Monthly Archives: July 2013

Hodgson on SFFAudio podcast

I hope that everyone will give it a listen and let me know what you think.  I talked a lot about Hodgson (maybe even more than Jesse wanted! lol) and dropped a lot of info about WHH.  Hope you like it!

If you go to the homepage of SFFAudio, it is podcast #219.–Sam Gafford


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A Cigarette Card???

card 1Here’s a weird little item that I came across lately.

Starting back in the late 1800’s and continuing up until the 1930’s, tobacco companies would often package little trading cards with their packs of cigarettes.  These were, of course, the precursor to ‘bubble-gum’ cards which I, and many others, collected in our youths.  The cigarette cards covered a wide variety of subjects from actors/actresses to business men to sports figures to many, many more.

This particular item is #40 in Wills’s Cigarettes line of “Do You Know” which presented interesting facts much in the same way that Ripley’s Believe It or Not also did in the newspapers.  The card dates from the first series of “Do You Know” which was released in 1922.  There were four series of these cards dating from 1922, 1924, 1926 and 1933.  The card itself is quite small (in order to fit into a cigarette pack) and measures only 1 7/16 inches by 2 11/16 inches.  The text reads:

“The great expanse of floating seaweed (Sargassum) is nearly as large as Europe, and was formed by the Gulf Stream and the Equatorial Current, off the Coast of Florida.  It was discovered in 1492 by Columbus, who was delayed in it for a fortnight.  For centuries afterwards weird tales were told of ships being caught and lost in this dreaded tangle of Gulf-weed.  In 1910, the Norwegian Govt. sent an expedition to explore the Sargasso Sea.  It was then found that the weed did not extend in one dense mass, but that it occurred in patches, some of them covering an immense area.”

card 2Wills’s was a UK tobacco company and, although many of their cards are quite valuable and collectible, this one is not.  Still, it is an interesting look at how, even in 1922, the Sargasso Sea still captured the imagination of many!.

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CARNACKI #8: The Find

carnacki 1“The Find” is undoubtedly the weakest of Hodgson’s Carnacki stories.  This is for several reasons but the primary one is the fact that it was originally not even a Carnacki story at all!

Originally a detective story called “The Dumpley Acrostics: An Incident in the Career of Sackwell Dank, Mental Analyst”, it featured a different character named Sackwell Dank who was in the Sherlock Holmes vein.  When Hodgson was unable to sell the story, he swapped in Carnacki, changed the title and hoped for better results.

They did not come.

Nor did Sackwell Dank ever appear in a Hodgson story again.

This story did not see print until the 1948 collection of Carnacki stories that was published by August Derleth through his Mycroft & Moran imprint of Arkham House.  “The Find” and “The Hog” were the two ‘unpublished’ stories in that collection which had never been seen in the earlier editions and weren’t even known about until 1948.  Since that time, both stories have been included in every edition of Carnacki published.

Perhaps the biggest problem with the story is that absolutely nothing supernatural happens.  It is a straight detective story and, while it does showcase some of Carnacki’s skills, it is entirely out of place with the other stories.  Mercifully, however, it is short.

The story begins as usual with Carnacki’s friends arriving for dinner and a story.  (This part was added to the original story.)  Even Carnacki calls the tale, “’A very simple case’”.

While talking to his friend Jones (of Malbrey and Jones, the editors of the Bibliphile and Book Table which is a publication of some weight dealing with old, rare books), Carnacki is surprised to hear that Jones has found a copy of The Dumpley Acrostics which, to Carnacki’s knowledge, is impossible as only one copy exists in Caylen Museum.  Jones states that it was found by a Mr. Ludwig and appears to be quite genuine in Jones’ estimation.

Intrigued, Carnacki asks his old friend, Van Dyll (something of an authority apparently) about the book and gets the entire history of the tome.

‘”The book was written by John Dumpley,” he continued, “and presented to Queen Elizabeth on her fortieth birthday. She had a passion for word-play of that kind – which is merely literary gymnastics but was raised by Dumpley to an extraordinary height of involved and scandalous punning in which those unsavoury tales of those at Court are told with a wit and pretended innocence that is incredible in its malicious skill.

‘”The type was distributed and the manuscript burnt immediately after printing that one copy which was for the Queen. The book was presented to her by Lord Welbeck who paid John Dumpley twenty English guineas and twelve sheep each year with twelve firkins of Miller Abbott’s ale to hold his tongue. Lord Welbeck wished to be thought the author of the book, and undoubtedly he had supplied Dumpley with the very scandalous and intimate details of famous Court personages about whom the book is written.

‘”He had his own name put in the place of Dumpley’s; for though it was not a matter for much pride for a well born man to write well in those days, still a good wit such as the Acrostics was deemed to be was a thing for high praise at the Court.”

Upon hearing that a second copy has been found, Van Dyll is shocked.  Carnacki has apparently been hired by Jones to investigate the book and tells Van Dyll that Malbrey & Jones have “pronounced it unmistakably genuine” and that Ludwig’s account of finding the book at a ‘dump’ sale “quite straight and above-board”.

Excited, Van Dyll demands that they go straight to Malbrey & Jones’ office where he can examine the copy himself.  At the bibliophile’s office, Van Dyll examines the copy for nearly an hour and believes that it “appears to be genuine”.  But he asks to make a comparison between the copy and the volume held in the Caylen Museum.

All three men march over to the museum where the librarian examines the copy and believes it to be genuine.  Then, all three made a laborious comparison to the original copy while Carnacki makes notes.  After more than an hour, they announce (one and all) that it is undoubtedly genuine and printed at the same time and from the same type.

The librarian testifies to Carnacki that the book has never left the building.  When asked why they were all so convinced that there was only one copy in existence, they point to Lord Welbeck’s private Memoirs that detailed the lengths he went to in order to make sure that there were no other copies.  Although they cannot fathom how, the three experts are willing to accept that the other copy is genuine but Carnacki is not convinced.

If Carnacki accepts one fact (that Lord Welbeck made sure there was only one copy) it disputes the second fact that there is another copy that is authenticated.  If he accepts the authentication of the second copy, it refutes the first fact.  Over the following days, Carnacki follows the course of his investigation and calls the librarian, Ludwig and a detective from Scotland Yard to meet him at the offices of Malbrey and Jones.  Eventually, Carnacki reveals that Ludwig had found a printer’s proof of the book with blank pages.  Realizing what he had, Ludwig visited the library in disguise three times to copy the manuscript.  On his last visit, Ludwig left the copy at the library and took the original away.  Because of this, the copy that Ludwig presented was, of course, authenticated and no one bothered to look very closely at the other copy which was though to be genuine.

And that’s the story.

It is not surprising that “The Find” is not highly regarded.  It is not a bad story but it is a bad CARNACKI story.  Ironically, this story would lead into what is probably the best Carnacki story of all: “The Hog”.  We will discuss “The Hog” in depth in upcoming posts including the examination of whether it was actually written by Hodgson at all!

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Sorry About That, Chief!

Well, I ended up taking a slight bit of an unexpected vacation for the last couple of weeks.

sargasso coverAlthough I haven’t posted, I have been hard at work and I’m delighted to say that the final computer files for the first issue of SARGASSO have been sent off to the printer!  Now begins the fretful waiting and pacing.  There were a lot of last minutes problems (not to mention a need to carefully review all 208 pages for a final edit) as well as some issues with the cover but I’m hopeful that it is all set and will be arriving on my doorstep in about a month.  Which will be just about in time for the NECRONOMICON convention in Providence, RI, in August!  I’ll be there with SARGASSO (hopefully) and a couple other things including one I’m working on right now but can’t disclose just yet.  So if you’re coming to the show, make sure you swing by my dealer’s table and chat about Hodgson a bit!

Oh, I’ll also be talking about Hodgson on a panel at said convention called “The Other Guys: Bierce, Chambers and Hodgson” which will take place on Saturday, August 24th.  Come watch me stammer and speak incoherently!

Regular posts will commence on Wednesday when I look at the Carnacki story that is probably the weakest: “The Find”.  I’m also working on a few posts regarding an exploration of the Sargasso Sea in the early part of the 20th century on the Arcturus.  Quite fascinating stuff.

At a recent gathering of like-minded individuals, I was talking about Hodgson (might be something of an obsession there) when I was stunned to find that many there had never read WHH!  Naturally, this concerned me a great deal.  No writer can gather fans if they can’t be read.  The general consensus seemed to be that it was too difficult to find copies of Hodgson’s work or that they were too expensive once found.  While it’s true that most, if not all, of WHH’s most significant fiction is available free online, there didn’t seem to be much interest in those versions.  Does this mean that WHH needs to be put out once again in inexpensive, affordable formats?  I think it does!  Now if we could only convince publishers of that fact.



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Unknown-1Yes, it was a year ago today that the very first post went up on this blog!  I had actually spent some time last June in designing and getting the blog ready but today is the actual birthday.  In that year, there’s been lots that has happened in Hodgson studies and I’m glad to say that this blog has had a big hand in bringing much of it about.  Since that first post, I’ve been able to reprint a lot of old, rare material both by and about Hodgson.  Many blog readers have been very helpful in finding more items and information than we had before.  For example, we now have copies of all of the adaptations of WHH materials on television which, a year ago, I would have thought were lost.

In setting up this blog, I had several goals.  I wanted, first and foremost, to give Hodgson more attention which I’ve felt he has long deserved.  But I also wanted to provide a place for others to share Hodgson information and their love for this unique writer.  I think that I’ve accomplished these goals and look forward to more to come.

Going forward, I plan to finally finish my examination of the Carnacki stories as well as looking at the Captain Gault stories in depth.  In addition, I hope to feature more guest posts and encourage people to submit some for future posts.  I also hope to reprint some more older items including some contemporary reviews of Hodgson as well as some older pieces of criticism.

For now, I’d like to turn this post over to my good friend, S. T. Joshi, who has always been a source of constant encouragement to me in my Hodgsonian efforts.  Without his assistance and advice, I’d never have done the work on Hodgson that I have and this blog would not exist.


I’d like to congratulate Sam Gafford for running his William Hope Hodgson blog for a full year. Sam has been at the forefront of Hodgson studies for many years, and this latest venture is only one more indication that Hodgson may finally be receiving the critical attention he so richly deserves.

Of all the great writers of the “golden age” of weird fiction—roughly spanning the years 1880–1940, and including such titans as Ambrose Bierce, Arthur Machen, Lord Dunsany, Algernon Blackwood, M. R. James, H. P. Lovecraft, Walter de la Mare, L. P. Hartley, and many others—Hodgson is far and away the least recognised, in terms of critical attention. Although Emily Alder wrote an outstanding Ph.D. dissertation on WHH in 2009, no full-length critical study or biography has been published. Sam himself is, I believe, at work on such a study, and it will no doubt significantly advance our understanding of WHH and his work.

Massimo Berruti has also been at work on a volume of critical essays by various authors, including original essays by Emily Alder, Mark Valentine, Andy Sawyer, Phillip A. Ellis, myself, and other scholars, will have several pieces by Sam Gafford as well as reprints of earlier criticism by H. P. Lovecraft, Ellery Queen, H. C. Koenig, Fritz Leiber, and others. This volume—which will also publish the exhaustive bibliography that Sam and I have been assembling for years—is entitled William Hope Hodgson: Voices from the Borderland, and we hope to have it ready for publication next year by Hippocampus Press.

All in all, things are looking up for Hodgson. He may finally be about to receive the recognition he deserves from both readers and critics. And when that happens, Sam Gafford say rightly say he has played a large part in that process.

(S.T. Joshi is, of course, an internationally known writer and critic.  He has been at the forefront of Lovecraft studies as well as a leading figure in critical work on weird literature, Ambrose Bierce, H. L. Mencken and other writers. One of his recent publications was UNUTTERABLE HORRORS which was a two volume history and examination of weird literature. His web page is at:


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