Tag Archives: Carnacki

A Plethora of Hodgson


As it’s Hodgson’s birthday week, I’d like to remind everyone of the WHH related books I currently have available. (I will be doing a post later this week of non-Gafford Hodgson books as well!)

As previously reported, the second issue of SARGASSO: The Journal of William Hope Hodgson Studies is now available. It contains essays, fiction, art and poetry about and inspired by Hodgson. There’s a lot of great stuff here and I think that Mark Valentine’s photo-essay about Borth is one of the major highlights of the issue. You can order it here: http://www.amazon.com/Sargasso-Journal-William-Hodgson-Studies/dp/0692323325/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1415724226&sr=8-1&keywords=sam+gafford

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It is also available in Kindle.

The first issue of SARGASSO is currently available in Kindle here: http://www.amazon.com/Sargasso-Sam-Gafford-ebook/dp/B00G7WH5JE/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1415724226&sr=8-3&keywords=sam+gafford

sargasso cover

I am currently considering doing a second edition of this first issue which would be available through Amazon. The first issue only had a print run of 100 copies and has been sold out for some time. If you’d be interested in this reprint, please let me know by leaving a comment below.

The all-new anthology, CARNACKI: THE NEW ADVENTURES is also still available through Amazon! This collection holds new stories about everyone’s favorite Ghost-Finder by writers such as William Meikle, Amy Marshall, Josh Reynolds, Jim Beard, Buck Weiss and more! This book can be ordered here: http://www.amazon.com/Carnacki-The-Adventures-Sam-Gafford/dp/0615943004/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1415724226&sr=8-4

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Lastly, a collection of my essays about Hodgson including many of the posts from this blog is still available. I selected these to give new readers an introduction to Hodgson and his work. It is available here: http://www.amazon.com/Hodgson-Collection-Essays-Sam-Gafford/dp/0615858724/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1415724226&sr=8-5&keywords=sam+gafford

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Your patronage is deeply and humbly appreciated. Sales from these books will help fund my future publications including THE COMPLETE POETRY OF WILLIAM HOPE HODGSON, CARNACKI: THE LOST TALES and THE COMPLETE CARNACKI. Thank you for your continued support. Together we help keep WHH’s memory and work alive.

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Carnacki in Sweden!


9789163732386From good friend Martin Andersson comes news that a new edition of CARNACKI, THE GHOST FINDER appeared in Sweden last year.  It was published by GML Forlag which is apparently a small press over there.  You can check it out and order it here:
http://www.gmlforlag.se/p/alla-bocker-sorterade-pa-titel/carnacki-spokdetektiven.html

The brief description translates as:

This book contains six fictional stories about spökdetektiven Thomas Carnacki, written by author William Hope Hodgson (1877-1918); short stories set in a gasupplyst, Edwardian England, and in which Carnacki solves mysteries and fights demons and monsters from an unseen world with the help of, among other things holy water, hårcirklar, the unknown grimoire of Sigsand and an electric pentacle.

My guess is that “spökdetektiven” means “ghost detective” or some such derivation.  I’ve no idea what “hårcirklar” means.

Proving once again that Hodgson and Carnacki have world wide appeal!  This is great to see and stay tuned for some exciting news about upcoming WHH and Carnacki publications that I hope to announce very soon.

 

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Carnacki’s “Lost” cases


carnackipaperback2Hodgson’s Carnacki owes much to the immortal Sherlock Holmes.  I’d venture to say that if there had been no Sherlock Holmes, there would have been no Carnacki.  Often, Carnacki’s detective skills are overshadowed by the occult nature of his cases but astute readers will see that he employs many of the techniques of the ‘great detective’.  One bit of borrowed style is the off-hand mention of ‘lost’ or ‘untold’ tales.  Doyle’s stories are full of tantalizing titles like “The Giant Rat of Sumatra” so it’s no surprise that Carnacki’s tales are as well!

During the nine original stories of Carnacki by Hodgson, the following cases are mentioned:

“The Black Veil”

“The Noving Fur Case”

“The Steeple Monster Case”

“The Buzzing Case”

“The ‘Grey Dog’ Case”

“The Yellow Finger Experiments”

“The Grunting Man Case”

“The Nodding Door Case”

“The Three Straw Plates”

“The Dark Light Case”

In “The Horse of the Invisible”, Carnacki mentions a case involving a “child’s hand patting the floor” but gives no title for the incident.  Likewise, in “The Searcher of the End House”, he references a case involving a client named “Maaethson” but no further particulars.

What could these enigmatic cases be about and why are there no records of them?

Many later writers attempted to bring to life those cases that Holmes mentioned only briefly so maybe it’s time for new writers to finally tell these ‘lost’ tales?  Perhaps some already are!

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A Review of CARNACKI: THE NEW ADVENTURES


Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00067]S.T. Joshi has kindly sent me a copy of his review of CARNACKI: THE NEW ADVENTURES which will be appearing in an upcoming issue of DEAD RECKONINGS from Hippocampus Press.  It is a very favorable review and S.T. says many nice things about the various contributions in the book.  Coming from S.T. Joshi, it is great praise indeed!

Here is a brief excerpt from the review:

Carnacki, the Ghost-Finder (1913) is far from being William Hope Hodgson’s best book, but it has emerged as one of his most popular. Perhaps this is not surprising. Although the short novel The House on the Borderland (1908) is perhaps Hodgson’s signature work, with its unforgettable central section depicting the narrator’s drifting through spectacular cosmic vistas of space and time, Carnacki has the appeal of a charismatic recurring character and exemplifies the provocative fusion of two seemingly disparate genres—the supernatural tale and the detective story. It may be true that Hodgson deliberately catered to popular taste in his creation of the occult detective Thomas Carnacki—he published the first Carnacki tales in the Idler in 1910, only two years after Algernon Blackwood’s John Silence—Physician Extraordinary reached the bestseller lists—and it may also be true that some of Carnacki’s bag of occult contrivances (such as the Electric Pentacle and the Saaamaaa Ritual) are almost self-parodically comical; but it is equally true that no one, to my knowledge, has written John Silence pastiches, whereas the book under review is only the latest contribution to a growing body of new Thomas Carnacki adventures.

I will advise when the review is published.  By that time, the 2nd edition of the book will be available so this seems as good a time as any to remind everyone that the 1st edition will be removed from Amazon tomorrow (4/15/14) so if you haven’t gotten a copy and want one of the soon to be scarce first edition, you have about 24 hours to order one!

 

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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 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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CARNACKI Play Update!


We’ll be returning to more of our reprint of R. Alain Everts’ biographical article on WHH but we received word about the stage play based on Carnacki that recently premiered in London.

SONY DSCThis is from an email from creator M. J. Starling:

Thanks again for posting about Audience with the Ghost Finder. I thought you might be interested to know how the premiere went.
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The premiere took place on 8 May. After three performances, tickets were selling so well that the producers, Blackshaw Theatre (www.blackshawonline.com) decided to add an extra performance to the original run of five. The sixth and final night, on 17 May, was completely sold out – standing room only.
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Considering this was my first play, the reviews have been better than I could have hoped:
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Lauren Mooney, A Younger Theatre: “having been raised on a diet of  ’70s sci-fi and TV repeats of The Devil Rides Out, I had a whale of a time” http://www.ayoungertheatre.com/review-london-pride-and-audience-with-the-ghost-finder/
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Deborah Klayman, The Public Reviews: ★★★★ “brilliantly written … Alexander Pankhurst’s Carnacki is intriguing and terribly funny all at once” http://www.thepublicreviews.com/london-pride-audience-with-the-ghost-finder-the-selkirk-upstairs-london/
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Helen Gush, stage2page: “Double Thumbs Up … the audience are an integral part of the superstitious geometric symmetry, forming a protective circle around the two actors … Alexander Pankhurst is an excellent fit for Carnacki – very British, clipped, poised but with an edge of eccentricity … fun mystery” http://stage2page.wordpress.com/2013/05/10/double-thumbs-up-for-blackshaws-double-bill/
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Christianna Mason, What’s Peen Seen?: 4/5 “a great new play … highly recommended” http://whatspeenseen.co.uk/reviews/a-theatrical-double-bill-london-pride-audience-with-the-ghost-finder-review/
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Not bad for Carnacki’s first time treading the boards! And nothing’s confirmed, so I can’t do much more than hint, but the show was well enough received that I’m now looking at ways to bring it to a wider audience.
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There are loads of backstage and production photos on Blackshaw’s blog: www.blackshawonline.com/blog
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Congratulations to everyone involved in the play.  Let’s hope that it becomes so successful that it eventually jumps the pond over here so that we Hodgson-deprived Americans can see it!

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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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