Tag Archives: The Voice in the Night

A Plethora of Hodgson


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

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

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It is also available in Kindle.

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

sargasso cover

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

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

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

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

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The Life of William Hope Hodgson–Part 8


Today we present the final part of R. Alain Everts essay about the life of William Hope Hodgson.  This section deals with WHH’s service in WWI and death.  It is probably the most heartbreaking part of the entire essay as it recalls WHH’s service, death and aftermath.  What is curious, to me, is WHH’s mother’s letter to her daughter (WHH’s sister) announcing his death.  Full of heartache though it is, not once is WHH’s widow mentioned.  I have often wondered about the relationship between Hodgson’s wife and family and, if this is anything to go on, it was obviously a strained one.  Consider also that his widow soon went back to her own family after his death rather than staying with his.  Still, upon Betty’s death, she did give WHH’s sister, Lissie, control over Hodgson’s literary estate.  So, in the end, like all family relationships, it was complicated.

(I thank you for reading these parts and hope that the essay has interested you and will spur further debate and research into Hodgson’s life.–Sam Gafford)

awhhSOME FACTS IN THE CASE OF WILLIAM HOPE HODGSON:

MASTER OF PHANTASY

by R. Alain Everts

At the beginning of World War I, Hope and Betty were still living in Sanary.  In Europe, though, war clouds were gathering and finally on 28 June 1914, Archduke Francis Ferdinand was assassinated at Sarajevo, followed on 28 July by a declaration of war—Austro-Hungary against Serbia, Germany against Russia on 1 August and against France on 3 August—and the following day, England declared war on Germany.

Hope hastened back to London shortly after being witness to the arrival of the first Indian contingent in France—Betty went off to Borth to stay with Lissie and Mrs. Hodgson.  In London, Hope joined the Officer Training Corps of the University of London.  In July 1915 William Hope Hodgson, athletic but ageing, was commissioned to the rank of Lieutenant at the age of 37 years, 8 months, in the 171st Battery of the Royal Field Artillery, part of the New Army Division.  Hope was sent to Salisbury Plain for maneuvering with large field pieces, and to train soldiers in the handling of the horses trained to pull field pieces.  In June of 1916, Hope, an excellent horseman, was thrown accidentally from his horse and suffered a broken jaw and concussion, resulting in his being gazetted out of the army’s R.F.A.—and he was sent home to Borth to be with his family and Betty.

He slowly mended and finally recovered—but for the rest of his brief life, he would suffer slightly from the effects of the concussion—and most likely his disorientation contributed to his tragic death.  Hope had wanted very much to accompany his division to France.  Attempting to re-enlist for active duty, he finally did succeed in passing the medical board, and on 18 March 1917, while the 171st fought at Ypres, Hope was recommissioned into the R.F.A., part of the 11th Brigade, and he first saw action at Ypres in October of 1917.

The year 1917 was called “The Year of Confusion”—and justly so—the terrible price of the war had decimated most of Europe.

According to the War Diary of the 84th Batter (1914-1919) Lt. W. Hope Hodgson, a subaltern, joined the 84th on 10 October 1917.  That day the Battery had just captured Steenbeke, Poelcapelle and Widjen, and had that day relieved a forward battery south of Rugby Dump.

On 12 March, 1918 the Brigade took over positions at Brombeck, and on 20 March, sustained heavy gas shelling and high velocity shelling at the Tourelle Crossroads nearby.  On 30 March, they were relieved by Belgian Artillery, and on 2 April the Battery marched to the Ploegsteert area to relieve Australian Artillery.  This was to be the scene of the final act of Hodgson’s valiant life.

The Battery took a position at Le Touquet Berthe.  The Front was quite silent for a time—and for the first time there were no casualties in action.  On 9 March the Germans attacked south of the Armentieres and penetrated allied lines for some distance and forced the British to move further north from Steenbeke.  On the dawn of the follwing day, the Battery had undergone heavy night shelling and all communications were cut.  The Germans advanced and the front section of the Battery had to retreat, leaving behind their guns, which they blew up.  The Germans circled behind Hope’s Batter and approached to within 200 yards forcing the whole detachment to fall back.

On the day of 10 April 1918, the Germans launched a big attach, and apparently this put Hodgson in hospital briefly.  On the night of 16 April the Battery withdrew, and a Forward Observation Post was set up.  The man who volunteered for the Forward Observing Office the next day—17 April—on Mont Kemmel, was none other than W. Hope Hodgson.  The details surrounding the tragic death of Hope can now be clarified after nearly 55 years—and in clarifying them some errors regarding his death have been corrected.  His Commanding Officer filled in the details—on Thursday, 18 April, he sent Hodgson with another N.C.O. on Forward Observation.  On 19 April, Hope was heard from once and then there was silence from him for the remainder of the day.  That day, 19 April, William Hope Hodgson was reported missing in action to his C.O.  The following day, under continuous fire, the C.O. went to check himself to determine the fate of his F.O.O.’s.  He eventually found a French officer who showed him a helmet with the name Lt. W. Hope Hodgson on it—and reported that a British Artillery Officer and a Signaler had suffered a direct hit by a German artillery shell on 19 April and had both been blown nearly completely apart.  What little remained was buried on the spot—at the foot of the eastern slop of Mont Kemmel in Belgium.  During this period, the C.O. was under continuous fire, and upon his return to base, he confirmed the death of Lt. W. Hope Hodgson, and it was entered on 23 April.  The official report was forwarded to England, and most likely it specified that Hodgson was killed the previous week, since it was recorded on the official register in London, and the death certificate rolls, as 17 April.  On 24 April the Germans attacked the right flank of the 84th Battery and the following day they launched another large attack.  During all this confusion, it is not difficult to see how an error came to be made.  In fact the C.O.’s memory for details after 55 years proves to be quite accurate, for on 17 April, no F.O.O.’s were sent out according to the official diary of the Brigade.

Hope’s Commanding Officer telegraphed directly to Hope’s mother in Borth, and she wrote instantly to Mary in Canada—

Lisswood, 2 May,

            My precious child, you must be brave as we are trying to be, But oh, we are heartbroken—my dearly beloved Hope, I cannot soften it, dearest, is dead.  He was killed by a shell on April 17th, a week after he did so marvelously what I told you he did in the last (letter).  You must be brave, my darling.  Lissie is suffering dreadfully as you will know—she has had so much to do for and with him.  Write her a word of comfort.

                        Your loving, heartbroken Mother.

                                    I wish I could have written more.

The London Times on that date simply reported—

Second Lieutenant W. Hope Hodgson, RFA, killed in action on April 17, was the second son of the late Rev. Samuel Hodgson, and the author of “The Boats of the ‘Glen Carrig’”, “The Night Land”, “Men of the Deep Waters” and other books.  His early days were spent in the merchant service, where he gathered his material for many of his thrilling sea stories.  He was a notable athlete, a fine boxer, a strong swimmer, and an all-round good sportsman.  He was awarded the Royal Humane Society’s medal for saving life at sea.  At the outbreak of the war Lieutenant Hodgson was living in Sanary, on the south coast of France.  He returned to England, joined the University of London Officer Training Corps. and got his commission in the RFA in 1915.  As the result of a serious accident in camp, he was gazetted out of the Army in 1916; but he never rested until he passed the medical board as fit, and obtained another commission in March 1917, in the RFA.  He saw much active service round Ypres during last October.

His Commanding Officer writes:–

“I cannot express my deep sympathy for you in your great bereavement.  I feel it most terribly myself, and so do all the other officers and men of the battery.  He was the life and soul of the mess—always so willing and cherry.  Of his courage I can give no praise that is high enough.  He was always volunteering for any dangerous duty, and it was owing to his entire lack of fear that he probably met his death on April 17.  He had performed wonders of gallantry only a few days before, and it is a miracle that he survived that day.  I myself am deeply grieved, having lost a real, true friend and a splendid officer.”

Hope’s obituary notices appeared in many newspapers throughout the world—among them The Cambrian News; The Writer (Boston), which stated “He had a large reading public in America, and many of his short stories were published in the principle magazines of both America and England”; The Dominion (New Zealand); The Boston Evening Transcript; The Daily Dispatch; The Blackburn Weekly Telegraph, and others too numerous to mention.

Thus did die one of the finest and most extraordinary authors in the genre of the phantasy novel and the short story of horror.  Thus did William Hope Hodgson join the ranks of the fine authors slaughtered in World War I: Saki (H.H. Munro), Isaac Rosenberg, Wilfred Owen, Charles Hamilton Sorley, Edward Thomas and many others.  On the Tyne Cot Memorial in the British cemetery at Passchenacle, mid-way between Ypres and Roulers in Belgium is graven, “Hodgson—11 Army Brigade, RFA, Killed on April 17, 1918, age 40.”

After the tragedy and the War, Hope’s mother and Lissie continued to reside in Broth, until the former’s death at age 81 on 25 April, 1933—long an invalid due to heart trouble and minor strokes, an illness that seemed to be inherent in the Hodgson family. This early hereditary incapacitation due to heart trouble of mainly the male members of the family seems to have spared Hope who was cut down before he could live to suffer the fate of most of his brothers.

Betty returned to her people in Cheshire and on 23 July 1943, she passed away at the home of her sister, not quite 65 years old, of a brain tumor.  Chad had possibly been killed in World War I—in any case he dropped totally from sight, as did Hillyard, who disappeared in Australia during the 1920s.  Save for Lissie, who died in Barnstaple, Devonshire, on 9 May 1959, the remaining family members lived in America and Canada and there they died, far from England’s soil, as their brother had died.

***

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The Life of William Hope Hodgson–Part 7


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

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

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

by R. Alain Everts

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

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

MARRIAGE

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

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

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

Mary Dear,

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

Your bruder (sic) Hope.

Villa Mimosas, Sanary, Var, May 1913

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

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

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The Life of William Hope Hodgson–Part 6


Here is the 6th part of our reprinting of R. Alain Everts’ biographical article about William Hope Hodgson.  In this section, Everts talks about WHH’s continuing attempts to become a successful author and his eventual disappointments.

We now commonly accept that the bulk of WHH’s best fiction was written early in his writing career.  We see here that the reason he did not continue in this vein was because of the poor sales of his work.  Who knows what works of imagination were lost because of an unappreciative public?

(I have not, as yet, been able to identify the source of the quote from Arthur Waugh.  Anyone have any clues?)

A nice profile shot of WHH in uniform. Likely around 1916 or so.

A nice profile shot of WHH in uniform. Likely around 1916 or so.

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

by R. Alain Everts

LITERARY CAREER, Part One

In late 1910, Hope decided that he would be able to make a better success of himself in the writing field if he were domiciled in London—and so he moved to London where he could be in the proximity of publishers, and where he could involve himself in the literary and cultural atmosphere of that great city.  In December, 1911, Lissie and her mother left Glaneifion and moved into a house, on the north-eastern outskirts of Borth, renamed Lisswood in honor of LIssie, where the would remain until Mrs. Hodgson’s death.

Hope’s first book was published in October, 1907, after it had been rejected many times.  Shortly after its appearance, Hope traveled to Town, and dropped in on his publisher at Chapman & Hall, Mr. Arthur Waugh, who recalled more than two decades later:

“That eccentric but highly imaginative young novelist, W. Hope Hodgson, author of an eerie story called The Boats of the “Glen Carrig”.  It is good stuff, but it was not selling as it deserved, and Hope Hodgson plunged into the office all afire with a tremendous idea for publicity.  A huge boat was to be constructed, with cutter sails and rigging, the mainsail to bear the name of the book, and the entire craft to be mounted on a lorry and driven along the Strand, Piccadilly, Oxford Street, and all thoroughfares where idle shoppers most do congregate.  On the lorry were to be about a dozen men dressed as sailors, selling The Boats of the “Glen Carrig” to the crowd as they passed. When it was objected that the firm would most certain be indicted for obstructing traffic, Hope Hodgson banged out into the street again, swearing picturesquely.  He never really forgave the firm its lack of enterprise, but the interval of his transit was lively and amusing.”

Such was the attitude, energy, enthusiasm and the confidence of W. Hope Hodgson—confidence that his work would sell well if sold properly.  Hope was so disappointed with Chapman & Hall’s lack of initiative that although The House on the Borderland was published by them in the following year, the dissatisfied Hope went in search of another publisher.  It was at Stanley Paul & Co., that he encountered a thoughtful and considerate publisher—Arthur St. John Adcock (1864-1930).

Hope had already been in touch with St. John Adcock, editor of the literary review The Bookman in which many of the favorable reviews of Hope’s writings first appeared.  Hope first met him shortly after April 1909, when the following letter appeared at the office of The Bookman, published by Stanley Paul & Co.:

Dear Sir

I don’t know whether you remember a certain “muscular” individual who figured lately in your portrait gallery?  Anyway he’s at the other end of these keys, and would be immensely obliged, if you would let him run up to have five minutes talk with you.

Five minutes: not a second longer.

You needn’t be afraid that I’ll either bore or keep you.  I’d be more likely to kill, than do either.

Believe me dear Sir, Yours very

Faithfully,

William Hope Hodgson

This letter began a long friendship between the two men, and some years after Hope’s untimely death, in 1920, St. John Adcock recalled this first meeting:

I first met Hope Hodgson about eleven years ago.  At that date his three best novels had been written; two of them The Boats of the “Glen Carrig”  and The House on the Borderland had been published, and the third, The Ghost Pirates, was in the press.  In those three stories he showed himself a writer of quite exceptional imaginative gifts, a master of the weird, the eerie, the terrible, whose strange and grim imaginings were not unworthy of comparison with the bizarre creations of Poe.  He had already given himself so entirely and enthusiastically to a literary career that the talk of our first meeting was wholly of books and of his hopes as an author.  He aimed high, and was taking his art very seriously, had a frank, unaffected confidence in his powers, which was party the splendid arrogance of youth and partly the heritage of experience, for he had tested and proved them.

There was something curiously attractive in his breezy, forceful, eager personality; his dark eyes were wonderfully alert and alive; he was wonderfully and restlessly alive and alert in all his mind and body.  He was emphatic and unrestrained in his talk, but would take the sting out of an extravagant denunciation of some inartistic popular author, or of some pestilent critic, and the egotism out of some headlong confession of his own belief in himself with the pleasant boyish laugh that brushed it all aside as the mere spray and froth of a passing thought.  His dark, handsome features were extraordinarily expressive; they betrayed his emotions as readily as his lips gave away whatever happened to rise in his mind.  Always he had the courage of his opinions and no false modesty; it never seemed to occur to him to practice political subterfuges; and it was this absolute candor and naturalness that compelled you to like him and before long strengthened your liking into a friendly affection.

Apparently they talked of other matters, for Hodgson was given job reviews—book to review for The Bookman.  On 19, October 1909, he writes to St. John Adcocke that he is enclosing the review to Kipling’s “Actions and Reactions”, with a review of “How to Study the Stars” to follow in time for the 30 October.  Hope also requested to have “The Unseen Thing” by Anthony Dallington—obviously a horror book—so that he can review it.  Without doubt this reviewing continued successfully for some time, and without a doubt the literary lure of London, plus the dispersing of the Hodgson family, convinced Hope that he could do well on his own in London.  Hope continued to sell his mss from Borth, but about mid-1911, he moved to London, mixing in the numerous literary get-togethers and events, meeting such authors as Frank Swinnerton and George Bernard Shaw, and of course pushing his short stories with numerous magazine offices.  Hope had his Carnacki, The Ghost Finder and a poem appear in London and New York in 1910—comprising apparently of the one tale and one poem—(editor’s [Everts] note, abridged version of four of the tales and the poem “Lost”)—it was later to be reprinted as a collection of six stories (Eveleigh Nash, 1913).  He had also arranged to have Eveleigh Nash accept his prodigious The Night Land, which finally came out in August, 1912.  By now, Hope’s fortunes, financially and literary, were picking up, and he contemplated marriage—not to the young debutantes that he knew—but to an old home-town girl, Bessie Gertrude Farnworth.

This period also was to end Hope’s serious writings in the genre of the horror and phantasy tale (1910-1912)—The Night Land, the third part of what Hope referred to as his first trilogy (The House on the Borderland; The Ghost Pirates; The Night Land), and the part he considered to be his magnum opus.  He was terribly disappointed when it did not sell well, and so for the remainder of his life he turned to short stories only—never to return to the novel format.  And, notably he rarely returned to phantasy or horror after the failure of The Night Land, employing a new type of story as he described it, allowing him to present new ideas—could this be a reference to his almost, from then on, simple sea stories??  If so, how sad—but unfortunately, these pot-boilers brought him a steady income.  His disappointment extended not only to the reading public for failure to admire and appreciate the masterpiece he had written, but also to his own family.  None of the Hodgsons were able to understand any of Hope’s writings completely—the girls were scared to death by most of his horror tales—while the Farnworth family was just as bad.

From then on, Hope stuck for the most part to light sea stories—which guaranteed an income instantly as opposed to the profits on slow selling novels (he claimed in 1915 that neither Carnacki or The Night Land brought him “one farthing”)—trite for the most part, and boring little bits of fluff.  His subsequent books were the reprint Carnacki, The Ghost Finder (Eveleigh Nash, 1913) and a cheaper reprint the following year: Men of the Deep Waters, also from Eveleigh Nash, coming out in September, 1914, and made up primarily of sea stories (with some horror) written mostly prior to 1910; The Luck of the Strong, a collection similar to Men, put out by Nash in 1916; and a final collection of stories—Captain Gault (Eveleigh Nash, 1917)—all tales therein having been written during Hope’s sojourns to France.  A posthumous collection of poems came out in March 1920—The Calling of the Sea—many early poems were included—and this proved of such interest that a second volume was put out in November 1921—The Voice of the Ocean—both from Selwyn & Blount of London.

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The Life of William Hope Hodgson, Part 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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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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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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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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