The above photo is the only known picture of Mrs. Bessie Hodgson, widow of William Hope Hodgson (1877-1918)
We don’t really know much about the woman who married WHH. She was born Betty (“Bessie”) Gertrude Farnworth on November 14, 1877, in Cheadle, Hulme, which was a farming community not far from where the Hodgson’s were living. She attended the same school in Blackburn where WHH’s sister and brothers also studied and was later a student at the Technical School that WHH attended. Her father was Richard Dobson Farnworth and, according to R. Alain Everts, the family was stalked by tragedy:
“…one boy had been drowned in a foot of water in a freak accident crossing the heath; another brother, Gilbert K. Farnworth was killed in action in 1915; while the father was injured fatally trying to repair the roof of the house.”1
Apparently, Bessie and WHH knew each other in their youth for, in a letter to his sister, WHH says:
“Betty is one of the Farnworth girls, who used to sketch me at the Technical School. We met again in Town; and now she’s Mrs. Hope. We are the same age, only a day between us. She is not at all good-looking; but we are very happy.”2
WHH and Bessie met again when they were both in London in 1912. Hodgson was attempting to make his living by writing and Bessie was one of the editors of “Woman’s Weekly”. She gave up her job after they married on February 26, 1913, in the London borough of Kensington.
A month later, in March, the couple moved to France in an effort to live more inexpensively and more healthily. They had intended to stay there permanently but the war in Europe changed those plans.
In late 1914, the couple returned to England. WHH went to London to enlist in the Office Training Corps of the University of London while Bessie went to stay with WHH’s family in Borth. After WHH’s death, Bessie returned to her family in Chesire where she would pass away on July 23, 1943.
It was Bessie who fought to keep her husband’s memory and writing alive after his death in WWI. Were it not for her, it’s likely that we would not remember Hodgson at all today.
- Everts, R. Alain. William Hope Hodgson, Night Pirate. Volume Two: Some Facts in the Case of William Hope Hodgson: Master of Phantasy. Toronto, Canada: 1987. Pg. 20.
- Ibid, pg. 20.