosts lectures, tours, readings and workshops showcasing Providence seen through Lovecraft's eyes. The most popular of these events is NecronomiCon, a four-day annual festival with literary panels, film screenings, art exhibitions and more. Lovecraft Arts & Sciences is as close to an H.P. Lovecraft museum as there is in Providence. It's also a bookstore and souvenir shop where you can pick up a unique keepsake.

A trip to the Providence Athenaeum is a must-do. Lovecraft spent much of his time at this historic independent library, founded nearly 200 years ago. One of the library's most famous visitors was Edgar Allan Poe, Lovecraft's hero.

Though it was unmarked for many years (Lovecraft died in abject poverty), today, the author's grave at Swan Point Cemetery simply reads, "I am Providence." Many admirers come here to pay their respects throughout the year.

Brown University's John Hay Library houses the largest collection of Lovecraft materials worldwide and is open to the public. This collection includes letters, original manuscripts, editions of the author's work in other languages, books and personal items.

Finally, pay a visit to the H.P. Lovecraft house at 65 Prospect Street — Lovecraft's final residence was also the model for the home of Robert Blake, his character in "The Haunter of the Dark."

(Check out Lovecraft's College Hill Walking Tour for a map of all the Lovecraftian points of interest in Providence, including his other residences in the city, the places that inspired his stories and other notable sites.)