It seems to me that whenever an H. P. Lovecraft story features a student/professor/any other employee of the Miskatonic University, that person has read the Necronomicon. It's almost as if pretty much anyone on the campus can go to the library and order it like a regular textbook.

Does HPL address this anywhere?

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    New Arkham Times Best Seller List, 1935 Dec 3, 2018 at 20:31
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    Keep in mind that when weird stuff goes down, someone whose read it is more likely to be involved, as someone whose read it is also the kind of person to go looking for trouble or to be sought out by someone else. So it may not be that everyone there has read it so much as everyone involved in an event worth writing about has read it.
    – Harabeck
    Dec 3, 2018 at 22:39
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    Found it here.
    – TGnat
    Dec 4, 2018 at 1:59

1 Answer 1


I don't believe that HPL ever addressed that, but we can speculate:

The Necronomicon had several editions:

  • Original written some time before 738
  • Translated to Greek in 950
  • Translated from Greek to Latin by Olaus Wormius * in 1228
  • Published in Latin in the XV century in Germany and in the XVII century in Spain
  • Published in Greek in the XVI century in Italy
  • Translated to English by John Dee in the XVI century

Over the years only the Latin version seems to survive, although Pickman had apparently the Greek copy, there was also a Greek copy that disappeared some time after the Salem Witch Trials.

In other words: it is rare, but not extremely rare, since so many different editions exist (yet indeed only 5 libraries have copies, including two versions at Miskatonic).

As to accessing it from the library on the Miskatonic University - I do believe that indeed, it would be not difficult for the faculty member (or someone with connections) to get access to it, since it would be just a "rare book". From the information at the University of Adelaide:

Rare Books & Special Collections is open from 9am to 5pm weekdays to members of the University and to members of other institutions and the public with appropriate identification. Material is not available for loan and must be consulted in the Special Collections reading room.

Access to the manuscript and archival collections is by application. These collections are covered by formal access conditions and some collections and parts of collections have additional restrictions imposed by the donors.

*Ole Worm was born in 1588 so either HPL made mistake or we are talking about different person. Or Yog-Sothoth done some timey-wimey things with time

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    At every university I've visited, "Rare books" just means "must request from staff, can't leave the library". They don't say no. In fact, I was at one university to take an exam and stopped by the library and a staff member (apparently bored with the slow day) asked me if I wanted to see the rare book room. They has lots of medieval tomes and other interesting stuff, and I could see anything I wanted as long as I put it back after I was done. No Necronomicon, though. Dec 4, 2018 at 13:51
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    @RobertColumbia - "No Necronomicon, though." Well, you would say that, wouldn't you? Dec 4, 2018 at 13:58
  • @Yasskier The XV century was from 1401-1500, while the famous English scholar and legendary sorcerer John Dee lived from 1527 to 1608 or 1609, so Dee couldn't have translated the Necronomicon in the XV century. So if your original sources said John Dee made the translation in the early 15th century you should have said that the date was an error. Wilbur Whateley had a copy of Dee's English translation in 1928, only 90 yeas ago, so there may be copies surviving today. Dec 5, 2018 at 18:15
  • At the Free Library of Philadelphia I have sent to the regular stacks for their copy of James Anderson's Royal Genealogies - the 1740 printing, which is not for loan. In the rare book department, on the other hand, I was able to use an original edition of the Swiss chronicle of Johann Stumpf (1500-1578) and a book with biographies and portraits of all the Roman Emperors that was so old that it's list of Roman Emperors was not yet complete. Dec 5, 2018 at 18:28
  • @M.A.Golding - regarding John Dee - a typo on my end, it should be indeed XVI century. But HPL also made mistakes - he attributed the 1228 Latin translation to Olaus Wormius, who wasn't born till 1588
    – Yasskier
    Dec 5, 2018 at 20:14

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