The Statement of Randolph Carter
Created: February 2017 | Updated:

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The Statement of Randolph Carter
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"The Statement of Randolph Carter" is a short story by H. P. Lovecraft. Written in December 1919, it was first published in The Vagrant, May 1920. It tells of a traumatic event in the life of Randolph Carter, a student of the occult loosely representing Lovecraft himself. It is the first story in which Carter appears and is part of Lovecraft's Dream Cycle.


Lovecraft based the story on a dream that he transcribed, adding only a preamble to make it more fluid as a narrative, and wrote it in the form of a testimony given to the police.

An account of the actual dream Lovecraft had can be found in one of his letters to August Derleth.


"The Statement of Randolph Carter" is the first person testimony of the titular character, who has been found wandering through swampland in an amnesiac shock. In his statement, Carter attempts to explain the disappearance of his companion, the occultist Harley Warren.

Warren has come into the possession of a book written in an unknown language that he forbids Carter from seeing. Carter mentions that Warren has other "strange, rare books on forbidden subjects", several of which are in Arabic.

From his mysterious book, Warren apparently deduces that doors or stairways exist between the surface world and the underworld through which demons may travel. He encourages Carter to travel with him to the location of one such portal, an ancient graveyard near Big Cypress Swamp. Upon arriving, Warren locates a particular tomb and opens it to reveal a staircase that descends into the earth. Taking a lantern, he leaves Carter on the surface and follows the stairs into the darkness, communicating with his companion by a telephone wire.

After several minutes of silence, Warren suddenly begins to make vague, panicked outbursts that culminate in a desperate plea for Carter to flee. Finally, after Warren is silent for several minutes, Carter calls to him down the line, only to hear an alien voice telling him that Warren is dead.


The story has inspired several films;