Amateur Journalism

   The amateur journalism movement consisted of various groups of writers belonging to the two leading amateur organizations of the period, the National Amateur Press Association (NAPA), founded in 1876, and the United Amateur Press Association (UAPA), founded in 1895. HPL’s pamphlet United Amateur Press Association: Exponent of Amateur Journalism(1915; rpt. MW) explains the principles of amateurdom. Members could publish their own journals or contribute to those edited by others (HPL did both). Those who issued journals mailed them to members of their choice (addresses of members were supplied in the “official organs,” the United Amateurand the National Amateur). No minimum publishing requirement was imposed; so long as members paid yearly dues, they were members in good standing. The NAPA held its annual convention in early July; the UAPA held its annual convention in late July. At those times elections were held for the offices of President, Vice-President, Treasurer, Official Editor, and others; other positions (such as the Department of Public Criticism in the UAPA and the Bureau of Critics in the NAPA) were appointed by the President. The Official Editor was responsible for editing the official organ.
   HPL joined the UAPA in April 1914 at the invitation of Edward F.Daas, who noticed HPL’s contributions to the letter column of the Argosy. During his first year HPL contributed a few pieces in prose and verse, but his activity blossomed in 1915 when he was chosen to replace Ada P.Campbell as Chairman of the Department of Public Criticism (HPL’s first article was published in the United Amateur,January 1915); in April he published the first of thirteen issues of his journal, The Conservative . From 1914 to 1921 he contributed voluminously to a wide variety of periodicals. Although a loyal “United man,” HPL joined the NAPA in 1917 in the hope that it might lead to harmony between the organizations.
   HPL held several offices in the UAPA: Chairman of the Department of Public Criticism (1915–17, 1918–19), First Vice-President (1915–16), President (1917–18), Official Editor (July 1917, 1920–22, 1924–25). He was interim President of the NAPA (November 1922–July 1923), taking over for William J. Dowdell, who had resigned. HPL’s amateur activity lagged after the collapse of the UAPA in 1926 but resumed in 1931 when he became a member of the Bureau of Critics (corresponding to the UAPA’s Department of Public Criticism); he wrote numerous critical articles (mostly on poetry) for the National Amateurfrom 1931 to 1936. Aside from editing The Conservative,HPL was a coeditor, assistant editor, or associate editor of The Badger(June 1915), The Credential(April 1920), The Inspiration(Tribute Number, April 1917), and The United Cooperative(December 1918, June 1919, April 1921). He also assisted members of the Providence Amateur Press Club in editing two issues of The Providence Amateur(June 1915 and February 1916). In the first he is listed as “Literary Director” and in the second as “Official Editor.”
   HPL also wrote voluminously about amateurdom. United Amateur Press Association: Exponent of Amateur Journalismis a recruiting pamphlet published in late 1915, when he was First Vice-President of the UAPA; it is his second separate publication (following The Crime of Crimes[1915]). Looking Backward(1920) is an examination of amateur journals of the 1885–95 period. Further Criticism of Poetry(1932), a criticism of amateur verse written on April 18, 1932, appeared separately because it was too lengthy to be published in the National Amateur Some Current Motives and Practices(1936) is a forceful defense of NAP A President Hyman Bradofsky against other members’ vicious attacks upon him. HPL’s first autobiographical article, “The Brief Autobiography of an Inconsequential Scribbler” ( Silver Clarion,April 1919), focuses on his amateur activity. Other important essays are “The Dignity of Journalism” ( Dowdell’s Bearcat, July 1915), “For What Does the United Stand?” ( United Amateur,May 1920), “What Amateurdom and I Have Done for Each Other” (1921; Boys’ Herald,August 1937), “Lucubrations Lovecraftian” ( United Cooperative,April 1921), and “A Matter of Uniteds” ( Bacon’s Essays, Summer 1927). HPL attended only two national amateur conventions, both for NAPA, in July 1921 (when he read his humorous speech “Within the Gates” [in MW] and first met his future wife, Sonia H.Greene), and in July 1930. Both were held in Boston. He attended regional amateur gatherings in Boston in 1920–21 and in Brooklyn (Blue Pencil Club) in 1924–25. In amateurdom HPL met many of his closest and most enduring friends and colleagues, including Frank Belknap Long, Maurice W.Moe, Rheinhart Kleiner, James F.Morton, Alfred Galpin, Samuel Loveman, and Wilfred B.Talman.
   On the whole, amateur journalism appealed to HPL because it echoed his stated literary goal of writing as nonremunerative “self-expression,” because it provided him with a forum where his literary and critical skills could be exhibited and because it supplied him with a network of friends with whom he could correspond on various topics and thereby hone his philosophical, aesthetic, and literary views. HPL is still regarded a giant in the amateur world, and articles on him continue to appear in The Fossil,the organ of amateur alumni.

An H.P.Lovecraft encyclopedia. .

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