Arkham is a fictional city in Massachusetts. The town is the creation of H.P. Lovecraft and is featured in many of his stories.
Arkham in Lovecraft's fiction
Arkham is the home of Miskatonic University, which figures prominently in many of Lovecraft's works. The institution finances the expeditions in both At the Mountains of Madness (1936) and "The Shadow out of Time" (1936). Walter Gilman, of "The Dreams in the Witch House" (1933), attends classes at the university. Other notable institutions in Arkham are the Arkham Historical Society and the Arkham Sanitarium.
Arkham’s most notable characteristics are its gambrel roofs and the dark legends surrounding the city for centuries. Occurrences such as the disappearance of children (presumably murdered in ritual sacrifices) at May Eve and other bad doings are accepted as a part of life for the poorer citizens of the city.
The precise location of Arkham is unknown, although it is probably near both Innsmouth and Dunwich. However, it may be surmised from Lovecraft's stories that it is some distance to the north of Boston, probably in Essex County, Massachusetts. Some have suggested that the real-life model for Arkham is in fact Salem (its reputation for the occult making it appealing to one who dabbles in the weird tale).
Note: dates are the year written.
Arkham first appeared in Lovecraft's short story "The Picture in the House" (1920);the story is also the first to mention "Miskatonic". It also appears in other stories by Lovecraft, including:
- "Herbert West—Reanimator" (1921;1922), first story to mention "Miskatonic University"
- "The Unnamable" ([1923)
- "The Colour out of Space" (1927)
- "The Dunwich Horror" (1928)
- At the Mountains of Madness(1931), one of the ships is named Arkham
- "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" (1931), first to mention "Arkham Historical Society"
- "The Dreams in the Witch House" (1932)
- "Through the Gates of the Silver Key" (1932;1933)
- "The Thing on the Doorstep" (1933), first to mention "Arkham Sanitarium"
- "The Shadow out of Time" (1934;1935)
Arkham also appears in the Cthulhu mythos tales of other writers since Lovecraft's death. Among them:
- Bloch, Robert. "The Creeper in the Crypt" (1937)
- Brennen, Joseph Payne. "Forringer's Fortune" (1975)
- Brunner, John. "Concerning the Forthcoming Inexpensive Paperback Translation of the Necronomicon of Abdul Alhazred" (1992)
- Campbell, Ramsey.
- "The Tomb Herd" (1986)
- "The Tower from Yuggoth" (1986)
- Jens, Tina L. "In His Daughter's Darkling Womb" (1997), mentions "Arkham Industries"
- Lumley, Brian. The Transition of Titus Crow (1975)
- Price, Robert M. "Wilbur Whateley Waiting" (1987)
- Shea, Michael The Color out of Time (1984)
- Smith, Clark Ashton. "I Am a Witch" (19??)
- Thompson, C. Hall "The Will of Claude Ashur" (1947)
- Wilson, F. Paul "The Barrens" (1990)
Arkham in other fiction
In many Batman comic books, Arkham Asylum is shown or mentioned as a place in which many villains, including the Joker, are kept under guard. The third Shadow Hearts video game (Shadow Hearts: From the New World) features a visit to the fictional Arkham University, based in Boston, Massachusetts. H. P. Lovecraft himself appears as a professor at the university, conjuring up demons for the heroes to fight at their request. It is also the setting for roleplaying games based on the mythos, such as Call of Cthulhu.
- Arkham Asylum: an institution in the DC Comics universe, named in honor of Lovecraft's Arkham.
- Arkham Horror: a board game set in Arkham, where the players war against the Cthulhu mythos.
Other fictional settings from the stories of H. P. Lovecraft:
- Harms, Daniel. "Arkham" in The Encyclopedia Cthulhiana (2nd ed.), pp. 10. Chaosium, Inc., 1998. ISBN 1-56882-119-0.
- Joshi, S.T. and David E. Schultz. "Arkham" in An H.P. Lovecraft Encyclopedia, pp. 6–7. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2001. ISBN 0-313-31578-7.
- Lovecraft, Howard P.
- At the Mountains of Madness, and Other Novels (7th corrected printing), S. T. Joshi (ed.), Sauk City, WI: Arkham House, 1985. ISBN 0-870-54038-6. Definitive version.
- Dagon and Other Macabre Tales, S. T. Joshi (ed.), Sauk City, WI: Arkham House, 1987. ISBN 0-870-54039-4. Definitive version.
- The Dunwich Horror and Others (9th corrected printing), S. T. Joshi (ed.), Sauk City, WI: Arkham House, 1984. ISBN 0-870-54037-8. Definitive version.
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