A 60-year-old H. P. Lovecraft manuscript, written in Providence, transcribed in Florida and later taken to Mexico by a friend of Lovecraft's, surfaced in Hawaii this year, fragile but still readable. The original manuscript of Lovecraft's "The Shadow Out of Time," believed lost for more than four decades, is now in the John Hay Library, a gift from the last owner's sister.

The Library's first news of the manuscript came January 17, 1995 when a FAX from Nelson Shreve of Kailua, Hawaii arrived at the John Hay:

I found among my deceased sister-in-law's papers what seems to be the original ms. of 'The Shadow Out of Time" by H. P. Lovecraft. Dated February 22 and 24, 1935, it's written in pencil in a child's notebook and in very fragile condition! I have no idea how my sister-in-law came into possession of it.

With it was a cryptic postcard (dated March, 1966) from an August Derleth of Arkham House in Sauk City, WN, saying: "The John Hay Library has an extensive collection and would welcome any further material offered them."

You would appear to be the proper stewards for such a manuscript. If so, please let me know the consignee and address and I'll send it for donation to the library from Lucille Shreve in the name of June Evelyn Ripley.

Robert H. Barlow, a friend of Lovecraft's had transcribed the story in the summer of 1935, but it was not found among Barlow's papers when he died in 1951. So the quest for the legendary "lost story" began -- important because it was the only one of Lovecraft's major works for which there was no surviving manuscript or typescript; the story had never been printed exactly as written.

Lovecraft began writing "The Shadow Out of Time" on November 14, 1934. He destroyed his first attempt and finally on March 14, 1935, announced that he was finished. "but doubt whether it is good enough to type."

In June, 1935, Lovecraft took the manuscript with him when he went to visit Barlow in Florida. In mid-August, he wrote to Donald Wandrei (a friend and later publisher), "Bob has just copied my 'Shadow Out of Time,' so that I may show it to you." The story, poorly edited in Lovecraft's opinion, was printed in Astounding Stories in 1936.

Barlow still had the original manuscript in his possession when he secured a teaching position at Mexico City College. He later became Chairman of the Department of Anthropology and met June Ripley, a post-graduate student studying the Nahuatl language, Barlow's specialty.

The two apparently became friends and Barlow entrusted the manuscript to Ripley before his suicide. She remained in Mexico for seven more years, then taught at several places in the United States before retiring in 1993. She died December 28, 1994 and the long-lost manuscript was found.

The manuscript is 65 1/2 pages long. There are numerous word and paragraph differences between it and the printed version, as well as two full sentences of omitted text. So, as a result of the gift, scholars can now read "The Shadow Out of Time" exactly as Lovecraft wrote it.

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