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Eleanor F. Pyke (1834-1912)

Eleanor Frances “Ella” Fish was born on May 22, 1834 in Providence, the second of seven children of Daniel Bowen Fish and Sophronia Tobey.

Eleanor broke with family tradition by marrying an Englishman—Samuel Pyke, a marble cutter. They married in 1856 when she was 22, and they had three children: Jane “Jennie” Collins Pyke, James Tobey Pyke, and a daughter, Ella, who died in infancy. The year of 1904 was a difficult one for Eleanor—her daughter Jennie died in April, and her husband Samuel in December.

And in that same year, young Howard P. Lovecraft (the future “weird fiction” writer) and his mother moved in next door, around the corner on Angell Street.

Howard’s grandfather had also died in 1904. Eleanor Pyke and Sarah “Susie” Lovecraft shared a neighborhood, old New England ancestry, and the recent death of a family member; it is likely that they spent some time together. Certainly James and Howard became close.

James would get out of the shoe business within a few years of his father’s death, and turn his attention full time to his poetry. Eleanor also fancied herself a poet—she must have been delighted when her son James showed the same inclination.

Eleanor Pyke died on August 26, 1912.

Catherine Beyer Hurst, MBA, Writer and Community Historian