Happy 140th Birthday, William Hope Hodgson!


10814120_10204187319942175_909688874_nToday would have been Hodgson’s 140th birthday. Clearly, even if he had survived WWI, he still wouldn’t be with us today but, who knows? With his devotion to physical culture, he could have achieved Immortality by now!

It’s tough to adequately express what Hodgson has meant to me personally over the years. I certainly never expected to become so involved in the study of his life and work when I first that first book. Perhaps that is a result of the fact that, back then, it was a lot harder to find any of his books much less read about him.

I first read Hodgson back around 1981 or so. On one of my first visits to Providence, RI, from Darien, CT, I was prowling one of the many used book stores that were on the East Side back then. (Sadly, all of those, including bookstores selling new books, have all vanished by now.) I chanced upon a copy of the Donald M. Grant edition of OUT OF THE STORM and was intrigued. By then, I had already read Lovecraft’s essay, “Supernatural Horror in Literature”, and was aware of Hodgson but hadn’t been able to find any of his books. This was actually a very dry period for Hodgson when he was coming close to falling out of the public’s eye again due to lack of reprints. My good friend, S.T. Joshi, who was with me in the store at the time, saw me looking at the book and recommended it to me highly.

From the very first story, I was (forgive the pun) hooked.

I’d long had a fascination with the literature of the sea (despite an almost pathological terror of it) and Hodgson’s inclusion of horror and giant monsters was just the sort of thing I was looking for. I loved the stories and wanted more! But, in those pre-internet days, I had to wait.

Shortly after, in 1982, I was attending the World Fantasy Convention in New Haven, CT, with ‘the Providence Pals’ when I chanced upon a dealer selling the complete run of Sphere paperback reprints of Hodgson’s works. All four novels and CARNACKI. I snapped them up immediately, not caring how much they cost. By the end of that weekend, I was a devoted ‘Hodgsonian’.

I found in Hodgson’s work a unique imagination that was boundless and peppered with instance of absolute terror. That first time reading THE HOUSE ON THE BORDERLAND and THE NIGHT LAND will always be with me. But, damn it all! What about the man?

It wasn’t easy finding good material about Hodgson. Beyond the Moskowitz introduction in OUT OF THE STORM, and the few pieces by R. Alain Everts I’d been able to track down, there wasn’t much.

This bothered me.

Why wasn’t Hodgson being studied? Why weren’t his short stories in collections? Where were the scholarly and critical articles about his work? Slowly, with the help of others like S.T. Joshi, I was starting to put together more information and soon found myself in the unexpected but welcomed role of Hodgson spokesman.

Since those lean years of the 1980s, Hodgson has become more well known and there are now more articles written about him (along with doctoral thesis) then ever before. NIGHT SHADE books are beginning to reprint their fine five volume set of the Complete Fiction (more on that in an upcoming post) and several other publishers are planning memorial publications for next year which will be the 100th anniversary of Hodgson’s death atop that hill in Ypres.

I feel safe in the knowledge that Hodgson will endure and continue to attract new readers in the years and decades ahead. His work is far more available today than it has been at any time in his life and, above all else, I think that would make him very happy indeed.

Happy birthday, my old friend.

(Hodgson art by the extraordinarily talented Dave Felton.)

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Hodgson panel at NecronomiCon 2017!


Now that I’ve had some time to recover from NecronomiCon 2017 where I was on two panels and set up in the dealer’s room for three days, I can finally sit down and proclaim the inaugural Hodgson panel a resounding success!

I’m not as comfortable with public speaking as I used to be when I was younger so was a bit nervous but we had a large, enthusiastic crowd and great panelists! Unfortunately, the panel was not recorded as I think many who couldn’t attend would have enjoyed hearing it. Perhaps we’ll film the next one!

The panel consisted of The Joey Zone (as moderator), Michael Cisco, Nick Gucker, Adam Golaski and myself. Joey Z got us started with some excellent questions and Michael and Adam contributed a great deal of welcome literary analysis. I was asked to explain the Hodgson/Houdini connection which I was happy to do and maintain that it was a pivotal experience in the lives of both men. Adam Golaski spoke specifically about his appreciation for Hodgson’s characters which was good to hear as WHH often takes quite a few knocks regarding this. Nick Gucker spoke about his fondness for Hodgson’s stories and how they influenced his art as well as providing a resounding defense of MATANGO, the only feature length film to be based on a Hodgson tale. Michael Cisco discussed placing Hodgson into the context of the literary scene of his day as well as reviewing some of Hodgson’s themes and plots.

During a question and answer period, a guest asked what we thought had inspired Hodgson to write THE NIGHT LAND and THE HOUSE ON THE BORDERLAND. I rather impishly responded, “Poverty”. Although that question might have technically been correct, the questioner was looking for more discussion about what influenced WHH. Adam very ably took up the question and provided some very probing insights. The sad fact remains that, without finding more primary sources like his letters and such, much of what we say is speculation. We can make guesses, surmises, deductions but we can never know for sure. After all these years, that remains my most frustrating aspect of Hodgson studies. The man himself still eludes us.

At the end of the panel, Joey Z announced that Swan River Press will be publishing a new edition of THE HOUSE ON THE BORDERLAND with an introduction by Alan Moore and an afterword by Iain Sinclair. As if that is not enough to make one excited, acclaimed artist John Coulthart is providing the illustrations! Joey Z was supremely kind in getting a file of one of the pieces and presenting it to me on a foamboard! I will have to get a picture of it once I get it framed.

Lastly, courtesy of Todd Chicoine (the official photographer of NecronomiCon and all around swell guy), here are two photos of the panel:

whh panel

(L-R: Nick Gucker, myself, The Joey Zone, Michael Cisco)

whh panel 2

(L-R: Adam Golaski, Nick Gucker, myself, The Joey Zone)

Nick has a MATANGO figure on the table before him (I was and still am very envious of this!), there’s a copy of VOICES FROM THE BORDERLAND (still available from Hippocampus Press) and my copy of the 1946 Arkham House edition of THE HOUSE ON THE BORDERLAND AND OTHER NOVELS in front of me, and Joey Z has a copy of the chapbook THE OUTER MONSTROSITIES which featured some spectacular Hodgsonian artwork from Nick Gucker!

I’d like to thank everyone who came to the panel! We probably could’ve talked for another hour as there were so many things we didn’t get to cover such as WHH’s relationship with his father, his time at sea and his war years. Maybe next time, right, Joey Z?

 

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HODGSON PANEL!


Sorry for the silence but I’ve been working on a number of different projects including preparing to take part in a panel about the life and work of William Hope Hodgson which will be taking place at Necronomicon Providence next weekend!

This is the first Hodgson panel at Necronomicon and it promises to be a great one. Here’s the description from their website:

WILLIAM HOPE HODGSON: AN APPRECIATION – Omni 2
Now considered to be one of the founding fathers of both science fiction and weird literature, Hodgson died relatively unknown during the close of WWI. His work would go on to be hailed by such writers as Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, Lovecraft, Ellery Queen, and others. During his life, Hodgson sailed around the world seven times, rescued a crewmate from shark infested waters, chained Houdini, and was one of the first to photograph storms at sea. Today, he is widely known as the author of four groundbreaking novels and often anthologized short stories. Learn more about this fascinating man, his life and his work at this panel featuring some of the foremost Hodgsonian experts.
Panelists: Michael Cisco, Sam Gafford, Nick Gucker, The joey Zone (Moderator)

The panel takes place on Sunday, August 20th, at 1:30pm. It’s going to be a great time so if you’re going to be at the convention, please come and listen to me ramble on and on until someone has the good sense to shut me up!

I make very few public appearances these days and will likely make less in the future so if you do have any interest in hearing me talk about Hodgson, this will be your best chance!

Hope to see you there!

(Btw, here is the link to the website for Necronomicon Providence so you can check out all their other great programming:

http://necronomicon-providence.com/welcome/ )

 

 

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An Apology


About three years ago, I reprinted (in multiple parts) R. Alain Everts essay, “The Life of William Hope Hodgson”. My reason for doing this was not for any personal gain but to share the knowledge within what I believed (and still believe) to be one of the most important biographical essays on Hodgson. Due to the limited appearance of the original essay, it had not been seen by many readers and I hoped that my reprinting it would not only spread the information contained in Everts’ article but would hopefully encourage others to take that work further.

However, what I did NOT do was contact Mr. Everts before reprinting that essay and gain his permission. This was an egregious error on my part which I can only chalk up to my enthusiasm over the article and desire to share it. Regardless of my motives, I did not perform my due diligence in this matter given that the copyright for the article is now, and always has been, owned by Mr. Everts.

I have removed the posts reprinting the article. I apologize profusely to Mr. Everts and to all of the readers of this blog for my error in judgment. I encourage other Hodgson scholars to seek out Mr. Everts original publication of the article as it is extremely helpful in getting a biographical understanding of WHH’s life.

In the future, I vow that any copyrighted material that appears on this blog is approved by the copyright holders.

I have always tried to comport myself honestly and professionally in all of my public and private matters. Sadly, no one is perfect and mistakes are often made. When I have made mistakes, I freely admit them as I am doing here.

Again, my deepest apologies to Mr. Everts and all of those who read this blog regularly.

Sam Gafford

 UPDATE!

I am pleased to announce that I have received permission from R. Alain Everts to keep his excellent article, “The Life of William Hope Hodgson”, up on this blog! I am very appreciative to Mr. Everts for extending this permission and glad that it can remain available for all readers and future WHH scholars.

The article is broken up into 8 parts. The first of which is here:https://williamhopehodgson.wordpress.com/2013/05/17/the-life-of-william-hope-hodgson-part-1/You can read the other parts by following the “Next Post” links at the bottom.It is my sincere hope that this will lead to new works by Mr. Everts on WHH in the future either on this blog or in other publications.

 

 

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Hodgson Comic!


Blog reader Tim Tylor sent in a link to a blog that reproduces a 10 page adaptation of Hodgson’s “The Derelict”! I’ve often been mystified that WHH has not been adapted more in comics and other media so am very happy to see this. Unfortunately, near as I can tell, the blog does not credit where this was printed or who did the writing/artwork! I am further hampered at my inability to read Spanish so can anyone provide any more information about this excellent adaptation?

Because I do not own these images, I am reproducing only two select pages from this tale. You can see the story in full by clicking over to the blog link later in this post.

01_nave_abandonada

06_nave_abandonada

I really love the artwork here and feel it captures the mood and horror of Hodgson’s story perfectly. Anyone know who the artist might be?

To read the rest of this great story, go to Jose Aviles’ blog at:

http://joseavilesblog.blogspot.com/2009/06/derelict-de-w-h-hodgson.html

His entry is dated 2009 so clearly the adaptation precedes it. I’m very curious to learn more about this and wonder if there might be more Hodgson comic stories out there waiting to be found?

 

 

 

 

 

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SARGASSO #3 Now Available


12017605_943499519020913_3188306750000256399_oThe third, and final, issue of SARGASSO is now available to order through Amazon!

At 150 pages, this may be the best issue yet!  The contents include:

 

Essays

 

“A Particular Phase of Constructive Thought: Hodgson’s Trilogy of Novels”

by Joseph Hinton

 

“Utter Quiet in All the Land: A Recurring Motif”

by Ryan Jefferson

 

The House on the Borderland: The Ultimate Horror Novel”

by Liam Garriock

 

“Ye Hogge”: Liminality and the Motif of the Monstrous Pig in Hodgson’s “The Hog” and The House on the Borderland”

By Leigh Blackmore

 

“The House on the Burren: The Physical and Psychological Foundations of The House on the Borderland

by Joseph Hinton

 

“Terminal Eden: The Last Redoubt and the Closure of History”

by Brett Davidson

 

Poetry

 

“The Beautiful Mirdath”

By Charles Danny Lovecraft

 

 

“From a Mariner on the Glen Carrig”

By Charles Danny Lovecraft

 

 

“Night Land—And What I Saw”

by Charles Danny Lovecraft

 

 

Fiction

 

“Corpse-Light”

by Josh Reynolds

 

“A Hideous Communion”

by James Gracey

 

Front and back cover art are once again by the incomparable Robert Knox!

Copies can be ordered via this link or, if you are outside the US, try your international Amazon website.

And, of course, the first two issues of SARGASSO are also still available on Amazon.

Putting together these three issues was a great deal of work and frustration. I hope that, in its small way, they have helped increase interest about Hodgson and his work.

Thanks for all your support!

 

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY, WHH!


 

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William Hope Hodgson portrait by Dave Felton

Today, November 15th, is Hodgson’s 139th birthday!

It was on this day in 1877 that William Hope Hodgson was born to Samuel , an Anglican priest, and Lizzie Sarah Hodgson. The second of twelve children, three of whom would die in infancy, Hope and his family had a hard life. They were often poor and reliant upon the charity of Samuel’s parishioners. A controversial figure, Samuel was moved about frequently by the church, serving 11 parishes in 21 years before his death in 1892.

In 1890, Hope was apprenticed into the Merchant Marine and he would spend the next 10 years at sea sailing around the world several times and receiving the Royal Humane Society medal for heroism after saving a shipmate who had fallen into shark infested waters. During his time at sea, Hope would also develop his life-long interests in physical culture and photography.

whh fam

Returning home, Hope started a ‘School for Physical Culture’ which, unfortunately, closed after only a few years. It is at this point that he turned to writing.

It is often a mystery how a man whom, we assume, had no literary intentions could become such a powerful and influential writer. Whatever the reason, Hodgson left us four unique novels as well as a significant amount of short stories that still manage to entertain and enthrall us today.

After his unfortunate death at Ypres during World War I in 1918, Hodgson’s work continued to find new readers and devotees. At risk of being forgotten, Hope’s writings were kept alive by August Derleth at ARKHAM HOUSE and H. C. Koenig.

Today, Hodgson is cited as an influence by many writers and his work is better known now than it ever was during his lifetime. We look forward to this continuing to grow as more and more people discover Hodgson and his unique visions.
So, wherever you are today, raise a glass of whatever you’re drinking in salute to the old man and give a hearty “hail and well-met” across time and space to the dweller in the House on the Borderland!

 

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Rev. Samuel Hodgson death notice


Due to the lack of primary sources, we don’t know very much about William Hope Hodgson’s family. What few biographical notes we have are generally derived from the work of Randy Everts and Sam Moskowitz. But, every once in a while, we do stumble upon something new.

Hope’s father is something of a cypher. Unlike Hope’s mother, he never makes even a symbolic appearance in Hope’s fiction. We know that he was a ‘fire and brimstone’ sort and that he apparently had many arguments with his strong-willed son. (It is, perhaps, significant to note that Hope was the only son to remain in Blackburn with his family while his brothers all emigrated.) It was Hope’s father who objected to his son going to sea and who reluctantly gave his permission for Hope to be apprenticed at the young age of thirteen after an intervention by Hope’s uncle on the boy’s behalf.

We are told that the Rev. Samuel Hodgson died quickly after a diagnosis of throat cancer. Recently, my wife (who is an amateur genealogist) discovered this news item from the Sheffield Daily Telegraph dated November 26, 1892:

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This notice is significant for a number of reasons. It establishes that Rev. Samuel had been a “native of Sheffield” and was the only “surviving” son. Previously, I had not been aware that there were other siblings of the Reverend. Most important is the listing of Samuel’s education starting at St. George’s School and then to St. Bee’s College. Although it had been known that he was ordained at Lichfield, this is the first mention of who performed that ceremony. It is curious that his missionary work in England and Ireland is given such short notice here given that it involved numerous moves and parishes.

We also learn that the cancer must have advanced very quickly as he “was prostrate for several weeks before his death”. His being interred at “Salesbury Church” may be helpful if anyone reading this has an opportunity to seek out this grave and find the marker.

Presently, we are at that unenviable point in Hodgson biography where any new information will come from secondary sources like these. If anyone locates any further items of interest, please let me know so that I can share it here on this blog for everyone’s edification.

(Many thanks to Carol Gafford for finding this item and sharing it with us.)

 

 

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House on the Borderland Movie!


Some time ago, I posted about a movie adaptation of Hodgson’s classic novel, THE HOUSE ON THE BORDERLAND, that was starting up. It’s been a bit of time but I’ve just heard from the people behind the project who have just began a Kickstarter to raise backing funds.

Andre Martin, the man behind the project, had this to say:

The highlights of the project this far, for the fans, would be that we are sticking meticulously close to the source material and my main goal is to do it justice.

There is no doubt that this material is visually challenging but we feel it can also be one of the most visually stunning films ever created.

There have been some Hollywood heavyweights attached to the project in the past but they all wanted a dramatically different adaption, changing characters, time periods etc. We have had a solid script for almost a decade that doesn’t deviate far from the novel at a plot level.

Creatively I do have my own interpretations but they only work to expand the character and story while adding depth and weight to their existence. Such as a backstory for the Recluse to draw from, a deepening dynamic between the recluse and the lost love. Also, I don’t think any incestuous innuendos are necessary to capture the story for the modern audience. We do develop the sister-brother relationship a bit and also even Pepper’s past.

We are in talks with two persons of note, that will be a great asset to the project including the music composer Spencer Nilsen, who can create an incredible, atmospheric tone for the film. Tom Woodruff Jr, is considering the creature design/direction, who will bring the infamous Swine Things to life and if we raise the funding, I’m confident we will secure them both.

We are aware of Echoes of the Borderland and have contacted the German music group with talks to use at least one track in the film during the “Plain of Silence” sequence. They have already agreed, years ago.

This is very much a film for the fans, because I am one.

We have arrangements with several castles in Northwest Ireland area, to film at. It is also possible that the filming to take place in the U.S. will be at an old castle, that we will end up rehabbing for an economically depressed community. When the filming is done, we will leave behind the improved structure to the Economic Development Board. Pretty much I have arranged to film most of my interior shots in LA on stateside but we will definitively take a unit to Ireland to film an authentic House on the Borderland.

I have many crew positions and talent roles filled with professionals denoting their time or working “under scale.” For the most part they are not “big names” but we have all been at this independent film game for quite a while now. They all have working experience and I trust them to work with me in bringing this tale to moviegoers.

Christopher Karl Johnson is cast as our Old Recluse and I tell you he is absolutely perfect. There will be a younger version of the recluse and his long lost love in flashback sequences.

I am thrilled to hear that this project is moving ahead. For years, I have been mystified at the fact that Hodgson has not been adapted more for films, TV or comics. At last we will get an adaptation that promises to stick close to the actual book. The possibility of filming in Northwest Ireland is very exciting and I have great hopes for this production.

Hopes, however, that will not be met unless the Kickstarter is funded. In movie terms, they’re not looking for a lot of money so I hope that readers of this blog will support this project. You can check out their Kickstarter here.
We look forward to sharing more news of the production as we learn them and hope to have a Q&A with Andre Martin here on the blog very soon.

 

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It’s about time!


About time I got off my ass and got back to posting regularly on this blog!

My apologies for the absence (so long of one that WordPress has actually changed their webpage!) but I have actually been pretty busy. First off, I finished a massive writing project this year that took virtually all of my focus and attention. It was the culmination of a project that I have literally spent years (decades, even) working on but had allowed to lie dormant for far too long. Spurred by my success in writing my first novel last year, I turned my attention to this and completed the first draft of a 230,000+ word novel during the final days of September. It’s not finished but it’s the closest it’s ever been to that.

Naturally, I’m beginning to get back to some of the other things I love and Hodgson was the very first on the list! I’m going to try and get back to posting on a more regular basis and am also working on some new WHH related projects for 2017.

BUT, the big news is that I am almost finished with the layout for the third issue of SARGASSO: The Journal of William Hope Hodgson Studies!  Yes, it’s taken a while (and I thank everyone for their patience) but it is nearly here. If all goes well, the issue should be available by November 15th which is, of course, Hodgson’s birthday! He’ll be 139!
I’m proud to announce the following as the contents for SARGASSO #3:

 

“A Particular Phase of Constructive Thought: Hodgson’s Theory of Novels”
by Joseph Hinton

“Utter Quiet in All the Land: A Recurring Motif”
by Ryan Jefferson

“The House on the Borderland: The Ultimate Horror Novel”
by Liam Garriock

“Ye Hogge”: Liminality and the Motif of the Monstrous Pig in Hodgson’s “The Hog” and The House on the Borderland”
By Leigh Blackmore

“The House on the Burren: The Physical and Psychological Foundations of The House on the Borderland”
by Joseph Hinton

“Terminal Eden: The Last Redoubt and the Closure of History”
by Brett Davidson
Poetry

“The Beautiful Mirdath”
By Charles Danny Lovecraft

“From a Mariner on the Glen Carrig” by Charles Danny Lovecraft

“Night Land—And What I Saw”
by Charles Lovecraft

Fiction

“Corpse-Light”
by Josh Reynolds
“A Hideous Communion”
by James Gracey

Looks to be about 152 pages. I think we have some really great material here and I hope everyone will enjoy it because, sadly, this will be the last issue of SARGASSO. I’m sorry to say that the amount of work involved with producing the magazine is simply too great and my schedule simply won’t allow it anymore. Still, I feel that we have done great things with these three issues and I hope that others will continue to work and study Hodgson in the future!

Here’s a sneak peek at the cover for SARGASSO #3 by Robert Knox before I put all that pesky logo and details on it:

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I’ve got a couple of other new Hodgson items to talk about so look for more posts soon!

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