Manly Wade Wellman and the Lovecraft Mythos 

These are my conjectures about the relationship between some of Wellman's writing and the Lovecraft Mythos.  Based on letters supplied to me by E.P. Berglund, it seems that Wellman didn't really feel that greatly influenced by Lovecraft per se, but did make the casual mention of HPL and some of his creations as an homage, more than as true inspiration.  As it is, I'll lay out my thoughts and let Wellman's letters to Mr. Berglund be his own rebuttle. -Daniel


SETTING THE MOOD:

The Lovecraft universe has come to be populated with a lot of place names and monster names, libraries filled all of the rarest tomes, and dynamite-packing scientists that are well versed in the lore of Cthulhu, but rarely has the Mythos pastiche author reached the atmosphere of isolation, horror and dread that Lovecraft wrote about so often.

These days it's usually a more pulpy entertainment than an experience of horror, or a displacement into the story itself through the written word. This doesn't make a story bad, in fact they can be quite entertaining, but it's not aiming its goal at transporting the reader to another world.

Through his knowledgeable use of local character archetypes, true history, vernacular and a love of the wooded mountains around him, Wellman was able to paint a realistic picture to take the reader into, then chill them with the primal and sometimes frightening folklore of the land.

Maybe a different route than Lovecraft would take, but leading to the same destination, where a person can realize the cosmic scheme doesn't really revolve around humankind. It's a bigger scarier universe out there. For example in the short story "Goodman's Place", a simple walk through the woods on a beautiful summer afternoon can lead into a story of cosmic fear and horror of the "Ancient Unknown" in shunned, far away places.


H. P. Lovecraft

THE REAL MACOY:
Along with Mythos based tomes and character lore, Wellman also chose to pull monsters, books, and personas from European and Native American folktales, some of them being references to existing texts, such as John George Hohman's Long Lost Friend , a book of white magic and folk remedies brought to America in the 1800's from Germany. Wellman uses Long Lost Friend many times throughout his stories, with all of the major protagonists always having a helpful copy around somewhere to help ward off evil.
Another often mentioned book is the more rare but famous Albertus Magnus , or as Wellman's characters would call it, the "Big Albert". This is a tome that Lovecraft also mentions in the short story "The Terrible Old Man" and the Novelette The Case of Charles Dexter Ward.


PREHUMAN SURVIVALS:
"He wished that Lovecraft were alive to see and hear -- Lovecraft knew so much about the legend of Other-People, from before human times, and how their behaviors and speech had trickled a little into the ken of the civilization known to the wakeday world." - "Shonokin Town" Manly Wade Wellman
Actually I just finished re-reading AFTER DARK which is a Silver John novel all about the Shonokins. They are an ancient race(possibly more in the Howardian ideal), an aboriginal "people of the land" who went into hiding with the advent of man. But they are plotting their return. The Shonokins reason their takeover of the world because the humans aren't fit to run the Earth and it's time for the true caretakers to return to power. The specifics here aren't necessarily something you would see happen in Lovecraft, but the greater idea of an ancient race returning to power with humankind falling to the wayside is. If I was reaching, I'd say that the Shonokins could possibly be a wayward branch of REH's Lost Race of Picts or even the Inhabitants of Leng. They are that ancient and that eldritch. If I was to write them into a Mythos story, I'd say this was a reasonable idea.
 
MYTHOS BY NAME:

Also we know that Wellman intended some of his stories to be specifically in the Mythos vein with efforts such as "The Terrible Partchment" which is specifically about the Necromonicon and mentions Clark Ashton Smith and Robert Bloch. Wellman had a story in STARTLING STORIES, Summer 1944, called "Strangers on the Heights" which dealt with an ancient race dwelling high in the Andes Mts. Though no Mythos names were dropped, this was supposedly written as a Mythos story, and was expanded into the 1950 novel THE BEASTS FROM BEYOND. Similar notions are revisited in the 1977 novel THE BEYONDERS where an trans-dimensional monster from the hills terrorizes a small Appalachian village, leaving a trail of burnt grass in its wake.

Several of the John Thunstone short stories wave the Mythos flag, especially when dealing with Rowley Thorne, Thunstones arch-enemy, who is usually dabbling in the sorts of arcane mischief you might expect an evil sorcerer to be in during a Mythos related adventure. In "The Letters of Cold Fire" Thorne, failing to get a copy of the NECRONOMICON, goes instead for the "schoolbook" of a student of the Deep School, an extra-dimensional school of sorcery.
In the 1984 Silver John novel Voice of the Mountain we hear mention of Miskatonic University and some familiar Mythos authors as well. First Alka, a sorcerer's assistant, tells us "I was a librarian, . . . On the staff of the library of Miskatonic University at Arkham, Massachusetts" and then "At my library post, I met many earnest researchers into the occult. Writers, for instance -- Robert Bloch called on me, and Fritz Leiber, and Frank Belnap Long."


The Voice of the Mountains original content © Daniel Alan Ross, Paul F. Olson & Mark Cannon. 
Reproduction prohibited by law unless granted by original author.
Contact: shonokinx AT yahoo DOT com