Galpin, Alfred

Galpin, Alfred
   Amateur writer, composer, and correspondent of HPL (1917–37). Galpin, one of Maurice W.Moe’s students in Appleton (Wis.) High School, was appointed Fourth Vice-President of the UAPA for the 1917–18 term, and HPL came in touch with him in late 1917. Galpin (who in the amateur press sometimes appeared under the pseudonym Consul Hasting) went on to hold several other positions in the UAPA—including First Vice-President (1918–1919), President (1920–21), and chairman of the Department of Public Criticism (1919–22)—but published only one issue of his own amateur periodical, The Philosopher(December 1920), which contained the first appearance of HPL’s “Polaris” and Galpin’s own weird vignette, “Marsh-Mad: A Nightmare.” HPL held off writing “The Tree” (which he had conceived no later than the summer of 1918) for several years because he felt that “MarshMad” (which he had read in ms.) anticipated the “living tree” idea. HPL reports that his philosophical thought was strongly influenced by Galpin’s (see SL1.128); it was possibly at Galpin’s suggestion that HPL first read Nietzsche in late 1918 (see Galpin’s essay, “Nietzsche as a Practical Prophet,” The Rainbow,October 1921). HPL not only wrote several birthday and other tributes in verse to Galpin —“To Alfred Galpin, Esq.” (1920), “To a Youth” (1921), “To Mr. Galpin” (1921) — but also numerous poems relating to Galpin’s high-school romances, envisioning Galpin as an ancient Greek shepherd pursuing, or pursued by, a nymph. Among them are “Damon and Delia, a Pastoral” (1918), “To Delia, Avoiding Damon” (1918), “Damon—a Monody” (1919), “Hylas and Myrrha” (1919), and “Myrrha and Strephen” (1919). HPL’s poems “To the Eighth of November” (1918) and “Birthday Lines to Margfred Albraham” (1919) are jointly dedicated to Galpin and Margaret Abraham, who shared the same birthday. HPL’s short play Alfredo (1918) features Galpin as its title character and Abraham as the character Margarita. Galpin himself wrote a homage/parody of HPL’s “Nemesis,” titled “Selenaio Phantasma” ( Conservative,July 1918), and at an unspecified date (probably before 1920) collaborated with HPL on the poem “Nathicana,” published ( Vagrant,Spring 1927) under the pseudonym Albert Frederick Willie (the first two names echo Galpin’s first name; “Willie” alludes to Galpin’s mother’s maiden name, Willy). By late 1919 Galpin had become, with Maurice W.Moe, a member of HPL’s correspondence cycle, the Gallomo, although it did not seem to last much more than a year.
   On July 29, 1922, HPL boarded a train in New York for Cleveland, arriving the next day. He was met by Galpin, who resided at 9231 Birchdale Avenue. HPL stayed until August 15. At that time Galpin gave HPL a copy of Clark Ashton Smith’s The Star-Treader and Other Poems(1912), prompting HPL to write to Smith. On August 18–20, 1925, when he was living in Brooklyn, HPL met Galpin’s wife, a Frenchwoman who had arrived from Paris and would then move on to Cleveland. Galpin later moved to Italy and became a professional pianist and composer. Upon HPL’s death he composed a “Lament for H.P.L.” for solo piano (the score is reproduced in full in Marginalia) and later wrote a poignant memoir, “Memories of a Friendship” (1959; in LR). After the 1920s HPL and Galpin had little contact, and Galpin lost or destroyed most of his letters from HPL; only twenty-seven now survive at JHL.

An H.P.Lovecraft encyclopedia. .

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