The H.P. Lovecraft Wiki

This subject contains information from the "Lovecraft Circle" Myth Cycles, and while guided by HPL are not based on his work alone. This subject contains information from the Derleth Cthulhu Mythos, and not based on H.P. Lovecraft's works directly. This subject contains information from the Expanded Cthulhu Mythos, and not based on H.P. Lovecraft's works directly. This subject contains information from the Mythos Adjacent Works, and while share similar themes and features of the Mythos are not based on his work, or generally considered a part of the Mythos proper. Arkham is a fictional city in Massachusetts, and makes up a key part of the Lovecraft Country setting.

Lovecraft Mythos

Map by Lovecraft

What lay behind our joint love of shadows and marvels was, no doubt, the ancient, mouldering, and subtly fearsome town in which we live - witch-cursed, legend-haunted Arkham, whose huddled, sagging gambrel roofs and crumbling Georgian balustrades brood out the centuries beside the darkly muttering Miskatonic.
~ HPL , The Thing on the Doorstep

Arkham's most notable characteristics are its gambrel roofs and the dark legends that have surrounded the city for centuries. The disappearance of children (presumably murdered in ritual sacrifices) at May Eve and other "bad doings" are accepted as a part of life for the poorer citizens of the city.

The city is home to Miskatonic University, the Arkham Historical Society and Arkham Sanitarium. It is said in that the town was devastated by a typhoid outbreak in 1905. (HPL: "Herbert West--Reanimator")

Arkham's main newspaper is the Arkham Advertiser, which has a circulation that reaches as far as Dunwich. In the 1880s, its newspaper is called the Arkham Gazette.


Detailed map of Lovecraft Country, showing one possible location of Arkham.

The precise location of Arkham is unspecified, although it is probably near both Innsmouth and Dunwich. However, it may be surmised from Lovecraft's stories that it is some distance to the north of Boston, probably in Essex County, Massachusetts.

The actual location of Arkham is a subject of debate. Will Murray places Arkham in central Massachusetts and suggests that it is based on the small village of Oakham. Robert D. Marten rejects this claim and equates Arkham with Salem, and thinks that Arkham is named for Arkwright, Rhode Island (which is now part of Fiskville).

[Lovecraft's] mental picture of Arkham is of a town something like Salem in atmosphere [and] style of houses, but more hilly [and] with a college (which Salem [lacks]) ... [He] place[s] the town [and] the imaginary Miskatonic [River] somewhere north of Salem—perhaps near Manchester."
~ HPL: letter to F. Lee Baldwin dated April 29, 1934; EXP: An H. P. Lovecraft Encyclopedia

A more recent mapping of Lovecraft Country reinforces this suggestion, with Arkham being situated close to the location of Gordon College; in Lovecraft's work this would presumably be replaced by Miskatonic University itself. The real-life model for Arkham seems to be, in fact, Salem, its reputation for the occult appealing to one who dabbles in the weird tale. August Derleth stated in his writings: "Arkham ... was Lovecraft’s own well-known, widely used place-name for legend-haunted Salem, Massachusetts, in his remarkable fiction". (AWD: "About Arkham House" web site)

Arkham Sanitarium appears in the short story "The Thing on the Doorstep" and may have been inspired by the Danvers State Insane Asylum, aka Danvers State Hospital, located in Danvers, Massachusetts.[1] (Danvers State Hospital also appears in Lovecraft's stories "Pickman's Model" and "The Shadow over Innsmouth".).

One of the ships used by the Miskatonic University expedition was named Arkham after the city. (HPL: At the Mountains of Madness)


Lovecraft's fiction

Note: dates are the year written. Arkham has appeared in the Cthulhu Mythos tales of other writers since Lovecraft's death. Among them:

  • Robert Bloch. "The Creeper in the Crypt" (1937)
  • Brennen, Joseph Payne. "Forringer's Fortune" (1975)
  • John Brunner. "Concerning the Forthcoming Inexpensive Paperback Translation of the Necronomicon of Abdul Alhazred" (1992)
  • Ramsey Campbell
  • Jens, Tina L. "In His Daughter's Darkling Womb" (1997), mentions "Arkham Industries"
  • Alberto López Aroca. Necronomicón Z (Spanish novel published by Ediciones Dolmen, 2012)
  • Brian Lumley. The Transition of Titus Crow (1975)
  • Robert M. Price "Wilbur Whateley Waiting" (1987)
  • Michael Shea. The Color out of Time (1984)
  • Clark Ashton Smith. "I Am a Witch" (19??)
  • Thompson, C. Hall. "The Will of Claude Ashur" (1947)
  • F. Paul Wilson. "The Barrens" (1990)
  • Jonathan L. Howard. "Johannes Cabal: The Fear Institute" (2011)
  • Alexandre Callari. "A Floresta das Árvores Retorcidas (The Forest of Gnarled Trees)" (Brazilian Novel Published by Pipoca & Nanquim.


  • Arkham is the setting for all of the stories in the 2006 anthology Arkham Tales: Legends of the Haunted City published by Chaosium.[2]
  • In the novel The Arcanum, Lovecraft himself is said to have been involved in solving a case involving a witch cult in Arkham.

{citation needed|date=March 2015}}

  • In the novel The Atrocity Archives, a philosopher is attracted to Arkham due to the "unique library" there.[3]
  • In the novel The Jennifer Morgue, the occult branch of the American intelligence community, code-named "[[Black Cham

er]]", is headquartered in Arkham.

  • Arkham appears in several scenes in The Illuminatus! Trilogy. It is mentioned that the Arkham Police Department often has to deal with local cults and disap

Film and television

  • Arkham appeared in the movie The Haunted Palace (1963), starring Vincent Price, which is based on Lovecraft's The Case of Charles Dexter Ward.
  • Arkham also appears as the town in the movie Die, Monster, Die! starring Boris Karloff and Nick Adams, though in this film the town is located in England. (This film is based upon Lovecraft's "The Colour Out of Space".)
  • Arkham appears in "The Collect Call of Cathulhu", an episode from The Real Ghostbusters, when members of the Ghostbusters go to Miskatonic University to get information on how to stop Cthulhu.
  • Arkham Asylum is the name of the heavily fortified insane asylum located on the outskirts of Gotham City in various Batman media.
  • Arkham Sanitarium is both the name and the setting of a film currently in post-production by UK production company Survivor Films Ltd.
  • Arkham was also seen in the 2003 film Beyond Re-Animator starring Jeffrey Combs, the third installment of the Re-Animator series.
  • Arkham is used as the hometown of NXT professional wrestler Simon Gotch who has a man-out-of-time 1930s gimmick.


  • In the DC Universe, Arkham Asylum is a high-security asylum for dangerous psychopaths where many Gotham City supervillains, including the Joker, are kept under guard. There is also a graphic novel titled Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth. There are Batman video games known as Batman: Arkham Asylum, Batman: Arkham Origins, Batman: Arkham City, and Batman: Arkham Knight. In the fictional universe, it was run by the Arkham family, namely Amadeus Arkham, giving it its name.
  • In The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Arkham is mentioned in Allan and the Sundered Veil, The New Traveller's Almanac and The Black Dossier.


  • Arkham is a setting for numerous role-playing games based on the Mythos, such as Call of Cthulhu.
  • The third Shadow Hearts video game (Shadow Hearts: From the New World) features a visit to the fictional Arkham University, based in Boston, Massachusetts. H. P. Lovecraft himself appears as a professor at the university, conjuring up demons for the heroes to fight at their request.
  • In the web-based roleplaying game Urban Dead, there are two suburbs, named Old Arkham and New Arkham. Some players have even started to refer to a specific area as Miskatonic University.
  • Arkham Horror is a cooperative adventure board-game themed around H. P Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos. The game has players exploring the town of Arkham as they attempt to stop unmentionable horrors from spilling into the world.
  • The city of New Arcadia from Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness is a spoof of Arkham.
  • In the game Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth, the main character, private detective Jack Walters, is admitted to the Arkham Mental Institution after seeing Yithian creatures and hence becoming seemingly insane during a raid of a Boston home.
  • In the stealth action game Batman: Arkham Asylum, gameplay takes place inside the Arkham Asylum Mental Health Care Facility. It also appears in its sequels Batman: Arkham City and Batman: Arkham Origins.
  • Splatterhouse (2010 video game) takes place in the setting of Arkham, Massachusetts.
  • Bioshock Infinite Booker Dewitt is from Arkham.


  • Grindcore band Discordance Axis have a song entitled Radiant Arkham.
  • Avant-garde rock artist Bob Drake's song, "Kaziah's Pet," is set in Arkham.
  • Deathrock band Rudimentary Peni not only makes a reference to Arkham in their song "Arkham Hearse", but also numerous other H. P. Lovecraft references throughout their musical catalogue.
  • Alt-country musician Ryan Adams wrote a song called "Arkham Asylum," which he and The Cardinals have performed live since September 18, 2006.
  • Heavy-metal band High on Fire mentions Arkham in a song entitled "The Face of Oblivion" on the album "Blessed Black Wings".
  • Hip Hop group Common Market wrote a song called "Escaping Arkham"[4] one of five songs on the album "The Winter's End EP"
  • The Metallica song " Sanitarium" is based on Arkham Asylum.


See also

  • Arkham Horror, a board game set in Arkham, where the players war against the forces of the Cthulhu Mythos.
  • Lovecraft Country

Other fictional settings from the stories of H. P. Lovecraft:


Arkham House, a publishing company started by two of Lovecraft's correspondents, August Derleth and Donald Wandrei, takes its name from this city as a tribute.[5]


  1. Joseph Morales notes in his "A Short Tour of Lovecraftian New England" (web site) that Danvers "is mentioned in passing in some of Lovecraft's stories, and might also be the inspiration for HPL's fictional Arkham Sanitarium".
  2. Arkham Tales. Retrieved on 3 March 2015.
  3. The Atrocity Archives. Retrieved on 3 March 2015.
  5. Cf. "About Arkham House" web site.

Primary sources

  • Lovecraft, Howard P.
    • At the Mountains of Madness, and Other Novels (7th corrected printing), S. T. Joshi (ed.), Sauk City, WI: Arkham House, 1985. ISBN 0-87054-038-6. Definitive version.
    • Dagon and Other Macabre Tales, S. T. Joshi (ed.), Sauk City, WI: Arkham House, 1987. ISBN 0-87054-039-4. Definitive version.
    • The Dunwich Horror and Others (9th corrected printing), S. T. Joshi (ed.), Sauk City, WI: Arkham House, 1984. ISBN 0-87054-037-8. Definitive version.

Secondary sources


Web sites

External links