Geography of The Heavens, and class book of astronomy, accompanied by a celestial atlas, rev. and corr. by O.M. Mitchel (1849, digital facsimile link), was one of a collection inherited from Lovecraft’s maternal grandmother who had been trained as an astronomer. It was the key which unlocked an interest in astronomy in the young Lovecraft. According to S.T. Joshi’s Lovecraft’s Library, Lovecraft owned the 1853 reprint edition of it. Writing to Moe in 1915 he called it… “the most prized volume in my library”. In a letter of 1926 he refers to it as… “Grandma’s copy of Burritt’s Geography of the Heavens“.

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It also covers some history and recounts that comets were once posited as vehicles of eternal punishment, inside which the wicked were slowly frozen and then roasted over the aeons.

Lovecraft also owned the more sumptuously illustrated Atlas Designed to Illustrate the Geography of the Heavens (1856), which was a supplement to the above book. Here are some of the interior decorated and illustrated pages which the young Lovecraft would have scrutinised…

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The latter two images were only present in Lovecraft’s 1856 edition.

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