The collaborative story “Poetry and the Gods”, by Anna Helen Crofts and H.P. Lovecraft, appeared The United Amateur in September 1920. An H.P. Lovecraft Encyclopedia states nothing is known about Croft other than her address at 343 West Main St., North Adams, Mass. and that she “appeared sporadically in the amateur press”. However Crofts was traced through the Adams city directories in The Fossil #341, July 2009, in Kenneth W. Faig, Jr.’s “The strange story of “Poetry and the Gods” by Anna Helen Crofts and Henry Paget-Lowe”. Other details were also found. An obituary and further details were later unearthed and published in The Fossil #344, April 2010. Donovan K. Loucks in 2010 photographed her house and grave which shows her as Anna Helen Crofts McCuen (1889-1975), who married Joseph B. McCuen (1879-1963).

Given the biographical materials so far discovered on Crofts, Lovecraft presumably collaborated on “Poetry and the Gods” in the summer before Crofts took up a new salaried job in teaching. I have dug up the press notice of her appointment and salary, in the North Adams Transcript of 9th June 1920, with her appointment presumably being for the September 1920 term…

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This appears to have been her first substantial teaching post, judging from the dates in the obituary. I have also found that Crofts published several articles in Vocational guidance magazine (organ of the National Vocational Guidance Association). One of her articles was titled “Guidance versus Knights of the Road” (1932).

More interestingly I have also found some of the titles of her other fiction or poetry, as listed in The FictionMags Index

   “Le Silent”, (short story), The Tryout Feb 1918.
   “To Autumn”, (poem), The Vagrant Jun 1918.
   “War Literature”, (article), The Tryout Apr 1919.

I’ve encountered no mention of her story “Le Silent” online, but the title makes it sound as if it might have been of interest to Lovecraft. Faig wonders why Lovecraft collaborated with her, and suggests i) her election as an officer of the United amateur movement in July 1920 and ii) the striking blank verse extracts she borrowed (uncredited) from Elizabeth J. Coatsworth to adorn “Poetry and the Gods”. Lovecraft had two poems (“A Winter Wish” and “Laeta: A Lament”) in the same Feb 1918 Tryout issue, and so (if The FictionMags Index is correct, and they haven’t mis-labelled a poem as a story), he would have seen her earlier work. Perhaps “Le Silent” is why he collaborated with her? The story “Le Silent” doesn’t appear to be online, nor is it collected anywhere that I can find details for.

The article by Faig in The Fossil #341 reports one other story by her, but it is not “Le Silent”…

   “S.T. Joshi credits Miss Crofts with at least one further story in the amateur press, “Life” (United Amateur, June 1921)”.

I cannot find online details of that story either, and neither “Life” nor “Le Silent” appears to be available online or collected. Nor can I find any trace of them being described or dismissed by Lovecraftians.

I can add just a little more to the work on Crofts published in The Fossil, in the form of this school art worksheet by her, in The School Arts Magazine, Vol.20, Sept 1920 to June 1921…

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