Curwen, Joseph

   (1662/3–1771; 1928)
   In The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, Curwen arrives in Providence from Salem in 1692 seeking asylum. As a result of his alchemical studies, he lives a preternaturally long life but also attracts unwanted attention. He marries Eliza Tillinghast, the daughter of one of his ship-captains, in an attempt to improve his standing in society. A wealthy man, he ingratiates himself among the townspeople of Providence by donating books to the library and money to various civic undertakings. Ezra Weeden, a jealous suitor of Eliza, investigates Curwen’s furtive doings and organizes the raid on the Curwen bungalow in Pawtuxet, which results in Curwen’s apparent death. The people of Providence seek to expunge all references to Curwen from the public record and nearly succeed. However, Curwen’s great-great-great-grandson, Charles Dexter Ward, accidentally learns of his unknown and feared ancestor, eventually unearthing Curwen’s papers and using the occult information they contain to resurrect Curwen from his “essential Saltes.” Curwen (now restored to life but masquerading as a “Dr. Allen”), Ward, and their cohorts around the world continue the task of securing the “essential Saltes” of all the great geniuses of the human race so as to gain some kind of control over the world or even the universe. But when Ward becomes “squeamish” in carrying out this plan, Curwen kills him and attempts to take his place (the two bear a strong physical resemblance). Curwen’s secret is discovered by Ward’s physician, Marius Bicknell Willett, who ultimately destroys him.

An H.P.Lovecraft encyclopedia. .

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