Kirk, George Willard


Kirk, George Willard
   (1898–1962).
   Bookseller, publisher, and friend of HPL. Born in Akron, Ohio, he entered the book trade at an early age. He spent the years 1920–22 in California, where he became acquainted with Clark Ashton Smith. In early 1922 he published his only book: Samuel Loveman’s edition of Twenty-one Letters of Ambrose Bierce . He met HPL when the latter came to Cleveland in August 1922; at that time Kirk gave HPL a copy of Smith’s Odes and Sonnets(1918), thereby encouraging HPL to get in touch with Smith. In August 1924 Kirk came to New York to establish a bookshop. By this time he was engaged to Lucile Dvorak but did not have enough money to support her. His numerous letters to her provide vivid descriptions of HPL and his friends in New York. He participated in numerous all-night walks around New York with HPL and other members of the Kalem Club. In early 1925 Kirk moved into the same apartment house at 169 Clinton Street, Brooklyn, where HPL was residing (prompting HPL’s poem, “To George Kirk, Esq., Upon His Entertaining a Company in His New-Decorated Chambers, 18th January 1925”), but stayed only a few months. On April 11–12, 1925, Kirk and HPL undertook a whirlwind excursion to Washington, D.C., seeing all the sights in a few hours (with assistance from amateur colleague Anne Tillery Renshaw, who had a car). From August to October 1925 Kirk resided at 317 West 17th Street in Manhattan; HPL in fact helped him move both his personal possessions and his books for his bookshop. HPL later used the building as the setting for “Cool Air” (1926). HPL wrote a birthday poem to Kirk on the occasion of his twenty-seventh birthday, November 25, 1925 (“To George Willard Kirk, Gent., of Chelsea-Village, in New York, Upon His Birthday”; published in the National Amateur,May 1927, as “George Willard Kirk”). HPL occasionally helped Kirk address envelopes for catalogue mailings, and in exchange for this help Kirk gave HPL an enormous quantity of envelopes with the obsolete return address of Kirk’s bookshop; HPL used them until they finally ran out in the mid-1930s. During HPL’s visit to New York in September 1926, Kirk introduced HPL to Howard Wolf, a reporter for the Akron Beacon Journal;sometime during the following year Wolf wrote an article on HPL in his column, “Variety” (exact date not known, as only the clipping survives; rpt. LR). Kirk married Lucile Dvorak on March 5, 1927, setting up the Chelsea Bookshop at 58 West 8th Street (which is not in fact in Chelsea), remaining there for more than a decade. He and his wife visited HPL in Providence in early September 1929. HPL continued to meet Kirk on his visits to New York in the 1930s, but otherwise their contact appears to have been slight. See Mara Kirk Hart, “Walkers in the City: George Willard Kirk and Howard Phillips Lovecraft in New York City, 1924–1926,” LSNo. 28 (Spring 1993): 2–17 (abridged version in LR).

An H.P.Lovecraft encyclopedia. .

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