Due to the lack of primary sources, we don’t know very much about William Hope Hodgson’s family. What few biographical notes we have are generally derived from the work of Randy Everts and Sam Moskowitz. But, every once in a while, we do stumble upon something new.
Hope’s father is something of a cypher. Unlike Hope’s mother, he never makes even a symbolic appearance in Hope’s fiction. We know that he was a ‘fire and brimstone’ sort and that he apparently had many arguments with his strong-willed son. (It is, perhaps, significant to note that Hope was the only son to remain in Blackburn with his family while his brothers all emigrated.) It was Hope’s father who objected to his son going to sea and who reluctantly gave his permission for Hope to be apprenticed at the young age of thirteen after an intervention by Hope’s uncle on the boy’s behalf.
We are told that the Rev. Samuel Hodgson died quickly after a diagnosis of throat cancer. Recently, my wife (who is an amateur genealogist) discovered this news item from the Sheffield Daily Telegraph dated November 26, 1892:
This notice is significant for a number of reasons. It establishes that Rev. Samuel had been a “native of Sheffield” and was the only “surviving” son. Previously, I had not been aware that there were other siblings of the Reverend. Most important is the listing of Samuel’s education starting at St. George’s School and then to St. Bee’s College. Although it had been known that he was ordained at Lichfield, this is the first mention of who performed that ceremony. It is curious that his missionary work in England and Ireland is given such short notice here given that it involved numerous moves and parishes.
We also learn that the cancer must have advanced very quickly as he “was prostrate for several weeks before his death”. His being interred at “Salesbury Church” may be helpful if anyone reading this has an opportunity to seek out this grave and find the marker.
Presently, we are at that unenviable point in Hodgson biography where any new information will come from secondary sources like these. If anyone locates any further items of interest, please let me know so that I can share it here on this blog for everyone’s edification.
(Many thanks to Carol Gafford for finding this item and sharing it with us.)