Category Archives: Hodgson

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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The Life of William Hope Hodgson, Part 4


We continue the reprinting of R. Alain Everts’ biographical article on William Hope Hodgson.  This part speaks about a pivotal event in Hodgson’s life: his encounter with Harry Houdini.  This would be an event that would scar both men for the rest of their lives.

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

by R. Alain Everts

The Early Years, Part 4

Hope continued with his school of Physical Culture throughout 1902 and 1903; but in 1902 something interesting and important occurred—Hodgson met Houdini.  (And it is interesting to note that H. P. Lovecraft, who considered Hodgson an excellent writer, also met Houdini, but never knew the details of the following incident.)  The following notices appeared in the Northern Daily Telegraph (24 and 25 October 1902 respectively).

Challenge to The “Handcuff King” At Blackburn

Hodgson v. Houdini

 

Interest in the visit of Houdini, the handcuff magician, to the Palace Theatre, Blackburn, this week is intensified by the acceptance of his challenge by Mr. W. H. Hodgson, of the School of Physical Culture, Blackburn.  Letters have passed between the parties to the following effect:

The School of Physical Culture, Ainsworth Street, Blackburn

Mr. Harry Houdini

Sir,

                Being interested in your apparently anatomically impossible handcuff feat, I have decided to take up your challenge to-night (Friday) on the following conditions:

1st           I bring and use my own irons (so look out).

2nd          I iron you myself.

3rd           If you are unable to free yourself, the £25 to be given to the Blackburn Infirmary.

                Should you succeed, I shall be the first one to offer congratulations.  If not, then the Infirmary will benefit.

W. Hope Hodgson

(Principle)

P.S.—Naturally, if your challenge is bona-fide, I shall expect the money to be deposited.  W.H.H.

Houdini’s Reply

I, Harry Houdini, accept the above challenge, and will deposit the £25 at the “Telegraph” Office.  Match to take place to-night (Friday).

H. Houdini

The results of the challenge were as follows:

Handcuff King’s Big Task

An Exciting Performance At Blackburn

The Challenge And Its Results

                At the Palace Theatre, Blackburn, last night, before a “house” packed from pit to gallery, Mr. W. H. Hodgson, principal of the Blackburn School of Physical Culture, took up the challenge issued by Houdini, the “Handcuff King” who engaged to forfeit £25 to the infirmary if he failed to free himself from any irons placed upon him.  The challenge and its acceptance aroused intense interest.  At the outset Houdini protested that the irons which Mr. Hodgson proposed to use had been tampered with, his challenge stipulating that they should be “regulation” irons.  Mr. Hodgson replied that one of the conditions of the challenge entitled him to use his own irons, and at length Houdini consented to this.  His wrists, arms and legs were then locked in a number of fetters and bars of various designs, and he retired to his curtained cabinet on the stage to commence the operation of escaping.  At the expiration of half an hour Houdini asked that his hands should be freed for a moment, so that the circulation might be restored.  Mr. Hodgson, however, would not consent to this, and although appeals were made to him by Houdini’s brother, he was obdurate, despite the fact that Dr. Bradley, who was called to the stage, stated that it was cruelty to go on with the performance.  Mr. Hodgson several times essayed to speak, but the house would not give him a hearing. He was then heard to say, however, “If Houdini is beaten then let him give in.”  When Houdini had been bound about three-quarters of an hour he announced to the audience, amidst loud cheering, that his hands were free and he would take a rest of ten minutes or a quarter of an hour to get the circulation back.  He continued, and after a prolonged and evidently terrible struggle he freed himself entirely.  Addressing the audience, he said he had performed fourteen years, and had never been so brutally treated.  He alleged that some of the irons were plugged.  Mr. Hodgson left the theatre before Houdini had freed himself, being ordered out by a police sergeant, who feared a disturbance.  Seen after the performance, he denied that the irons used were plugged.  He holds that he acted fairly in not with-drawing from the contest, which, he says, was not a love match.  It was 12:15, this morning when the great crowd left the theatre.

                The description by Milhouse Christopher in his biography of Houdini (entitled Houdini) of this episode is completely inaccurate, needless to say—Christopher practically accuses Hodgson of plugging the irons—omitting the fact that Hodgson denied doing so—which no doubt he did not do anyway.  Knowing anatomy and the structure of muscle, Hodgson would hardly have had to resort to such tactics to stump Houdini.  This was most likely the closest time that Houdini came to losing his career, and if one takes into account the length of time involved, perhaps Houdini was indeed licked this time.

Hodgson continued to run his school until late 1903 early 1904 when the family [went] to Borth for the summer, and Hope decided to remain the year round, exercising his new hobby—writing.

[The actual encounter had much more to it, of course, than what Everts quotes here.  It was, in fact, a pivotal event in the lives of both men.  Houdini carried physical scars from this challenge for the rest of his life and would never again allow himself to be placed so close to possible failure.  For his part, losing the challenge eventually doomed Hodgson’s school to close, leaving him to turn to writing as a means of making money.  Not, as Everts so blithely puts it, as a hobby.  For a more detailed analysis of this extremely important collision of two monumental personalities, please see my article “Houdini v. Hodgson–The Blackburn Challenge” which appeared in WEIRD FICTION REVIEW available from Centipede Press.   –Sam Gafford]

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SARGASSO #1


I am pleased to announce the contents of the forthcoming SARGASSO: The Journal of William Hope Hodgson Studies Issue #1!  I think we have an outstanding selection of essays, fiction, poetry and art all devoted to WHH.  I’m sure you will agree.

1 sargasso

SARGASSO #1

Essays

“Shadow Out of Hodgson” by John D. Haefele

“A Reassessment of William Hope Hodgson’s Poetry” by Phillip A. Ellis

“William Hope Hodgson’s Sales Log: The Pleasure and Consequences of Collecting” by Jane Frank

“The ‘Wonder Unlimited’–The Tales of Captain Gault” by Mark Valentine

“Always Sea and Sea: The Night Land as Sea-Scape” by Emily Alder

“The Long Apocalypse: The Experimental Eschatologies of H. G. Wells and William Hope Hodgson” by Brett Davidson

“Ab-Reality: The Metaphysical Vision of William Hope Hodgson” by Neal Alan Spurlock

“Things Invisible: Human and Ab-Human in Two of Hodgson’s Carnacki Stories” by Leigh Blackmore

Poetry

“In Memory of Hope” by Phillip A. Ellis

“Beyond the Deaths of Worlds” by Phillip A. Ellis

Fiction

“A Question of Meaning” by Pierre V. Comtois

“The Blue Egg” by William Meikle

Artwork from

Andrea Bonazzi

Steve Lines

Pete Von Sholly

Nick Gucker

Allen Koszowki

Not bad for a first issue, eh?

The only problem is how to top this?  I should probably start working on that now!

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The Life of William Hope Hodgson, Part 3


A early photo of WHH.  I am not sure of the year but probably roughly around 1903 or so.

A early photo of WHH. I am not sure of the year but probably roughly around 1903 or so.

This, the 3rd part of our reprinting of R. Alain Everts’ essay, relates some otherwise unknown glimpses of Hodgson’s early life and times with his family.  Sadly, WHH does not come off too well in some of these stories as you will see.  The article that is reprinted here did actually appear in a local Blackburn paper and it is generally believed that it was a publicity piece that Hodgson wrote himself.

Again, this article represents some vital biographical information that is not available anywhere else.  It is for that reason that we are reprinting it here.  No copyright infringement is intended or implied.

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

by R. Alain Everts

The Early Years, Part 3

Hope returned from sea permanently slightly before the turn of the century—and he was well known in Blackburn for the tales he spun of his many and varied adventures at sea.  Some of his excellent photographs of the sea in her many moods of storming were published about 1900 in the London Illustrated News. It was also at this time that his grandfather, William Hodgson died–in late 1900—which enable the Hodgson family to move to better quarters in Park Mount—a pleasant suburb of Blackburn—to a large house on Revidge Road.  And in early 1901, Hope was able to establish his celebrated School of Physical Culture in Blackburn—thanks to the money his grandfather left the family, as well as some beautiful antique furniture that Hope carted off to his school located on the second floor of 13 Ainsworth Street—of course over the protestations of his mother and sisters.  Needless to say, the furniture was ruined by Hope’s clientele.  Hope had continued his body-building exercises, and he was able at this point to lift a full-grown man over his head with one hand.

Hope also had a great interest and ability in sports—he was an excellent boxer, a strong swimmer, a good horseman and cricket player.  He also loved to go on long walks, sometimes accompanied by the children.  Once he took his brother Chris on a long midnight walk—and Chris recalls that his brother Hope would stop from time to time to listen to sounds that Chris could not hear.  Hope was also quite a health-food addict—and also somewhat of a hypochondriac about his own health, fearing any small sign as some major illness.  He also delighted in practical jokes—often he would appear at the second story windows of his home or neighbors.  Of course, Hope was tickled to death at the reaction he provoked.  Another time, he loaned a neighbor, Mr. W. R. Horner, a copy of H. G. Wells’ book The Time Machine, and late at night, Hope climbed up the drainpipe on the outside of the house, scaring Homer.  Hope repeated this trick with his sisters several times—driving them to distraction with his stunts—especially climbing up the outside of the house at midnight.  One of his jokes really did backfire—Hope tried to make some fireworks, and was drying the powder in the family over, when it suddenly exploded, totally destroying the oven.

His brother Chris also recalls times when Hope would attempt more grandiose schemes.  Once, Hope made an eight-foot box kite, hoping to lift Chris with it, but fortunately he was only able to lift a chair.  Hope also tended to be very short with his sisters—whom he taunted and mocked quite severely at times.  Once one of them spoke back to him and he chased her around the dining room table several times waving a large knife—another time he got into a fight with Mary and in his anger threw a heavy crystal vase at her, missing her head by inches.  During this period, Hope’s mother began to deteriorate—she was to become an invalid before long; but also Hope would be extremely short with her from time to time—he was totally atheistic and quite contemptuous of the Church and religion in general.

Along with his temper, Hope carried an enormous amount of courage—all accounts remark his total lack of fear.  One of his fearless feats was long remembered in Blackburn; the article from the Blackburn Weekly Telegraph, 30 August 1902, also seems to have been written by Hope himself:

DOWNSTAIRS ON A BICYCLE

A Daring Feat at Blackburn

                Once upon a time a certain very daring young man issued a challenge to fate by riding down the steps of the Capitol at Washington.  He might have broken his neck, he might have barked his shins but he did neither.  He simply rode down the steps.  The story of his daring was wired the world over, his portrait appeared in the papers, the magazines treated his ride in progressive numbers—first step, second step, third step and so on—the nations gushed over him.

                In the natural order of things the feat should have been at once eclipsed by others still more daring and more wonderful—down the steps on one wheel, for example, down the steps backwards, down the steps in a millionth part of a second less time than no. 1, and so on, but no, nothing of the sort.  From that day to this he has reigned alone in all his glory—on the steps of the Capital.

                During the week however, Blackburn has produced a feat equally astonishing and equally daring—on all fours, in fact, with that of Washington.  And if the Washington hero was hoisted high on the pedestal of fame, why not also he of Blackburn?  Hence this article and hence this picture.

                During the summer months workmen have been busily engaged in improving the means of access to Revidge by the conversion of that old-time lovers’ lane, known to some as the Ginnell, to others as the Snickett, and in more recent times as Spion Kop, into a modern road to be known henceforth as Brantfell Road.  According to some authorities the town has one, or maybe two, hillside streets stepper than this one even, but the official mind holds a contrary view for it has ruled the Snickett, etc., too steep for ordinary treatment, and has turned it into a street of steps, the only one that Blackburn is able to boast.  Now the old narrow, limb-twisting lane lying at the bottom of a couple of ugly walls has been replaced by a wide road on which a series of steps has been laid—the said steps numbering sixty in all, each about a couple of feet in width.  On the Red Rake side a handsome wall, to be surmounted by iron railings, had been built, and as a protection to unwary drivers who might mistake the street for one of the common or garden variety, five iron posts have been implanted.  Don’t know why.  Perhaps it’s to keep the flies off.

                Now, although a cart or a carriage may not be squeezed between the posts, there is nothing on earth to prevent a bicycle being pedaled through.  Prudence would, of course, dictate a very wide detour in preference to a short cut down the steps, and ninety-nine men out of a hundred would vote such a ride a flat impossibility.  There are some men however, to whom fear is an unknown quantity and danger merely an element to be conquered, and one of these is Mr. W. H. Hodgson, the well-known professor of physical culture, who has this week cycled down the “steppy” precipice without breaking his neck.

                It was on Tuesday afternoon, and the workmen engaged in putting the finishing touches to the new thoroughfare were hard at work when Mr. Hodgson appeared on the scene and electrified them by dropping his well-braked free-wheel over the top step.  Breathlessly one and all watched him as he calmly hopped form ledge to ledge, every bound full of dire possibility.  Second followed second, the snap, the slip, the crash, fearfully looked for failed to come.  Mr. Hodgson’s guardian angel was on duty that day—and only a few more steps remained to be negotiated.

                At this point a touch of comedy was thrown into the scene.  Among the watchers was a good lady resident of the street, and just before the rider reached her dwelling she rushed out of her garden-gate, and with outstretched arms barred the path, exclaiming, “Here, this isn’t a road for carts and Bicycles”.  Her motive was not doubt good, but little did she realize how she was adding to the peril of the situation.  Happily Mr. Hodgson had is machine so completely under control that—most wonderful part of his performance—he had no difficulty in throwing himself from the saddle and landing on his feet.  This was on the 58th step, and having safely navigated the steep thus far Mr. Hodgson, determined not to be beaten, managed to mount again and proceed on his way rejoicing.

                Since then I have heard something of another attempt being projected, but it is to be hope that cycling “down the golden stairs” will not become one of the favored pastimes of Blackburn wheelers.  Else the corporation will surely have to be invited to equip the track with nets and all sorts of life-saving contrivances… And, of course, they will joyfully respond!

The Vagabond

[To be continued…]

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The Life of William Hope Hodgson, Part 2


One of the promo shots WHH did of himself for his "School of Physical Culture"

One of the promo shots WHH did of himself for his “School of Physical Culture”

Today we continue with the reprinting of R. Alain Everts biographical article about the life of William Hope Hodgson.  As mentioned in the last post, this comprehensive article has not been seen since the last reprint in 1987.  We are providing it here as a helping resource for those wanting to learn more about Hodgson’s life and, hopefully, wish to use it in their own research.

This particular portion contains some very sobering facts regarding the type of life that Hodgson’s family faced after the death of the Reverend Samuel Hodgson in 1892.  Except for some grammatical corrections, this article is being reprinted as it appeared in the 1987 Soft Books edition.

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

By R. Alain Everts

The Early Years, Part Two

In 1895, Hope qualified as a seaman, and shortly thereafter he became an office in the Merchant Marine.  At this time, he indulged in a lifelong hobby—photography—taking pictures not only aboard ship at sea, but also at home of his mother and brothers and sisters.  He also commences building his physique—this a lifelong interest to the remainder of his days.  As a friend reported:

When one day he saw the first mate knock down one of the crew, Hodgson, then senior ‘prentice, made up his mind that no man should do that to him without getting as good as he gave.  From that time onward he started training, and not only trained himself to become a first-rate boxer, but fired all of his junior ‘prentices to follow suit, so that the whole crowd were conspicuous for their physique and splendid general health.  To a landsman this many sound an easy thing to do; but to a sailorman it means much.  It means the sacrifice of much that makes life bearable on board.

During his service in the Merchant Marine, Hope sailed three times round the world, and between trips he continued his schooling—either attending the Blackburn technical school at this time, or later after his return from the sea, and meeting there his future wife, Bessie Farnworth, who sketched his face for the class—and once off Port Chalmers, New Zealand, Hope dived into the shark-infested sea in order to save a fellow sailor, on 28 March 1898.  The report to the Humane Society read:

Salvor:              William Hope Hodgson, Aged 20.

                        Ships Apprentice,

                        Henry Street,

                        Blackburn.

Saved:              A. Seaman.

                        6.30. pm. 28th.  March 1898

                        Port Chalmbers, New Zealand.

Summary:         The man fell overboard from a height of 120 feet 600 yards from shore, 50 feet deep strong current and water infested with sharks.  Hodgson jumped after him and with the aid of a life buoy held him up for 25 minutes till they were picked up by a bot.

Honorary Award:         Bronze Medal.

For this act of courage, Hope received a medal from the Royal Humane Society.  Mary recalls the police coming to the house and taking Hope away (around 1899), and the entire family was worried and puzzled, thinking Hope was in trouble. But no, it was to be presented the medallion of bronze from the society.  However, Hope’s mother and the remaining children were not having things quite so easy.  In early 1896, the destitute Mrs. Hodgson applied to the Clergy Orphan Corporation in London to try and obtain entry for her daughter Lissie—for at this period, any children of deceased cleargy could apply for free schooling at the Corporation equivalent of the High School and Junior High School years (in America).  Lissie not yet 10 years old, was attending a day school on London Road in Blackburn, several blocks from the Hodgson house.  It was on one of Hope’s leaves from the Merchant Marine that Mary recalls Hope walking the children home from the day school that Chris, Mary, Lissie, Bertha and Eunice were attending, through the Corporation Park and reciting the tale of the statue with the monster beneath it.  This scared the children so that they were never able to set foot in the park again—the story appeared later in The Strand Magazine entitled “The Goddess of Death”.  Chad, who had graduated from Westminster prior to his father’s death, entered the British Army in April 1895, much against his Mother’s wishes—he was soon to marry also against his mother’s wishes and was rarely ever seen again at home.  Hope of course was away to sea for many months at a time—while both Frank and Hillyard were attending the Orphan’s School which their mother had successfully enrolled them during 1893.

In January of 1896, Mrs. Hodgson had no income, and nothing had been left to her or to her family by her late husband.  She and the children were completely at the mercy of Church charity—the family had in fact been given several donations–£15.0.0. in 1886 and another £15.0.0. in 1893 from the Rochester Diocesan Society—while friends in Blackburn, at the death of Reverend Hodgson, collected £30.0.0. for her family.  Mrs. Hodgson’s brother, the Reverend T.L. Brown wrote to the clergy Orphan Corporation:

Dear Sir,

            Mrs. Hodgson is my sister, therefore I can speak with certain knowledge as to her circumstances.

            Mr. Hodgson left her without a penny – he was not assured – we have done what we can.  My mother is a widow – and I am married and therefore our means are small.  I paid my sister a visit a few hours last August and was appalled to see the struggle for the bare necessities of life for herself and the children remaining at home.  Out of nine there is not one bringing in a farthing towards their maintenance, there are the two lads in the C.O.S., a girl at Belper, one boy, apprenticed at sea and the eldest has enlisted in the Line—in a York regiment.  There are now the four younger ones at home.  She tells me she had not more than £25.0.0. per annum to live on.

            The case is a hard one and needs help, and if your committee can possibly see your way clear to accept the child, Lissie Sarah, as a candidate I think it will be a real charity.

And Mrs. Hodgson, who [was] by this time an ordained Deaconess—who did not preach, but rather administered to the poor—bringing them food and medicines, wrote from her new address of 16 Henry Street, on February 8, 1896:

Dear Sir,

            I am sorry your letter was not answered earlier.  I overworked and had to pay the penalty of doing the very least possible for a week or more.

            I did not see in the petition, any questions as to occupation or salary, I am sorry I omitted any answers I ought to have given.  And to answer is difficult and painful.  I am no in a situation: you will know how impossible it is for a gentlewoman between forty and fifty years of age, with a family of young children to get a situation.  Had my dear children been older I perhaps would have become matron in a School or Institution—but my precious children!  I would have just gone on from day to day, working away, doing my best, and trusting my heavenly Father’s promise to provide, and He has never let us want.  Friends kindly send me yard and old clothes, out of which I clothe the children and myself.  I sell what I do not use.  I buy articles wholesale, and retail them.  I make articles of clothing which I find a ready sale; I conduct meetings and have a class for women and girls to learn useful sewing.  It is impossible to say what my small earnings amount to—they vary much, and I have not time to keep a proper account.  Of course since last April I have found it harder, not having my eldest son’s wages, which were 17/- a week.  Our God very wonderfully undertook for us at Christmas and bought us through the extra expense of the dear boys home from Canterbury.  A friend paid their railway fares; another sent a load of coal,another a load of firewood, and ten dear friends sent money in sums from 3/- to £2.0.0.!! (in all nearly £10.0.0.), besides food.

            Forgive my troubling you with so much detail; but you will more clearly see my position.

            I daily praise God for His dear care in opening the doors of the C.O.S. to my boys.  I exult in it; for how otherwise could they have been educated!  If your committee are lead to alloy my little girl to become a candidate, my heart will indeed sing for joy.  She is the brightest of my four little girls, and I did so long for her to have an education.

            Pardon such a lengthy epistle.

 To be Continued in Part 3

[I do not know if Lissie was accepted into the C.O.S. but, based on these two letters, it would seem very likely.–Sam Gafford]

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The Life of William Hope Hodgson, Part 1


William Hope Hodgson

William Hope Hodgson

There has not been a great deal of biographical work done on the life of William Hope Hodgson.  In fact, there’s really only been three items of any merit.  There is the introduction by Sam Moskowitz to OUT OF THE STORM, Jane Frank’s introduction to THE WANDERING SOUL and a long article by R. Alain Everts.

Although the first two are relatively easy to come by, Everts’ article is not.

Originally published in two issues of the fanzine SHADOW in 1973, the article was later revised and reprinted as SOME FACTS IN THE CASE OF WILLIAM HOPE HODGSON: MASTER OF FANTASY (Strange Co., 1974 and later by Soft Books, 1987).  This article is important for several reasons: there is much biographical and genealogical data here as well as some family stories about Hodgson from his then remaining siblings.  Everts began his research in the 1960s when a few of Hodgson’s relatives were still alive and had access to many stories, memories and papers that no one else has had.

I am reprinting the version of the article from the Soft Book editions over the next few postings.  It is very likely that some will not appreciate my doing so but I believe it is important because the information contained herein deserves to be widely disseminated.  My copy of the Soft Books edition does not contain a copyright notice but it is not my intention to subvert or violate any copyright which, unless I hear otherwise, is the property of Everts.

Again, I reiterate that this blog makes me NO money.  I do not profit financially from it in any way, shape or form.  I am not seeking to make any compensation from this and request that, should anyone copy anything from these posts,  if re-posting or using for your own research, please credit Everts for the material.  Thank you.–Sam Gafford

PS–You will read in this section a VERY interesting comment that Everts makes regarding Hodgson and Machen.  All I can say on that is that I have been unable to independently verify this claim and would welcome input from anyone who can.  I am reprinting the essay as it appeared in the Soft Books version, starting with Everts own introduction.

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

By R. Alain Everts

This is not meant to be a critical evaluation of the works of W. Hope Hodgson, but primarily a brief account of his life, background, untimely death—excluding many details that I would have liked to include, due to bulk of material, time and other exigencies.  This essay was written with the generous cooperation of the divers Hodgson family members, who unhesitatingly opened their records and material to me for my use.  I am especially indebted to Chris and Mary—Hope’s last living brother and sister—and to D. Hope Waitt and Hope C. Hodgson and their families—nephews of W. Hope Hodgson, and his namesakes.  I am also more than indebted to the fine research ability of Mr. John Ringrose, one of the best and most patient scholars I have come across.

THE EARLY YEARS

William Hope Hodgson, who never in his brief lifetime shewed the slightest religious bent, and in fact, had, as his sister described him, “an extreme disinterest in religion” which caused him some friction with his mother, came from a very religious background.  William Hodgson, grandfather of the celebrated writer who received his name, was born in Sheffield, the family seat of his forebears, in the year 1812.  At his marriage on 30 May 1838, his trade was given as tailor and that of his father, also named William, as labourer.  His bride, Ann Gillott, age 22, was the daughter of John Gillott whose profession was cutter.

Their only child, Samuel Hodgson, was born on 7 October 1846 at 149 West Street, Sheffield, and his father’s occupation was listed as tailor and draper.  In 1852, William Hodgson and his family moved to 32 Fitzwilliam Street, and in 1859, William’s occupation was listed as scripture reader.  This was the beginning of his rise from the working class to position of gentleman.  In 1868, he and his family moved to Cobden View, Crooker and from 1875 until his death on 16 December 1900, William Hodgson was listed as Mr. William Hodgson, gentleman.

William Hope Hodgson’s father, an ascetic, pallid and sternly religious man, was sent to the Lichfield Theological College located in Lichfield, Staffordshire, where he matriculated in 1869.  Samuel Hodgson was ordained a deacon of the Anglo-Catholic Church of England on 25 December 1871—and in 1874, a Priest of the Anglican Church.  From his ordination, the Reverend Samuel Hodgson became a roving Evangelist—due more to his temper and his disagreements with his Bishop than to his religious zeal—holding the position of Curate at South Darley, Derbyshire from 1871-1873; at St. James in Wednesbury, Staffordshire for one year and on to Pattiswick in Essex for one year.  On 1 February 1875, in Wednesbury, Samuel Hodgson married Miss Lizzie Sarah Brown, who had been born on 11 February 1852 in Chepstow Monmouth in Gloucester, the only daughter of Burdett Lambton Brown, a well-to-do engineer and owner of an engineering  factory in Birmingham, and his wife, Elizabeth Mary (Brown) Brown.  Their daughter was given the finest education for this period, graduating from a finishing school in Brussels, Belgium.  Subsequently, the Reverend Hodgson and his wife were sent to St. james Church in Greenstead Green, Essex in 1876, and later that year transferred to the town of Wethersfield in Esex where the Reverend Hodgson was appointed Curate and Windsey Lecturer of the Wethersfield Church, from 1876 until April 1878—and it was here that his most gifted son was born.

William Hope Hodgson, who was always called “Hope” by the family, was born at St. Mary the Virgin, the Blackmore End District Church of the Parish of Wethersfield, in the adjoining house known as St. Mary’s, on 1 November 1877, one of twelve children born to the Reverend and Mrs. Hodgson.  Shortly after his birth, on December 2 1877, William Hope Hodgson was baptized by his father in the Wethersfield Church in Blackmore En where he had been born.  His elder brother, Samuel Lambton Chad Hodgson (9 March 1876—ca. 1916), and always called “Chad”, had preceded Hope by twenty month—and in between Chad and Hope, another brother, Lawrence Burdett Hodgson who died at 19 months.  Following Hope came two other brothers who died before age two—Herbert Arthur Hodgson (1879-1880) and Thomas Edward Raphael Hodgson (1880-1882).  The remaining children followed rapidly: Hillyard Charles Earle Hodgson (19 October 1881—ca. 1926) called “Hillyard”; Mary Ellen Elizabeth Hodgson (2 Aprill 1883) called “Mary” or “Pearl”; Francis Xavier Hodgson (29 april 1884-22 October 1942) called “Frank”; Mary Bertha Ann Hodgson (11 July 1995-28 March 1961) called “Bertha”; Lissie Sarah Hodgson (31 July 1886-4 May 1959) called “Lissie”; Sophia Beatrice Eunice Hodgson (27 October 1887-30 January 1962) called “Eunice”, and Christopher George Hodgson (30 June 1890) called “Chris”.

In one of those remarkable literary coincidences, “Chad” Hodgson earned the ire of the family by running off with a divorced woman, some years older than he was.  They had one child only, a daughter named Una Hope Hodgson, born in 1909 and who died in 1959.  She married on Arthur Hilary Blair Machen, the only son of author Arthur Machen, and had one daughter who today is astounded to learn that she is related by marriage to the two greatest British horror authors of all time.

Meanwhile, the family was traveling and this lack of stability no doubt put a terrible strain on Mrs. Hodgson and the children, for as the family grew larger quite quickly, the income of the Reverend remained small and the family was continually on the move.  The lack of secure roots must have affected the sensitive Hope quite early in his childhood, for he ran away from home several times before he was thirteen years old.  From 1878-1879, the Reverend Hodgson was stationed as Curate at St. John’s in MIddlesbrough in Yorkshire, and the period 1879-1882 found the family in Skegby, in Stanton Hill, Nottinghamshire.  The next five children were all born in or around London, in Kent and in Essex—the Reverend was living in Battersea, London in 1886 for one year as the Curate of St. Andrew’s.  In middle 1887, the Reverend Hodgson was sent as a missionary to the “heathen” Catholics in Ardrahan, County Galway, Eire, where the family remained until the end of 1889.  During their stay there, Lissie’s father, Burdett Lambton Brown, died a rather wealthy man on February 13, 1888, but apparently his widow received the entire estate of over £600.0.0  It was only at the death of William Hodgson that William Hope Hodgson’s family began to prosper, as the entire fortune of £1,222.0.0 was left to Hope’s mother.

One of Mary’s earliest recollections of her brother Hope is from this period—when the family was living at the Old Rectory in Ardrahan, which had a mile-long drive up to the house.  Hope was thrashed by his father for climbing tree3s, and he immediately went to the top of another tree and remained there for several days, being feed by servants.  Some unfortunate happenings finally forced the family to leave Ardrahan—for the Catholics resented the presence of Hodgson, and spurred on by the local Catholic leaders, the peasants threatened the family several times.  There was fear that the small children might be kidnapped by some of the locals, and one evening the Reverend Hodgson was struck seriously on the head by an anonymously tossed rock—while the orchards of the estate were stripped at the order of the local Catholic hierarchy.

At this period, Hope, who had been attending the new school in Margate during the years 1885-1889, spent the holidays with his family, and the above incident showed that he was all ready somewhat temperamental and unruly, and with his father, rebellious and disobedient.  Even at this early age, Hope expressed a desire to run away to sea and become a sailor, completely against the wishes of his father.  In 1890, the family moved back to England and settled in Blackburn where the Reverend Hodgson was Curate at All Saints Church—and the family moved into the Fraser Villa at 42 Longshaw Street.  Hope returned to the new school and matriculated, but the friction between himself and his father increased, culminating finally in late 1891 when Hope ran away for good.  With the assistance of his Uncle, the Reverend Thomas Lumsdon Brown (11 April 1859-5 October 1948), who paid the boy’s expenses and accompanied him to Liverpool where Hope indentured himself on 28 August 1891—apprenticing himself to Master W. W. Nelson, of the firm of Shaw and Savill for four years as a seaman in the Merchant Marine.  Although barely 14 years old, the mature and sturdily build youngster gave his age as the minimum 15 years old in order to be accepted.  Back in Blackburn, in May, 1892, Hope’s parents opened the Gospel and Salvation Mission together with Mrs. Hodgson assisting her husband’s priestly duties—in fact after his death she was to become an ordained Deaconess.  About this same time, a cancerous irritation on the neck of the Reverend Hodgson became malignant, perhaps inflamed by years of wearing the stiff and uncomfortable “dog collar”, and he died on 11 November 1892, only 46 years of age.

(To Be Continued in Part 2)

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