Robert Albert Bloch was born on April 5, 1917, in Chicago. He attended public schools in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. During his early years in school, Bloch was pushed ahead from the second grade to the fifth grade. By the time he was in sixth grade, the other children were at least two years older than he. Although Bloch was more interested in history, literature, and art than were most children his age, he was not an outsider and was, in fact, the leader in many of the games in the neighborhood.
At the age of nine, Bloch attended a first-release screening of the 1925 silent classic Phantom of the Opera, starring Lon Chaney. He was at once converted to the genres of horror and suspense. In the 1930’s, he began reading the horror stories of H. P. Lovecraft. When he was fifteen, he wrote to Lovecraft asking for a list of the latter’s published works. After an exchange of letters, Lovecraft encouraged Bloch to try writing fiction. By the time he was seventeen, Bloch had sold his first story to Weird Tales magazine. As a tribute to his mentor, Bloch wished to include Lovecraft in a short story titled “The Shambler from the Stars.” Lovecraft authorized Bloch to “portray, murder, annihilate, disintegrate, transfigure, metamorphose or otherwise manhandle the undersigned.” Lovecraft later reciprocated by featuring a writer named Robert Blake in his short story “The Haunter of the Dark.”
Bloch worked as a copywriter for the...
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