Concerning HP Lovecraft and Crowley in America
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If Howard Lovecraft was familiar with the work of young Mansion Beckett of Connecticut, New England, is unknown. But that they met we can be sure, since Beckett describes the events of that day in his diary. The Diary, of course, did not come to light for some sixty years after Beckett’s mysterious disappearance, and so all knowledge of the meeting had been (until now) lost to history.
On the afternoon of the 7th December 1923, Beckett took tea with Crowley at the Englishman’s Rhode Island lodgings, after which he reports the following…
Aleister wanted to show me Mr Bierce’s bookshop, which is in the French part of town on the street known as the Rue Beret. When I asked him why he made no immediate reply but only smiled, then told me that it was named as such on account of a woman who used to reside in that quarter with its twisting alleyways and occasional stone walls, some partly buried, that seem to speak of mysterious origins and to pre-date the arrival of Captain Standish & co. on these shores – though few speak of this fact, referring to this part of town only as “the old quarter.”
It was here that my friend left me, apologising, saying that he had to make a date he had quite forgotten about, as is often his way of so ill-ordering his affairs.
It was here, in Mr Bierce’s basement, with its smell of old leather and damp wood, that I found the woman – for a woman she was, of thirty or so – engaged in a heated argument with the woman on the counter over an unprepossesing calfskin volume – the argument was so loud that I couldn’t help but turn to the only other customer in the establishment, a pair of staring eyes set within what might have been described as a frog-like face that I had previously seen peering at me through the shelves of a bookcase.
‘Oh, hello,’ he said, ‘I’m Lovecraft.’
‘Named after your father,’ I asked him, ‘or mother?’