Monthly Archives: June 2013

A HOUSE ON THE BORDERLAND Movie????


hobIt appears that a movie company, Luminous Speck Media Group, is attempting to do a film adaptation of Hodgson’s classic novel, THE HOUSE ON THE BORDERLAND.  (Their homepage is shown at left.) Now, anyone who has read the novel will attest to the fact that it would be extremely difficult to film.  This might be why the website devoted to it hasn’t been updated in quite some time and the linked pages are either static or empty.  Attempts to contact them have been unanswered.  Perhaps someone out there might have more information on this strange project?

Hodgson has had a somewhat spotty record for media adaptations.  Where film and TV are concerned, only “The Voice in the Night” and two Carnacki stories have been adapted.  The Japanese film, MATANGO, (which we talked about here) was the only feature film adaptation of Hodgson’s stories.  The Carnacki stories were done for episodic television anthologies and are of spotty quality.  It is odd that more film companies haven’t embraced some of  Hodgson’s stories with their elements of horror, suspense and adventure.  Perhaps they are just waiting for the right creative people?

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SARGASSO #1 Pre-Order Special


sargasso coverWith the computer files for SARGASSO #1 nearly finished and off to the printer this week, we can finally offer a pre-order special for all of you who have supported this blog and my efforts to bring WHH to a wider audience.

SARGASSO #1 will premiere at the Necronomicon Convention in Providence, RI, on August, 23, 2013.  It is over 200+ pages of articles, poetry and new fiction about Hodgson featuring new material by many of the leading names in Hodgson criticism like Jane Frank, Emily Alder, Mark Valentine, Phillip A. Ellis and many more.  It will be the size of a trade paperback (6×9) with a full color cover and b/w interiors.

The print run for this special first issue will only be 100 copies.  Price upon publication will be $25.

But I am happy to offer to all the readers of this blog a special, pre-order price.  From now until August 1st, 2013, you can pre-order SARGASSO #1 for the low price of $15 (plus $5 for s&h)!  That’s $10 below cover price.  Your order not only guarantees your copy but it also supports future issues of the magazine.

You can order by sending your payment via paypal to: sargassomagazine@yahoo.com or, if you’d rather pay by check or money order, you can make them out to “Sam Gafford” and send them directly to me at:

624 Metacom Ave. #103

Warren, RI  02885

I won’t lie to you.  It’s been a very hard job putting this magazine together and bringing it to press.  I am sure that all fans of WHH will enjoy it and learn more about this enigmatic and unique writer.

Thank you.

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150 AND A TOP TEN!


150_1014078Amazing as it may seem, this is the 150th post here on the William Hope Hodgson Blog!  It’s been a lot of work but I’m hopeful that people have found this site to be both enjoyable and informative.

It’s not easy devoting an entire blog to the work and life of a writer that most people have never even heard of.  There’s been a lot of times when I’ve wondered why I’m doing this and, more importantly, if it’s making any difference.

Happily, I believe that it has!  I’ve met many other Hodgson fans through this blog who have not only shared their knowledge but rare items, information, photos and many other things with me and the readers of this blog.  I thank you all because you’re why we’re still here.

We have another important anniversary coming up in a few weeks but I won’t give that one away.  Clever readers will probably figure it out anyway and I hope to have a special guest blog for that occasion.  In the meantime, here’s an amusing bit of fluff:

SAM GAFFORD’S TOP TEN

HODGSON STORIES

10.  THE NIGHT LAND–Not surprising that this work  ends up at the end of this list.  Like many, I find it to be an amazing work of imagination that is seriously flawed by the style WHH used.  Even after all this time, it remains an effort for me to get through this novel.

9.  “The Baumoff Explosive”–Some don’t care for this odd short story but I find that it sticks with me long after reading.  Although Hodgson wasn’t religious, he was certainly brought up in a very strict and religious household.  Some of that comes out here as he attempts to create a scientific explanation for religious events.

8.  “My Lady’s Jewels” (Captain Gault)–Ol’ Gault doesn’t get the respect or attention he deserves.  Everyone seems to know Carnacki but few remember WHH’s smuggling Captain.  I enjoy all these stories and pick this one because I believe it says much about Hodgson’s own views towards women.

7.  “A Tropical Horror”–This was actually one of, if not THE, first Hodgson story I ever read and, as such, has a special place in my heart.  It’s a rousing adventure yarn with a giant sea-monster, plucky apprentices and stout-hearted men.  “Glut, glut!”

6.  THE BOATS OF THE ‘GLEN CARRIG’–To me, this is one of Hodgson’s weakest novels.  It’s a good adventure yarn with lots of supernatural touches but, personally, I find it lacks a lot of the imaginative touches that appear in much of Hodgson’s other work.  In some ways, part of it is cribbed from other WHH stories.

5.  “The Whistling Room” (Carnacki)–Many of the Carnacki stories are uneven and suffer from an almost pathological inability to decide if they are horror or mystery stories.  In this one, there is no doubt and Hodgson lays the the supernatural on thick.  To my mind, this would be the hardest Carnacki story to film without it appearing inane.  Still, if it could be done, it would be a great movie!

4.  THE HOUSE ON THE BORDERLAND–You may be surprised at the ranking for this seminal novel.  But, after all, this is a list of MY top ten faves and not meant to show their literary value.  Few will argue the power of much of this novel and, here, Hodgson seems to have a better grasp of his style than in other works.  The impression of the ‘outside’ forcing itself on the narrator is unmatchable by all save Lovecraft.

3. “The Hog” (Carnacki)–I used to debate the authenticity of this story until I received word from an impeachable source that it was definitely Hodgson and not August Derleth who wrote this tale.  This is truly THE Carnacki tale.  The longest of all the Carnacki stories, it is really the only one in which we feel that Carnacki is truly in danger.  Combine this with the hideous ‘hog’ creature and the ‘outside’ forces and you have a story that deserves to be remembered.  It is a shame that Lovecraft never read this story himself as there is much here that HPL would have identified with.

2.  THE GHOST PIRATES–Yes, I admit it!  GP is my favorite Hodgson novel and I’ve read it through many times.  There’s just something about this that really appeals to me.  Not only do we have WHH’s profound familiarity with sailing and the constantly oppressive atmosphere but it borders on science fiction with the explanation as to just what those Ghost Pirates actually are.

1.   “The Voice in the Night”–NO matter how many times I read this story, it continues to have an amazing impact.  If Hodgson is to be remembered for ONE story, it will be this one.  The feeling of desperation and desolation is overwhelming and the story operates on several different layers which need to be studied in more depth.  There’s even the wonderfully atmospheric Japanese film, MATANGO, that is based on the story and which, several people claim, is hideously close to the plot of GILLIGAN’S ISLAND!

Well, there you have it.  My TOP TEN WILLIAM HOPE HODGSON STORIES.  I hope you’ve enjoyed this list and I look forward to hearing what YOUR Top Ten Favorites are!

Thanks for supporting this blog and my meager attempts at trying to keep Hodgson’s work alive and encouraging further study of this incredibly interesting man and writer.

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The Life of William Hope Hodgson–Part 8


Today we present the final part of R. Alain Everts essay about the life of William Hope Hodgson.  This section deals with WHH’s service in WWI and death.  It is probably the most heartbreaking part of the entire essay as it recalls WHH’s service, death and aftermath.  What is curious, to me, is WHH’s mother’s letter to her daughter (WHH’s sister) announcing his death.  Full of heartache though it is, not once is WHH’s widow mentioned.  I have often wondered about the relationship between Hodgson’s wife and family and, if this is anything to go on, it was obviously a strained one.  Consider also that his widow soon went back to her own family after his death rather than staying with his.  Still, upon Betty’s death, she did give WHH’s sister, Lissie, control over Hodgson’s literary estate.  So, in the end, like all family relationships, it was complicated.

(I thank you for reading these parts and hope that the essay has interested you and will spur further debate and research into Hodgson’s life.–Sam Gafford)

awhhSOME FACTS IN THE CASE OF WILLIAM HOPE HODGSON:

MASTER OF PHANTASY

by R. Alain Everts

At the beginning of World War I, Hope and Betty were still living in Sanary.  In Europe, though, war clouds were gathering and finally on 28 June 1914, Archduke Francis Ferdinand was assassinated at Sarajevo, followed on 28 July by a declaration of war—Austro-Hungary against Serbia, Germany against Russia on 1 August and against France on 3 August—and the following day, England declared war on Germany.

Hope hastened back to London shortly after being witness to the arrival of the first Indian contingent in France—Betty went off to Borth to stay with Lissie and Mrs. Hodgson.  In London, Hope joined the Officer Training Corps of the University of London.  In July 1915 William Hope Hodgson, athletic but ageing, was commissioned to the rank of Lieutenant at the age of 37 years, 8 months, in the 171st Battery of the Royal Field Artillery, part of the New Army Division.  Hope was sent to Salisbury Plain for maneuvering with large field pieces, and to train soldiers in the handling of the horses trained to pull field pieces.  In June of 1916, Hope, an excellent horseman, was thrown accidentally from his horse and suffered a broken jaw and concussion, resulting in his being gazetted out of the army’s R.F.A.—and he was sent home to Borth to be with his family and Betty.

He slowly mended and finally recovered—but for the rest of his brief life, he would suffer slightly from the effects of the concussion—and most likely his disorientation contributed to his tragic death.  Hope had wanted very much to accompany his division to France.  Attempting to re-enlist for active duty, he finally did succeed in passing the medical board, and on 18 March 1917, while the 171st fought at Ypres, Hope was recommissioned into the R.F.A., part of the 11th Brigade, and he first saw action at Ypres in October of 1917.

The year 1917 was called “The Year of Confusion”—and justly so—the terrible price of the war had decimated most of Europe.

According to the War Diary of the 84th Batter (1914-1919) Lt. W. Hope Hodgson, a subaltern, joined the 84th on 10 October 1917.  That day the Battery had just captured Steenbeke, Poelcapelle and Widjen, and had that day relieved a forward battery south of Rugby Dump.

On 12 March, 1918 the Brigade took over positions at Brombeck, and on 20 March, sustained heavy gas shelling and high velocity shelling at the Tourelle Crossroads nearby.  On 30 March, they were relieved by Belgian Artillery, and on 2 April the Battery marched to the Ploegsteert area to relieve Australian Artillery.  This was to be the scene of the final act of Hodgson’s valiant life.

The Battery took a position at Le Touquet Berthe.  The Front was quite silent for a time—and for the first time there were no casualties in action.  On 9 March the Germans attacked south of the Armentieres and penetrated allied lines for some distance and forced the British to move further north from Steenbeke.  On the dawn of the follwing day, the Battery had undergone heavy night shelling and all communications were cut.  The Germans advanced and the front section of the Battery had to retreat, leaving behind their guns, which they blew up.  The Germans circled behind Hope’s Batter and approached to within 200 yards forcing the whole detachment to fall back.

On the day of 10 April 1918, the Germans launched a big attach, and apparently this put Hodgson in hospital briefly.  On the night of 16 April the Battery withdrew, and a Forward Observation Post was set up.  The man who volunteered for the Forward Observing Office the next day—17 April—on Mont Kemmel, was none other than W. Hope Hodgson.  The details surrounding the tragic death of Hope can now be clarified after nearly 55 years—and in clarifying them some errors regarding his death have been corrected.  His Commanding Officer filled in the details—on Thursday, 18 April, he sent Hodgson with another N.C.O. on Forward Observation.  On 19 April, Hope was heard from once and then there was silence from him for the remainder of the day.  That day, 19 April, William Hope Hodgson was reported missing in action to his C.O.  The following day, under continuous fire, the C.O. went to check himself to determine the fate of his F.O.O.’s.  He eventually found a French officer who showed him a helmet with the name Lt. W. Hope Hodgson on it—and reported that a British Artillery Officer and a Signaler had suffered a direct hit by a German artillery shell on 19 April and had both been blown nearly completely apart.  What little remained was buried on the spot—at the foot of the eastern slop of Mont Kemmel in Belgium.  During this period, the C.O. was under continuous fire, and upon his return to base, he confirmed the death of Lt. W. Hope Hodgson, and it was entered on 23 April.  The official report was forwarded to England, and most likely it specified that Hodgson was killed the previous week, since it was recorded on the official register in London, and the death certificate rolls, as 17 April.  On 24 April the Germans attacked the right flank of the 84th Battery and the following day they launched another large attack.  During all this confusion, it is not difficult to see how an error came to be made.  In fact the C.O.’s memory for details after 55 years proves to be quite accurate, for on 17 April, no F.O.O.’s were sent out according to the official diary of the Brigade.

Hope’s Commanding Officer telegraphed directly to Hope’s mother in Borth, and she wrote instantly to Mary in Canada—

Lisswood, 2 May,

            My precious child, you must be brave as we are trying to be, But oh, we are heartbroken—my dearly beloved Hope, I cannot soften it, dearest, is dead.  He was killed by a shell on April 17th, a week after he did so marvelously what I told you he did in the last (letter).  You must be brave, my darling.  Lissie is suffering dreadfully as you will know—she has had so much to do for and with him.  Write her a word of comfort.

                        Your loving, heartbroken Mother.

                                    I wish I could have written more.

The London Times on that date simply reported—

Second Lieutenant W. Hope Hodgson, RFA, killed in action on April 17, was the second son of the late Rev. Samuel Hodgson, and the author of “The Boats of the ‘Glen Carrig’”, “The Night Land”, “Men of the Deep Waters” and other books.  His early days were spent in the merchant service, where he gathered his material for many of his thrilling sea stories.  He was a notable athlete, a fine boxer, a strong swimmer, and an all-round good sportsman.  He was awarded the Royal Humane Society’s medal for saving life at sea.  At the outbreak of the war Lieutenant Hodgson was living in Sanary, on the south coast of France.  He returned to England, joined the University of London Officer Training Corps. and got his commission in the RFA in 1915.  As the result of a serious accident in camp, he was gazetted out of the Army in 1916; but he never rested until he passed the medical board as fit, and obtained another commission in March 1917, in the RFA.  He saw much active service round Ypres during last October.

His Commanding Officer writes:–

“I cannot express my deep sympathy for you in your great bereavement.  I feel it most terribly myself, and so do all the other officers and men of the battery.  He was the life and soul of the mess—always so willing and cherry.  Of his courage I can give no praise that is high enough.  He was always volunteering for any dangerous duty, and it was owing to his entire lack of fear that he probably met his death on April 17.  He had performed wonders of gallantry only a few days before, and it is a miracle that he survived that day.  I myself am deeply grieved, having lost a real, true friend and a splendid officer.”

Hope’s obituary notices appeared in many newspapers throughout the world—among them The Cambrian News; The Writer (Boston), which stated “He had a large reading public in America, and many of his short stories were published in the principle magazines of both America and England”; The Dominion (New Zealand); The Boston Evening Transcript; The Daily Dispatch; The Blackburn Weekly Telegraph, and others too numerous to mention.

Thus did die one of the finest and most extraordinary authors in the genre of the phantasy novel and the short story of horror.  Thus did William Hope Hodgson join the ranks of the fine authors slaughtered in World War I: Saki (H.H. Munro), Isaac Rosenberg, Wilfred Owen, Charles Hamilton Sorley, Edward Thomas and many others.  On the Tyne Cot Memorial in the British cemetery at Passchenacle, mid-way between Ypres and Roulers in Belgium is graven, “Hodgson—11 Army Brigade, RFA, Killed on April 17, 1918, age 40.”

After the tragedy and the War, Hope’s mother and Lissie continued to reside in Broth, until the former’s death at age 81 on 25 April, 1933—long an invalid due to heart trouble and minor strokes, an illness that seemed to be inherent in the Hodgson family. This early hereditary incapacitation due to heart trouble of mainly the male members of the family seems to have spared Hope who was cut down before he could live to suffer the fate of most of his brothers.

Betty returned to her people in Cheshire and on 23 July 1943, she passed away at the home of her sister, not quite 65 years old, of a brain tumor.  Chad had possibly been killed in World War I—in any case he dropped totally from sight, as did Hillyard, who disappeared in Australia during the 1920s.  Save for Lissie, who died in Barnstaple, Devonshire, on 9 May 1959, the remaining family members lived in America and Canada and there they died, far from England’s soil, as their brother had died.

***

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The Life of William Hope Hodgson–Part 7


We come now to an interesting part of Hodgson’s life as chronicled by R. Alain Everts: his marriage.  WHH did not marry until 1913 when he was 35 years old and his new bride was the same age.  This would be somewhat unusual at that time and raises more questions than it answers.  Was there something about Hodgson that did not make him good ‘marriage material’?  We will probably never know but this portion of the essay does give us much to consider.

(As always, this article is being reprinted for the sake of encouraging and promoting knowledge and scholarship about WHH.  No copyright infringement is implied or intended.)

SOME FACTS IN THE CASE OF WILLIAM HOPE HODGSON: MASTER OF PHANTASY

by R. Alain Everts

Mrs. Bessie Hodgson, wife of William Hope Hodgson.  Date undetermined.

Mrs. Bessie Hodgson, wife of William Hope Hodgson. Date undetermined.

MARRIAGE

In London, Hope moved in literary circles, and he either met or looked up one of his old acquaintances from Technical School days–the plain looking Bessie Gertrude Farnworth (called “Betty” by everyone).  She was one of the editors of “Woman’s Weekly”, Northcliffe Press, when Hope met and married her in London–Hope of course was quite popular with women–who found him attractive, witty and sociable–but his major drawbacks were his fits of temper, and like all of the Hodgson boys, he was spoiled.  In any case, they met and fell in love– up until now Hope had declined marriage with several girls due to his precarious financial state, now somewhat stabilized by his out-put of sea stories.

Bessie G. Farnworth was one of several children of Richard Dobson Farnworth of Cheadle Hulme–and her 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.  The final tragedy in the Franworth family was the tragic and premature death of Hope. However, when they married on 26 February, 1913 in the borough of Kensington in London, Hope and Betty were expecting a long and happy life together.  They were both 35 years old–Betty was born in Cheadle Hulme on 14 November 1877 and had attended Blackburn High School where Hope’s brothers and sisters also studied; and later the Technical School.  After they married, Betty gave up her post with “Woman’s Weekly”, and the two newlyweds traveled to the south of France where Hope planned to settle and to continue with his writing career.

About March 1913 they moved to France where they planned to live permanently–the inexpensive and healthy life on the Mediterranean attracted the Hodgson pair.  They arrive in Sanary, a small vacation resort town, 40 miles east of Marseilles.  Here was the ideal spot for Hope and Betty to settle for peace, quiet, love and creativity.  Shortly after arriving, Hope wrote to his sister Mary in Canada–

Mary Dear,

How the years have passed.  It must be four or five since last I had a letter from you, or you one from me.  Thank you, dear old Girl, for your kind wishes for Betty and me.  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.  I gave her your love, and she sends love to you and yours.  How are you?  You will be glad to know my new book has gone into a second edition.  Give all kind wishes to your husband from me.  So much love to you and the kidds (sic).

Your bruder (sic) Hope.

Villa Mimosas, Sanary, Var, May 1913

The bride and groom stayed at the villa “Les Mimosas” located at the foot of the hill which stood the Church Notre Dame de Pitie–only a few hundred feet from the port of Sanary and the downtown area–directly in front of the villa was the Mediterranean across the literal roadside–and a short walk from the front door was the Grande Jetee of Sanary. Truely this was paradise.

The Hodgson’s stayed at the villa Mimosa for less than a year, moving up the beach road to another and very similar villa called Chalet Mathilde, where they also rented an entire floor.

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The Life of William Hope Hodgson–Part 6


Here is the 6th part of our reprinting of R. Alain Everts’ biographical article about William Hope Hodgson.  In this section, Everts talks about WHH’s continuing attempts to become a successful author and his eventual disappointments.

We now commonly accept that the bulk of WHH’s best fiction was written early in his writing career.  We see here that the reason he did not continue in this vein was because of the poor sales of his work.  Who knows what works of imagination were lost because of an unappreciative public?

(I have not, as yet, been able to identify the source of the quote from Arthur Waugh.  Anyone have any clues?)

A nice profile shot of WHH in uniform. Likely around 1916 or so.

A nice profile shot of WHH in uniform. Likely around 1916 or so.

SOME FACTS IN THE CASE OF WILLIAM HOPE HODGSON: MASTER OF PHANTASY

by R. Alain Everts

LITERARY CAREER, Part One

In late 1910, Hope decided that he would be able to make a better success of himself in the writing field if he were domiciled in London—and so he moved to London where he could be in the proximity of publishers, and where he could involve himself in the literary and cultural atmosphere of that great city.  In December, 1911, Lissie and her mother left Glaneifion and moved into a house, on the north-eastern outskirts of Borth, renamed Lisswood in honor of LIssie, where the would remain until Mrs. Hodgson’s death.

Hope’s first book was published in October, 1907, after it had been rejected many times.  Shortly after its appearance, Hope traveled to Town, and dropped in on his publisher at Chapman & Hall, Mr. Arthur Waugh, who recalled more than two decades later:

“That eccentric but highly imaginative young novelist, W. Hope Hodgson, author of an eerie story called The Boats of the “Glen Carrig”.  It is good stuff, but it was not selling as it deserved, and Hope Hodgson plunged into the office all afire with a tremendous idea for publicity.  A huge boat was to be constructed, with cutter sails and rigging, the mainsail to bear the name of the book, and the entire craft to be mounted on a lorry and driven along the Strand, Piccadilly, Oxford Street, and all thoroughfares where idle shoppers most do congregate.  On the lorry were to be about a dozen men dressed as sailors, selling The Boats of the “Glen Carrig” to the crowd as they passed. When it was objected that the firm would most certain be indicted for obstructing traffic, Hope Hodgson banged out into the street again, swearing picturesquely.  He never really forgave the firm its lack of enterprise, but the interval of his transit was lively and amusing.”

Such was the attitude, energy, enthusiasm and the confidence of W. Hope Hodgson—confidence that his work would sell well if sold properly.  Hope was so disappointed with Chapman & Hall’s lack of initiative that although The House on the Borderland was published by them in the following year, the dissatisfied Hope went in search of another publisher.  It was at Stanley Paul & Co., that he encountered a thoughtful and considerate publisher—Arthur St. John Adcock (1864-1930).

Hope had already been in touch with St. John Adcock, editor of the literary review The Bookman in which many of the favorable reviews of Hope’s writings first appeared.  Hope first met him shortly after April 1909, when the following letter appeared at the office of The Bookman, published by Stanley Paul & Co.:

Dear Sir

I don’t know whether you remember a certain “muscular” individual who figured lately in your portrait gallery?  Anyway he’s at the other end of these keys, and would be immensely obliged, if you would let him run up to have five minutes talk with you.

Five minutes: not a second longer.

You needn’t be afraid that I’ll either bore or keep you.  I’d be more likely to kill, than do either.

Believe me dear Sir, Yours very

Faithfully,

William Hope Hodgson

This letter began a long friendship between the two men, and some years after Hope’s untimely death, in 1920, St. John Adcock recalled this first meeting:

I first met Hope Hodgson about eleven years ago.  At that date his three best novels had been written; two of them The Boats of the “Glen Carrig”  and The House on the Borderland had been published, and the third, The Ghost Pirates, was in the press.  In those three stories he showed himself a writer of quite exceptional imaginative gifts, a master of the weird, the eerie, the terrible, whose strange and grim imaginings were not unworthy of comparison with the bizarre creations of Poe.  He had already given himself so entirely and enthusiastically to a literary career that the talk of our first meeting was wholly of books and of his hopes as an author.  He aimed high, and was taking his art very seriously, had a frank, unaffected confidence in his powers, which was party the splendid arrogance of youth and partly the heritage of experience, for he had tested and proved them.

There was something curiously attractive in his breezy, forceful, eager personality; his dark eyes were wonderfully alert and alive; he was wonderfully and restlessly alive and alert in all his mind and body.  He was emphatic and unrestrained in his talk, but would take the sting out of an extravagant denunciation of some inartistic popular author, or of some pestilent critic, and the egotism out of some headlong confession of his own belief in himself with the pleasant boyish laugh that brushed it all aside as the mere spray and froth of a passing thought.  His dark, handsome features were extraordinarily expressive; they betrayed his emotions as readily as his lips gave away whatever happened to rise in his mind.  Always he had the courage of his opinions and no false modesty; it never seemed to occur to him to practice political subterfuges; and it was this absolute candor and naturalness that compelled you to like him and before long strengthened your liking into a friendly affection.

Apparently they talked of other matters, for Hodgson was given job reviews—book to review for The Bookman.  On 19, October 1909, he writes to St. John Adcocke that he is enclosing the review to Kipling’s “Actions and Reactions”, with a review of “How to Study the Stars” to follow in time for the 30 October.  Hope also requested to have “The Unseen Thing” by Anthony Dallington—obviously a horror book—so that he can review it.  Without doubt this reviewing continued successfully for some time, and without a doubt the literary lure of London, plus the dispersing of the Hodgson family, convinced Hope that he could do well on his own in London.  Hope continued to sell his mss from Borth, but about mid-1911, he moved to London, mixing in the numerous literary get-togethers and events, meeting such authors as Frank Swinnerton and George Bernard Shaw, and of course pushing his short stories with numerous magazine offices.  Hope had his Carnacki, The Ghost Finder and a poem appear in London and New York in 1910—comprising apparently of the one tale and one poem—(editor’s [Everts] note, abridged version of four of the tales and the poem “Lost”)—it was later to be reprinted as a collection of six stories (Eveleigh Nash, 1913).  He had also arranged to have Eveleigh Nash accept his prodigious The Night Land, which finally came out in August, 1912.  By now, Hope’s fortunes, financially and literary, were picking up, and he contemplated marriage—not to the young debutantes that he knew—but to an old home-town girl, Bessie Gertrude Farnworth.

This period also was to end Hope’s serious writings in the genre of the horror and phantasy tale (1910-1912)—The Night Land, the third part of what Hope referred to as his first trilogy (The House on the Borderland; The Ghost Pirates; The Night Land), and the part he considered to be his magnum opus.  He was terribly disappointed when it did not sell well, and so for the remainder of his life he turned to short stories only—never to return to the novel format.  And, notably he rarely returned to phantasy or horror after the failure of The Night Land, employing a new type of story as he described it, allowing him to present new ideas—could this be a reference to his almost, from then on, simple sea stories??  If so, how sad—but unfortunately, these pot-boilers brought him a steady income.  His disappointment extended not only to the reading public for failure to admire and appreciate the masterpiece he had written, but also to his own family.  None of the Hodgsons were able to understand any of Hope’s writings completely—the girls were scared to death by most of his horror tales—while the Farnworth family was just as bad.

From then on, Hope stuck for the most part to light sea stories—which guaranteed an income instantly as opposed to the profits on slow selling novels (he claimed in 1915 that neither Carnacki or The Night Land brought him “one farthing”)—trite for the most part, and boring little bits of fluff.  His subsequent books were the reprint Carnacki, The Ghost Finder (Eveleigh Nash, 1913) and a cheaper reprint the following year: Men of the Deep Waters, also from Eveleigh Nash, coming out in September, 1914, and made up primarily of sea stories (with some horror) written mostly prior to 1910; The Luck of the Strong, a collection similar to Men, put out by Nash in 1916; and a final collection of stories—Captain Gault (Eveleigh Nash, 1917)—all tales therein having been written during Hope’s sojourns to France.  A posthumous collection of poems came out in March 1920—The Calling of the Sea—many early poems were included—and this proved of such interest that a second volume was put out in November 1921—The Voice of the Ocean—both from Selwyn & Blount of London.

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The Life of William Hope Hodgson–Part 5


We continue today with the reprinting of R. Alain Evert’s biographical article on Hodgson.  This part reflects on the beginning of Hodgson’s writing career.  I venture to say that many readers probably do not know the details which Everts presents here.  They are, of course, uncredited and are likely the memories of Hodgson’s few surviving siblings through interviews.  As such, we can not really establish them as definitive.  However, they are the best we have right now.

There are several items of note here: the concept of most of WHH’s best fiction being written early in his career, the details of his family during their time in Blackburn and Borth and the tantalizing mention of an early romance for WHH.  As always, I reprint this part solely to encourage conversation and scholarly study of WHH and intend no copyright infringement.

WHHSOME FACTS IN THE CASE OF WILLIAM HOPE HODGSON: MASTER OF PHANTASY

by R. Alain Everts

LITERARY CAREER, Part One

It was in the year 1902 that Hope commenced his writing career—at least seriously.  One of his earliest pieces appeared in Cassell’s Magazine, November 1903, entitled “Health from Scientific Exercise”, in which Hodgson expounded some of his physical health theories—this article was also profusely illustrated with photographs of the twenty-four year old author demonstrating various body-building exercises.  At this time, he composed several short stories in the horror genre, which apart from “The Riven Night” remain unpublished.  In fact, most of Hodgson’s horror tales were written during the early period, as well as his horror and phantasy novels.  His fascination with these themes, and for the sea, is evident in Hodgson’s work right from the start—while other essays not in the same vein, such as “The Poet Versus the Stonemason or Regarding Similar Names” appeared in The Author in early 1906.

Hope’s short stories he always referred to as his “pot-boilers”—and he was delighted that they brought in some money from the London magazine markets.  Later the American magazine market picked him up by paying the fabulous sum of $40 for each story.  These “pot-boilers” provided Hope with some steady income and permitted him to devote his time to his more serious writings—his phantasy novels.  Both The Boats of the “Glen Carrig” (London, Chapman & Hall, 1907) and The House on the Borderland (Chapman & Hall, 1908) were completed prior to 1904 in Blackburn—the ‘house’ in The House on the Borderland is a mixture of the house in Blackburn and the Old Rectory in Ardraham—both works written directly means of a typewriter, with minor corrections made later.  Hope had to teach himself to type, and read every book he could lay his hands on on how to write, also on the supernatural, the occult, spiritualism, and contemporary phantasy and horror authors—such that there were.

He would sometimes stay up all night long typing his ideas out—and anyone who dared to interrupt him would be soundly taken care of.  Hope had the whole study at the Revidge Road house made over into his own private room where he slept on a cot-bed, and wrote at his leisure.  Not only his novels, but many of his short stories and his poetry date from this early period—Chris never recalls a time when his brother was not writing poetry, and most likely the majority of it is lost today.  His first actual horror story to be published is not (as once thought) “The Voice in the Night” (Blue Book, November 1907)—many of Hodgson’s short stories are lost in the divers British and American periodicals, and it seems likely that several appeared prior to this date—I have not yet located “A Tropical Horror” (The Grand Magazine, June 1905), or “The Goddess of Death” (The Royal Magazine, April 1904).  [editor (Everts) note: both now seen.]

The children all recall Hope telling them many of these stories before he wrote them—among them the perhaps autobiographical “The Room of Fear” one of his earliest tales (unpublished).  His two stories, “From the Tideless Sea” (Blue Book, April 1906) and its sequel “More News from the ‘Homebird’” (Blue Book, August 1907) see to be among his first published works in a true horror vein.  All of the Carnacki short stories were early as well—and Hope himself was in actuality Carnacki, while many of the adventures were actual adventures of Hope—who was something of a sensitive (in the psychic term of the word).  One of his psychic incidents occurred late at night when Hope was writing at the dining room table (before he had his own study), and his mother cam to the upstairs banister and rapped on it as she would do when she retired.  Hope heard the door to her room close as she retired for the night.  But on his way to bed he noticed that the door to her room [was] open, and waking her he discovered the she had not rapped on the banister.  Another time a rug was pulled under the door, and there was no one on the other side.

In 1904, the family decided to move to Borth, a small seaside resort near Aberystwyth, Cardiganshire, where the Reverend Samuel Hodgson and his family used to spend their summers from the late 1870s onward.  The house in Blackburn was retained until 1908, when most of the Hodgson children had left home, while a house in Borth, on High Street, was rented yearly.  From 1904 on, Hope spent most of his time in Borth, living in the house called “Blaneifion” that had its back to the sea, while Hope’s room overlooked the sea.  During the summer, the whole family lived there, but during the rest of the year Hope had the entire house to himself and he wrote peacefully.  When the whole family gathered together, jammed in the small house, there would be picnics, beach outings, boatings, and carnivals.  For most of the year Hope was left alone, and in one six month period, possibly during 1905-1907, Hope wrote The Night Land (London, Eveleigh Nash, 1912) and most likely The Ghost Pirates (London, Stanley Paul, 1909) mostly writing at night.  No one in the family really knew how creative Hope was—the most interested in Hope’s writing was his younger brother Chris.

The family began to break up during the early 1900’s—Hillyard and Frank left as immigrants to Canada about 1905—followed by Mary about 1906, Chris and Eunice and Bertha about 1908.  Chad who had possibly been married once previously, married a widow, several years older than he and was rarely, if ever, heard of again by the family.  In 1908, Mrs. Hodgson now a complete invalid and Lissie, her devoted daughter, moved to Glaneifion permanently to live with Hope.  With the children gone, things were much calmer in the family, and Hope was able to travel from time to time to town (as he called London), specifically to visit his publishers, and a friend of Mr. W. R. Horner, the sculptor Earnest George Gillick (1877-1951).  In Borth, Hope was well remembered.

Hope was apparently engaged in Borth for some time to a beautiful young girl.  He was very popular with the girls—he dressed well, and took an extremely long time grooming himself in the morning—and was extremely handsome.  At his prime, he stood about 5’ 7” but was so slim tht his height was hardly noticed as terribly short, he had black hair and dark eyes, and a very smooth complexion—it was almost as if he had Spanis blood in him.  He would always turn to watch good-looking girls—especially if they had to lift their skirts to step from the curb, for he would remake on the “swell ankle” thus exposed.  If he held a door open for girls, they would continue to turn around and stare at Hope until they were out of sight.

His mother was quite miffed at Hope, for he never brought any of his men friends home with him when they were living in Blackburn—she wanted to introduce them to the girls—but Hope only brought his girl-friends over.  He was quite the ladies man it would seem; however, his engagement in Borth broke off, and Hope was not to marry until he was 35 years old.

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