AN EXCEPTIONAL COPY OF THE NOTORIOUSLY RARE FIRST EDITION OF H.P. LOVECRAFT’S FIRST BOOK, THE SHADOW OVER INNSMOUTH, 1936—ONE OF ONLY 200 COPIES
LOVECRAFT, Howard Phillips. The Shadow Over Innsmouth. Everett, PA: Visionary Publishing Co., 1936. Octavo, original black cloth, original white dust jacket.
Extremely rare first edition of Lovecraft’s first published book, with four dramatic black-and-white illustrations by Frank Utpatel. Only 400 copies were printed, of which about 200 copies were bound and the remainder destroyed. This copy with the rare errata leaf and an exceptional dust jacket, apparently from the publisher’s private reserve.
"A fine story of supernatural adventure and discovery" (Bleiler, Guide to Supernatural Fiction 1039). "I think of Howard Phillips Lovecraft as the Edgar Allan Poe of the 20th century. Both writers lived and wrote their tales in the early decades of their centuries—and their tales colored and set the patterns for the terror writers of their respective centuries. For Poe, the lingering horrors of the era before, of the beginnings of the scientific investigation of the hitherto unknown… For Lovecraft, the terror of the newly discovered, the apparently infinite universe, the questioning of all established beliefs, the disintegration of the social structures cherished by those who had gone before and the confused kaleidoscope of things to come… Lovecraft was the Columbus of the malignant universe—Stephen King and his contemporaries are but those who follow" (Horror: 100 Best Books, 133-35).
This was Lovecraft's first published book, the only one published before his death in March 1937. (In 1928 about 300 copies of The Shunned House were printed but few of them were bound and they were not circulated beyond a tiny circle of Lovecraft's friends.) According to publisher William H. Crawford, approximately 400 copies of The Shadow Over Innsmouth were printed in April 1936, of which about 200 were bound and the remainder destroyed at a later date. An errata slip and printed dust jacket were prepared after publication and in some cases were supplied to those who received early copies without them. The dust jacket on this copy is the rare variant on plain white paper stock with silver lettering on the front cover and spine, matching the lettering on the cloth, and no illustration (Currey's variant 3). There is no priority established for the dust jacket variants, but it has been observed that this variant of the dust jacket was the one on the copies in the publisher's private reserve of this book. The dust jacket here is in about-fine condition, and also present is a fine unfolded copy of the scarce errata slip (which is taller than the book itself and thus usually folded when present at all). The book is Currey's binding B, with the title stamped in upper and lower case letters on the front cover; no priority established. (Currey, 263).
Book about fine, with minor wrinkling to cloth along spine, as often, and exceptional given the materials used. Very faint stain to rear flap of dust jacket. A fine copy of this important Lovecraft rarity.