For a full article on the literary history of the Mythos, see Cthulhu Mythos
Canon is a fan-based idea that exists in a unique way within the Cthulhu Mythos fandom. In theory, it means a body of work that an established body of literature that can draw upon, but it is more commonly thought as what a fan considers what forms part of the Mythos, or what "really happened". This is often a personal choice, one which is endlessly discussed and argued about in just about every Cthulhu-related forum or message board that has existed on the internet.
Unlike the Star Trek and Star Wars universes, H.P. Lovecraft never had the occasion to publish a statement about what is or is not canon for the Cthulhu Mythos.
A large issue when attempting to construct a definition of canon for the Mythos is that it is never finished; Cthulhu Mythos have been more or less constantly written for by Lovecraft Circles or Arkham House's publications since Lovecraft's death in 1937. Some fans want a complete narrative, but the Mythos can never be complete.
This site's policyEdit
For the purposes of an encyclopedic approach to the complete extended Lovecraft cosmos-at-large, or Cthulhu Mythos, a certain organizing principle is necessary. This order while perhaps complicated at first glance is based on the examinations of Lovecraft scholar Robert Price and a further analysis of the current total works in the Mythos and those surrounding the mythos. It may be understood by the accompanying diagram:
- "The Greater Cthulhu Mythos" encloses every other categories.
- The Extended Cthulhu Mythos builds on stories and facts from The Derleth "Cthulhu Mythos", The "Lovecraft Circle" Myth Cycles and The Lovecraft Myth Cycle and The Weird Tales, while The Derleth "Cthulhu Mythos" excludes the Extended Mythos, and so on as one approaches the "Core".
- "Mythos Adjacent Works" include stories, films, et al that include elements lifted in part or in total from the Mythos, but were not by their creators intended to be a part of the Cthulhu Mythos. This would include works like the Hyborean Tales of Robert E. Howard, which share book titles and certain creatures, and the Army of Darkness film in which the Necronomicon is a central plot element.
- "Mythos Influenced Works" include stories, films, et al that include clear or subtle reference to Lovecraftian themes, creatures, etc. The creators of these works generally acknowledge their debt to Lovecraft and the way in which it has influenced their work. This would include the Hellboy comic book stories that include strong cosmic horror themes, and of which Mike Mignola has given great credit to Lovecraft for inspiration. This also includes television shows like the X-Files that bear similar themes and structure to Lovecraft's works.
It is the philosophy of this wiki to be as inclusive as possible, and the following categories represent an attempt of finding an overall harmony by which to organize the works of the Mythos.
It may well be argued that all works in the "Greater Cthulhu Mythos" may be universally reconciled, if not harmonized, by virtue of the first-person and third person limited perspectives in which the majority of the works in the Greater Cthulhu Mythos are written.
If we are to take all accounts of every narrator as gospel, then there can be no reconciliation of the facts. However, if one begins with the idea that the observations and accounts made by all of the narrators are merely grasping at the straws of the incomprehensible universe Lovecraft originally envisions, there is at the very least a cohesive whole. This is to say, each main character/narrator (many of which assert their unreliability) is at best partially correct, and the information they acquire in the course of their uncanny experiences is of even lesser reliability.
Lovecraft reminds us that we cannot understand the universe as it is, and perhaps gives us the key to the "harmony" of the Mythos: it is only discord. However, it is the opinion of most current Lovecraft scholars, and of this wiki, that the closer one comes to the original Lovecraft Myth Cycle, the closer to the "truth" one gets.
There can never be a true accounting or authoritative canon, but one can gather the facts as they are presented and organize them in a coherent way. The following is an attempt to do so.
Greater Cthulhu MythosEdit
The term "Greater Cthulhu Mythos" is an attempt by this wiki to create a big tent under which all Mythos related works might be collected.
There can be no debate that the Mythos has expanded rapidly since its birth, and that the works subsequent to Lovecraft's death contain material that has become problematic when compared to the vision Lovecraft laid out not only in his stories, but in his essays concerning his philosophy of horror writing.
This said, the enduring value of Lovecrafts vision, and the abundance of works written in the Mythos demand that there be some larger category in which all such works can find a home, regardless of accepted quality or adherence to a "canon".
Lovecraft Myth CycleEdit
The Lovecraft Myth Cycle specifically refers to works written by H.P. Lovecraft alone, were completed before his death in 1937 and published during his lifetime or soon thereafter. These are generally believed to be the most distilled heart of the Mythos. This is not in any way to suggest that these works were not influenced or heavily edited by others, rather that they may be understood as "most true" to Lovecraft's individual vision.
There are discussion about what was intended as being part of the Mythos or not since he did not make a list for a collection publication while alive. In his letters,he referred to a story of this kind as a "Yog-Sothothery" and to refer to the whole as the "Arkham cycle" (specifically stating "The Colour out of Space" and "The Dunwich Horror" to be part of it). This terms are hard to use since the first would exclude stories which don't have the Great Elder themselves and the second one would exclude stories which don't take place in Arkham (such as "The Call of Cthulhu") but would include stories that could seem unrelated (such as "Herbert West--Reanimator").
Some notable opinions are:
|August Derleth||Lin Carter||S.T. Joshi|
A broader view about what constitutes the Mythos would be:
- Dagon (1917; Dagon is linked to Cthulhu in "The Shadow Over Innsmouth")
- Nyarlathotep (1920)
- The Nameless City (January 1921)
- The Hound (1922)
- Azathoth (1922)
- The Festival (1923)
- The Descendant (1926?)
- The Call of Cthulhu (1926)
- The Strange High House in the Mist (1926)
- The Colour out of Space (1927; mentionned directly in "At the Mountains of Madness")
- The Case of Charles Dexter Ward (1927)
- The Dunwich Horror (1928)
- The Whisperer in Darkness (1930)
- At the Mountains of Madness (1931)
- The Shadow Over Innsmouth(1931)
- The Dreams in the Witch-House (1932)
- The Thing on the Doorstep (1933)
- The Shadow Out of Time (1934–1935)
- The Haunter of the Dark (1935)
- History of the Necronomicon (1927)
|Dunsanian cycle||Randolph Carter cycle|
Written when a child or an adolescent, before the Mythos conception.
- The Little Glass Bottle (1897)
- The Secret Cave or John Lees Adventure (1898)
- The Mystery of the Grave-Yard (1898)
- The Mysterious Ship (1902)
- The Beast in the Cave (1905)
- The Alchemist (1908)
The inclusion in the Mythos is debatable.
Some of them are considered as integral parts of the Mythos.
- A Reminiscence of Dr. Samuel Johnson (1917)
- Old Bugs (1919)
- Sweet Ermengarde (1917)
- Ibid (1928?)
- Alfredo, a Tragedy
- The Battle that Ended the Century (with Robert H. Barlow; 1935)
Lost and unfinished worksEdit
- The Noble Eavesdropper (1897?; nonextant)
- The Haunted House (1898/1902; nonextant)
- John, the Detective (1898/1902; nonextant)
- The Secret of the Grave (1898/1902; nonextant)
- The Picture (1907; nonextant)
- The Mystery of Murdon Grange (1918; nonextant)
- Life and Death (1920?; lost)
- Discarded Draft of The Shadow over Innsmouth (1931)
All this considered, the solo fictional works that are generally considered mythos works are:
Plus these poetry works:
Weird Tales Edit
This category contains the handful of stories that were "acquired" by Lovecraft for his Myth Cycle.
From The Call of Cthulhu (February 1928) to The Thing on the Doorstep (January 1937), the Weird Tales magazine published 8 stories by Lovecraft and 30 others set in the Mythos (those all mentionning the Necronomicon by Abdul Alhazred).
Among the concepts from others' works that Lovecraft reused are:
- Tsathoggua and Atlach-Nacha (Clark Ashton Smith)
- Nyogtha (Henry Kuttner)
- The Hounds of Tindalos and Chaugnar Faugn (Frank Belknap Long)
- The Tcho-Tcho People, the Lloigors, Ithaqua and Cthugha (August Derleth)
- Yig (Zealia Bishop; actually Lovecraft uncredited)
- The Doels from The White People (Arthur Machen; 1904)
- Hastur from The King in Yellow (Robert W. Chambers; 1895)
- Carcosa from "An Inhabitant in Carcosa" (Ambrose Bierce; 1886)
- "Tekeli ! Tekeli-li !" from Arthur Gordon Pym (Edgar Poe; 1838)
- The Book of Eibon aka Liber Ivonis translated by Gaspard du Nord (Clark Ashton Smith)
- The Unaussprechlichen Kulten by Friedrich von Junzt (Robert E. Howard)
- The Eltdown Shards from a draft of "The Sealed Casket" (Richard F. Searight; 1935)
- De Vermis Mysteriis by Ludvig Prinn (Robert Bloch)
- Cultes des Goules by Comte d'Erlette and the Celaeno Fragments (August Derleth)
"Lovecraft Circle" Myth CyclesEdit
The "Lovecraft Circle" Myth Cycles composes the rest of the "core" stories of the Mythos Proper. These are the stories written by Lovecraft's contemporaries, either co-authored with him or under his supervision and in concordance with his vision. Many were written in part or entirely before Lovecraft's death in 1937, and are generally regarded as being accepted by Lovecraft as adhering with his vision. Other writings by these writer cohorts constitute the rest of the stories in this category.
This category includes the stories mentionned in the Weird Tales section above.
Traditionally, the "Lovecraft Circle" members and their direct contributions are limited to:
- Robert Bloch (12 short stories)
- Clark Ashton Smith (8 short stories and 1 poem)
- Robert E. Howard (7 short stories and 1 poem)
- Frank Belknap Long (2 short stories and 1 novel)
- August Derleth (34 short stories and 1 novel; including his 26 short stories and the novel written after Lovecraft's death which are listed in a different category below)
The Circle could also be extended to others firends or correspondents of Lovecraft: James Blish, Hugh Cave, Henry Hasse, Carl Jacobi, Henry Kuttner, Fritz Leiber, Robert A.W. Lowndes, C. L. Moore, E. Hoffmann Price, Duane W. Rimel, Richard F. Searight, J. Vernon Shea, Donald Wandrei and Manly Wade Wellman are sometimes considered although some wrote Mythos stories only long after Lovecraft's death.
By Derleth's death in 1972 and by also including authors outside of the cycle, over one hundred stories were written.
In his parody story "The Battle that Ended the Century", Lovecraft uses nicknames for most of his writings collaborators as a private joke:
|The Battle that Ended the Century nickname||Real world reference|
|Two-Gun Bob||Robert E. Howard|
|Knockout Bernie, the Wild Wolf of West Shokan||Bernard Austin Dwyer, of West Shokan, N.Y.|
|Bill Lum Li||William Lumley|
|Wladislaw Brenryk||H. Warner Munn|
|D. H. Killer||David H. Keller|
|M. Gin Brewery||Miles G. Breuer|
|A. Hijacked Barrell||A. Hyatt Verrill|
|G. A. Scotland||George Allan England|
|Frank Chimesleep Short, Jr||Frank Belknap Long, Jr.|
|The Effjoy of Akkamin||Forrest J. Ackerman|
|Mrs. M. Blunderage||Margaret Brundage (artist for Weird Tales)|
|Mr. C. Half-Cent||C. C. Senf (artist for Weird Tales)|
|Mr. Goofy Hooey||Hugh Rankin (artist for Weird Tales)|
|W. Lablache Talcum||Wilfred Blanch Talman|
|Horse Power Hateart||Howard Phillips Lovecraft|
|M. le Comte d’Erlette||August Derleth (author of Evening in Spring)|
|J. Caesar Warts||Julius Schwartz|
|H. Kanebrake||H. C. Koenig (employed by the Electrical Testing Laboratories)|
|H. Wanderer||Howard Wandrei|
|Robertieff Essovitch Karovsky||Robert S. Carr|
|Teaberry Quince||Seabury Quinn|
|Malik Taus, the Peacock Sultan||E. Hoffmann Price|
|Sing Lee Bawledout||F. Lee Baldwin|
|Ivor K. Rodent||Hugo Gernsback|
|Rev. D. Vest Wind||Unknown|
|Klarkash-Ton||Clark Ashton Smith|
|Windy City Grab-Bag||Weird Tales|
|W. Peter Chef||W. Paul Cook|
|Smearum & Weep||Dauber & Pine|
|Samuelus Philanthropus||Samuel Loveman|
|Mr. De Merit||A. Merritt (author of The Dwellers in the Mirage)|
|Wurst’s Weekly Americana||Hearst’s American Weekly|
|August Derleth (1969)||Lin Carter (1971)|
Lovecraft was credited as co-author of a few stories:
- The Crawling Chaos (as Lewis Theobald Jr.; with Winifred V. Jackson as Elisabeth Neville Berkeley; 1920/21)
- The Green Meadow (as Lewis Theobald Jr.; with Winifred V. Jackson as Elisabeth Neville Berkeley; 1918/19)
- Poetry and the Gods (as Henry Paget Lowe; with Anna Helen Crofts; 1920)
- Through the Gates of the Silver Key (with E. Hoffmann Price; 1932–1933)
- The Challenge from Beyond (with C. L. Moore; A. Merritt; Robert E. Howard, and Frank Belknap Long; 1935)
Furthermore, Derleth posthumously credited Lovecraft for stories he wrote using the latter's storylines or unfinished stories from what he called his "Common Place Book". This stories are listed in the "Derleth Mythos" section below.
However, it would seem appropriate to expand that circle to include his other contemporary collborators, and those whose writings he revised and expanded upon: Zealia Bishop, Hazel Heald, Adolphe de Castro, and the numerous other writers he worked with over his lifetime. Indeed, Lovecraft was known for helping other writers and even ghostwriting stories while remaining uncredited, although his involvement is sometimes chronicled in his letters. Thus, some his stories may still be found to this day.
His uncredited involvement could tentatively be classified into three categories:
Those for which he only revised the story without adding new elements (except some names from the Mythos such as "Azathoth" or "Cthulhu"):
- The Loved Dead (by C. M. Eddy, Jr.; 1923)
- The Ghost-Eater (by C. M. Eddy, Jr.; 1923)
- Ashes (by C. M. Eddy, Jr.; 1923)
- Dead, Dumb and Blind (by C. M. Eddy, Jr.; 1924)
- Two Black Bottles (by Wilfred Blanch Talman; 1926)
- The Horror at Martin's Beach (aka The Invisible Monster; by Sonia H. Greene; 1922)
- Four O'Clock (by Sonia H. Greene; 1924/25)
- The Man of Stone (by Hazel Heald; 1932)
- The Horror in the Burying-Ground (by Hazel Heald; 1933/35)
- Satan's Servants (by Robert Bloch; 1935)
- The Sorcery of Aphlar (by D. W. Rimel; 1934)
Those for which he was involved enough to be considered an uncredited co-author.
- The Diary of Alonzo Typer (by William Lumley; 1935)
- The Horror in the Museum (by Hazel Heald; 1932)
- Winged Death (by Hazel Heald; 1933)
- Out of the Aeons (by Hazel Heald; 1933)
- In the Walls of Eryx (by Kenneth Sterling; 1936)
- The Hoard of the Wizard-Beast (by R. H. Barlow; 1933)
- The Slaying of the Monster (by R. H. Barlow; 1933)
- Collapsing Cosmoses (by R. H. Barlow as Hammond Eggleston; 1935)
- "Till A' the Seas" (by R. H. Barlow; 1935)
- The Night Ocean (by R. H. Barlow; 1936)
- The Trap (by Henry Saint-Clair Whitehead; 1931)
- Cassius (by Henry Saint-Clair Whitehead; 1930)
- Bothon (by Henry Saint-Clair Whitehead; 1930)
- The Tree on the Hill (by Duane W. Rimel; 1934)
- The Disinterment (by Duane W. Rimel; 1935)
- The Last Test (by Adolphe de Castro; 1927)
- The Electric Executioner (by Adolphe de Castro as Gustav Adolf Danziger; 1929?)
- The Horror from the Hills (by Franck Belknap Long; 1929)
Those for which he changed and wrote so much of the story that he could be considered the sole author.
- The Curse of Yig (by Zealia Bishop; 1928)
- The Mound (by Zealia Bishop; 1929–1930)
- Medusa's Coil (by Zealia Bishop; 1930)
- Under the Pyramids (by Harry Houdini; 1924)
- The Genesis of Superstition (by Harry Houdini; 1926; nonextant)
All those considered, the co-written stories that are consider in the Mythos include:
- The Challenge from Beyond (with C. L. Moore; A. Merritt; Robert E. Howard, and Frank Belknap Long; 1935)
- The Crawling Chaos (with Winifred V. Jackson; 1920/21)
- The Curse of Yig (with Zealia Bishop; 1928)
- The Diary of Alonzo Typer (with William Lumley; 1935)
- The Electric Executioner (with Adolphe de Castro; 1929?)
- The Green Meadow (with Winifred V. Jackson; 1918/19)
- The Horror in the Museum (with Hazel Heald; 1932)
- The Last Test (with Adolphe de Castro; 1927)
- The Man of Stone (with Hazel Heald; 1932)
- Medusa's Coil (with Zealia Bishop; 1930)
- The Mound (with Zealia Bishop; 1929–1930)
- Out of the Aeons (with Hazel Heald; 1933)
- Through the Gates of the Silver Key (with E. Hoffmann Price; 1932–1933)
- Under the Pyramids (with Harry Houdini; 1924)
- Winged Death (with Hazel Heald; 1933)
Co-written stories that may or may not be considered to be in the Mythos include:
- The Disinterment (with Duane W. Rimel; 1935)
- The Ghost-Eater (with C. M. Eddy, Jr.; 1923)
- The Hoard of the Wizard-Beast (with R. H. Barlow; 1933)
- The Horror at Martin's Beach (with Sonia H. Greene; 1922)
- The Horror in the Burying-Ground (with Hazel Heald; 1933/35)
- In the Walls of Eryx (with Kenneth Sterling; 1936)
- The Loved Dead (with C. M. Eddy, Jr.; 1923)
- The Night Ocean (with R. H. Barlow; 1936)
- Poetry and the Gods (with Anna Helen Crofts; 1920)
- The Slaying of the Monster (with R. H. Barlow; 1933)
- "Till A' the Seas" (with R. H. Barlow; 1935)
- The Tree on the Hill (with Duane W. Rimel; 1934)
- Two Black Bottles (with Wilfred Blanch Talman; 1926)
Derleth Cthulhu MythosEdit
The Derleth Mythos category includes all of August Derleth's work following Lovecraft passing in 1937, and has been separated from the rest of the Mythos writings due to its unique and sometimes divergent vision from the previous categories.
After Lovecraft's death, August Derleth began to shape the existing Myth cycles of Lovecraft and the "Lovecraft Circle" into something he would call the "Cthulhu Mythos", which is the term which persists to this date. During his tenure as the one of the leading voices of Lovecraft's legacy, he was an extremely prolific writer to rival Lovecraft himself. Some of those stories are based on concepts and storylines found in Lovecraft writings and thus, he is posthumously credited as co-author.
However, during that time he introduced certain concepts and themes into the Mythos that would become problematic for fans of the Lovecraft Myth Cycle and of the Lovecraft Circle Myth Cycles. Among these, were a concept of cosmic good and evil, a set of benevolent Elder Gods, and an elemental categorization of the existing Mythos deities. These ideas have been carried in some form the present Expanded Mythos, but many authors and creators have cherry-picked from Derleth's creations and some of the more troubling and divergent ideas have been ignored.
A complete list of these works can be found in his Mythos Bibliography.
Lovecraft posthumous collaborationsEdit
Derleth used storylines from Lovecraft's "Common Place Book" as the basis of one novel and ten short-stories.
- "The Lurker at the Threshold" (1945; based on Lovecraft's unfinished The Round Tower)
- "The Survivor" (1954)
- "The Lamp of Alhazred" (1957)
- "The Gable Window" (aka The Murky Glass; 1957)
- "The Shadow out of Space" (1957)
- "The Shuttered Room" (1959)
- "The Fisherman of Falcon point" (1959)
- "Witche’s Hollow" (1962)
- "The Horror from the Middle Span" (1967)
- "Innsmouth Clay" (1971)
- "The Watchers out of Time" (1974)
Other Derleth storiesEdit
Derleth also published 16 stories which are not based on Lovecraft storylines but on concepts that Lovecraft approved of, notably the fictional book "An Investigation into Myth Patterns of Latter Day Primitives with Especial Reference to the R'lyeh Text by Professor Laban Shrewsbury".
- "Wentworth’Day" (1957)
- "The Peabody Heritage" (1957)
- "The Ancestor" (1957)
- "The Return of Hastur" (March 1939)
- "The Whippoorwills in the Hills" (1948)
- "Something in Wood" (1948)
- "The Sandwin Compact" (1940)
- "The House in the Valley" (1953)
- "The Seal of R’lyeh" (1957)
- "The House on Curwen Street" (March 1944)
- "The Watcher from the Sky" (July 1945)
- "The Testament of Claiborne Boyd" (1949)
- "The Keeper of the Key" (1951)
- "The Black Island" (1952)
- "The Shadow in the Attic" (1964)
- "The Dark Brotherhood" (1966)
Expanded Cthulhu MythosEdit
This category includes all works of fiction, film and additional media not previously defined which are set in the Mythos. This is by far the broadest and most diverse category.
After Lovecraft's death, his friends and admirers continued to write in his shared universe. Many imitators good and bad have come and gone, and a great number of popular authors from Neil Gaiman to Stephen King have contributed their voices to the Mythos.
Additionally, there has been a myriad of content produced for video games, board games, and RPGs. Most notablt the Call of Cthulhu gave its own definition of and popularised the Mythos to broad audience. All of these have grown the Cthulhu Mythos to what it is today.
Mythos Adjacent WorksEdit
This category contains all works that have either cross-pollinated with the Mythos (i.e. their ideas have been acquired by it) or use some ideas from the Mythos without being directly set in the Mythos proper.
Some of the most important works of this category are the Hyborean Tales by Robert E. Howard which share some concepts he used in his Mythos Tales (and those were fully accepted by Lovecraft).
Works reused in the MythosEdit
Main article: References to popular culture in the Cthulhu Mythos
Lovecraft himself reappropriated some concepts for his own stories:
- Arthur Gordon Pym (Edgar Poe; 1838) referenced in At the Mountains of Madness
- The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night (Richard Francis Burton; 1885-1888)
- "An Inhabitant in Carcosa" (Ambrose Bierce; 1886)
- The King in Yellow (Robert W. Chambers; 1895)
- The White People (Arthur Machen; 1904)
When Derleth wrote The Ancestor, he based it on a story note left by Lovecraft which he mistakenly considered to be an original idea but it was actually a condensed version of The Dark Chamber by Leonard Cline (1927).
Lovecraft was influenced by many writers, notably Hawthorne, some of Arthur Machen's short stories ("The Black Seal", "The White Powder") as well as Opar city from The Return of Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Lord Dunsany's The Gods of Pegana also was a big influence.
Lovecraft also mentioned many real occultism books along with the ones invented by his circle:
- Ars Magna and Ultima (Raymond Lulle)
- Grand Albert (Peter Jamm)
- Zoha (Jewish Kabbalah)
- Clavis Alchimiae (Robert Fludd)
- The God of the Witches (Margaret Murray)
- The Golden Bough (James Frazer)
- Magnolia Christi Americane and The Wonders of the Invisible World (Cotton Mather)
- Hermès Trismegiste (Louis Ménard)
- The Book of Dzyan is a reference to the Stanzas of Dzyan
Mythos Inspired WorksEdit
Main article: Cthulhu Mythos in popular culture
This category includes works that draw upon themes and concepts that originated with the Mythos, but are not intended to be set within the same continuity or share the same characters, locations, etc.