The Lurker at the Threshold

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The Lurker at the Threshold
Lurker at the threshold.jpg
Dust-jacket illustration by Ronald Clyne for The Lurker at the Threshold
Author H. P. Lovecraft and August Derleth
Cover artist Ronald Clyne
Country United States
Language English
Genre Horror novel
Publisher Arkham House
Publication date
1945
Media type Print (Hardback)
Pages 196 pp
ISBN NA

The Lurker at the Threshold is a short novel in the Cthulhu Mythos genre of horror. It was written in 1945 by August Derleth, based on two short fragments written by H. P. Lovecraft,[1] who died in 1937, and published as a collaboration between the two authors. According to S. T. Joshi, of the novel's 50,000 words, 1,200 were written by Lovecraft.[2][3] The book was originally published by Arkham House in an edition of 3,041 copies. The story was included in the Arkham hardcover omnibus The Watchers Out of Time and Others, though excluded from the paperback edition.

Characters[edit]

Richard Billington[edit]

The first Billington to lay claim to Billington's Wood. According to the fictional book Of Evill Sorceries Done in New-England of Daemons in No Humane Shape, in the early years of the Plymouth Colony, during the governorship of William Bradford (1621–1657), Billington set up "a great Ring of Stones" where he said "Prayers to ye Devil" and "sung certain Rites of Magick abominable by Scripture". After a series of mysterious deaths were linked to him, he disappeared, and was said by the Wampanaug Indians to have been "eat up by what he had call'd out of ye Sky."[4]

Misquamacus[edit]

An "antient Wonder-Worker" of the Wampanaug tribe. According to the fictional book Of Evill Sorceries Done in New-England of Daemons in No Humane Shape, Misquamacus teaches "Sorceries" to Richard Billington and imprisons Ossadagowah, a spawn of Tsathoggua, in a ring of stones.[5] The same character later reappears in the early 19th century as Quamis, a servant of Alijah Billington and the guardian of his son Laban. Quamis, described as a Narragansett Indian, is a worshipper of Nyarlathotep.[6]

The character Misquamacus is also the villain of the 1976 novel The Manitou (which was made into a film starring Tony Curtis, Susan Strasberg, Burgess Meredith and Michael Ansara in 1978), the 1979 novel Return of the Manitou, the 1993 novel Burial, the 2005 novel Manitou Blood and the 2010 novel Blind Panic, all by Graham Masterton.

Alijah Billington[edit]

Billington inherits Richard Billington's estate in the early 19th century. He enters into a rivalry with Reverend Ward Phillips, who accused Billington and his forebear of practicing sorcery. The feud culminated with the disappearance of John Druven, one of Phillips' supporters. Afterwards, Billington leaves for England with his son Laban and his servant Quamis, remaining there until his death.

Ward Phillips[edit]

Reverend of the Second Church (later First Baptist Church) of Arkham. In 1805, he became the librarian at Miskatonic University. He is chiefly known for his book Thaumaturgical Prodigies in the New-England Canaan. When Alijah Billington found out that the book accused his ancestor of practicing sorcery, he started a feud with Phillips, which lasted several months. Shortly after one of his proponents, John Druven, disappeared, Phillips seemingly had a change of heart and began buying and burning every copy of his book that he could lay his hands on.

The name is an homage to Howard Phillips Lovecraft. A character of the same name appears in Lovecraft's "Through the Gates of the Silver Key".

John Druven[edit]

An occasional correspondent for the Arkham Gazette and a friend of Ward Phillips. He disappeared after accepting an invitation from Alijah Billington to investigate strange noises emanating from Billington's Wood.

Ambrose Dewart[edit]

(approximately 1870–1924)

A descendant of Laban Billington who comes to Arkham in 1921 to reclaim his family's property which had been abandoned for roughly a century. He is described as "a hawk-faced man of medium height, chiefly distinguished for a flare of red hair which gave him a tonsured appearance, keen of eye and tight of lip, exceedingly correct and possessed of a dry sort of humor... a man of some fifty years of age, brown-skinned, who had lost his only son in the great war."[7]

Locals blame him for a subsequent series of unexplainable disappearances in the area. He disappeared in 1924.

Seneca Lapham[edit]

A professor of Anthropology at Miskatonic University and a graduate of the same institution (class of 1879). He investigated the events of Billington's Wood and procured several of the family's books for the University library. He also appears in Lin Carter's "The Horror in the Gallery".

References in popular culture[edit]

The book is referenced as the name of the four-part "Lurker At The Threshold" suite by avant-garde musician Buckethead on his album The Elephant Man's Alarm Clock (2006).

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ April Derleth, "Foreword", The Watchers Out of Time, p. ix.
  2. ^ S.T. Joshi, H. P. Lovecraft: A Comprehensive Bibliography
  3. ^ "August Derleth's 'Posthumous collaborations'", The H. P. Lovecraft Archive.
  4. ^ H. P. Lovecraft and August Derleth, The Lurker at the Threshold, in The Watchers Out of Time, pp. 14-15.
  5. ^ Lovecraft and Derleth, p. 15.
  6. ^ Lovecraft and Derleth, pp. 9-10.
  7. ^ Lovecraft and Derleth, pp 5-6.

References[edit]

  • Jaffery, Sheldon (1989). The Arkham House Companion. Mercer Island, WA: Starmont House, Inc. pp. 14–15. ISBN 1-55742-005-X. 
  • Chalker, Jack L.; Mark Owings (1998). The Science-Fantasy Publishers: A Bibliographic History, 1923-1998. Westminster, MD and Baltimore: Mirage Press, Ltd. p. 28. 
  • Joshi, S.T. (1999). Sixty Years of Arkham House: A History and Bibliography. Sauk City, WI: Arkham House. p. 32. ISBN 0-87054-176-5. 
  • Nielsen, Leon (2004). Arkham House Books: A Collector's Guide. Jefferson, NC and London: McFarland & Company, Inc. p. 56. ISBN 0-7864-1785-4.