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100!!!!!!


100posts11This marks the 100th posting on the William Hope Hodgson Blog!

Back when I started this blog, several people questioned if there would be enough material to keep it going.  It wasn’t an entirely unjustified question.  After all, Hodgson doesn’t have as much devoted to him as, say, Lovecraft does.  But I felt that, whatever material I did have was important enough to present.

WHHHodgson is kind of the underdog in weird literature.  Doesn’t get a lot of press.  Guillermo del Toro isn’t lining up to direct a move based on THE NIGHT LAND.  There isn’t a convention devoted to Hodgson taking place in Blackburn.  There aren’t even any comic books doing “Hodgsonian” tales.

When I was a small press publisher back in the 1990s, I had a table at a local convention/show where I was selling my Hodgson reprints as well as a couple of Machen books and others.  The convention’s GOH was Neil Gaiman who was kind enough to stop by the table and talk a bit.  We chatted about Machen for a few minutes and gave him complimentary copies of my Machen books but, when I tried to interest him in the Hodgson, he wasn’t biting.  He just wasn’t all that keen on WHH…even when I was trying to give him FREE copies.  I’ve gotten that reaction a lot.

I guess that kind of stuck with me over the years as an example of Hodgson being the “Rodney Dangerfield” of weird fiction.  “He don’t get no respect!”

Through the years, that has always been one of the driving forces behind my efforts.  I want Hodgson to get more respect both from the readers and the literary circles.  WHH will never reach the stature of a Poe or Lovecraft (nor would even I say he deserves to be elevated so far) but there is much in WHH to enjoy and study.

This staged photo of WHH at a ship's wheel was used in his lectures about life at sea.

This staged photo of WHH at a ship’s wheel was used in his lectures about life at sea.

That was one of the reasons why I started this blog because there was no place on the internet to get a lot of this information.  You might get a bit here and there but it wasn’t centralized.  I wanted there to be a place where everyone could come to get old and new material and find out what’s going on in the world of Hodgson.

I hope that I have succeeded in that endeavor.

As we enter 2013, there are already new things in store for Hodgson and his fans.  Some new books are scheduled to come out and WHH is finally getting some of that critical attention that has been denied him for so long.

Hopefully, this year will see the publication of a new collection of Hodgson criticism and studies edited by Massimo Berruti and published by Hippocampus Press called VOICES FROM THE BORDERLAND.  It is an anthology of some old pieces and a lot of new ones as well.  I am happy to say that I will be represented in this volume by several articles and am honored to be included.

One of the most important items in VOICES FROM THE BORDERLAND will hopefully be the long-awaited Hodgson Bibliography which S. T. Joshi, Mike Ashley and I have been working on for well over 10 years now.  It is already over 100 pages long and covers international appearances as well as English.  It has been an invaluable resource in my own work and I look forward to sharing it with others.

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.

Already this year we have seen a new paperback of Hodgson stories from Night Shade Books called THE GHOST PIRATES AND OTHERS edited by Jeremy Lassen.  This has marked the first appearance by WHH in an inexpensive, mass produced paperback in several years.  Hodgson also was mentioned in S.T. Joshi’s two volume history of weird literature; UNUTTERABLE HORROR.

Later this year, Centipede Press will be releasing a collection of Hodgson stories compiled by S. T. Joshi.  I do not know the full contents of this book yet but I do know that it will contain the text of the original edition of THE HOUSE ON THE BORDERLAND.  Unfortunately, given the tendency of Centipede Press to produce expensive items, I fear it will not be cheap but I am sure that it will be a very attractively pro1 sargassoduced book.

In addition, 2013 will see the first issue of SARGASSO: The Journal of William Hope Hodgson Studies.  This will be a yearly publication highlighting new articles about Hodgson as well as Hodgson inspired art and stories.  I’ve already gotten a number of submissions and am expecting new articles by some of the biggest names in Hodgson criticism.

carnackiAnother project which I’m putting together is a special, 100th anniversary edition of CARNACKI.  This will be a deluxe edition, reprinting the original texts along with annotations.  With luck, I hope to have it available by November.  Going along with that, I would like to announce a collection of all-new Carnacki tales!  I’m opening this up to submissions today, with this post, in the hopes that everyone will spread the word!  I am looking for new tales of Carnacki in the Hodgson tradition so I encourage all of our writers out there to submit a story.  Details are still being negotiated so keep watching the blog for more announcements.

Already I am looking forward to the future.  Within the last 20 years, Hodgson has made great strides in critical and reader popularity.  Virtually all of his major fiction is now available either through e-books, print-on-demand or free online sites.  The next steps are to increase availability of his poetry and non-fiction so that, for new readers, everything is available.  This is a major difference from just a few years ago when it was difficult to easily find even Hodgson’s novels.  Today, we can state that Hodgson is better known and read than ever before.

William Hope Hodgson (1877-1918)

William Hope Hodgson (1877-1918)

And there is still so much more to learn!  Genealogy research has barely been touched and there is a great need for more study about Hodgson’s own life, opinions and beliefs.  Plus Hodgson has suffered from one major disadvantage: there has yet to be a full, book-length critical study of his works.  I hope to change this in the future.

It’s been a great 100 posts and I hope everyone will still around for the next 100!!

(I’d like to thank everyone who has helped with this blog over the last 100 posts.  I could not have done it without your overwhelming support and I humbly thank you all.  Whether you have contributed materials, shared knowledge, spread the word or just read the blog regularly, you are why I keep going and posting week after week.  I may be the person behind the blog but it is really for all of you.)

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An Index to the Blog!


I love indexes!  They’re just such wonderfully marvelous things!  One of the very first things I usually do when I get a new book is to flip to the back and check out the index and bibliography.  If I like them, I know I’ll like the book!

Given that this blog has now had 65 posts (believe it or not!), there are probably a lot of people who are just now discovering it and want to read more but who wants to wade through 65 posts looking for something?  Well, fear not, true believer! (I grew up on Stan Lee comics obviously.)  What follows is a clickable index of all of the posts so that you can jump to any of them from here.

I’ve also organized them by subjects so you can easily find more of what you’re interested in.

HODGSON’S LIFE

“A Life on the Borderland”

“Smile for the Camera, William Hope Hodgson”

“The Man Who Saved Hodgson”

“Sail on One of Hodgson’s Ships!”

“Meet Mrs. Hodgson!”

“William Hope Hodgson, This is Your Life!”

“A Hodgson Mystery”

“The Kernahan Letters, Part One”

“The Kernahan Letters, Part Two”

“The Kernahan Letters, Part Three”

“The Kernahan Letters, Part Four”

“The Kernahan Letters, Part Five”

“Hodgson Memorial”

“HPL & WHH”

“Mr. Hodgson, Second Mate”

“A Medal for Hodgson”

HODGSON’S FICTION

“Hodgson’s First Story”

“From the Tideless Sea”

“More News from the Homebird”

“The Baumoff Explosive”

“The Voice in the Night”

HODGSON’S NON-FICTION, POETRY, ETC.

“Physical Culture: A Talk with an Expert”

“Why Am I Not At Sea?”

“The Calling of the Sea”

HODGSON CRITICISM

“Hodgson’s Publishing History”

“Writing Backwards: The Novels of William Hope Hodgson”

“A Brief History of Hodgson Studies”

“The First Literary Copernicus”

“WHH: Master of the Weird and Fantastic by H.C. Koenig”

“The Weird Work of William Hope Hodgson by H. P. Lovecraft”

“In Appreciation of William Hope Hodgson by Clark Ashton Smith”

“William Hope Hodgson by August Derleth”

“The Poetry of William Hope Hodgson by E. A. Edkins”

“William Hope Hodgson and the Detective Story by Ellery Queen”

“WHH: Writer of Supernatural Horror by Fritz Leiber, Jr.”

“An Appreciation”

“A NIGHT LAND Review”

“A Biographical Item”

HODGSON TEXTS AND MEDIA

“Free Hodgson”

“What’s That I Hear?”

“William Hope Hodgson and Arkham House”

“MATANGO!!!!”

“Canacki on the TV!”

“Hodgson on the Web!”

MISC.

“The Dreamer in the Night Land”

“My First Hodgson”

“Updates”

“A Borderland Gallery”

“Why Carnacki?”

“E. A. Edkins and some Updates!”

“New Sargasso Sea Story”

“The REAL Sargasso Sea”

“A Carnacki Gallery”

“The Derelict of Death by Ford and Clark”

“The House on the Borderland by Corben and Revelstroke”

“Why I’m doing this…”

“Sign Here, Please”

“Announcing SARGASSO!!!”

“Updates and New Poll”

“A Curious Matter of Books”

“A Hodgson Parody”

“Odds and Ends”

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WHH: Master of the Weird and Fantastic by H.C. Koenig


In June, 1944, the very first publication that collected articles about William Hope Hodgson appeared.  It was THE READER AND COLLECTOR, Vol. 3, No. 3, and was produced by legendary collector H.C. Koenig.  A member of the Fantasy Amateur Press Association and the National Amateur Press Associate, THE READER AND COLLECTOR was Koenig’s contribution and was published occasionally.

In this particular issue, Koenig collected a series of essays about Hodgson and introduced many readers to this then ‘unknown’ writer.  These seven articles (by a variety of writers including H. P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, Ellery Queen and Fritz Leiber) have rarely been seen since 1944.  Through the generosity of Gene Biancheri (son-in-law of the late HCK) I have obtained a photocopy of this rare publication.  Over the next few weeks, I will be reprinting these essays which, for many of them, will be their first reprinting in over 60 years.

The first article in this publication is an introduction by H. C. Koenig himself.  In it, he explains how he came to discover Hodgson and why he became such a champion of WHH’s work.  Informative and entertaining, Koenig’s love for the material shines through.  In transcribing this article, I have retained Koenig’s original typing style (which is why there are so many italics throughout) so that the essay is presented the same way that Koenig presented it in 1944.  Incidentally, the footnotes shown here were actually indicated with astericks in the original publication.  Because of the formatting difficulties with blogs, I have changed them to footnotes instead.

Enjoy!–Sam Gafford

William Hope Hodgson:
Master of the Weird and Fantastic

By H. C. Koenig

In 1931 Faber and Faber published an anthology of ghost stories under the title, “They Walk Again.”  The tales were selected by Colin de la Mare.  Most of the stories included in this splendid anthology were by well-known writers such as Blackwood, Dunsany and Bierce.  Many of them were familiar to the inveterate reader of ghost stories – “The Monkey’s Paw”, “Green Tea”, and “The Ghost Ship.”  However, one new story was included in the book; one comparatively new name was included in the list of authors.  The story was “The Voice in the Night”, a horrifying and yet pathetic tale of human beings turned into fungoid growths; the author was William Hope Hodgson.

Who was William Hope Hodgson?  I had a vague recollection of some short stories in old pulp magazines.  I dimly remembered a book of short stories about a ghost detective.  That was all.  But, it was sufficient to start me on the trail of one on the great masters of the weird story.  Letters to various readers and collectors of fantasy in this country produced negligible results.  Except for one or two of the older readers of weird stories, the name of Hodgson meant nothing.

I consulted Edith Birkhead’s excellent study of the growth of supernatural fiction in English literature, “The Tale of Terror” (1921) in an effort to get some information about Hodgson and his writings.  I found references to Pain, Jacobs, Le Fanu, Stoker, Marsh, Rohmer and a host of other writers of weird tales—but no mention of Hodgson.  I searched through H. P. Lovecraft’s informative essay “Supernatural Horror in Literature” (in its original form)1 without success.  Hundreds of titles were covered.  Among them I found “Seaton’s Aunt”, “The Smoking Leg”, “The Dark Chamber”, “A Visitor from Down Under” and many other tales—unfamiliar and unfamiliar.  But not a single one of Hodgson’s stories was discussed—or even mentioned.  I paged through numerous anthologies—by Bohyn Lynch, Dashiell Hammett, Dorothy Sayers, Montague Summers, T. Everett Harre and Harrison Dale—but the name of Hodgson was conspicuous in its absence.  Then followed a period of time during which I traced him through innumerable bookstores in EnglandPercy Muir of Elkin Matthews, London, took an interest in my search and obtained several of Hodgson’s first editions for me.  He also put me in touch with Dennis Wheatley, the writer of English thrillers and an admirer and collector of Hodgson.  As a result of these contacts, I learned the Hodgson had written a number of stories which compared very favorably with any of our modern weird stories; tales which ranked high in the fantasy field and which deserved far more popularity and publicity than they had ever received.

Hodgson was the son of an Essex clergyman.  He left home as a youngster and spent eight years at sea.  During that time he voyaged around the world three times, visiting all sorts of places.  Incidentally, he received the Royal Humane Society’s medal for saving a life at sea.  For some time before the World War he and his wife lived in the south of France.  When war broke out he returned to England (at the age of 40) and was granted a commission in the 171st Brigade of Royal Field Artillery.  Two years later, in 1917, he went to France with his battery and was soon in the thick of the fight; his Brigade doing splendid work at Ypres.  At the time the Germans made their great attack, in April, 1918, he with a few other brother officers and non-commissioned officers successfully stemmed the rush of an overwhelming number of the enemy.  Shortly thereafter, Hodgson volunteered for the dangerous duty of observation office of the Brigade.  On his first missions, he was killed by a shell.  And thus, a most promising literary career came to an abrupt ending.

I never could understand why his work was so little known to the general public.  It was curious and unfortunate that he had become so engulfed in oblivion.  And so, I started my campaign to obtain recognition for Hodgson in this country.  For over ten years I have preached the gospel of William Hope Hodgson; by word of mouth, by letters and in articles.  For years I have circulated my little collection of Hodgson’s first editions all over the country.  California to Rhode Island, Oregon to Florida,Wisconsin to South Carolina.  To readers and writers and editors.  Year after year I have kept up the campaign.  Slowly but surely I began to get results.  Hodgson’s name began to appear in the amateur fantasy magazines.  Requests for Hodgson’s stories began to creep into the readers columns of the professional magazines.  And, requests for a loan of Hodgson books began to multiply.  Then came the break for which I was waiting patiently.  An appeal for Hodgson’s stories came from Miss Gnaedinger of Famous Fantastic Mysteries.  A copy of “The Ghost Pirates” and several short stories were soon in her hands.  Then followed months of anxious waiting.  Copyrights had to be settled.  Mrs. Hodgson had to be located, a far from easy matter.  A splendid cover, illustrating one of Hodgson’s novels, and painted by Lawrence was being held, pending the settlement of copyrights.  Unfortunately, due to the long period of delay, this illustration was never used in Famous Fantastic Mysteries.2  I had just about given up hope when Mrs. Hodgson was located and the copyright obstacles were removed.  Then, in the December, 1943 issue of Famous Fantastic Mysteries, Miss Gnaedinger published Hodgson’s short story “The Derelict”.  This was followed by the novel “The Ghost Pirates” (cut by 10,000 words) in the March, 1944 number.

I am extremely grateful to Miss Gnaedinger and her associates for taking the lead in reprinting some of Hodgson’s stories.  But, I am not so easily satisfied.  I will not rest content until I have seen every one of his books reprinted in some book or magazine in this country.  Until that time comes, however, we will have to be content with those of his books which we are able to locate in the second-hand book shops.  (It is not an easy matter.)  A complete list of Hodgson’s books may be of some assistance to the weird fan.  For the benefit of the collector I am also giving the name of the publisher and the date of publications.

  1. “The Boats of the Glen Carrig”, a novel published by Chapman & Hall, 1907.
  2. “The House on the Borderland”, a novel published by Chapman & Hall, 1908.
  3. “The Ghost Pirates”, a novel published by Stanley Paul, 1909.
  4. “The Nightland”, a novel published by Everley Nash, 1912.
  5. “Carnacki, the Ghost Finder”, short stories, published by Everley Nash, 1913.
  6. “Men of the Deep Waters”, short stories, copyrighted in U.S.A., 1906, first English edition published by Everley Nash, 1914.
  7. “The Luck of the Strong”, short stories, copyrighted in the U.S.A., 1912, first published by Everley Nash in England, 1916.
  8. “Captain Gault”, short stories, copyrighted in the U.S.A., 1914, first English edition published by Everley Nash, 1917.
  9. “The Voice of the Ocean”, poems, published by Selwyn Blount, 1921.
  10. “The Calling of the Sea”, poems, published by Selwyn Blount, no date

As indicated earlier in this article, one of his short stories, “A Voice in the Night” will be found in Colin de la Mare’s collection of ghost stories “They Walk Again” published by Faber and Faber in 1931.  And, Dennis Wheatley included three of Hodgson’s short stories in his splendid collection of horror tales, “A Century of Horror Stories” published by Hutchinson & Co.  The titles were “The Island of the Ud” from “The Luck of the Strong”; “The Whistling Room” from “Carnacki, the Ghost Finder”; and “The Derelict” from “Men of Deep Waters”.

The first three books listed above in the short bibliography form (in Hodgson’s words), “What perhaps may be termed a trilogy; for though very different in scope, each of the three books deals with certain conceptions that have an elemental kinship.”  A few chapter headings will give some idea of the treat in store for fantasy fans fortunate enough to locate these three books—“The Thing that Made Search”, “The Island in the Weed”, “The Noise in the Valley”, “The Weed Men”, “The Thing in the Pit”, “The Swine Things”, etc.

“The Night Land” is one of the longest fantastic romances ever written, running close to six hundred pages.  It is a story of the world in the future when the sun has died and the “Last Millions” are living in a large redoubt, a huge pyramid of gray metal nearly eight miles high and five miles around the base.  Beyond the pyramid were mighty races of terrible creatures, half-beast and half-man, night hounds, monstrous slugs and other horrible monsters.  As a protection against all these evils a great electric circle was put about the pyramid and lit from the Earth Current.  It bounded the pyramid for a mile on each side and none of the monsters were able to cross it due to a subtle vibration which affected their brains.

“Carnacki, the Ghost Finder” is a series of six short ghost stories in which Carnacki investigates ghostly phenomena in various homes.  One or two of the tales are somewhat weakened by a natural explanation of the ghosts, but each of the stories is well worth reading.

Hodgson’s tales may well have served as source books for many of the stories now being read in our present day pulp magazines.  The whole range of weird and fantastic plots appears to have been covered in his books—pig-men, elementals, human trees, ghosts, sea of weeds, thought-transference, intelligent slugs, and in “The Night Land” the men are equipped with a hand weapon called a Diskos.  This consists of a disk of gray metal which spins in the end of a metal rod, is charged from earth currents and capable of cutting people in two.

To me, Hodgson will always be remembered as one of the great masters of the weird and fantastic.  And I, for one, will always be grateful for the slim list of books he left behind him.

Notes

  1. First appeared in W. P. Cook’s magazine The Recluse (1927).  After having Hodgson’s novels called to his attention, Lovecraft revised the essay.  The article, in its final form may be found in the Arkham House book “The Outsider”.
  2. The Illustration by Lawrence eventually appeared on the cover of the April 1943 issue of 10-Story Mystery Magazine.

Acknowledgements

The above article was based to some extent on two shorter articles which appeared in “The Fantasy Fan” (December 1934) and “The Phantagraph” (January, 1937).

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