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THE CASE OF CHARLES DEXTER WARD

The Case of Charles Dexter Ward is a short horror novel (51,500 words to be exact), which was written by Lovecraft in early 1927, but not published during the author's lifetime. Set in Lovecraft's hometown of Providence, Rhode Island, it was first published (in abridged form) in the May and July issues of Weird Tales in 1941; the first complete publication was in Arkham House's Beyond the Wall of Sleep collection (1943). It is included in the Library of America volume of Lovecraft's work.


The novel, set in 1928, describes how Charles Dexter Ward becomes obsessed with his distant ancestor, Joseph Curwen, an alleged wizard with unsavory habits. Ward physically resembles Curwen, and attempts to duplicate his ancestor's Qabalistic and alchemical feats. He eventually uses this knowledge to physically resurrect Curwen. Ward's doctor, Marinus Bicknell Willett, investigates Ward's activities and is horrified by what he finds.

 

THE HALSEY HOUSE

DATE(S) VISITED: JUN 5, 2021/OCT 30, 2016
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The Halsey House, which is situated at 40 Prospect Street was built in 1801 by Colonel Thomas Lloyd Halsey. This home was reputed to be haunted in Lovecraft’s time.



A taxicab whilred him through Post Office Square with its glimpse of the river, the old Market House, and the head of the bay, and up the steep curved slope of Waterman Street to Prospect, where the vast gleaming dome and sunset-flushed Ionic columns of the Christian Science Church beckoned northward. Then eight squares past the fine old estates his childish eyes had known, and the quaint brick sidewalks so often trodden by his youthful feet. And at last the litte white overtaken farmhouse on the right, on the left the classic Adam porch and stately bayed facade of the great brick house where he was born. It was twilight, and Charles Dexter Ward had come home. - HPL ~ The Case of Charles Dexter Ward


 

PROSPECT TERRACE

DATE(S) VISITED: OCT 31, 2018/OCT 29, 2016
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Prospect Terrace in Providence has a spectacular view over the city. You can certainly see why Lovecraft wrote many a story with some detailed descriptions regards sunsets, as from the Terrace looking out West the sun going down is just breathtaking. It was only appropriate that Team H got married here back in October 31, 2018, we chose this spot to say our vows... and in true Lovecraftian style, at sunset.



The nurse used to stop and sit on the benches of Prospect Terrace to chat with policemen; and one of the child‘s first memories was of the great westward sea of hazy roofs and domes and steeples and far hills which he saw one winter afternoon from that great railed embankment, all violet and mystic against a fevered, apocalyptic sunset of reds and golds and purples and curious greens. - HPL ~ The Case of Charles Dexter Ward



The vast marble dome of the State House stood out in massive silhouette, its crowning statue haloed fantastically by a break in one of the tinted stratus clouds that barred the flaming sky. - HPL ~ The Case of Charles Dexter Ward


 

THE BRITISH MUSEUM

DATE(S) VISITED: AUG 29, 2018
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Letters soon told of his safe arrival, and of his securing good quarters in Great Russel Street, London; where he proposed to stay, shunning all family and friends, till he had exhausted the resources of the British Museum in a certain direction. HPL ~ The Case of Charles Dexter Ward


 

MARKET HOUSE

DATE(S) VISITED: AUG 15, 2017/OCT 29, 2016
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He liked mostly to reach this point in the late afternoon, when the slanting sunlight touches the Market House and the ancient hill roofs and belfries with gold, and throws magic around the dreaming wharves where Providence Indiamen used to ride at anchor. - HPL ~ The Case of Charles Dexter Ward



Sometimes, as he grew taller and more adventurous, young Ward would venture down into this maelstrom of tottering houses, broken transoms, tumbling steps, twisted balustrades, swarthy faces, and nameless odours; winding from South Main to South Water, searching out the docks where the bay and sound steamers still touched, and returning northward at this lower level past the steep-roofed 1816 warehouses and the broad square at the Great Bridge, where the 1773 Market House still stands firm on its ancient arches. - HPL ~ The Case of Charles Dexter Ward

 

PROVIDENCE ATHENAEUM

DATE(S) VISITED: AUG 15, 2017/OCT 28, 2016
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Willett and Mr. Ward were mute and baffled. They had met the unknown, and found that they lacked emotions to respond to it as they vaguely believed they ought. With Willett, especially, the capacity for receiving fresh impressions of awe was well-nigh exhausted; and both men sat still and helpless till the closing of the library forced them to leave. - HPL ~ The Case of Charles Dexter Ward



During October Ward began visiting the libraries again, but no longer for the antiquarian matter of his former days. Witchcraft and magic, occultism and daemonology, were what he sought now; and when Providence sources proved unfruitful he would take the train for Boston and tap the wealth of the great library in Copley Square, the Widener Library at Harvard, or the Zion Research Library in Brookline, where certain rare works on Biblical subjects are available. - HPL ~ The Case of Charles Dexter Ward


 

FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH

DATE(S) VISITED: AUG 15, 2017/OCT 30, 2016
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Then came the exquisite First Baptist Church of 1775, luxurious with its matchless Gibbs steeple, and the Georgian roofs and cupolas hovering by. - HPL ~ The Case of Charles Dexter Ward



At the high square where Broad, Weybosset, and Empire Streets join, he saw before and below him in the fire of sunset the pleasant, remembered houses and domes and steeples of the old town; and his head swam curiously as the vehicle rolled down to the terminal behind the Biltmore, bringing into view the great dome and soft, roof-pierced greenery of the ancient hill across the river, and the tall colonial spire of the First Baptist Church limned pink in the magic evening against the fresh springtime verdure of its precipitous background. - HPL ~ The Case of Charles Dexter Ward


 

NORTH BURIAL GROUND

DATE(S) VISITED: NOV 10, 2016
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And now comes the matter in which I must ask you to trust me most of all. For there will be, indeed, no uncertainty about Charles's fate. In about a year, say, you can if you wish devise a suitable account of the end; for the boy will be no more. You can put up a stone in your lot at the North Burial Ground exactly ten feet west of your father's and facing the same way, and that will mark the true resting-place of your son. Nor need you fear that it will mark any abnormality or changeling. The ashes in that grave will be those of your own unaltered bone and sinew - of the real Charles Dexter Ward whose mind you watched from infancy - the real Charles with the olive-mark on his hip and without the black witch-mark on his chest or the pit on his forehead. The Charles who never did actual evil, and who will have paid with his life for his "squeamishness". - HPL ~ The Case of Charles Dexter Ward



After a lull of ten months since the dastardly vandalism in the Weeden lot at the North Burial Ground, a nocturnal prowler was glimpsed early this morning in the same cemetery by Robert Hart, the night watchman. Happening to glance for a moment from his shelter at about 2 a.m., Hart observed the glow of a lantern or pocket torch not far to the northwest, and upon opening the door detected the figure of a man with a trowel very plainly silhouetted against a nearby electric light. At once starting in pursuit, he saw the figure dart hurriedly toward the main entrance, gaining the street and losing himself among the shadows before approach or capture was possible. - HPL ~ The Case of Charles Dexter Ward



Late in March Ward added to his archive-searching a ghoulish series of rambles about the various ancient cemeteries of the city. - HPL ~ The Case of Charles Dexter Ward



This extraordinary incident did not fail of wide remark in Providence, and there were not many who doubted the existence of some connexion between the cargo of mummies and the sinister Joseph Curwen. His exotic studies and his curious chemical importations being common knowledge, and his fondness for graveyards being common suspicion; it did not take much imagination to link him with a freakish importation which could not conceivably have been destined for anyone else in the town. - HPL ~ The Case of Charles Dexter Ward



His passion for graveyards, in which he was glimpsed at all hours and under all conditions, was notorious; though no one had witnessed any deed on his part which could actually be termed ghoulish. - HPL ~ The Case of Charles Dexter Ward



Graveyards held for him no particular attraction beyond their quaintness and historic value, and of anything like violence or savage instinct he was utterly devoid. - HPL ~ The Case of Charles Dexter Ward



He was searching intensely and feverishly for the grave of Joseph Curwen, from whose slate slab an older generation had so wisely blotted the name. - HPL ~ The Case of Charles Dexter Ward


 

SAMHEIN CEREMONY, SALEM

DATE(S) VISITED: OCT 31, 2016
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He had fled from Salem to Providence—that universal haven of the odd, the free, and the dissenting—at the beginning of the great witchcraft panic; being in fear of accusation because of his solitary ways and queer chemical or alchemical experiments. - HPL ~ The Case of Charles Dexter Ward


 

SALEM

DATE(S) VISITED: OCT 31, 2016
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Then, by insidious degrees, there appeared to develop a curious sequel to one of his genealogical triumphs of the year before; when he had discovered among his maternal ancestors a certain very long-lived man named Joseph Curwen, who had come from Salem in March of 1692, and about whom a whispered series of highly peculiar and disquieting stories clustered. - HPL ~ The Case of Charles Dexter Ward

 

PAWTUXET FALLS

DATE(S) VISITED: OCT 30, 2016
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Something was rumoured, however, at the village of Pawtuxet about a mile below, where the river flows in falls over a rocky terrace to join the placid landlocked cove. There, where quaint old cottages climbed the hill from the rustic bridge, and fishing-smacks lay anchored at their sleepy docks, a vague report went round of things that were floating down the river and flashing into sight for a minute as they went over the falls. Of course the Pawtuxet is a long river which winds through many settled regions abounding in graveyards, and of course the spring rains had been very heavy; but the fisher folk about the bridge did not like the wild way that one of the things stared as it shot down to the still water below, or the way that another half cried out although its condition had greatly departed from that of objects which normally cry out. - HPL ~ The Case of Charles Dexter Ward


 

PAWTUXET RIVER

DATE(S) VISITED: OCT 30, 2016
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During the heavy spring rains of 1769 the two watchers kept a sharp eye on the steep river-bank to see if any subterrene secrets might be washed to light, and were rewarded by the sight of a profusion of both human and animal bones in places where deep gullies had been worn in the banks. Naturally there might be many explanations of such things in the rear of a stock farm, and a locality where old Indian bury-grounds were common, but Weeden and Smith drew their own inferences. - HPL ~ The Case of Charles Dexter Ward



The following spring, like that of the year before, had heavy rains; and the watchers kept careful track of the river-bank behind the Curwen farm. Large sections were washed away, and a certain number of bones discovered; but no glimpse was afforded of any actual subterranean chambers or burrows. - HPL ~ The Case of Charles Dexter Ward



The river party would break down the hillside door at the sound of a single whistle-blast, then wait and capture anything which might issue from the regions within. At the sound of two whistle-blasts it would advance through the aperture to oppose the enemy or join the rest of the raiding contingent. - HPL ~ The case of Charles Dexter Ward

 

PAWTUXET VILLAGE

DATE(S) VISITED: OCT 30, 2016
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after the wave of vampirism and the ominous Pawtuxet gossip; and after the patient‘s memory commenced to exclude contemporary images whilst his voice failed and his physical aspect underwent the subtle modification so many subsequently noticed. - HPL ~ The Case of Charles Dexter Ward



Allen had struck Pawtuxet people as a vaguely unnatural being, and there was a universal belief that his thick sandy beard was either dyed or false - a belief conclusively upheld by the finding of such a false beard, together with a pair of dark glasses, in his room at the fateful bungalow. - HPL ~ The Case of Charles Dexter Ward

 

POSSIBLE SITE OF CURWEN'S FARM?

DATE(S) VISITED: OCT 30, 2016
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Back in October 2016 Matt and his good friend, Jason Eckhardt, went looking for a possible site where the Curwen farm would have been situated. We walked and drove around the neighborhood's debating what spot seemed more plausible in relation to the story.


On the Pawtuxet Road he had a farm, at which he generally lived during the summer, and to which he would frequently be seen riding at various odd times of the day or night. - HPL ~ The Case of Charles Dexter Ward


 

PROVIDENCE CITY HALL

DATE(S) VISITED: OCT 30, 2016
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Local dealers in drugs and scientific supplies, later questioned, gave astonishingly queer and meaningless catalogues of the substances and instruments he purchased; but clerks at the State House, the City Hall, and the various libraries agree as to the definite object of his second interest. He was searching intensely and feverishly for the grave of Joseph Curwen, from whose slate slab an older generation had so wisely blotted the name. - HPL ~ The Case of Charles Dexter Ward


 

BILTMORE HOTEL

DATE(S) VISITED: OCT 30, 2016
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At the high square where Broad, Weybosset, and Empire Streets join, he saw before and below him in the fire of sunset the pleasant, remembered houses and domes and steeples of the old town; and his head swam curiously as the vehicle rolled down to the terminal behind the Biltmore, bringing into view the great dome and soft, roof-pierced greenery of the ancient hill across the river, and the tall colonial spire of the First Baptist Church limned pink in the magic evening against the fresh springtime verdure of its precipitous background. - HPL ~ The Case of Charles Dexter Ward


 

10 BARNES STREET

DATE(S) VISITED: OCT 30, 2016
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This was the residence of Lovecraft from April 1926 to MKay 1933, when he returned from New York after his failed marriage with Sonia Greene. He sat in this front facing window, where he wrote many of his well known stories, The Call of Cthulhu being one of them. This house’s address was also listed as that of Dr. Marinus Bicknell Willett in The Case of Charles Dexter Ward.


 

THE GREAT BRIDGE

DATE(S) VISITED: OCT 30, 2016
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About 10:30 a heavy rumble was heard on the Great Bridge, followed by the sound of a coach in the street outside; and at that hour there was no need of waiting for Weeden in order to know that the doomed man had set out for his last night of unhallowed wizardry. - HPL ~ The Case of Charles Dexter Ward



The next morning, however, a giant, muscular body, stark naked, was found on the jams of ice around the southern piers of the Great Bridge, where the Long Dock stretched out beside Abbott's distil-house, and the identity of this object became a theme for endless speculation and whispering. - HPL ~ The case of Charles Dexter Ward



Great Bridge idlers likewise had much to say of Curwen's town house in Olney Court; not so much the fine new one built in 1761, when the man must have been nearly a century old, but the first low gambrel-roofed one with the windowless attic and shingled sides, whose timbers he took the peculiar precaution of burning after its demolition. - HPL ~ The Case of Charles Dexter Ward


 

GOVENOR STEPHEN HOPKINS HOUSE

DATE(S) VISITED: OCT 30, 2016
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Late in December 1770 a group of eminent townsmen met at the home of Stephen Hopkins and debated tentative measures. Weeden’s notes, which he had given to Capt. Mathewson, were carefully read; and he and Smith were summoned to give testimony anent details. - HPL ~ The Case of Charles Dexter Ward



Of the guiding group of prominent men in addition to the leader John Brown there were present Dr. Bowen, with his case of surgical instruments, President Manning without the great periwig (the largest in the Colonies) for which he was noted, Governor Hopkins, wrapped in his dark cloak and accompanied by his seafaring brother Esek, whom he had initiated at the last moment with the permission of the rest, John Carter, Capt. Mathewson, and Capt. Whipple, who was to lead the actual raiding party. - HPL ~ The Case of Charles Dexter Ward



Something very like fear seized the whole assemblage before the meeting was over, though there ran through that fear a grim determination which Capt. Whipple’s bluff and resonant profanity best expressed. They would not notify the Governor, because a more than legal course seemed necessary. With hidden powers of uncertain extent apparently at his disposal, Curwen was not a man who could safely be warned to leave town. - HPL ~ The Case of Charles Dexter Ward


 

MOSES BROWN SCHOOL

DATE(S) VISITED: OCT 29, 2016
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The beginning of Ward’s madness is a matter of dispute among alienists. Dr. Lyman, the eminent Boston authority, places it in 1919 or 1920, during the boy’s last year at the Moses Brown School, when he suddenly turned from study of the past to the study of the occult, and refused to qualify for college on the ground that he had individual researches of much greater importance to make. - HPL ~ The Case of Charles Dexter Ward



In the autumn of 1918, and with a considerable show of zest in the military training of the period, he had begun his junior year at the Moses Brown School, which lies very near his home. The old main building, erected in 1819, had always charmed his youthful antiquarian sense; and the spacious park in which academy is set appealed his sharp eye for landscape. - HPL ~ The Case of Charles Dexter Ward

 

RHODE ISLAND STATE HOUSE

DATE(S) VISITED: OCT 29, 2016
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Local dealers in drugs and scientific supplies, later questioned, gave astonishingly queer and meaningless catalogues of the substances and instruments he purchased; but clerks at the State House, the City Hall, and the various libraries agree as to the definite object of his second interest. He was searching intensely and feverishly for the grave of Joseph Curwen, from whose slate slab an older generation had so wisely blotted the name. - HPL ~ The Case of Charles Dexter Ward



The vast marble dome of the State House stood out in massive silhouette, its crowning statue haloed fantastically by a break in one of the tinted stratus clouds that barred the flaming sky. - HPL ~ The Case of Charles Dexter Ward


 

CONGDON STREET

DATE(S) VISITED: OCT 29, 2016
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He had been wheeled, too, along sleepy Congdon Street, one tier lower down on the steep hill, and with all its eastern homes on high terraces. The small wooden houses averaged a greater age here, for it was up this hill that the growing town had climbed; and in these rides he had imbibed something of the colour of a quaint colonial village. - HPL ~ The Case of Charles Dexter Ward


 

JENKES STREET

DATE(S) VISITED: OCT 29, 2016
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He would hesitate gingerly down vertical Jenckes Street with its bank walls and colonial gables to the shady Benefit Street corner, where before him was a wooden antique with an Ionic-pilastered pair of doorways, and beside him a prehistoric gambrel-roofer with a bit of primal farmyard remaining, and the great Judge Durfee house with its fallen vestiges of Georgian grandeur. - HPL ~ The Case of Charles Dexter Ward


 

PROSPECT STREET

DATE(S) VISITED: OCT 28, 2016
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Charles Ward was an antiquarian from infancy, no doubt gaining his taste from the venerable town around him, and from the relics of the past which filled every corner of his parents’ old mansion in Prospect Street on the crest of the hill. - HPL ~ The Case of Charles Dexter Ward


 

JOHN HAY LIBRARY

DATE(S) VISITED: OCT 28, 2016
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At the library it was easy to find good manuals of palaeography, and over these the two men puzzled till the lights of evening shone out from the great chandelier. In the end they found what was needed. - HPL ~ The Case of Charles Dexter



The briefly scrawled message was this, and its mystery lent purpose to the shaken pair, who forthwith walked steadily out to the Ward car and gave orders to be driven first to a quiet dining place and then to the John Hay Library on the hill. - HPL ~ The Case of Charles Dexter Ward


 

RI HISTORICAL SOCIETY

DATE(S) VISITED: OCT 28, 2016
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Eliza Tillinghast was at that time eighteen years of age, and had been reared as gently as the reduced circumstances of her father permitted. She had attended Stephen Jackson‘s school opposite the Court-House Parade; and had been diligently instructed by her mother, before the latter‘s death of smallpox in 1757, in all the arts and refinements of domestic life. A sampler of hers, worked in 1753 at the age of nine, may still be found in the rooms of the Rhode Island Historical Society. - HPL ~ The Case of Charles Dexter Ward


 

FIRST UNITARIAN CHURCH OF PROVIDENCE

DATE(S) VISITED: OCT 28, 2016
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He engaged in shipping enterprises, purchased wharfage near Mile-End Cove, helped rebuild the Great Bridge in 1713, and in 1723 was one of the founders of the Congregational Church on the hill; but always did he retain the nondescript aspect of a man not greatly over thirty or thirty-five. - HPL ~ The Case of Charles Dexter Ward


 

FIRST CHURCH OF CHRIST SCIENTIST

DATE(S) VISITED: OCT 28, 2016
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In that square he would pause to drink in the bewildering beauty of the old town as it rises on its eastward bluff, decked with its two Georgian spires and crowned by the vast new Christian Science dome as London is crowned by St. Paul‘s. - The Case of Charles Dexter Ward



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