Mar 1 2011 11:32am

H.P. Lovecraft’s 10 Favorite Words and a Free Lovecraft eBook

The Complete Works of H.P. Lovecraft ebookLast December, I became frustrated when attempting to find an Nook-compatible eBook, free or otherwise, of the complete works of H.P. Lovecraft. Initially, I used a nearly-complete file from the Australian Project Gutenberg and turned it into a mildly useful but still incomplete and unstructured ebook. That wouldn’t do, so I did what any good librarian-in-training would—I took the time to create a proper complete works eBook and released it to the public.

The Complete Works of H.P. Lovecraft is available in two eBook formats, EPUB (for the Nook and a few others) and MOBI (for the Kindle). It contains all the original stories which Lovecraft wrote as an adult, beginning in 1917 with “The Tomb” and ending in 1935 with his last original work “The Haunter of the Dark.” The table of contents at the end of this post has a complete list, including the years in which stories were written.

If you’re interested in learning more about the eBook, the creation process, the indispensable websites, and the files in your eBook download, you can read about it here.


Which Words did Lovecraft Use Most?

In the process of creating the eBook, I realized I had the opportunity to discover Lovecraft’s most-used words. If you’ve ever read him, a handful of words have probably jumped out at you again and again. Perhaps you considered whipping up a bingo card or a tally sheet. Some of the words I think of immediately when someone mentions Lovecraft’s vocabulary are “eldritch,” “squamous,” “cyclopean,” “indescribable,” “decadent,” “unnameable,” and “blasphemous.”

Oddly enough, “squamous” was only used once in an original work (“The Dunwich Horror”). I found it once in a collaboration, but it probably stuck with readers because Lovecraft is the sole author we’ve read who’s used it. The following are the ten words, or root words, which occur most often in Lovecraft’s original writings:

  • Hideous – 260
  • Faint (ed/ing) – 189
  • Nameless – 157
  • Antiqu (e/arian) – 128
  • Singular (ly) – 115
  • Madness – 115
  • Abnormal – 94
  • Blasphem (y/ous) – 92
  • Accursed – 76
  • Loath (ing/some) – 71

You can read more of the most-used words and word counts for places, tomes, and characters in my full post on Lovecraft’s favorite words.


Table of Contents

The eBook’s table of contents is listed below. It includes the year each story was written.

  • The Tomb (1917)
  • Dagon (1917)
  • Polaris (1918)
  • Beyond the Wall of Sleep (1919)
  • Memory (1919)
  • Old Bugs (1919)
  • The Transition of Juan Romero (1919)
  • The White Ship (1919)
  • The Doom That Came to Sarnath (1919)
  • The Statement of Randolph Carter (1919)
  • The Terrible Old Man (1920)
  • The Tree (1920)
  • The Cats of Ulthar (1920)
  • The Temple (1920)
  • Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family (1920)
  • The Street (1920)
  • Celephaïs (1920)
  • From Beyond (1920)
  • Nyarlathotep (1920)
  • The Picture in the House (1920)
  • Ex Oblivione (1921)
  • The Nameless City (1921)
  • The Quest of Iranon (1921)
  • The Moon-Bog (1921)
  • The Outsider (1921)
  • The Other Gods (1921)
  • The Music of Erich Zann (1921)
  • Herbert West — Reanimator (1922)
  • Hypnos (1922)
  • What the Moon Brings (1922)
  • Azathoth (1922)
  • The Hound (1922)
  • The Lurking Fear (1922)
  • The Rats in the Walls (1923)
  • The Unnamable (1923)
  • The Festival (1923)
  • The Shunned House (1924)
  • The Horror at Red Hook (1925)
  • He (1925)
  • In the Vault (1925)
  • The Descendant (1926)
  • Cool Air (1926)
  • The Call of Cthulhu (1926)
  • Pickman’s Model (1926)
  • The Silver Key (1926)
  • The Strange High House in the Mist (1926)
  • The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath (1927)
  • The Case of Charles Dexter Ward (1927)
  • The Colour Out of Space (1927)
  • The Very Old Folk (1927)
  • The Thing in the Moonlight (1927)
  • The History of the Necronomicon (1927)
  • Ibid (1928)
  • 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 Evil Clergyman (1933)
  • The Book (1933)
  • The Shadow out of Time (1934)
  • The Haunter of the Dark (1935)

RuthX is a mild-mannered librarian by day who serves the dread lord Cthulhu after dark and hopes to work in VERY Special Collections at Miskatonic University’s library, once she gets them to admit it exists.

Ruth X
1. RuthX
Hmm, the image is a little fuzzier than it was on preview. Sorry about that.
4. JaredPK
You are a hero. Awesome work.
5. mister_ethan
OMElderGods thank you!
Andrew Foss
6. alfoss1540
I would have expected to see ululate, one og my favorite Lovecraft words!

Had to look up spelling in my copy of The Necronomicon. Jealous?
Mouldy Squid
7. Mouldy_Squid
Thank you for the hard work. It will make a nice companion to the rest of Lovecraft's work (Fungi From Yuggoth and whatever poetry and juvenilia I can find) that I have slowly been collecting for my iPad. The hardest thing to find is To Quebec and the Stars. I once saw a bound copy and like a fool, didn't buy it.

edit: Also, if anyone knows of a epub formatted copy of Supernatural Horror in Literature, it is also one of the pieces I am missing.
Ruth X
8. RuthX
@6, ululate made the longer list, but unfortunately it really wasn't used much. I think it's one of the ones that stands out because we rarely see it elsewhere.
John Ginsberg-Stevens
9. eruditeogre
Wow. Thanks for doing this! It is an invaluable resource.
Steven Halter
10. stevenhalter
Thanks Ruth! This is a great job--I'll be downloading shortly.
11. Karohemd
Fantastic! Thank you for all your hard work, Ruth.
mike navratil
12. litarvan
Thank you so much! For the past few months I have been rereading HPL and then listening to the HP Lovecraft literary podcast to hear the host's impressions of the stories. Up until now I have had to go to Dagonbytes to read the stories, but thanks to you, I can now read them on my ebook reader. Great work!
Ruth X
13. RuthX
To all those who said thanks, you're very much welcome. I'm really excited by the reception it's getting. :)

@litarvan/12, the H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast is what got me doing it! I was reading them all online, then when I got my Nook I decided there had to be a better way.
14. Matt Carpenter
Great work! Thanks very much. I just cross posted to alt.horror.cthulhu and rec.arts.sf.written.
Warren Ockrassa
15. warreno
1. I had no idea HPL's stuff was public domain. Woot!

2. Many many thanks for compiling it into a single volume. Woot again!

3. I'm shocked - shocked! - that eldritch didn't make the top 10!
Mouldy Squid
16. Mouldy_Squid
@#15 Warreno

HPL's work is only in the public domain in Europe and Canada. In the US, anything written after 1923 is still under copyright held by Arkham House (although this is a very grey area considering the controversy surrounding Derleth's "claim" of copyright ownership).

If things continue the way the are in the US regarding copyright, nothing will every enter public domain there again.
Mouldy Squid
17. Mouldy_Squid
double post
18. Winter79
Mouldy Squid @16:

It's worth noting at this point that Derleth's excecutor told a court in 1974 (Donald Wandrei v. The Estate of August Derleth) that...

"Insofar as the copyrights are concerned, I can testify that there are no renewal copyrights for any of the H.P. Lovecraft stories that were signed on October 9, 1947 to August Derleth and Donald Wandrei. ... Moreover, Lovecraft died in 1937 and while he left a will, the evidence will show that none of Lovecraft's copyrights were renewed. The forty-six (46) Lovecraft stories contained in Exhibit "B" were not renewed by the assignees nor could they do so under the copyright law. Thus all of the stories are now in the public domain with the result that there are no rights contained or effective under the agreement between Donald Wandrei and August Derleth, dated November 8, 1955."

(the best history of the HPL copyrights that I've seen, where I found this quote, is at http://www.aetherial.net/lovecraft/index.html)
19. RJ MacReady
Mighty cool of you to put this collection together for everyone, Ruth!  The convenience of an ePub makes for a great incentive to revisit them again!  Thanks :)
Mouldy Squid
20. Mouldy_Squid
@#18 Winter79

Thanks for the link. That is a very interesting tid-bit you quoted there.

By all rights, HPL's corpus should be public domain considering the standard Bern Convention of 70 years post author-death.
21. Winter79
@Mouldy Squid

Thanks :)

Under US Copyright law as it existed in the 1930's (which was not based on Berne), Copyright persisted in the first instance for 28 years after publication, but could be renewed. The Berne term of life+70 years was not brought in until 1978.

Which means that the last of HPL's works that were published in his lifetime would have become PD in 1965, assuming that they were not renewed - which there is zero evidence that they were, and which Derleth's executor said in court they weren't.

Of course, that didn't stop him claiming to the rest of the world that Arkham House sill owned them, but hey...
Ruth X
23. RuthX
@21 Joshi has looked into it as well and says that Weird Tales might be able to claim copyright to a couple of the earlier ones, but they haven't tried to asser it and it's not clear that they've made the right steps to claim it anyway.
Ben H
24. dripgrind
Warning to iPhone users: this file doesn't work in Stanza, but it does (apparently) work if you view it in iBooks (add it to your iTunes library, then sync).
25. Ian P. Johnson
I'm pretty sure that Lovecraft uses the words "a", "the", "is", etc. far more than "hideous", or any of its variants. Of course, those aren't uniquely Lovecraftian words. As far as I know, the only thing you can tell about someone who uses the word "the" regularly is that they are a speaker of English.
26. a-j
The only other writer to use 'squamous' that I'm aware of is Rupert Brooke in his poem Heaven:

27. a-j
The only other writer to use 'squamous' that I'm aware of is Rupert Brooke in his poem Heaven:

Chris Meadows
28. Robotech_Master
Whether the copyrights or legit or not may not matter if the Lovecraft Estate decides they want to make an issue of it. That's why the Lovecraft Library can now be found only in the Internet Archive.

Whether they're right or not, releasing an e-book of the complete works might cause you some trouble if you're in the USA. If you're in Australia, never mind, carry on. :)
32. Winter79
Ruth@23: Are these the stories that HPL sold outright to Weird Tales between 1923 and 1926?

My understanding is that this depends on the untested legal theory that when WT renewed the copyright on those issues in the early fifties, that automatically renewed the copyright on all the stories printed in them, even where WT themselves were no longer the owners of the rights (Derleth and Wandrei purchased all of WT's rights regarding the Lovecraft corpus in 1947).

Of course, I'm neither a copyright lawyer nor S.T. Joshi, so take everything I say with a big pinch of the powder of Ibn-Ghazi :)
phil wolf
33. tenkill
The one good thing about e-readers is that if there is even a shaddow of a doubt about the copy rights here in the U.S., the book will be obliterated from my Kindle for the PC.
Ruth X
34. RuthX
@32 Winter, yes that's the set. Should Weird Tales actually ask me to remove them (unlikely since they haven't asked any of the other places these are available online and since there's a whole circuitous mess about the rights and the question of whether WT then is the same as WT now), I would.

@33 tenkill, actually, that's only if you bought it through Amazon.
35. blatanville
mad props, cthulhuchick!
Clifton Royston
36. CliftonR
Wow, this is amazing. Total props to you!

In the tradition of rewarding hard work with more work: Have you thought of doing the same for Dunsany?

Just was trying out Stanza and discovering the first place I went has a bunch of Dunsany short-shorts in the public domain, but each one listed as a separate work.
38. Mantelli
Thank you very much for all your hard work! I have passed on the news about this ebook to my friends, who will probably rush over here and download it!
39. Sticky Wicket
Thanks for your hard work.
I wonder if "Sweet Ermengarde" and "A Reminiscence of Dr. Samuel Johnson" should be included. Also you can validate the epub through Sigil to help get rid of some of the coding errors. This might help some view this in Stanza or other readers.
Jacq Francis
40. obsidiantears83
Thank you so much!! I was getting a frustrated with the Gutenberg one (not that I'd complain - they are a well-loved reseource!)

On a side note, I just saw your etsy!! I'll definately be buying from you soon ;D
41. PQR
Thank you so much!
43. Bibliotropic
This is so awesome! Thanks very much for doing this; I'm going to have a lot of fun reading through all the stories!
David Shanahan
45. dshan
@24 dripgrind, Yes, I found this problem as soon as I tried to open it in Stanza on the Mac, Stanza is picker than some others when it comes to strict epub compliance.

Fortunately there's an easy fix - just drop the book into Calibre and convert it from epub to epub(!) Calibre is excellent at fixing up non-conformant epubs like this. Calibre rules.
46. Ayan
I've signed up with this website FavoriteWords(dot)com (a new network for better social experience and more fun) and then I found this page, nice coincidence.
47. The Horror!
Love it!

But most used words? Surely not! How about 'horror' or 'ancient'?

These two words alone must make up 75% of Lovecraft's word count at least! :)

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