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William Hope Hodgson (1877-1918)

William Hope Hodgson (1877-1918)

I’m happy to announce that Phillip Ellis and I are collaborating on assembling the first ever COMPLETE POETRY OF WILLIAM HOPE HODGSON!  This will include the entire contents of the two volumes of verse posthumously published by WHH’s widow in 1920 as well as the poems which Jane Frank published in her collection, THE LOST POETRY OF WILLIAM HOPE HODGSON (2005).

Together, these collections present the entirety of Hodgson’s poetry. Never before has this material been available in one edition! Due to the scarcity of the 1920 volumes, many have never seen these poems before. Jane Frank has kindly given her permission to the reprinting of the material that had been in the Sam Moskowitz collection which only appeared previously in her 2005 anthology.

In addition, this book will contain all of the known criticism about Hodgson’s poetry. The ground-breaking articles by Phillip Ellis and Jane Frank will be reprinted as well as new material and introduction.

Work is continuing on the design and layout of the book and I am hopeful for a November, 2014, release!  Keep watching this space for updates!




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Contemporary Reviews of WHH

We are still finding examples of contemporary reviews of Hodgson’s work.  Many of WHH’s books were widely reviewed and it is likely that we will continue to find new examples of this for some time.  Thanks to our intrepid researcher, Phillip A. Ellis, we now have two more reviews to add to the list.  Phillip contacted me regarding these items and has graciously allowed us to reprint them here with some of his comments.

Phillip states that…

“The first item comes from Robert Barr, from a column, “The Idler’s Club”, in The Idler; this particular item has the subtitle “Ghosts, and that Sort of Thing”. Barr (321-322) discusses The Ghost Pirates in the last section of this column, under the further subheading “A Creepy Ghost Book”; it goes:

“I happened the other day upon a recently-published book which seems to have gained certain favourable notices. It is written by William Hope Hodgson, and issued by Stanley Paul and Co. My attention was drawn to the book because it possesses a frontispiece by that greatest of the world’s weird artists, Sidney H. Sime. I know of no other artist so capable of illustrating a creepy ghost story as Sime, and if this book should ever become “popular,” I hope the publisher will be enterprising enough to issue an edition de luxe with pictures galore by Sime. Such a volume would be a unique possession.

“The Ghost Pirates” is its title, and I see by the preface that this book is the last of three, all of which, I take it, deal with the supernatural. I must confess that I have not yet seen the first two books, which are called respectively “The Boats of Glen Carrig,” and “The House on the Borderland.” I intend to read these two, and then, perhaps, I shall be sufficiently equipped to express an opinion upon the last one, for although I have read it from beginning to end, I admit I don’t know what to say about it.

“It is a rather ignorant sailor who tells the story, so the somewhat commonplace diction with which it begins should not be held against the author. This sailor joins a ship at San Francisco and sails away. Gradually you gain the impression that there is something indefinably wrong with the ship; tantalising shadows flit about, and one is exasperated that nothing tangible happens. I began to come to the conclusion that this was a most commonplace book; the sailors appeared to be an uninteresting lot; also it seems unnecessarily profane here and there, but I am told that sailors at sea are not very choice with their language.

“By-and-bye, however, I was compelled to admit that the characters were pretty well differentiated; the second mate particularly began to stand out, although his name was never mentioned, so far as I can remember.

 “Trouble begins after a fortnight out, and it happens during the watch between eight and twelve at night:–


“It was nothing less than the form of a man stepping inboard over the starboard rail, a little abaft the main rigging. I stood up, and caught at the handrail, and stared.

 “The thing, whatever it was, had disappeared into the shadows at the lee side of the deck.”


“I will not attempt to tell the story, but these slimy, Sime-y things, sometimes visible to one and not to the rest, began to permeate the ship, and get into the rigging, with the result that death in various forms picked off one member after another of the crew. Just imagine a dark night, and the upper rigging of a ship cluttered with mucilaginous beings, evolved out of the fearsome inner consciousness of Sidney H. Sime: objects that editors shudder at, and dare not print, and you begin to have some idea of the state of things on board the ship that left ‘Frisco.

 “The book repelled me continually, yet I continued reading it, and at night, when I went to sleep, I experienced the worst nightmare I have had since I was a boy. These creatures of cold glue stuck to me, and I could not shake them off. I think “The Ghost Pirates” is a horrible book, and I don’t know whether to recommend it to the gentle reader or not; neither can I make up my mind whether or not it is a notable piece of work. I hope to come to a conclusion when I have read the other two volumes.


“The second item is part of a portmandeau review by Francis Bickley, in The Bookman. Under the title “Magic, Symbol and Philosophy”, it includes a single paragraph on The Voice of the Ocean; the relevant passage (96) reads:


“With Mr. Hope Hodgson we are in another world, the serious Victorian world of philosophical problems stated in verse. He reminds one of Tennyson and John Davidson. In “The Voice of the Ocean” the sea holds converse, with various souls in trouble, and has much to say on the large questions of God, life and death. The poem does not escape banality, and once or twice comes perilously near the ludicrous, but it has dignity and an intention which merits respect.”


These are part of a larger article from Phillip A. Ellis which will be published in the forthcoming issue of SARGASSO.




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“After SARGASSO” by Phillip A. Ellis

Today, guest blogger Phillip A. Ellis talks about a few of his ideas regarding upcoming WHH projects. Give it a read and let him know what you think!

After Sargasso

Having received my contributor copy of Sargasso 1:1, I now find
that my thoughts are turning to what I will be writing next about the
poetry of William Hope Hodgson. I already have one item in an inchoate
stage, about The Voice of the Ocean, and I have fleeting ideas
for more.

I wanted to talk about two of my projected items, and to solicit your
feedback on them. I know that not many of us are interested in the poetry,
for whatever reasons. I won’t be discussing why this is, only noting it in

But… what would you say if there were a single, collected edition of the
poems of William Hope Hodgson? What I am thinking of is a single book,
with all of the extant poems, and with notes on where they have appeared,
and on features of note within them.

There isn’t much scope for notes about what has been written concerning
them: too little has; but I am interested in getting an affordable, easily
obtainable edition out there that can be used by readers and collectors.

After I have done that, what I want to do is as follows: using the texts
of the collected edition, I plan on compiling a concordance of the poetry.
That means that we would be able to study the language more carefully,
noting significant words and images, and where they appear.

So: what do you think and/or feel about both proposals? Do either or both
interest you? Would you use one or both of them? Feel free to leave your
comments below….


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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



“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


“In Memory of Hope” by Phillip A. Ellis

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


“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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A Note On The Future of Hodgson Studies

My good buddy, Philip Ellis, sends along this great op-ed piece.  He says a lot of what I’ve been saying for awhile and I hope that we can inspire others to take up the banner.  Because, in truth, it’ll take more than just one or two of us to truly bring about a Hodgson revival.


by Phillip A. Ellis

It’s up to us!

I have been thinking a number of things, most of which involve either
Hodgson’s poetry or the study of Hodgson’s poetry. Yes, as Sam Gafford has
written, “There hasn’t been a great deal written about William Hope
Hodgson’s poetry.” That’s from the exact opening of Beyond the
Dawning: The Poems of William Hope Hodgson, at the top of page three.
Part of me wants more of that writing about the poetry, as it does about
the poetry of other work I enjoy or admire.

I realized early on that, if I want that sort of material, I had best be
prepared to write it myself. This is why I write guest blogs here, about
the poetry. And it is why I have also written about it for
Sargasso. Yet that’s not enough for me; I want more.

This is why I decided to write this particular guest post. If you want to
read about Hodgson, or Machen, or Lovecraft, or Derleth or whoever, it’s
up to you to do so. If we all waited for other people to write what we
want to read, nothing will get written at all. We would have the desire,
but not the fulfillment.

This is why I’d like you to consider supporting places like
Sargasso by writing the analyses of the fiction (and the poetry)
that only you can write. And the more we write and read, the more we
participate in the critical dialogue around us, the more we find to read
and enjoy, and even respond to.

Now, I’m going to make an illustration of this, but with an example about
Lovecraft. Don Burleson once had a piece on Lovecraft’s “Mirage”
published. I’ve read it, and I wanted a reply to it; and I have done so.
My piece has yet to be published, but I am working on that, and what
matters is that I took the first step of writing what I wanted to read.

Quite often, you’ll find others wanting to read the same things.

Note: Beyond the Dawning: The Poems of William Hope Hodgson was
edited by our Sam Gafford, illustrated by Ken Alves, and published by
Hobgoblin Press in Bristol, RI, in 1995.

<Note from editor:  I’d like to add to Phillip’s post by stating that this blog is always open to article submissions about Hodgson.  The more people who are writing about Hodgson, the more people who will read him and want to write about Hodgson themselves.>

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Where next?

The study of the life and work of William Hope Hodgson (1877-1918) has been making great strides lately.  I’d like to think that this blog might be one of the reasons for this increased interest.  Whatever the cause, Hodgson is getting some more attention and this will only increase later this year with the publication of the first issue of SARGASSO: JOURNAL OF WILLIAM HOPE HODGSON studies.  We have already received several important contributions discussing WHH’s poetry, characters and even the legendary ‘writing log’ WHH kept.  As we move forward, I think it’s important to identify and illuminate some of the areas that need more attention.

1. Biography

We still know very little about Hodgson the man.  We can state that WHH was in certain places at certain times and did certain things but we know little about who he was or what he thought.  As I’ve said before, we have very little of his personal letters to study.  Reminiscences of WHH are also in short supply.  We can theorize and guess the type of fellow he was and his thoughts and ideas but, in the end, these are just educated guesses.  More than anything, I would love to see more researchers trying to piece together this puzzle.  I send out a call for researchers and archivists to search out more biographical information.  Perhaps a worldwide search (of libraries, universities, collections) will yield more letters and memos.  I would happily self-publish a volume of Hodgson’s letters IF I had enough to publish!

2. Hodgson’s other characters

Everyone knows Carnacki but Hodgson’s other characters such as Captain Gault, Captain Jat and others have been virtually ignored.  Thanks to Mark Valentine, the first issue of SARGASSO will include an article on Captain Gault which will hopefully open up this field.  I truly feel that, in order to understand a writer, we have to consider their entire output and not just those things we like and enjoy.

3.  Hodgson’s poetry

Hodgson considered poetry a major part of his life and yet the study of this has been severely limited.  Again, the first issue of SARGASSO will contain a major study of WHH’s poetry by Phillip Ellis but this is a framework upon which much more work needs to be done.  To correctly criticize poetry, to me, requires as poetic a soul as the poet themselves.

4. Hodgson’s influence

One of the ways to prove the value of a writer is to examine how they have influenced others who have come after them.  Virtually no work has been done in this area.  Surely there is much to be said?

These are merely a few areas that I believe we need to focus on as we strive to bring Hodgson to both a wider audience and a deeper critical appreciation.  This blog is meant to be an area for the sharing of such information and work.  Please take advantage of it and help us advance the cause of Hodgsonian Studies!


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An Early Poetry Review

As with any author, it is important to understand how Hodgson was received and reviewed by his contemporaries.  There are several very enthusiastic reviews of WHH’s novels but, given the scarcity of his poetry, very little  in that regard.  In fact, there are only two known contemporary reviews of Hodgson’s poetry that are known to exist.  This is, of course, marginal because the reviews are both of THE CALLING OF THE SEA which was not published until 1920, two years after Hodgson’s death.

In any event, the following is a review which appeared in the May, 1920, issue of The Bookman which was edited by WHH’s good friend, A. St. John Adcock.  Although unsigned, there is a good chance that Adcock wrote the review himself.  The review attempts to place Hodgson within the field of poetry by considering his unique voice and experiences.

Hope Hodgson’s Poems*

It is strange that such an essentially seafaring people as the English, who have produced so many great poets, have produced so few who have written great poetry of the sea, and that most even of those few have been landsmen. However beautifully the landsman may write about it, there is usually something lacking from his verse, for it needs a sailor who has known the sea long and intimately in all its moods to interpret it aright. There are finer things in Swinburne’s and Tennyson’s sea pictures than any you will find in Falconer’s rather wooden “Shipwreck,” but Falconer was a sailor, and his “Shipwreck” has survived for a century and a half because he had heard the voice of the storm when the black night and the tumultuous waves were all about him; he had been wrecked and had seen his comrades swept overboard and struggling till they were ruthlessly drawn down into the endless waste of waters; and he has put his personal experiences into his verse, what he actually saw and heard and thought and suffered, with a simple realism that makes it alive and vivid in spite of its crudities.

That realistic truthfulness is the outstanding quality in Hope Hodgson’s poems. He died, a soldier, on the fields of France; and for some ten years before the war he had lived by his pen and won a considerable reputation as a novelist; but for eight years before that he had followed the sea and gave his heart to it, and its influence is over all the best of his work. Most of his novels and short stories drew their inspiration from it, but the eeriness, the mystery, the cruelty and terror of it appealed to him more potently than did its quieter, happier aspects. He was keenly susceptible to its wonder and its beauty, but for him the wonder and the beauty often had a suggestion of something sinister underlying them. It is so in his tales, and it is so in these poems. This consistency is the natural result of his sincerity, and it is the note of sincerity that gives his poems much of their forcefulness. His passion for the sea was no pose but a real and deep emotion, as spontaneous as the verse he wrote about it. There is a bizarre imaginative power in such a blend of fantasy and realism as “The Place of Storms”; his descriptive pieces, such as “Storm,” “The Ship,” “Down the Long Coasts,” are etched effectively in vigorous black-and-white. He reached a higher level in his prose, but he was a true poet as he is a true novelist of the sea.

There is an excellent frontispiece portrait, and an introduction in which Mr. St. John Adcock gives some personal recollections and a character sketch of the author.

*”The Calling of the Sea.” By W. Hope Hodgson. Introduction by A. St.
John Adcock. 2s. 6d. net. (Selwyn & Blount.)

–[Unsigned.] “Hope Hodgson’s Poems.” Bookman (London) 344 (May 1920): 81.

(Many thanks to Phillip Ellis for putting on the trail of this item and transcribing it for the blog!)

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An Addendum to Hodgson Poetry Checklist

Today we bring you an addendum to the Hodgson Poetry Checklist (originally posted here).  This also comes courtesy of our friend, Phillip A. Ellis, who is doing outstanding work already on Hodgson’s poetry.

An Addendum to the Checklist of William

Hope Hodgson’s Poetry

I’ve only just come across another set of appearances of William Hope
Hodgson’s poetry, ones that I had missed earlier. I have owned the book in
question for a while, but had not had the chance to inspect its contents
until this afternoon (my time) whereupon I noted the four following poems.


Cover to the volume of Hodgson poetry edited by Jane Frank.

Cover to the volume of Hodgson poetry edited by Jane Frank.

20: “Farewell”

b. Douglas A. Anderson (ed.), Adrift on the Haunted Sea: The Best Short
Stories of William Hope Hodgson (Cold Spring Harbour : Cold Spring Press,
2005): 241.

23: “Grey Seas Are

Dreaming of My Death”
g. Douglas A. Anderson (ed.), Adrift on the Haunted Sea: The Best Short
Stories of William Hope Hodgson (Cold Spring Harbour : Cold Spring Press,
2005): 25-26.

63: “The Place of Storms”
e. Douglas A. Anderson (ed.), Adrift on the Haunted Sea: The Best Short
Stories of William Hope Hodgson (Cold Spring Harbour : Cold Spring Press,
2005): 117-124.

63: “Thou Living Sea”
e. Douglas A. Anderson (ed.), Adrift on the Haunted Sea: The Best Short
Stories of William Hope Hodgson (Cold Spring Harbour : Cold Spring Press,
2005): 198-199.

(Editor’s Note–Hodgson’s poetry is one of the great, unexamined aspects of Hodgson’s writings.  Part of that was due to the fact that he actually published only a couple of poems during his lifetime (outside of the ones he included in the novels) and no collection of his poetry appeared until after his death when his widow arranged for two slim volumes to be published.

Some of Hodgson’s poetry is, quite simply, just not that good.  But in others, his vision shines through the limitations of the materials.  Very little critical attention has been paid to Hodgson’s poetry and we are indebted to researchers like Phillip A. Ellis who are undertaking this work.  I look forward to sharing more of Mr. Ellis’ expeditions into this dark, unknown world.–Sam Gafford)


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“The Voice of the Ocean” and Hodgson’s Novels: Is There a Link? by Phillip A. Ellis

Today, I’d like to present a guest blog from our good friend and poet, Phillip A. Ellis.  This is an especially interesting article and I feel that Ellis presents many good points here that should be considered.  When it comes to poetry, I have very little critical experience (well, none, really), so I am happy to defer to Ellis in these matters.  As little critical work as has been done on Hodgson’s fiction, even less attention has been given to his poetry.  Thankfully, we’re able to start correcting that error with this intriguing essay.

“The Voice of the Ocean” and Hodgson’s Novels: Is there a Link?

by Phillip A. Ellis

William Hope Hodgson’s The Night Land and The House on the Borderland are his most sustained explorations of cosmicism.  This same cosmicism is absent from the vast majority of his short stories, the best of which share an emphasis upon the ocean as a locus of horror with his other two novels. Question is, is any of this shared with his poetry?

While a certain amount of Hodgson’s poetry does deal with the ocean, most of it does not do so in respect to the weird. The chief exception, the most notable exception, is “The Voice of the Ocean”, and this poem ties together both the cosmicism and the sea motif. And it has a strong bearing on the cosmicism of both the two novels already named.

Briefly, in “The Voice of the Ocean” the poet records a dialogue between the ocean and a number of sleeping souls. The cosmic element enters the poem early on, where the ocean describes the state of the world prior to the emergence of humanity. This is the passage that begins “Listen, and ye shall learn!–” and that ends with the
following lines:

“Thus was creation now achieved, and so,

In his right time, man was evolved, and grew

Into his present shape, with underneath

His heavier flesh, a soul such as was born

In that supremely distant time, when man,

As ye now know him, was undreamt of earth!”

The rest of the poem deals with the dialogue, first with the sleepingsouls, and finally with the poet. The motif and theme that dominates this dialogue concerns the fate of the soul, whether it is damned, and for what, and its final disposition.

Throughout the poem, there are variations on the following:

”Poor child! Hast thou e’er thought upon thy death

As a cessation from the joys of earth?

Then know that every death thou diest leads on

To a much fuller life, including all

That thou hast thought and lived in those before.

And as a fuller life implies more power

To live, to understand, to suffer pain,

So may’st thou comprehend that on each life

Shall stand thy cause to suffer pain or joy

When the Last Life be reached, and thou shalt live

In culmination of all joy and grief

That thou hast ever known in all thy lives.

This passage reminds me of the central conceit of The Night Land: there, the narrator is vouchsafed a vision of the future, where he and his beloved are united through the quest of the hero, so that what he narrates is a story of one such “Last Life.”

This means that “The Voice of the Ocean” unites both bodies of novels, as well as the shorter, sea-based fiction, and it leads further support to a reading of what seems to be a central tenet of Hodgson’s worldview. And it shows that there is that unity, which has been hardly remarked upon.

I will now argue that, if we are to look at Hodgson’s worldview, we can no longer ignore the poetry. Especially since so much of it has not been written in order to make a living, so that it serves as a means to self-expression precisely amenable to conveying aspects of that worldview.


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