The Dunwich Horror: Meet the Twins, Part 2, The Case for Incest in The Dunwich Horror


Son of Yog-Sothoth by Burnay (

There is have a fair amount of discussion regarding the role of incest in “The Dunwich Horror” and so I thought I would write a response on the WordPress page instead of in the comments.  First, I need to emphasis that my discussions are limited to a scientific perspective.  To paraphrase Arthur C. Clarke, magic is essentially a science we don’t understand.  Where possible, I will try to form hypotheses or even make wild educated guesses but if I can’t even to that then I must state that I do not have enough information to form a reasonable hypothesis or idea on the subject.

Second, as I stated in a previous article, the fact that Lavinia Whateley was an albino does not immediately mean she was the product of inbreeding.  Albinism can easily be the outcome of non-related breeding as well as inbreeding since it’s a result of a dihybrid cross, involving only two specific traits.  However, early in the 20th century, just before the theory of modern heredity was synthesized using the re-discovered works of Mendel and Fisher’s work on genes and inheritance, albinism was typically associated with inbreeding.  Thus, my suggestion of inbreeding focuses solely on the birth of Wilbur and his twin.

Third, while I will get into this hypothesis in more detail in an upcoming article, I suggest, as several Lovecraftian scholars do such as Robert M. Price, that Old Wizard Whateley had to impregnate Lavinia in order to complete the ritual or process of Yog-Sothoth.  The “genetic” (if it is even considered genetic the way we think of it) material of Yog-Sothoth needed a fertilized zygote(s) to enter our space-time and become established in a stable form.  Similar to a parasitoid, Yog-Sothoth took advantage of the creation of the zygotes at the point of conception to enter into our space-time in a form of living matter, native to our reality.


Whateley Family from

The evidence used to support this, as has been mentioned in the comments, is when Curtis Whateley states that the large face on top of Wilbur’s twin looked just like Old Wizard Whateley.  He was very specific in his description; the face did not look like Wilbur and it did not look like a Whateley in general.  The face looked like Old Wizard Whateley.  This supports the idea of inbreeding.

However, Dr. Armitage’s quote, “Inbreeding?…Great God, what simpleton!  Shew them Arthur Machen’s Great God Pan and they’ll think it a common Dunwich scandal!” does seem to indicate that something more perverse and twisted than incest is occurring with the Whateleys.

A number of people have brought up a quote in the letters between Lovecraft and August Derleth (Essential Solitude) where it is said Lovecraft states incest has nothing to do with the creation of the Whateley twins.  In contrast, others say that the subject of incest in Essential Solitude is not directly in reference to the “The Dunwich Horror.”  If someone could provide the actual quote I would greatly appreciate it.

Wilbur Whateley by Weatherduck (

To conclude, while the case of incest is not explicit in “The Dunwich Horror” few abhorrent activities are explained in detail in Lovecraft’s stories.  I feel there is enough circumstantial evidence to support the idea that incest was involved in some capacity in the creation of the Whateley twins and this will be discussed further in the next article.  Also, the references to clearing the Earth and dragging it into another dimension will also be discussed in detail in an upcoming article.  Thank you – Fred.


5 thoughts on “The Dunwich Horror: Meet the Twins, Part 2, The Case for Incest in The Dunwich Horror

  1. I think you’re missing what Lovecraft implies. The Dunwichers all think this is a case of incest . . . but that’s the “comforting myth.” The truth is worse: Noah Whately arranged for his daughter to be raped by an extradimensional god-monster. Not metaphorically, not mystically, not symbolically, but physically. That’s the horror here. HPL even does a decent job of showing that Lavinia has what is obviously a mammoth case of what we now call PTSD afterwards.

    1. I agree with you that the locals believe its a case of incest…but what I will show in the next article is I hypothesize that its a case of incest AND the extra-dimensional rape of a god-like entity. To me that makes it even more horrifying…that incest was part of the process to allow Yog-Sothoth to have offspring with Lavinia. I will use some biological examples to support that hypothesis…so its a case of a known horror (incest) and an extra-dimensional horror (Yog-Sothoth). Thank you for the comment and input! Fred

  2. The one section of Essential Solitude with regards to inbreeding I can recall has no direct connection with “The Dunwich Horror” at all, although thematically there are some parallels:

    “If the dog-&-bitch promiscuity of the earliest “new moralists” could be excused on the ground that our normal disgust is only “old fashioned prejudice”, it is not remarkable that nauseous & abnormal sodomy should make an equal claim. Next will come incest—people will clamour for “warmer, freer, more wholesome” relations betwixt brothers & sisters, parents & children—& finally bestiality … the frantic maenad & the black goat of the Sabbat. . . . Will be justified & praised as something “honest” & “progressive”. Who shall define the absolute validity of our disgust at any or all of these “new freedoms” present & future? What is the line betwixt “irrational & archaic prejudice” & a sound aesthetic standard? Echo alone answers. Unlike you, I find that most sexual letting down is also accompanied by a corresponding letdown in other spheres—honour, general taste in living, &c. It is also undeniable that a loosening of erotic standards has a strong connexion with the decay of nations & cultures. But what is to come, will come.” (ES 553)

    With regard to Lovecraft’s reference to “The Great God Pan” in “The Dunwich Horror” also, I think, is especially relevant to the interpretation of the first section of Machen’s story – the good doctor and his adopted daughter, and how close they are, would have given the Victorian audience a strong implication of incest, at least before the final act made clear the more supernatural element of the whole case.

    1. Thank you for providing the citation and your comment on “The Great God Pan” in “The Dunwich Horror.” Good point on the Victorian perspective! Fred

  3. In Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches books a ‘spirit’, able to take varying degrees of solid form, manipulates a family over hundreds of years. Temporarily animating corpses, moving things and such. Sometimes this spirit would ‘go into’ people. What resulted from this spirits activities, the ‘going into”, the family incest, resulted in a breeding program that changed gene structure of a large family. Many family members had psychic tendencies, telekinesis, seeing ghosts, etc. It was when a great ‘witch’ with healing abilities, and the required genetic structure gave birth to a child and poured that healing power through it, that Lasher was born.
    What I imagine is Yog-Sothoth, called into possession of a human during a ritual slightly altering each time the genetic material of a male, and as a result the child’s.

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