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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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The Life of William Hope Hodgson–Part 7


We come now to an interesting part of Hodgson’s life as chronicled by R. Alain Everts: his marriage.  WHH did not marry until 1913 when he was 35 years old and his new bride was the same age.  This would be somewhat unusual at that time and raises more questions than it answers.  Was there something about Hodgson that did not make him good ‘marriage material’?  We will probably never know but this portion of the essay does give us much to consider.

(As always, this article is being reprinted for the sake of encouraging and promoting knowledge and scholarship about WHH.  No copyright infringement is implied or intended.)

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

by R. Alain Everts

Mrs. Bessie Hodgson, wife of William Hope Hodgson.  Date undetermined.

Mrs. Bessie Hodgson, wife of William Hope Hodgson. Date undetermined.

MARRIAGE

In London, Hope moved in literary circles, and he either met or looked up one of his old acquaintances from Technical School days–the plain looking Bessie Gertrude Farnworth (called “Betty” by everyone).  She was one of the editors of “Woman’s Weekly”, Northcliffe Press, when Hope met and married her in London–Hope of course was quite popular with women–who found him attractive, witty and sociable–but his major drawbacks were his fits of temper, and like all of the Hodgson boys, he was spoiled.  In any case, they met and fell in love– up until now Hope had declined marriage with several girls due to his precarious financial state, now somewhat stabilized by his out-put of sea stories.

Bessie G. Farnworth was one of several children of Richard Dobson Farnworth of Cheadle Hulme–and her family was stalked by tragedy–one boy had been drowned in a foot of water in a freak accident crossing the heath; another brother, Gilbert K. Farnworth was killed in action in 1915; while the father was injured fatally trying to repair the roof of the house.  The final tragedy in the Franworth family was the tragic and premature death of Hope. However, when they married on 26 February, 1913 in the borough of Kensington in London, Hope and Betty were expecting a long and happy life together.  They were both 35 years old–Betty was born in Cheadle Hulme on 14 November 1877 and had attended Blackburn High School where Hope’s brothers and sisters also studied; and later the Technical School.  After they married, Betty gave up her post with “Woman’s Weekly”, and the two newlyweds traveled to the south of France where Hope planned to settle and to continue with his writing career.

About March 1913 they moved to France where they planned to live permanently–the inexpensive and healthy life on the Mediterranean attracted the Hodgson pair.  They arrive in Sanary, a small vacation resort town, 40 miles east of Marseilles.  Here was the ideal spot for Hope and Betty to settle for peace, quiet, love and creativity.  Shortly after arriving, Hope wrote to his sister Mary in Canada–

Mary Dear,

How the years have passed.  It must be four or five since last I had a letter from you, or you one from me.  Thank you, dear old Girl, for your kind wishes for Betty and me.  Betty is one of the Farnworth girls, who used to sketch me at the Technical School.  We met again in Town; and now she’s Mrs. Hope.  We are the same age, only a day between us.  She is not at all good-looking; but we are very happy.  I gave her your love, and she sends love to you and yours.  How are you?  You will be glad to know my new book has gone into a second edition.  Give all kind wishes to your husband from me.  So much love to you and the kidds (sic).

Your bruder (sic) Hope.

Villa Mimosas, Sanary, Var, May 1913

The bride and groom stayed at the villa “Les Mimosas” located at the foot of the hill which stood the Church Notre Dame de Pitie–only a few hundred feet from the port of Sanary and the downtown area–directly in front of the villa was the Mediterranean across the literal roadside–and a short walk from the front door was the Grande Jetee of Sanary. Truely this was paradise.

The Hodgson’s stayed at the villa Mimosa for less than a year, moving up the beach road to another and very similar villa called Chalet Mathilde, where they also rented an entire floor.

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The Life of William Hope Hodgson–Part 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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The Life of William Hope Hodgson, Part 2


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

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

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

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

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

By R. Alain Everts

The Early Years, Part Two

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

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

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

Salvor:              William Hope Hodgson, Aged 20.

                        Ships Apprentice,

                        Henry Street,

                        Blackburn.

Saved:              A. Seaman.

                        6.30. pm. 28th.  March 1898

                        Port Chalmbers, New Zealand.

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

Honorary Award:         Bronze Medal.

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

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

Dear Sir,

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

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

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

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

Dear Sir,

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

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

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

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

            Pardon such a lengthy epistle.

 To be Continued in Part 3

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

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The Life of William Hope Hodgson, Part 1


William Hope Hodgson

William Hope Hodgson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By R. Alain Everts

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

THE EARLY YEARS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(To Be Continued in Part 2)

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ATTENTION ALL SCHOLARS!!!!


scholarFor some time now, I’ve wondered if there might be little caches of Hodgson letters squirreled about in various libraries and universities and the like.  So, I am issuing the call to all those readers of this blog to help me find them!

Seriously, the cause of Hodgson research and criticism has long suffered from a lack of primary sources such as letters and the such.  We need to find out if there are any out there which are available for scholars and historians to use.  This is a project that will benefit everyone looking to do research on/about Hodgson and those who want to read it!  And we’re not just looking for letters that Hodgson may have written but those by his family, friends, etc.

Please use all your resources.  Check everywhere you can!  Post your findings here in the comments section.  I will take all of them (hopefully, there will be some) and create a new page here on the blog listing these resources and those scholars who brought it to my attention.

The only collection I am aware of is the letters that form part of a collection at the Harry Ransom center at the University of Texas at Austin.  Anything else is fair game.

So, as Carnacki would say at the end of a story, “out you go!”

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Which Version?


$T2eC16dHJH!FFmCFbbkdBRjB)YgfUg~~60_35I was getting ready to buy a new edition of THE NIGHT LAND the other day when an upsetting paragraph caught my attention:

“HiLoBooks’ edition of his novel omits two sections which have until now prevented it from reaching a wider audience: the tale’s romantic prefatory conceit and its lengthy, relatively uneventful denouement. Our otherwise unabridged version begins and ends with the most dramatic moments in this epic tale: chapters Two and Eleven.”

This disturbs me.

I don’t like having my books ‘edited’ for me.  That is, texts that have been altered, cut, reordered or changed from the original published version.  If the author releases a new, “unexpurgated” version, then that is something different.  The author themselves are saying, “This was cut from the original publication” or “I re-wrote parts to make it better”.  That’s the author making those changes and, by and large, I agree with their ability to do so even if I don’t necessarily support it (I’ve never read the “unedited” version of Stephen King’s THE STAND, for example, because the thought of going through all those pages again makes me weary).

But this is something different.  This is an editor, or publisher saying, “we don’t think this part worked so we’re taking it out.”  Well, to me, that’s not their call to make.  The work should stand on it’s own; warts and all.  I want to read the original version the way it first appeared and decide for myself what works and what doesn’t.

THE NIGHT LAND seems to be particularly prone to this hazard.  Due to it’s length and odd style, some editors have chosen to remove whole chapters from the reprints.  Lin Carter did it for the Ballantine Adult Fantasy edition of THE NIGHT LAND (July 1972) which still took up two paperback volumes and it appears that some publishers are still doing it today.

Nor is this Hodgson’s only work to suffer from some of this ‘editing’.

Some reprints of THE HOUSE ON THE BORDERLAND remove the first chapter which describes the finding of the manuscript or the author’s introduction.  The removal of either, to me, is a mistake as they provide invaluable context for the story.   Some editions delete the poems “Grief” and “Shoon of the Dead” altogether.

THE GHOST PIRATES has a different problem in that, apparently, it had a different ending originally!  Before the first publication in 1909, Hodgson removed the final chapter and tried, unsuccessfully, to sell it as a short story.  I would consider any edition published today to be incomplete without this extra chapter titled, “The Silent Ship Tells ‘How Jessop Was Picked Up'”.  And, of course, the poem that begins the novel, “The Hell!! Oo!! Shanty”, is sometimes omitted.

Only THE BOATS OF THE “GLEN CARRIG” seem saved from this posthumous editing as I have not seen any variations in the editions.

All of which is a warning to the reader to be careful when they buy lest they end up purchasing an ‘edited’ version by mistake.  Enough time has gone by and there is really no reason for any of Hodgson’s works to not appear complete and unedited.

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UPDATE: Carnacki, The New Adventures!


CARNACKI copy

 

We’re quickly reaching the deadline for submissions for our new anthology, CARNACKI: THE NEW ADVENTURES!  The deadline is May 1, 2013 and we’ve gotten some great submissions already but we’re looking for more!  So I’m reprinting the info from the original post and asking everyone to spread the word far and wide!

At last it can be told!

An anthology of all-new stories about Carnacki, the Ghost-Finder is NOW OPEN FOR SUBMISSIONS!

Later this year, to coincide with the first issue of SARGASSO (The Journal of Hodgson Studies), I will be publishing an all new collection of Carnacki stories and I am currently looking for submissions!

Carnacki remains one of Hodgson’s most popular creations with not only new stories about the character appearing but he has been included in comic books as well as novels from other writers.  I’m looking for a fresh crop of writers to tackle the stories of this intrepid Ghost-Hunter!

So here’s the details: stories should be between 3,000-6,000 words (anything longer, please query first); stories should feature Carnacki in some aspect; no explicit gore, violence or sex, please; payment will be in 2 contributors copies; DEADLINE for submissions is May 1, 2013 so, yes, this will be closing quickly.

CARNACKI: THE NEW ADVENTURES is planned for an August, 2013, release at the Necronomicon convention in Providence, RI.

Send your submissions (or questions) to me at: lordshazam@yahoo.com with the tag CARNACKI SUBMISSION in the subject line.

I look forward to reading all of these great new Carnacki stories and presenting to everyone an exciting new collection of tales about this timeless character.  Get your submissions in early!  William Meikle already did!

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Foreign Hodgson


S. T. Joshi and I began to compile a bibliography for William Hope Hodgson quite a few years ago.  I can’t testify as to exactly how long ago but I am sure we started before the current Millennium.  At first, our main goal was to see if we could find any stories or articles that might have been forgotten over time.  We did find a lot of material (most of which has been published in one form or another since) but one of the things that surprised me the most was how widely Hodgson had been translated into foreign languages.  I really had no idea that his work had spread so widely over the world.

Those translations have continued to grow to the point where the bibliography now lists 17 different languages.  Some are quite surprising so I thought I’d share the results of that research (to this point) with the readers of this blog.

  1. Czech–1 Book
  2. Danish–1 Book
  3. Dutch–2 Books, 3 Shorter Works
  4. Estonian–1 Book
  5. Finnish–1 Book, 4 Shorter Works
  6. French–11 Books, 9 Shorter Works
  7. Galician–1 Book
  8. German–7 Books, 16 Shorter Works
  9. Greek–2 Books
  10. Italian–9 Books, 32 Shorter Works
  11. Japanese–6 Books, 1 Shorter Works
  12. Norwegian–1 Shorter Works
  13. Polish–2 Books
  14. Romanian–2 Books
  15. Russian–1 Shorter Works
  16. Spanish–20 Books, 4 Shorter Works
  17. Swedish–3 Books, 18 Shorter Works

Several things become evident when we consider this list.  First, the Spanish lead the Book translations with “20” followed by Italian in a distant second with “9”.  Second, Italian leads the Shorter Works translations with “32” with the Swedish translations in second with only “18”.  It is interesting to note that the Italian translations are so strong in the Shorter Works but not as much in Book translations.

Several languages have only “1” Book translation and no translations of Shorter Works including Czech, Danish, Estonian and Galician.  Clearly some work needs to be done in this area.  And, yet, some languages (Finnish, German, Norwegian and Russian) and have more Shorter Work translations than Book translations.

If anyone has more examples of Hodgson’s translated appearances, please feel free to share them with us!

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