Monthly Archives: October 2012

A Biographical Item


I’ve talked many times before about the difficulty in doing biographical research on William Hope Hodgson.  Apparently, I am not the only one who has had some problems in this area.

Sam Moskowitz wrote a 3 part series about Hodgson which appeared in Weird Tales in Summer 1973-Winter 1973.  This was the basis for his introduction to the later collection Out of the Storm (1975).  This was one of the first expanded essays covering Hodgson’s life.

R. Alain Everts, who had himself done research on Hodgson, had some issues with Moskowitz’s work.  In a brief article that appeared in Outsider #6, Everts had this to say:

 

“Sam Moskowitz and WEIRD TALES – two names to conjure up the highest interest and praise. In fact, I personally consider Sam Moskowitz to be one of the’ finest researchers in the history of ancient pulp magazines – but unfortunately, his research is flawed by hasty conclusions and errors of fact, due more to lack of access to certain sources of information than due to any lack of zeal, for he is untiring and tremendous in this area.

“In the resurrected WEIRD TALES, Moskowitz steps somewhat out on a limb and declares that his “William Hope Hodgson – The Early Years” is part of his “most definitive work on Hodgson ever attempted.” Even the foreword to his essay contains errors – the remaining papers of the Hodgson Estate are not in England.

“The essay itself, at least this first third of it, makes some basic and easily verifiable mistakes: Samuel Hodgson was not ordained an Anglican Priest in 1871; WHH’s mother was named Lizzie Sarah Brown, and her husband did not disagree with any Church doctrines, but rather personally with his Bishops; the names of the Hodgson children given by SaM are all nicknames, not their full and given names; Hope’s father was not at all “unfailingly kind” to Hope; Hope attended the New School in Margate; Hope’s father certainly did not apprentice Hope to sea – in fact, Samuel Hodgson severely opposed WHH in all of his choices until his death in 1892. The information regarding Lizzie’s father is incorrect; Samuel did not lose his voice during the period Sam seems to indicate; while sister Lissie Hodgson at this time (she being six years old) could not have possibly assisted the family – “Lisswood” was not occupied until late 1912; details on Hope’s education are incorrect; Hope was 5 foot 7 or 8 inches tall, but so slim that his height was not noticed; the dates for his Physical Culture School are not correct; Hope’s relationship with his mother was, at best, strained and not excellent, and one sister recalls many tiffs and fights between Hope and his mother and Hope and his sisters; Hope was indeed a “skirt-chaser” and was at one time engaged to a society girl. “Goddess of Death” and “A Tropical Horror” were written prior to age 27, in fact, so was THE BOATS OF THE ‘GLEN CARRIG.’ Hope’s last novel, THE NIGHT LAND, was written during the winter of 1906 in Wales; facts about the heroism medallion are wrong; I doubt that there is an hiatus of publication during 1906-1907 since more and more previously uncollected tales keep cropping up; in the year 1906, there was no income at all from the younger boys supposedly at work – in fact, Chad had gone and had married already, Frank was gone, Chris at school, Hillyard married and moved away.

“The highest merits should go to SaM for the bibliographical information contained in this article. I have declined to comment or make any statement on WHH’s magazine contributions, since I am continually locating stories in obscure and divers periodicals.”

This highlights the difficulty we face today in doing Hodgson research.  We do not have access to many of the resources which Everts and Moskowitz enjoyed especially the ability to interview some of Hodgson’s surviving family members.  Of particular difficulty is determining WHH’s personal relationships with his family.  Moskowitz hints that WHH and his father were not at odds with each other while Everts states the opposite.  How can we know?  It remains the greatest stumbling block to Hodgson scholarship today.

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“The Calling of the Sea”


Considering that I am currently in the midst of Hurricane Sandy, today’s post will be brief.  I expect to lose power at any minute so want to get this online before that happens.  Given the raw power of nature we are observing today, it seems appropriate to reprint one of WHH’s poems about the sea.  Granted, WHH will never be mistaken for Shakespeare or Lord Byron, he did write some very enjoyable poems and this is one of them.  “The Calling of the Sea” was never published during Hodgson’s lifetime so we have no way of determining when it was written.  It was included in a volume of poetry published by Hodgson’s widow in 1920.  The collection takes its name from this poem and the majority of other poems in the volume are also concerned with the sea.  While we wait out the hurricane, I submit this poem in memory of those who have gone down to the sea in ships.

THE CALLING OF THE SEA

Hark! The voice of the Ocean is calling,

With an insistence

Sad and appalling,

Scorning resistance,

Out from the steepness

Of the great deepness

Lying in fathoms below that cold dress;

Where, in their starkness,

Smothered in darkness,

Like the dead, seeming

Silently dreaming,

Clasped in the strength of the Ocean’s caress.

What are the words said?

Have any caught them?

Are they the whisperings of the long-dead?

List, while the tides stem,

Liquid and sable,

Over the cable,

Sobbing and moaning some solemn decree.

Listen at midnight,

Over the lee-rail,

Under the moonlight,

Unto the sad wail;

Listen – be still!

Chance thus some mariner gather at will

Some tiny gleaning

Of the deep meaning,

Spoken forever,

Understood never,

In the low voice that calls out on his lee,

In the sad voice that cries out in the wake,

In that wild calling so cold and so dree.

Still, as the years go,

Lonely ships sailing

(Under the lee-strake)

Hear that slow wailing

Rise from below;

Yet none is able,

On the wide Ocean,

O’er the great surface of the deep sea,

Tossed by the motion

Of its wild waters,

Now, or forever, to tell unto me

What it is saying,

Jeering or praying,

Or whispering warnings

Unto its daughters

Of somber dawnings

Ushering mornings

Pregnant with terrors the dead only see.

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“The Voice in the Night”


Today we look at what is probably William Hope Hodgson’s most famous short story, “The Voice in the Night”.

First published in November, 1907, “The Voice in the Night” was a startlingly unique story.  It begins with a ship becalmed in the ocean.  Two sailors in the night watch are suddenly hailed by a strange voice from out in the dark.  The mysterious voice begs for provisions but refuses to come close to the ship.  Puzzled, the sailors float out some food to the voice which abruptly disappears.  A short time later the voice reappears and tells the sailors a horrifying tale of shipwreck, starvation and fungus.  The ending remains one of the most powerful in the history of short weird fiction.

“The Voice in the Night” was Hodgson’s fourth published short story and appeared in the same year that his novel The Boats of the “Glen Carrig” was published.  Given that Hodgson took to writing full time around 1903 (the year he closed his School of Physical Culture), we can reasonably assume that this was one of WHH’s earlier works.  Already Hodgson shows a strong grasp of his style and the construction of the plot and climax show remarkable skill and ability.  In keeping with his Sargasso Sea stories, it is an expertly crafted story of sea-horror.

So far, “The Voice in the Night” has been twice adapted in the media.  The first occasion came when it appeared as a segment of the television show, Suspicion, in 1958.  This adaptation starred James Coburn and Patrick Macnee as the sailors and is a straight-forward retelling of the story.  Despite the limitations of 1950’s television, it is surprisingly effective.  The other media version of the tale is, of course, 1963’s MATANGO!  Produced by Toho Studios, the motion picture version of the story takes some liberties but remains an eerie and disturbing film.  (Read more about Matango in an earlier post on this blog at: https://williamhopehodgson.wordpress.com/2012/08/22/matango/)

One of the more unusual incidents in the history of “The Voice in the Night” is it’s appearance in Playboy Magazine in July, 1954.  I cannot help but wonder what Hodgson would have thought of the magazine which reprinted his story!  Undoubtedly, Hodgson’s sister, Lissie, must not have realized the salacious content of the issue.

Since it’s first appearance in 1907, “The Voice in the Night” has been reprinted at least 43 times.  It remains one of Hodgson’s most anthologized stories and is often described as one of the greatest horror short stories ever written.

If you haven’t read the story, you can find it free online here:

http://gaslight.mtroyal.ca/voicenig.htm

And even if you have read it before, read it again!

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A Curious Matter of Books


While scrolling through the internet in search of new and/or interesting Hodgson tidbits, I stumbled across this picture today:

Now, what makes this picture curious is two things: these are supposedly the copies of WHH volumes owned by author Dennis Wheatley (who did some writing about Hodgson himself) AND these are reported to be first editions.  Now, I have never seen a Hodgson first edition myself.  But what I find curious is the fact that the spines of these books all read “The Works of William Hope Hodgson” with volumes one to nine.  That would include the four novels, CARNACKI, LUCK OF THE STRONG, MEN OF THE DEEP WATERS, CAPTAIN GAULT and possibly a volume of poetry.

What I don’t understand is the label of “The Works of William Hope Hodgson”.  So far as I am aware, the first editions were not labeled as such and the only other set to bear any name like that is the Night Shade editions of recent years.  SO, where did this come from?  Were these possibly first editions that were rebound with the different spines?  Anyone have any light to shed on this bibliographic curiosity?

For those interested, here is a link to the page that the above photo comes from:

http://www.denniswheatley.info/museum/room.asp?id=7&exhib=8

In any event, it is truly a set worth owning!

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A Medal for Hodgson


We don’t really know if Hodgson received any medals for his service in the British Army during WWI.  The only certificate that has come to light is the one reproduced below.  This was an award for a posthumous medal which was actually awarded to Hodgson’s widow, Bessie.  The certificate lists Hodgson’s name and his regiment (in very poor handwriting) “R.F.A. 11th Army, Lieut.”  The medal indicated is the “Victory” medal and “Theatre of War first served in: France” and “Date of entry therein: 5-10-17”.  The notation of “Died 19-4-18” is included under remarks.  There are several bunches of numbers on the certificate which I cannot explain.  My assumption is that they are bookkeeping notations of some sort.  Perhaps one of the blog’s readers can enlighten us?

One of the interesting aspects of this certificate is the fact that it was originally addressed to “Lisswood, Borth S.O., Cardiganshire” but this is crossed out.  The new address reads “Widow Mrs Hodgson, 14 Queens Road, Cheadle Hulme, Cheshire”.  This is presumably after Bessie had left Lisswood and Hodgson’s family and returned to her own family where she would live out the rest of her days and never remarry.

At present, I have no idea what happened to this medal.  Presumably it was in Bessie’s possession and she did not have any children so where did it go after her death?  It could have gone to Lissie, of course, as Bessie did turn over control of Hodgson’s literary estate to her former sister-in-law.  We may never know.

In the meantime, I present this simple card which acknowledges the debt felt by a country for a man who performed the ultimate sacrifice.

This is an example of a WWI British Victory Medal.  It is this type of medal that Hodgson’s widow received.

This is the reverse side of the WWI British Victory Medal.

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“Why Am I Not at Sea?”


As a logical follow-up to the earlier post of William Hope Hodgson’s Second Mate’s Certificate, is this blistering article which WHH wrote about the miserable life of a merchant sailor.

This article first appeared in the GRAND MAGAZINE in September, 1905.  It was part of a literary debate with WHH taking the few against joining the Mercantile Navy.  You can feel the venom ozzing from WHH’s typewriter as he wrote.  The detail that WHH provides give a  bleak view of the life of a merchant mariner and one can easily understand why WHH left that life himself.

Due to the lack of primary sources like letters and anecdotes, we have to rely on many of the articles like this in which WHH passionately defended his position.  After reading it, you will understand a few of the reasons that WHH left the sea and spent the remainder of his life damning it in his prose and poetry.

–Sam Gafford

Is the Mercantile Navy Worth Joining?

1.—CERTAINLY NOT.  By William Hope Hodgson

               Why am I not at sea?

I am not at sea because I object to bad treatment, poor food, poor wages, and worse prospects.  I am not at sea because very early I discovered that it is a comfortless, wearyful, and thankless life—a life compact of hardness and sordidness such as shore people can scarcely conceive.  I am not at sea because I dislike being a pawn with the sea for a board and the ship-owners for players.

Before going further, I will make it clear that in this article I do not propose to deal with the lot of the ordinary “common sailor”—poor devil!—before the mast.  I intend to try and make it clear why I, a young man under thirty and possessed of a second mate’s “ticket,” have thrown up the sea profession as a method of obtaining a livelihood; and in making clear my own case I shall make clear that of many hundreds of other young fellows who have done, and are doing, likewise.

Take a young fellow or twenty-two, or thereabouts.  Suppose that he has “passed” for second mate, and is qualified to take charge of a watch in a foreign-going vessel.  His first work is to get him a berth.  This, if he is luckier than many of his fellows, he may manage by shipping as third mate in a sailing-ship at the splendid pay of from 15s. to 18s. or 19s per week.  Think of the wage!  The man has probably served an expensive apprenticeship of not less than four years actually at sea, and after that he has had to pass a decidedly stiff examination in navigation and seamanship—occupying the best part of three days—and then he gets a billet at a labourer’s wage; for which, let it be clearly understood, he has (in the existing state of affairs) to be thankful.

We will suppose that he does a voyage as third mate, coming home after awhile to be paid off with little more than sufficient to put his wardrobe into repair and pay for a few weeks’ board and lodgings while he is out looking for a fresh berth.

We will presume that he is unusually fortunate in his next attempt, and obtains a second mate’s billet at a wage of some 21s. a week.  He has now to undertake the full responsibilities to which his “ticket” entitles him—the tacking of a watch.  In other words, he will during the entire period of the ensuring voyage—while the ship is actually at sea—take full charge of the deck every other four hours, day and night, being solely responsible for any mischance which may occur during such time as he is in charge, and for this the royal stipend of £54 per annum.  Think of it!  This young man is saddled with the responsibility of being intermittently in sole charge of a vessel and goods worth, in the aggregate, perhaps some £100,000,  as well as the lives of all aboard—and he is paid something under a guinea a week.  I am stating the usual rate of wages paid to the second officer in an average sailing-ship.  It does, of course, rise above this when one gets into steam, running up, maybe, to £84 to £96 a year; though there is little chance of a young fellow tumbling into one of these, there being always plenty of older men with higher grade certificates and more experience who are only too glad to have the offer of such berths.  The same applies, in a greater degree, to the big passenger mail-boats.  Here, although they may have as many as six officers, it is no uncommon thing for each one to hold a master’s, or even a post-master’s, certificate.  This being the case, we may well conclude that our young officer has not done badly for himself by securing a berth as second mate even at such a miserable pittance.

It is possible that he will retain this position for a couple of years; after which he will have a try for his first mate’s certificate.  Supposing this obtained, he will be now in a position to earn between £66 and £84 per annum.  Here, again, the wage of a first mate in steam may mount up to £120 or £130 a year; but the same remarks apply here as in the case of the second mate just mentioned.

We will suppose him still fortunate in obtaining the berth for which his certificate qualifies him.  In this he may pass another couple or three years.

He goes up now for his master’s “ticket.”  Should he get this he will be qualified to take command of a “foreign-going ship” at a wage of from £168 to £360 per annum.  I may say at once that this latter amount is so far above the average that it is scarcely fair to mention it in a consideration of the prospects of the ordinary mercantile marine officer.  Unhappily, I am bound to state that the former amount is nearer the average; indeed, in many cases there are masters of fine ships earning less than £140 a year, and more than a few are to be found glad to get the post at something under £2 10s. per week.  This is an inconceivably small wage when one considers the multitudinously varied duties and the vast responsibilities attached to the position of master-mariner of a foreign-going vessel.

However, we will suppose our man (nearing thirty years of age) to have secured a berth as master, at the not unusual figure of £14 a month.  He proves satisfactory to the owners, and remains in his billet for several years.  He is now between thirty-five and forty years of age, and it is not ridiculous to suppose that his thoughts have turned to mating.  Hitherto marriage has been out of the question; but now it has become a bare possibility, though attended with monstrous and unnatural restrictions.  I will state a case in point.  The captain of a large vessel married at the age of thirty-two.  He had a few weeks with his wife, then he had to return to sea, leaving her behind; for to have taken her with him he would have had to pay her passage out and home, besides which it is no aboard ship for a woman who has undertaken her duty in life.  At the end of two years he returned to his wife—and the child.  Again he was but a short while at home, and then he had to return to his ship; for now, with two mouths to feed, he was more than ever tied to his profession.  Eighteen months passed, and again he was home, only, however, to leave after a brief stay.  This trip he was some ten months away; but, as though to make up for this, his next voyage kept him two years and three months away from his wife and children.  By this time he was a father of three, the eldest being nearly six years of age, and in the seven years of his married life he had not enjoyed six months of his wife’s society.  To all intents and purposes his wife is, for the greater part of her time, a widow—certainly a grass-widow.  And so the years go on, and they are growing old apart from one another, seeing each other but seldom and then only for a few short weeks.  And the worst of it is he cannot now leave the sea to spend his days with her.  There are too many to feed and clothe for him to risk his already precarious livelihood.  He must stay on, working to support the family to which he is almost a stranger; and so, all too soon, the tremendous strain of his hard and responsible life will unfit him to continue at sea.  And then—what?  There are few billets ashore for which he is fitted, and these are not to be obtained without influence, monetary or otherwise.

There is an understandable tendency among shore-going people to point to one of the great mail-passenger boats and to ask whether the captaining of such a vessel is not well worth striving for.  In fact, these floating palaces, coming in actual contact, as they do, with the shore-living population, tend unduly to influence their minds with the desirableness of a sea-going life.  And yet, comparatively, these splendid boats form only a small portion of our shipping from the point of view of the mercantile officer seeking a berth.  There are only six or eight offices’ billets in each, and for every one of these there are scores of applicants with influence.  And influence comes but little into the scheme of life of the average officer.  While as for expecting to obtain the commandership of such a vessel, you might as well suggest that the ordinary naval sub-lieutenant should look forward with certainty to being an Admiral.  No!  I will not say that the big P. and O. boat is a possibility altogether beyond the reach of our ordinary master mariner; but I do unhesitatingly affirm that the possibility is absurdly slight unless he is assisted by the strange magic of influence.

Another point upon which I wish to say a few words, is the prevalent idea that the master-mariner is in a position to save money.  I will not deny that this would be so, were it not for two matters upon which I have already touched.  The first is the absurd inadequacy of his pay; the second the expense—if he be a married man—of keeping up an establishment ashore.  More than this it is not necessary to say.

Having now examined the prospects of the average officer in the mercantile navy, it will be well to turn from the somewhat favourable sketch I have given to consider what does actually occur.

In the career of the supposititious officer I have drawn I have made no mention of that universal fear of the mariner—the want of a berth.  In almost all occupations ashore, if a man is engaged, he is likely to stay for an indefinite period, perhaps, half a lifetime.  In the case of the seaman, so soon as the voyage is ended his occupation is gone; for he has no guarantee that he will be “signed on” for the succeeding voyage.  Thus even some venerable old captain may find himself suddenly upon his beam-ends should he have the ill-luck to make a longer passage than the owners expected.  And once such a one is out of a post, he may find the greatest difficulty in getting another.  Should he fail, there will be nothing for it but to try for a first or second mate’s berth, and here his age will, as like as not, tell against his getting it.  But should he find it impossible to obtain an officer’s billet, there is left for him only the intolerable horror of life in the fo’cas’le, and yet here, more than ever, will his age tell against his chances of getting even such poor livelihood; for it is an old proverb at sea that “old standing rigging makes d—-d poor running gear.”

To leave this somewhat doleful strain of thought, it will be well here to touch on the matters of food and housing—the former of far more importance than the well-fed landsman can imagine.  Though it is quite true that both have been improved of late years, yet still they leave very much to be desired, especially the feeding.  This is in many ships a disgrace to the owners, and if it be the case in the cabin, what must it be for the poor wretches in the fo’cas’le!

Looking back, I find that the age at which I have given our young master mariner command of a ship is almost idyllic.  As a matter of fact he would be exceedingly fortunate if he got his first ship by the time he were thirty-five.  Indeed, I have quite omitted to touch on the difficulty—a difficulty some master mariners never surmount—of obtaining a command at all.

Of the actual wretchedness of the life, I have said nothing.  It is a life of hardness, broken sleep, lonelieness, separation, and discomfort.  It is indeed a thankless life, without even the common rewards of industry.  It leads neither to fame nor wealth, nor, save in exceptional cases, to a sufficiency upon which to retire; and finally the officers of the mercantile marine have not that poor consolidation of their Naval brethren, a certain social position.  The shore-dwellers scarcely recognize any difference between the mercantile marine officer and the poor wretch they have most atrociously designated the “common sailor.”

And now, in coming to a conclusion, so poor are the prospects of the sea life that, unless vastly improved, both as regard stipend and treatment—the latter covering housing, feeding, and reasonable guarantee of continual employment—there is little inducement either to tempt the intelligent young Britisher to sea or to keep him there once he has gone.  Indeed, as I have already hinted, hundreds of smart young seamen, holding certificates of competency, have, and are, leaving the sea in the hope of bettering themselves.  And in this increasing desertion of qualified British sailors lies a peril so grave and far-reaching that I cannot attempt even to touch upon it within the limits of the present article.

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Updates and New Poll


It’s been a while since I’ve done this and we have a lot of new readers now so I thought I’d do it again!  I really want to know what you like about the blog and what you want to see more of or even less of if necessary.  I want the blog to be fun, entertaining and informative but sometimes I feel like I’m throwing out too much dry information.  So, I’d like to ask everyone to take a second and vote so I can be a little less clueless than I usually am!

UPDATES!!!

First off, I’d like to add a new bit of info to the earlier post about the autographed copy of THE HOUSE ON THE BORDERLAND.  The collector has also informed me that this copy was owned by H. C. Koenig.  If that’s the case, this copy would have vast historical worth as well as it could be the copy that HCK circulated to H. P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, Frank Long and many others.  That would make that an EXTREMELY important volume!

Second, response to the posts about “The Baumoff Explosive” and the announcement about SARGASSO has been very impressive!  These have been two of the most read posts since I began the blog.  Not sure why that is but I’m not going to question it!  Individual response to SARGASSO has also been very encouraging.  I’ve heard from several talented artists who have promised to submit art for the magazine so now it’s time for you writers to step up!  I can’t publish without material!  I hope to be able to announce ordering information for the magazine soon so keep watching the blog.

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Mr. Hodgson, Second Mate


One of the most important accomplishments in William Hope Hodgson’s early life was when he was awarded his Second Mate certificate.  This was significant for several reasons.  First, as Second Mate, he was removed from the worst duties that were assigned to the lower class seamen.  Second, he had some authority aboard ship and no longer would have to endure or fight the brutal treatment other Second Mates had inflicted upon him.  Third, and probably more important, he made more money!

In order to obtain a Second Mate’s certificate, WHH had to study a great deal and pass a difficult and comprehensive test.  But, not surprisingly, he did pass the test and was awarded his certificate on December 15h, 1898.  He was all of 21 years old.

Thanks to the expert data-mining skill of my long suffering wife, Carol Gafford, we can present to you a picture of the actual Certificate WHH received that day in 1898.  It reads thusly:

By the Lords of the

Committee of Privy Council for Trade

Certificate of Competency

as

SECOND MATE

OF A FOREIGN-GOING SHIP.

To William Hope Hodgson

Whereas it has been reprted to us that you have been found duly

qualified to fufil the duties of Second Mate of  Foreign-going Ship

in the Merchant Service, we do hereby, in pursuance of the Merchant Shipping Act,

1894, grant you this Certificate of Competency

By Order of the Board of Trade

this 15th day of December 1898

[signatures]

Registered at the Office of the Registrar General of Shipping and Seamen.

Despite this accomplishment, WHH would leave the sea only two years later in 1900.  Clearly, even with his advanced position, WHH could not reverse his growing hatred of the sea.

Reproduced below is a copy of the original Certificate for your enjoyment!

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Announcing SARGASSO!!!!


I’ve been thinking about this for a long time and I’ve finally decided to start a new literary magazine devoted to the life and works of William Hope Hodgson!  I believe that I am in a unique position to create a magazine worthy of WHH and, hopefully, not only bring new scholarship on WHH to the public but encourage even more to be created!  The name of the magazine shall be…

SARGASSO!

This will be a high quality printed magazine with perfect binding and glossy covers.  As of this moment, I am opening the magazine up for submissions for the first issue.  I am looking for well-written, thoughtful articles about WHH’s works and his life as well.  Articles should be between 3,000-3,500 words.  I am also looking for great artwork for the cover as well as some interior illustrations.  Payment will be in contributor’s copies with all rights reserved by the contributor’s.

The first issue will be published in November, 2013.  November was, of course, the month of Hodgson’s birth (and mine as well!) so it certainly seems appropriate.  The deadline for submissions for the first issue is March 31, 2013.  If you have any questions about the magazine or submissions, please feel free to contact me via my email at lordshazam@yahoo.com and please put “Sargasso” in the subject line.

I hope that everyone will support SARGASSO and help it become the magazine that Hodgson has long deserved!

–Sam Gafford

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A NIGHT LAND Review


William Hope Hodgson received several reviews during his lifetime and, for the most part, they are all favorable.  THE NIGHT LAND was reviewed at least 5 times in 1912 and virtually all of his books were reviewed at least once.  The majorty of these appeared in THE BOOKMAN and other literary publications such as THE TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT.  Most of these early reviews are unsigned which is not unusual for the time.  It does bring up the possibility that these reviews could have been written by Hodgson himself (much in the same way his PR articles were) but there is nothing to verify or deny this.  THE BOOKMAN was a monthly magazine published in London from 1891-1934 by Hodder and Stoughton and was a cataloge that showed their current publications as well as reviews, advertising and illustrations.  It was also edited by Arthur St. John Adcock who was a great friend of WHH and probably responsible for these reviews.

THE NIGHT LAND by W. Hope Hodgon.  6s.  (Everleigh Nash.)

You may say that in “The Night Land” Mr. Hope Hodgson’s reach exceeds his grasp, that his story in some of its details is obscure and difficult to follow, that he tells it in a quaint, archaic language that does not make for easy reading, but at least you cannot say he has not aimed at doing a big thing.  He has set himself to unfold a love tale that is not bounded by the limits of a lifetime, but continues and is renewed again at last in a strange dream-life after many centuries.  His her is a man of two hundred years ago who loses the woman he loves not long after she is married to him; in utter grief and despair all his thoughts go yearning after her—they carry him far on down the ages yet to be, and he seeks her and cries out for her through new and newer phases of existence until, at length, in a miraculous trans state he finds himself at the close of some millions of years living in the latter days of the world when the powers of evil have grown so potent, so aggressive, so almost all-conquering that the survivors of the human race are gathered for self-defence into one enormous pyramid, building their city tier above their within it, and on every hand all around this Last Redoubt stretches the Night Land, inhabited by primeval, material giants and loathsome monsters and sinister, dreadful immaterial things of the spirit world that have power over the souls of mortals.  Here, in this place of refuge, that man of two hundred years ago is continually sending his eager thoughts out across the grim wastes of the Night Land in search of the woman he had loved and lost; and a time comes when out of the vast and unknown darkness her thoughts answer him, and after some broken fashion they are able to communicate with each other.  Suddenly this communication fails; he tries in vain to renew it; and fearful that she may have set out across that fiend-haunted dayless wilderness to find him, he takes all due precautions, arms and fits himself for his enterprise, quits the shelter of the Pyramid and begins to make his way in the direction whence he believes she may be coming.  From this point onwards the story grows rapidly in power and interest.  Whatever Mr. Hodgson lacks it is not imagination, and his description of that fearsome journey by trackless ways and through perils undreamt of before, and of the meeting of those two lovers, and the adventures, by turns grim, terrible, charmingly idyllic, through which they passed together give him scope for painting some of the most eerie, wildly horrible and pleasantly dainty pictures that have ever come from his pen.  We shall not attempt to give any full outline of Mr. Hodgson’s romance; it runs to nearly six hundred pages and is crowded with incident and alive with inner significances and undercurrents of meaning.  You may read it as a cloudy and elusive allegory, if you have a liking for that sort of literature, but in its allegorical aspect it is not simple enough, it needs too much explaining, and you will do better perhaps to read it simply as a daringly imaginative love story, and as such you will find it a very original and sufficiently remarkable book.

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