"The Dunwich Horror" is a horror short story by American writer H. P. Lovecraft. Written in 1928, it was first published in the April 1929 issue of Weird Tales (pp. 481–508). It takes place in Dunwich, a fictional town in Massachusetts. It is considered one of the core stories of the Cthulhu Mythos.
|"The Dunwich Horror"|
|Author||H. P. Lovecraft|
|Published in||Weird Tales|
|Media type||Print (Magazine)|
|Publication date||April, 1929|
In the isolated, desolate, decrepit village of Dunwich, Massachusetts, Wilbur Whateley is the hideous son of Lavinia Whateley, a deformed and unstable albino mother, and an unknown father (alluded to in passing by mad Old Whateley, as "Yog-Sothoth"). Strange events surround his birth and precocious development. Wilbur matures at an abnormal rate, reaching manhood within a decade. Locals shun him and his family, and animals fear and despise him due to his odor. All the while, his sorcerer grandfather indoctrinates him into certain dark rituals and the study of witchcraft. Various locals grow suspicious after Old Whateley buys more and more cattle, yet the number of his herd never increases, and the cattle in his field become mysteriously afflicted with severe open wounds.
Wilbur and his grandfather have sequestered an unseen presence at their farmhouse; this being is connected somehow to Yog-Sothoth. Year by year, this unseen entity grows to monstrous proportions, requiring the two men to make frequent modifications to their residence. People begin to notice a trend of cattle mysteriously disappearing. Wilbur's grandfather dies, and his mother disappears soon afterwards. The colossal entity eventually occupies the whole interior of the farmhouse.
Wilbur ventures to Miskatonic University in Arkham to procure their copy of the Necronomicon – Miskatonic's library is one of only a handful in the world to stock an original. The Necronomicon has spells that Wilbur can use to summon the Old Ones, but his family's copy is damaged and lacks the page he needs to open the "door." When the librarian, Dr. Henry Armitage, refuses to release the university's copy to him (and, by sending warnings to other libraries, thwarts Wilbur's efforts to consult their copies), Wilbur breaks into the library at night to steal it. A guard dog, maddened by Wilbur's alien body odor, attacks and kills him with unusual ferocity. When Dr. Armitage and two other professors, Warren Rice and Francis Morgan, arrive on the scene, they see Wilbur's semi-human corpse before it melts completely, leaving no evidence.
With Wilbur dead, no one attends to the mysterious presence growing in the Whateley farmhouse. Early one morning, the farmhouse explodes and the thing, an invisible monster, rampages across Dunwich, cutting a path through fields, trees, and ravines, and leaving huge "prints" the size of tree trunks. The monster eventually makes forays into inhabited areas. The invisible creature terrorizes Dunwich for several days, killing two families and several policemen, until Armitage, Rice, and Morgan arrive with the knowledge and weapons needed to kill it. The use of a magic powder renders it visible just long enough to send one of the crew into shock. The barn-sized monster screams for help – in English – just before the spell destroys it, leaving a huge burned area. In the end, its nature is revealed: it is Wilbur's twin brother, though it "looked more like the father than Wilbur did."
In a letter to August Derleth, Lovecraft wrote that "The Dunwich Horror" "takes place amongst the wild domed hills of the upper Miskatonic Valley, far northwest of Arkham, and is based on several old New England legends — one of which I heard only last month during my sojourn in Wilbraham," a town east of Springfield. (One such legend is the notion that whippoorwills can capture the departing soul.)
In another letter, Lovecraft wrote that Dunwich is "a vague echo of the decadent Massachusetts countryside around Springfield — say Wilbraham, Monson and Hampden." Robert M. Price notes that "much of the physical description of the Dunwich countryside is a faithful sketch of Wilbraham," citing a passage from a letter from Lovecraft to Zealia Bishop that "sounds like a passage from 'The Dunwich Horror' itself":
When the road dips again there are stretches of marshland that one instinctively dislikes, and indeed almost fears at evening when unseen whippoorwills chatter and the fireflies come out in abnormal profusion to dance to the raucous, creepily insistent rhythms of stridently piping bullfrogs.
The physical model for Dunwich's Sentinel Hill is thought to be Wilbraham Mountain near Wilbraham.
Some researchers have pointed out the story's apparent connections to another Massachusetts region: the area around Athol and points south, in the north-central part of the state (which is where Lovecraft indicates that Dunwich is located). It has been suggested that the name "Dunwich" was inspired by the town of Greenwich, which was deliberately flooded to create the Quabbin Reservoir, although Greenwich and the nearby towns of Dana, Enfield and Prescott actually were not submerged until 1938. Donald R. Burleson points out that several names included in the story—including Bishop, Frye, Sawyer, Rice and Morgan—are either prominent Athol names or have a connection to the town's history.
Athol's Sentinel Elm Farm seems to be the source for the name Sentinel Hill. The Bear's Den mentioned in the story resembles an actual cave of the same name visited by Lovecraft in North New Salem, southwest of Athol. (New Salem, like Dunwich, was founded by settlers from Salem—though in 1737, not 1692.)
The book Myths and Legends of Our Own Land, by Charles M. Skinner, mentions a "Devil's Hop Yard" near Haddam, Connecticut as a gathering place for witches. The book, which Lovecraft seems to have read, also describes noises emanating from the earth near Moodus, Connecticut, which are similar to the Dunwich sounds decried by Rev. Abijah Hoadley.
Lovecraft's main literary sources for "The Dunwich Horror" are the stories of Welsh horror writer Arthur Machen, particularly "The Great God Pan" (which is mentioned in the text of "The Dunwich Horror") and "The Novel of the Black Seal". Both Machen stories concern individuals whose death throes reveal them to be only half-human in their parentage. According to Robert M. Price, "'The Dunwich Horror' is in every sense an homage to Machen and even a pastiche. There is little in Lovecraft's story that does not come directly out of Machen's fiction."
Another source that has been suggested is "The Thing in the Woods", by Margery Williams, which is also about two brothers living in the woods, neither of them quite human and one of them less human than the other.
The name Dunwich itself may come from Machen's The Terror, where the name refers to an English town where the titular entity is seen hovering as "a black cloud with sparks of fire in it". Lovecraft also takes Wilbur Whateley's occult terms "Aklo" and "Voorish" from Machen's "The White People".
Lovecraft also seems to have found inspiration in Anthony M. Rud's story "Ooze" (published in Weird Tales, March 1923), which also involved a monster being secretly kept and fed in a house that it subsequently bursts out of and destroys.
The tracks of Wilbur's brother recall those seen in Algernon Blackwood's "The Wendigo", one of Lovecraft's favorite horror stories. Ambrose Bierce's story "The Damned Thing" also involves a monster invisible to human eyes.
Lovecraft took pride in "The Dunwich Horror", calling it "so fiendish that [Weird Tales editor] Farnsworth Wright may not dare to print it." Wright, however, snapped it up, sending Lovecraft a check for $240, equal to $2800 in modern dollars, the largest single payment for his fiction he had received up to that point.
Kingsley Amis praised "The Dunwich Horror" in New Maps of Hell, listing it as one of Lovecraft's tales that "achieve a memorable nastiness". Lovecraft biographer Lin Carter calls the story "an excellent tale... A mood of tension and gathering horror permeates the story, which culminates in a shattering climax". In his list of "The 13 Most Terrifying Horror Stories", T. E. D. Klein placed "The Dunwich Horror" at number four.  Robert M. Price declares that "among the tales of H. P. Lovecraft, 'The Dunwich Horror' remains my favorite." S.T. Joshi, on the other hand, regarded "Dunwich" as "simply an aesthetic mistake on Lovecraft's part", citing its "stock good-versus-evil scenario". However, he has also noted that it is "richly atmospheric."
Although Lovecraft first mentioned "Yog-Sothoth" in the novel The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, it was in "The Dunwich Horror" that he introduced the entity as one of his extra-dimensional Outer Gods. It is also the tale in which the Necronomicon makes the most significant appearance, and the longest direct quote from it appears in the text. Many of the other standards of the Cthulhu Mythos, such as Miskatonic University, Arkham and Dunwich also form integral parts of the tale.
A librarian named Armitage appears in Don Webb's short story "To Mars and Providence", an alternate history where a juvenile Lovecraft is influenced by the events of H.G. Wells's The War of the Worlds.
The Dunwich Horror and Others is the title of a collection of H. P. Lovecraft short stories published by Arkham House, containing what August Derleth considered to be the best of Lovecraft's shorter fiction. Originally published in 1963, the 6th printing in 1985 included extensive corrections by S. T. Joshi in order to produce the definitive edition of Lovecraft's works. The collection has an introduction by Robert Bloch, titled "Heritage of Horror", reprinted from the 1982 Ballantine collection, Blood Curdling Tales of Supernatural Horror: The Best of H.P. Lovecraft.
The stories included in The Dunwich Horror and Others are: "In the Vault", "Pickman's Model", "The Rats in the Walls", "The Outsider", "The Colour Out of Space", "The Music of Erich Zann", "The Haunter of the Dark", "The Picture in the House", "The Call of Cthulhu", "The Dunwich Horror", "Cool Air", "The Whisperer in Darkness", "The Terrible Old Man", "The Thing on the Doorstep", "The Shadow Over Innsmouth", and "The Shadow Out of Time".
Aklo is the name of a fictional language that has been used by many authors from its first reference in 1899. The language is said to have mystical powers.Aklo was first mentioned by Arthur Machen in his 1899 story "The White People". Aklo was mentioned but not described in detail by Machen, being noted in passing by the story's narrator as part of a secretive game or ritual.
H. P. Lovecraft admired the Machen story, and used Aklo in his Cthulhu Mythos stories "The Dunwich Horror" and "The Haunter of the Dark". The authors who have used Aklo have played into the fiction that the language has magical powers, and so have not included much detail to prevent "some careless reader from incant[ing] a spell capable of calling forth evil".In The Illuminatus! Trilogy by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson, Aklo appears as a language used in Black Masses and by the Illuminati.
Alan Moore later used Aklo in his Lovecraft tribute short story and 2003 comic The Courtyard, in his 2010 comic Neonomicon and again in Providence. In his adaptation, Aklo is not just an alien language, but a key that opens doors inside the human mind which is "connected to Moore's general view on actual magic and the role of words in modifying a human's perception of reality."The Pathfinder RPG, published by Paizo, uses Aklo as the language of several subterranean, otherworldly, or otherwise Lovecraftian species in the game's universe, such as aboleths and gibbering mouthers.Arkham
Arkham () is a fictional town situated in Massachusetts. It is a dark city and an integral part of the Lovecraft Country setting created by H. P. Lovecraft. It is featured in many of his stories and those of other Cthulhu Mythos writers.
Arkham House, a publishing company started by two of Lovecraft's correspondents, August Derleth and Donald Wandrei, takes its name from this city as a tribute.Azathoth
Azathoth is a deity in the Cthulhu Mythos and Dream Cycle stories of writer H. P. Lovecraft and other authors. He is the ruler of the Outer Gods.Characters of the Cthulhu Mythos
The following characters appear in H.P. Lovecraft's story cycle — the Cthulhu Mythos.
Name. The name of the character appears first.
Birth/Death. The date of the character's birth and death (if known) appears in parentheses below the character's name. Ambivalent dates are denoted by a question mark. (Note: ca. is the abbreviation for "circa".)
Description. A brief description of the character follows next.Daniel Haller
Daniel Haller (born September 14, 1926 in Glendale, California) is an American film and television director, production designer, and art director. Haller studied at the renowned Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles.
In 1953, Haller started as an art director in television, then quickly graduated to low budget feature films. Among many other credits, Haller designed the deceptively opulent sets for nearly all of Roger Corman's critically acclaimed Edgar Allan Poe film series, including House of Usher (1960) and The Pit and the Pendulum (1961).
Haller directed his first film, Die, Monster, Die!, in 1965 for American International Pictures. Based on H. P. Lovecraft's short story "The Colour Out of Space", it was very similar in plot and atmosphere to Corman's Poe films. After directing two motorcycle pictures (Devil's Angels (1967) and The Wild Racers (1968)), Haller filmed another Lovecraft adaptation, The Dunwich Horror (1970).
From 1972, all of Haller's subsequent work has been in television, including directing episodes of Night Gallery, Kojak, Sara, Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century and Knight Rider. Today he lives with his family on a horse ranch in the San Fernando Valley in California.Dark Adventure Radio Theatre
Dark Adventure Radio Theatre is a series of radio dramas produced by the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society. They are produced in the style of 1930s radio drama, and the Dark Adventure Radio Theatre resembles a Mercury Theatre production hosted by the fictional "Chester Langfield" and "sponsored" by "Fleur-de-Lys Cigarettes". However, the character "died" of emphysema after the fourth production (The Shadow Over Innsmouth) and was replaced by the equally fictional "Erskine Blackwell," the new "sponsor" being "Forhan's Toothpaste." In the 2014 production, The Dreams in the Witch House, the sponsor became "Bub-L-Pep", a lithium-based drink. The series features casts of professional actors and original music. The CD releases include four prop documents, such as newspaper clippings, etc., from the show.
Currently released productions:
Dark Adventure Radio Theatre: At the Mountains of Madness (2007)
Dark Adventure Radio Theatre: The Dunwich Horror (2008)
Dark Adventure Radio Theatre: The Shadow Out of Time (2008-10-01)
Dark Adventure Radio Theatre: The Shadow Over Innsmouth (2008-12)
Dark Adventure Radio Theatre: The Call of Cthulhu (2012-11)
Dark Adventure Radio Theatre: The Case of Charles Dexter Ward (2013-03)
Dark Adventure Radio Theatre: The Color Out of Space (2013)
Dark Adventure Radio Theatre: Herbert West - Reanimator (2013)
Dark Adventure Radio Theatre: The Dreams in the Witch House (2014)
Dark Adventure Radio Theatre: Imprisoned with the Pharaohs (2014)
Dark Adventure Radio Theatre: The Horror at Red Hook (2015)
Dark Adventure Radio Theatre: Dagon: War of Worlds (2015)
Dark Adventure Radio Theatre: A Solstice Carol (2015)
Dark Adventure Radio Theatre: The White Tree (2016)
Dark Adventure Radio Theatre: The Thing on the Doorstep (2016)
Dark Adventure Radio Theatre: The Brotherhood of the Beast (2016)
Dark Adventure Radio Theatre: The Haunter of the Dark (2017)
Dark Adventure Radio Theatre: The Rats in the Walls (2017)
Dark Adventure Radio Theatre: The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar (2017)
Dark Adventure Radio Theatre: Bad Medicine (2018)
Dark Adventure Radio Theatre: Masks of Nyarlathotep (2019)Dunwich (Lovecraft)
Dunwich is a fictional village that appeared in the H. P. Lovecraft novella "The Dunwich Horror" (1929). Dunwich is found in the Miskatonic River Valley of Massachusetts, part of the region sometimes called Lovecraft Country. The inhabitants are depicted as inbred, uneducated, and very superstitious, while the town itself is described as economically poor with many decrepit and abandoned buildings.Miskatonic University
Miskatonic University is a fictional university located in Arkham, a fictional town in Essex County, Massachusetts. It is named after the Miskatonic River (also fictional). After first appearing in H. P. Lovecraft's 1922 story "Herbert West–Reanimator", the school appeared in numerous Cthulhu Mythos stories by Lovecraft and other writers. The story "The Dunwich Horror" implies that Miskatonic University is a highly prestigious university, on par with Harvard University, and that Harvard and Miskatonic are the two most popular schools for the children of the Massachusetts “Old Gentry”. The university also appears in role-playing games and board games based on the mythos.Necronomicon
The Necronomicon is a fictional grimoire (textbook of magic) appearing in stories by the horror writer H. P. Lovecraft and his followers. It was first mentioned in Lovecraft's 1924 short story "The Hound", written in 1922, though its purported author, the "Mad Arab" Abdul Alhazred, had been quoted a year earlier in Lovecraft's "The Nameless City". Among other things, the work contains an account of the Old Ones, their history, and the means for summoning them.
Other authors such as August Derleth and Clark Ashton Smith also cited it in their works; Lovecraft approved, believing such common allusions built up "a background of evil verisimilitude". Many readers have believed it to be a real work, with booksellers and librarians receiving many requests for it; pranksters have listed it in rare book catalogues, and a student smuggled a card for it into the Yale University Library's card catalog.Capitalizing on the notoriety of the fictional volume, real-life publishers have printed many books entitled Necronomicon since Lovecraft's death.Robert Harrison Blake
Robert Harrison Blake is a fictional character in the Cthulhu Mythos. The character is the creation of H. P. Lovecraft and appears in his short story "The Haunter of the Dark" (1935).Shadow of the Comet
Shadow of the Comet (later repackaged as Call of Cthulhu: Shadow of the Comet) is an adventure game developed and released by Infogrames in 1993. The game is based on H. P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos and uses many elements from Lovecraft's The Dunwich Horror and The Shadow Over Innsmouth. A follow-up game, Prisoner of Ice, is not a direct sequel.Shub-Niggurath
Shub-Niggurath, often associated with the phrase “The Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young”, is a deity in the Cthulhu Mythos of H. P. Lovecraft. The only other name by which H. P. Lovecraft referred to her was "Lord of the Wood" in his story The Whisperer in Darkness.
Shub-Niggurath is first mentioned in Lovecraft's revision story "The Last Test" (1928); she is not described by Lovecraft, but is frequently mentioned or called upon in incantations. Most of her development as a literary figure was carried out by other Mythos authors, including August Derleth, Robert Bloch, and Ramsey Campbell.
August Derleth classified Shub-Niggurath as a Great Old One, but the Call of Cthulhu role-playing game classifies her as an Outer God. The CthulhuTech role-playing game, in turn, returns to Derleth's classification of Shub-Niggurath as a Great Old One.The Dunwich Horror (film)
The Dunwich Horror is a 1970 American independent supernatural horror film from American International Pictures directed by Daniel Haller and produced by Roger Corman. The film was based on the short story of the same name by H.P. Lovecraft with a script co-written by Curtis Hanson.
The leading role was offered to Peter Fonda, but he turned it down. Instead, Dean Stockwell played the role of Wilbur Whateley. The film was shot in Mendocino, California.The Dunwich Horror and Others
The Dunwich Horror and Others is a collection of fantasy, horror and science fiction short stories by American author H. P. Lovecraft. It was originally published in 1963 by Arkham House in an edition of 3,133 copies.
The true first edition is not bound with head- and tailbands, and the true first-state dustjacket carries a price of $5.00 (not $6.50 as on later printings). (Reportedly some copies lack head and tailbands, indicating the true first edition, but bear the $6.50 price on the dustjacket, suggesting that the publisher ran out of first-edition dustjackets before they ran out of first-edition books, so they raised the price to $6.50, sold the remaining first-edition volumes in second-state jackets, and then started reprinting the book).
The collection was revised in 1985 by S.T. Joshi, replacing the introduction by August Derleth for one by Joshi and another by Robert Bloch. This edition, designated a "corrected sixth printing", was published in an edition of 4,124 copies.The Festival
"The Festival" is a short story by H. P. Lovecraft written in October 1923 and published in the January 1925 issue of Weird Tales.The Picture in the House
"The Picture in the House" is a short story written by H. P. Lovecraft. It was written on December 12, 1920, and first published in the July issue of The National Amateur—which was published in the summer of 1921.Whateley
Whateley can refer to:
Anne Whateley, said to have been William Shakespeare's fiancée
Gerard Whateley, Australian sports commentator
Leslie Whateley, director of the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) during World War II
characters of The Dunwich HorrorYog-Sothoth
Yog-Sothoth is a cosmic entity in the fictional Cthulhu Mythos and Dream Cycle of American horror writer H. P. Lovecraft. Yog-Sothoth's name was first mentioned in Lovecraft's novel The Case of Charles Dexter Ward (written 1927, first published 1941). The being is said to take the form of a conglomeration of glowing spheres.