The Copyright Volumes

awhhWilliam Hope Hodgson’s copyright volumes are something of an oddity.

If nothing else, WHH was well aware of copyrights and their importance.  This is shown several times in some of his articles for the Author magazine.  As a result, WHH had some limited run pamphlets published in America to establish his copyrights for certain material.

Those pamphlets were:

The Ghost Pirates, A Chaunty, and Another Story (1909)

Carnacki, the Ghost Finder and a Poem (1909)

The Captain of the Onion Boat (1911)

“Poems” and “The Dream of X” (1912)

Impressionistic Sketches (1913)

Cargunka and Poems and Anecdotes (1914)

These were all published by “R.H. Paget” which I believe to be something similar to what would today be known as “a vanity press”.  That is, it is my theory that WHH paid this company to publish the books in America and that he received no payment for these publications.  Then, WHH used them to secure his U.S. copyrights.

We have seen that WHH is somewhat concerned over others stealing his stories or ideas.  In a letter to Coulson Kernahan, WHH complains about another author (named only “C. L.”) using his Sargasso ideas in a story so it is not surprising that he felt the need to protect himself.

What is surprising is the material he decided to copyright.

spectralThe Ghost Pirates, A Chaunty and Another Story.

This contains an abridged version of the novel, “The Hell! Oo! Chaunty” and “The Thing Invisible”.  The abridgement of the novel is not the same version which appeared in Famous Fantastic Mysteries in 1944.  This was reprinted by Ian Bell in Spectral Manifestations in 1984.  I presume that the Chaunty and the story are the same as their common versions.

Carnacki, The Ghost Finder and a Poem

This volume contained an abridgement of the stories “The Gateway of the Monster”, “The House Among the Laurels”, “The Whistling Room”, and “The Horse of the Invisible” into one story.  This was also reprinted by Ian Bell in Spectral Manifestations.  The poem was “Lost” which has appeared several times most recently in Jane Frank’s The Lost Poetry of William Hope Hodgson (2005).


The Captain of the Onion Boat (1911)

Presumably this is a reprint of the original story which The Night Land and Other Romances which appeared most recently in the 4th volume of Night Shade Books, “The Collected Fiction of William Hope Hodgson”.  To my knowledge, no copies of this exists today.


dream“Poems” and “The Dream of X” (1912)

This is an interesting booklet.  The poems consist of: “I Have Borne My Lord a Son”; “Bring Out Your Dead”; “I Come Again”; “The Song of the Great Bull Whale”; “Speak Well of the Dead”;  “Little Garments”; “The Sobbing of the Freshwater”; “O Parent Sea!”; “Listening”; “My Babe, My Babe”; “The Night Wind”; “Grey Seas are Dreaming of My Death”; and “Mutiny”.

The Dream of “X” is a radical abridgement of WHH’s monumental novel, The Night Land, down to a mere 20,000 words and essentially making it an entirely new work.  Sam Moskowitz discovered a copy of this and The Dream of “X” was published by Donald M. Grant in 1977.


Impressionistic Sketches (1913)

No copies of this booklet are known to exist and it is presumed lost.


Cargunka and Poems and Anecdotes (1914)

The final, known volume included “D.C.O Cargunka: The Bells of the Laughing Sally”, the essay “The Psychology of Species” and, according to scholar Douglas Anderson “ten poems and short two to four page summaries of twenty five short stories”.

This is a very interesting assortment indeed!

One has to wonder how successful these booklets would have been in securing American copyrights considering that two were abridgements of larger works while others were summaries of stories or combining them into one story.

But consider the material which he does include.   Out of the six titles, four include poems.  (We do not know the contents of Impressionistic Sketches but it is likely there was a poem or two in there.)  Obviously, WHH considered his poems as important to copyright protect as his fiction.

Then, there are only two of his four novels represented.  Where are copyright volumes for The House on the Borderland or The Boats of the “Glen Carrig”?  Did WHH not consider these important enough to protect or could there possibly be more copyright volumes out there waiting to be discovered?

Also, Carnacki and D.C.O. Cargunka are represented but not WHH’s other serial character, Captain Gault?  This is more likely due to the fact that the collection of those tales (Captain Gault: Being the Exceedingly Private Log of a Sea-Captain) actually obtained an American release from McBride & Sons in 1918.  It is also possible that, as no copyright editions appeared after 1914, WHH either reconsidered the need for them or simply could no longer afford them.

Clearly, the copyright volumes present an interesting and unique part of Hodgson’s work.



1 Comment

Filed under Hodgson, William Hope Hodgson

One response to “The Copyright Volumes

  1. Martin

    Is the four Carnacki stories merged into one out on the internet?

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