The Doom that came to Television

Although the medium was in its infancy at the time of his death in 1937, H.P. Lovecraft did live to see television first-hand. In a 1933 letter to Clark Ashton Smith, he writes: "Saw an interesting demonstration of television in a local department store yesterday. Flickers like the bigraph pictures of 1898."

The technology would advance swiftly. In the summer of 1936, Germany used a primative television camera and dedicated facilities to permit viewinf of the Olympics by some residents of Berlin and Leipzig. That fall, the BBC began limited broadcasting in London, and the following year would televise the coronation of Kind George VI. By the end of 1939, there were 20,000 television sets in London and public broadcasts were available in New York City.

The sweeping change in our culture that television would bring, however, was something Lovecraft would not witness. One wonders if a sixty-nine-year-old HPL might have written for The Twilight Zone...

But even without having Lovecraft around to collaborate in person, the television medium has provided a home for some of his works--if occasionally a broken one. Like the cool unyielding surface of polished glass in HPL's story "The Outsider," the little glass screens of the televisions that sit inside our homes are full of monsters. Sometimes, those monsters even have a curiously Lovecraftian visage...