New ending for my short topographical note of September 2013, titled “The location of “Juan Romero”: Area 52″. Scratch the couple of sentences speculating on how Lovecraft might have learned of the area, and replace with…


How did Lovecraft come to know of the area? He appears to have been inspired in his choice of a desert setting by reading an amateur journalism author he named in a letter as ‘Phil Mac’ (Prof. Philip B. McDonald), who had apparently used a similar desert / mining setting, but for a “commonplace adventure yarn” (Lord of a Visible World, p.69). It seems Lovecraft had copied out a “dull” and “commonplace adventure yarn” sent to him by McDonald, intending to send the copy to his correspondence circle with a detailed critique of his own. But then he decided to just spend a day writing his own story based on the same or similar setting, and he then sent out both… “Youze gazinks have seen both Mac’s and my yarns.”

Philip B. McDonald graduated M.E. (Master of Engineering) from Michigan College of Mines. In Lovecraft’s The Conservative, McDonald was stated to be “Assistant Professor of Engineering English, University of Colorado” in July 1918, though he later moved to New York to become assistant professor of English, New York University. It appears he was the husband of the noted amateur journalist Edna Hyde McDonald (“Vondy”). McDonald’s desert story was not used in Lovecraft’s The Conservative and seems not to exist today, nor any of his fiction. So we don’t know how closely Lovecraft used, or not, what he called “the richly significant setting” of McDonald’s “dull yarn”.

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