By David J. Goodwin
Dust Jacket Text
A micro-biography of horror fiction’s most influential author and his love–hate
relationship with New York City.
By the end of his life and near financial ruin, pulp horror writer Howard Phillips Lovecraft
resigned himself to the likelihood that his writing would be forgotten. Today, Lovecraft stands
alongside J. R. R. Tolkien as the most influential genre writer of the twentieth century. His
reputation as an unreformed racist and bigot, however, leaves readers to grapple with his legacy.
Midnight Rambles explores Lovecraft’s time in New York City, a crucial yet often
overlooked chapter in his life that shaped his literary career and the inextricable racism in his
Initially, New York stood as a place of liberation for Lovecraft. During the brief period
between 1924 and 1926 when he lived there, Lovecraft joined a creative community and experimented
with bohemian living in the publishing and cultural capital of the United States. He also married
fellow writer Sonia H. Greene, a Ukrainian-Jewish émigré in the fashion industry.
However, cascading personal setbacks and his own professional ineptitude soured New York for him.
As Lovecraft became more frustrated, his xenophobia and racism became more pronounced. New
York’s large immigrant population and minority communities disgusted him, and this mindset
soon became evident in his writing. Many of his stories from this era are infused with racial and
ethnic stereotypes and nativist themes, most notably his overtly racist short story, “The
Horror at Red Hook,” set in Red Hook, Brooklyn. His personal letters reveal an even darker
Author David J. Goodwin presents a chronological micro-biography of Lovecraft’s New York
years, emphasizing Lovecraft’s exploration of the city environment, the greater metropolitan
region, and other locales and how they molded him as a writer and as an individual. Drawing from
primary sources (letters, memoirs, and published personal reflections) and secondary sources
(biographies and scholarship), Midnight Rambles develops a portrait of a talented and
troubled author and offers insights into his unsettling beliefs on race, ethnicity, and
DAVID J. GOODWIN is the Assistant Director of the Center on Religion and Culture at
Fordham University and was a Frederick Lewis Allen Room scholar at the New York Public Library from
2020 to 2023. He is a past commissioner and chairperson of the Jersey City Historic Preservation
Commission and a former Jersey City Landmarks Conservancy board member. His first book, Left
Bank of the Hudson: Jersey City and the Artists of 111 1st Street, received the J. Owen Grundy
History Award in 2018. He blogs about cities, culture, and history at
Introduction: “Age Brings Reminiscences”
- “A Person of the Most Admirable Qualities”
- “An Eastern City of Wonder”
- “It Is a Myth; A Dream”
- “Brigham Young Annexing His 27th”
- “The Somewhat Disastrous Collapse”
- “A Maze of Poverty & Uncertainty”
- “A Pleasing Hermitage”
- “Circle of Aesthetic Dilettante”
- “Long Live the State of Rhode- Island”
Conclusion: “The Merest Vague Dream”
Midnight Rambles: H. P. Lovecraft in Gotham. By David J. Goodwin. New York, NY: Empire
State Editions-Fordham University Press; 2023; ISBN 978-1-5315-0441-0 (hardcover); 302 pages.
Purchasing This Book
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