"The Call of Cthulhu" is a short story by American writer H. P. Lovecraft. Written in the summer of 1926, it was first published in the pulp magazine Weird Tales, in February 1928. In the text, narrator Francis Wayland Thurston, of Boston, recounts his discovery of notes left behind by his granduncle, George Gammell Angell, a prominent Professor of Semitic languages at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, who died suddenly in "the winter of 1926-27" after being "jostled by a nautical-looking negro". The first chapter, The Horror in Clay, concerns a small bas-relief sculpture found among the papers, which the narrator describes: "My somewhat extravagant imagination yielded simultaneous pictures of an octopus, a dragon, and a human caricature.... A pulpy, tentacled head surmounted a grotesque and scaly body with rudimentary wings". The sculpture is the work of Henry Anthony Wilcox, a student at the Rhode Island School of Design who based the work on his delirious dreams of "great Cyclopean cities of titan blocks and sky-flung monoliths, all dripping with green ooze and sinister with latent horror". Wilcox frequently refers to Cthulhu and R'lyeh. Lovecraft makes Wilcox's residence in the story the real Providence structure the Fleur-de-Lys Studios. Angell also discovers reports of "outre mental illnesses and outbreaks of group folly or mania" around the world (in New York City, "hysterical Levantines" mob police; in California, a Theosophist colony dons white robes to await a "glorious fulfillment"). The second chapter, The Tale of Inspector Legrasse, discusses the first time the Professor had heard the word "Cthulhu" and seen a similar image. At the 1908 meeting of the American Archaeological Society in St. Louis, Missouri, a New Orleans police official named John Raymond Legrasse asked the assembled antiquarians to identify a statuette composed of an unidentifiable greenish-black stone, "captured some months before in the wooded swamps south of New Orleans during a raid on a supposed voodoo meeting". The idol resembles the Wilcox sculpture, and represented a "...thing, which seemed instinct with a fearsome and unnatural malignancy, was of a somewhat bloated corpulence, and squatted evilly on a rectangular block or pedestal covered with undecipherable characters". Howard Phillips Lovecraft (August 20, 1890 - March 15, 1937) - known as H.P. Lovecraft - was an American author who achieved posthumous fame through his influential works of horror fiction. Virtually unknown and only published in pulp magazines before he died in poverty, he is now regarded as one of the most significant 20th-century authors in his genre. Lovecraft was born in Providence, Rhode Island, where he spent most of his life. His father was confined to a mental institution when Lovecraft was three years old. His grandfather, a wealthy businessman, enjoyed storytelling and was an early influence. Intellectually precocious but sensitive, Lovecraft began composing rudimentary horror tales by the age of eight, but suffered from overwhelming feelings of anxiety. He encountered problems with classmates in school, and was kept at home by his highly strung and overbearing mother for illnesses that may have been psychosomatic. In high school, Lovecraft was able to better connect with his peers and form friendships. He also involved neighborhood children in elaborate make-believe projects, only regretfully ceasing the activity at seventeen years old. Despite leaving school in 1908 without graduating - he found mathematics particularly difficult - Lovecraft had developed a formidable knowledge of his favored subjects, such as history, linguistics, chemistry, and astronomy.
H. P. Lovecraft is one of the seminal horror authors of the twentieth century. He wrote more than one hundred stories, and achieved popular acclaim in such publications as Astounding Stories and Weird Tales. Though he died in 1937, the small press publisher Arkham House was established in 1939 to preserve Lovecraft's works for future generations.