Herbert West

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Herbert West is a fictional character of the Cthulhu Mythos created by H.P. Lovecraft and appears in his story Herbert West - Reanimator (fiction). Herbert West appears as a blond, blue eyed and spectacled man.

University Life

Herbert West enrolled at the Miskatonic University Medical School in 1898 and went on to do graduate and post graduate work. Herbert West's life at the school was over shadowed by his notoriety. West claimed that through the use of certain drugs he could "reanimate" the dead.

Herbert West with the aid of another pupil carried out many experiments on test animals, and on rare occasions on human bodies. He claimed this was possible because life is purely mechanistic, simply the combination of chemical impulses. Despite Herbert West's results, mostly violent response from dead rabbits and guinea-pigs, he was banned from the medical labs by the Dean Dr. Allan Halsey.

The summer of 1900 and Herbert West's third year at Miskatonic University he and his friend rented the deserted Chapman farmhouse beyond Meadow Hill near the potter's field in Arkham. According to his friend, who has since then been implicated in Herbert West's disappearance, they stole a body of a drowned man from the graveyard.

After injecting the body with a serum of Herbert West's design the body appeared not to change. Both West and his friend retreated to the next door room. Forty five minutes after injecting the serum the two medical students heard a loud screaming. In fright the two fled the scene knocking over an alcohol burner, The Chapman place burned down. In an unconnected event one of the graves in the potter's field was disturbed by strange scratching.

Post-Grad Life

In 1903 an epidemic of typhoid struck Arkham. Lacking physicians the faculty and many of the post-graduate alumni of the Miskatonic University were pressed to help the town. Herbert West and his friend joined them. Herbert West had argued with Dr. Allan Halsey about the use of the dissection room.

The epidemic killed massive numbers of people, Christchurch Cemetery was said to be overflowing. But overworked not even Herbert West could experiment with his reanimating serum. Then on August 14th Dr. Allan Halsey, who had become a popular hero of the town, died. He was quickly buried the next day. West and his friend were seen late that night bringing a third man to their rooms. At 3 AM the next morning wild cries were heard from West's rooms. West and his friend were found unconscious. Their attacker had apparently jumped from the second story window.

After completing their doctorates Herbert West and his friend moved to Bolton in 1904. They immediately had a large practice from the workers of the Bolton Worsted Mills. Herbert West's experiments with reanimation continued during this period.

One night in March the doctors were called to the recent killing of a Buck Robinson, "The Harlem Smoke," a black worker, during an illicit boxing match. Herbert West agreed to take care of the body and took it to their practice on Pond Street. They repeated their experiment with no result and buried the body in a near by forest.

In July, 1910 another experiment was carried out, this time using both the reanimating fluid and a new type of embalming fluid that could preserve the body just after death until the moment of reanimation. Dr. Herbert West's assistant had been visiting family when a stranger had come into the office to ask the way to the Bolton Worsted Mill. He had suddenly suffered a heart attack and refused Dr. West's treatments.

After very little time since the reanimating serum was applied the man began to regain his color. After a few minutes he came to. Despite this success no record can be found of the body's fate.

Sometime between 1910 and 1915 Herbert West and his friend and assistant moved their practice to Boston. They enjoyed a fashionable and prosperous practice there.

Military Career

Some time after the start of the First World War Herbert West acquired a medical commission as Major in the Canadian army, with the aid of Major Sir Eric Moreland Clapham Lee. By 1915 West and his friend, now a physician First Lieutenant were serving a Canadian field hospital in St. Eloi in Flanders. Dr. West had begun experiments with reanimating separate body parts.

In March of 1915 Major Clapham Lee, and his pilot Lieutenant Ronald Hill were shot down while trying to land at St. Eloi. Dr. West took the Major's body, which had been almost nearly decapitated, and attempted to reanimate the body alone. At that moment the field hospital was hit with a bomb. Herbert West and his friend were the only survivors.

Later Life

After the war Dr. Herbert West retired to an elegant house overlooking the oldest graveyards in Boston. He constructed a secret laboratory in the basement, during which he discovered a bricked up passage that may have connected with one of the colonial era tombs of the Averills.

Dr. West continued his experiments and constructed a special incinerator in his underground lab for the purpose of destroying failures. He apparently attempted several experiments involving the joining of human limbs with non-human ones.


Dr. West disappeared one night from his home. According to his friend and long time assistant he had been taken away by a troop of reanimated corpses, the many failures of West's career. Dr. West's friend is under suspicion for the murder of his long time colleague.


  • Lovecraft, H. P. Tales. New York: Library of America, 2005. Print.
  • Loucks, Donovan K. "The H.P. Lovecraft Archive." The H.P. Lovecraft Archive. N.p., 20 Aug. 2013. Web. 01 Sept. 2013. http://www.hplovecraft.com