Hodgson’s Rates


In going over information regarding Hodgson, there are some interesting things that stand out.  Some of them probably don’t really interest many people beyond myself but I still find them curious all the same.

One of those has to do with Hodgson’s rate of publication.  We know that WHH considered himself a “working writer” and that he pretty much had to live off of whatever monies his writing brought in.  As such, it’s curious to note how many ‘new’ items were published each year.  (For the sake of this comparison, I do not include reprinted items.)

So I made a list, by year, of how successful Hodgson was in selling his work.  I took the information for this from my earlier post (https://williamhopehodgson.wordpress.com/2012/07/07/hodgsons-publishing-history/) which shows in more detail what was published when.

1901 – 2

1902 – 3

1903 – 3

1904 – 2

1905 – 2

1906 – 7

1907 – 6

1908 – 3

1909 – 4

1910 – 9

1911 – 8

1912 – 14

1913 – 10

1914 – 16

1915 – 7

1916 – 7

1917 – 5

1918 – 4

1919 – 7

1920 – 2

1921 – 1

1922 – 1

1923 – 2

1924 – 0

1925 – 1

1926 – 1

1927 – 0

1928 – 0

1929 – 1

I produced a graph to illustrate this data:

line_14C95458

We can see several interesting facts right away.

As shown in his letters to Coulson Kernahan, WHH did get off to a rocky start as a writer.  Between the years 1910-1905, he sold a total of 12 ‘new’ items.  His rate picks up well in 1906 with 7 ‘new’ items then dips down again until 1910 when they increase to a record high of 16 in 1914.  From there, the rate plunges significantly to 7 in 1915 and continues a generally downward trend until 1929.

Tying these numbers into more biographical data, 1901 sees WHH freshly returned from the sea and settling into his new business as owner of the “School of Physical Culture”.  By 1903, that venture has collapsed and left WHH with writing as his major source of income.  His life must have been very threadbare at this point as he garnered very few sales.

Come 1913 and his marriage, WHH is in a more prosperous position having placed 14 ‘new’ items the year before, 10 in 1913 and the following year’s 16 yet to come.  It is not surprising that the young couple felt ‘flush’ enough to move to France after their wedding.

The Great War, and WHH’s signing up, could be said to explain why his sales dropped to nearly half in 1915.  Some of those items were articles geared towards the war but even these began to dwindle.  The year of his death, 1918, WHH still managed to place 4 ‘new’ items and this was surpassed in 1919 with 7 items.  It is most probable that these 1919 items had been accepted earlier than their publication date.

After this point, the rate of appearance of ‘new’ items comes to a crawl with only 2 in 1920 and 0 for 1927-1928.  By this time, WHH’s widow was handling his literary estate and it appears as if she had little success in placing other items.

It is interesting to speculate what would have happened had WHH not volunteered for the Great War.  1914 was his most successful year as a writer and there appears to be little doubt that he would have continued to enjoy success had the War not intervened.  Although his output would probably not have been supernatural, he would have been able to fulfill his desire to make a living from his writing.

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