Nightgaunts were inspired by Lovecraft's childhood nightmares. Lovecraft once wrote in a letter to a friend: "When I was 6 or 7 I used to be tormented constantly with a peculiar type of recurrent nightmare in which a monstrous race of entities (called by me 'night-gaunts'—I don't know where I got hold of the name) used to snatch me up [and] carry me off. . . Undoubtedly I derived the [creatures' appearance] from the jumbled memory of Doré drawings (largely the illustrations to 'Paradise Lost') which fascinated me in waking hours. " S. T. Joshi and David E. Schultz trace these nightmares to childhood anxiety over the death of his grandmother.