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Whipple Van Buren Phillips (November 22, 1833 – March 28, 1904[2]) was an American businessman from Providence, Rhode Island who also had mining interests in Idaho. He was most notable as the grandfather of H. P. Lovecraft, whom he raised with his daughters[3] and encouraged to have an appreciation of literature, especially classical literature and English poetry.

Whipple Van Buren Phillips
Whipple V. Buren Phillips.jpg
Whipple Van Buren Phillips
Born(1833-11-22)November 22, 1833
Moosup Valley, Foster, Rhode Island
DiedMarch 28, 1904(1904-03-28) (aged 70)
Providence, Rhode Island
Resting placeSwan Point Cemetery[1]
Known forbusinessman, grandfather of H. P. Lovecraft


At the age of 14, he was orphaned when his father Jeremiah was killed in an industrial accident.[4] He ran a store in Moosup Valley. He invented a fringe-trimming machine and made a good deal of money from it.

Phillips married Robie (or Roby) Alzada Place on January 27, 1856,[5] and left to seek his fortune. He operated a successful sawmill in the village of Greene, named by him for a hero of the American Revolution, Nathanael Greene. From 1870-1872, he served in the Rhode Island House of Representatives.[6] In 1874, he sold out and settled in Providence. He served in several public offices and joined every organization in Providence, including the Masons.

The two had five children,

  • Lillian Delora Phillips (1856–1932)
  • Sarah Susan Phillips (1857–1921) (mother of H. P. Lovecraft)
  • Emeline Estella Phillips (1859–1865)
  • Edwin Everett Phillips (1864–1918)
  • Annie Emeline Phillips (1866–1941)

Whipple ran the successful Owyhee Land and Irrigation Company.[7] In 1900, however, a dam built by his company on the Snake River in Idaho failed, as did a replacement dam. He was forced to sell off personal property to avoid complete ruin.

On Sunday evening, March 27, 1904, while he was visiting the home of a crony, Alderman Gray, he was seized by a “paralytic shock,” likely a stroke. He died the following day, near midnight at his home at 454 Angell Street.[8]


  1. ^ The Dream World of H.P. Lovecraft
  2. ^ Loucks, Donovan K. (April 24, 2007). "H.P. Lovecraft's Family". The H. P. Lovecraft Archive. Retrieved January 17, 2012.
  3. ^ Phillips Lovecraft, Howard; Joshi, S. T. (October 1, 1999). The call of Cthulhu and other weird stories. Penguin. p. vii. ISBN 0-14-118234-2.
  4. ^ De Camp, L. Sprague (1975). Lovecraft: a biography (1st ed.). Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday. p. 11. ISBN 0-385-00578-4. ... a mill accident; he caught his coattails in the machinery.
  5. ^
  6. ^ S. T. Joshi, I Am Providence: The Life and Times of H. P. Lovecraft (New York: Hippocampus Press, 2010), pg. 7
  7. ^ Faig, Jr, Kenneth W. (2009). "Whipple V. Phillips and the Owyhee Land and Irrigation Company". The Unknown Lovecraft (1st ed.). New York: Hippocampus Press. ISBN 978-0-9814888-7-5.
  8. ^ De Camp, L. Sprague (1975). Lovecraft : a biography (1st ed.). Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday. p. 38. ISBN 0-385-00578-4.

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