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Clara Hess (1889-1950)

Clara L. Hess was born in 1889, in Providence (although her gravestone says 1890). She was the first child of John Rossiter Hess and Clara Maud Lovrien, followed by her brother John, Jr. in 1894. John Hess, Sr. was a reporter and editor at the Providence Journal and Evening Bulletin, and both children later wrote for the paper.

Clara graduated from Hope High School where she was a classmate of the “weird fiction” writer H.P. Lovecraft, whom she had known since childhood. Clara’s mother and Howard’s mother were both “Blue Book” society ladies in Providence. Mrs. Hess had earned her DAR membership as a descendant of Samuel Lovrien of New Hampshire, who fought in the American Revolution. And Clara describes Howard’s mother’s family as “old­fashioned gentlefolk, which meant considerable in the old aristocratic Providence East Side neighborhood prior to World War I.”

Clara herself was sufficiently a socialite that her presence, along with her mother, at a Philharmonic concert in February 1910 garnered a mention in the newspaper’s society column.

In 1926, John Sr. died, and in the year following Clara and her mother sold the family home and moved to Warwick. They lived on a one­acre property on Warwick Neck Road, where the two planned on living a self­sustaining lifestyle. Clara became a Journal “space writer” (a freelancer). One of the pieces she wrote for the Journal was a September, 1948 memoir about H.P. Lovecraft and his mother, Susan Phillips Lovecraft.

Clara died in 1950 at the age of 61.

Catherine Beyer Hurst, MBA, Writer and Community Historian