This article is about the fictional location. For other uses of Kingsport, please see Kingsport (Disambiguation)
Kingsport is a fictional town in the writings of H. P. Lovecraft. The town first appeared in Lovecraft's short story "The Terrible Old Man" (1921). The town is also part of the Cthulhu Mythos and is featured in role-playing games based on the mythos.
The town is located in the United States to the southeast of (the fictitious) Arkham. It is based on Marblehead, Massachusetts, a real town that lies south of Salem. Lovecraft actually created Kingsport before he saw its real-life namesake. When Lovecraft visited Marblehead in 1922, he became enamored of the town and penned a glowing review in 1929 of his experiences there. Lovecraft wrote of seeing the snow-covered town at sunset and of experiencing his "first stupid glance of [Marblehead's] huddled and [archaic] roofs". He also remarked that "that instant — about 4:05 to 4:10 pm., Dec. 17, 1922— [was] the most powerful single emotional climax during my nearly forty years of existence."
Kingsport was founded in 1639 by colonists from southern England and the Channel Islands. It soon became a seaport and center for shipbuilding. Influenced by the Salem witch trials, the town hanged four alleged witches in 1692. During the Revolutionary War, the port was briefly blockaded by the British when the town's merchants turned to privateering against the British fleet. In the 19th century, sea trade dwindled and the town turned to fishing as the main industry. Kingsport's economy continued to dwindle into the 20th century and today relies primarily on tourism for income.
Kingsport is featured in the following stories by Lovecraft:
- "The Terrible Old Man (fiction)" (1921): The eponymous resident of Kingsport lives on Water Street near the sea.
- "The Festival" (1923): The unnamed narrator is summoned to Kingsport to participate in a strange ceremony held by his distant relatives.
- The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath (fiction) (1926): Nyarlathotep expresses admiration for Kingsport's "antediluvian" architecture and marvelous seacoast.
- "The Silver Key (fiction)" (1926): Randolph Carter has travelled back in time to the 1880s when he glimpses Kingsport's "old Congregational steeple on Central Hill" and realizes that the old church had been torn down to build Congregational Hospital.
- "The Strange High House in the Mist (fiction)" (1926): Professor Thomas Olney meets the lone occupant of the eponymous dwelling, which lies atop a high cliff on Kingsport's coast.
- The Case of Charles Dexter Ward (fiction) (1927): John Merritt mentions Kingsport and the strange rites he had heard were performed there.
- "The Thing on the Doorstep (fiction)" (1933): A teenaged Asenath Waite attended an all-girls school, the "Hall School", in Kingsport.