Tag Archives: William Hope Hodgson

Hodgson Panels at NecronomiCON this August!

I’m pleased to announce that I will be on TWO panels of interest to Hodgson fans at this August’s NecronomiCON in Providence, RI!

They are:


A discussion about Hodgson’s life and work. I’ll be talking about WHH along with other weird fiction scholars.



A review of this unique genre covering many of the classic characters as well as new ones. I’ll be representing WHH’s Carnacki at this one.

NecronomiCON is a convention devoted to the work of H.P. Lovecraft as well as weird fiction in general.  I encourage all to attend and especially to come to these two Hodgson panels! For more information, visit:




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10814120_10204187319942175_909688874_nToday is the 137th birthday of William Hope Hodgson!

WHH was born in 1877 and led a life of almost amazing adventure. Running away from home at the age of 13, he joined the Merchant Marine, sailed around the world and won an award for saving the life of a crewmate who had fallen overboard in shark-infested waters. But Hodgson found life on the sea to be cruel, hard and economic slavery so he left the sea as the new century began.

Hodgson had long been an advocate and eager student of physical culture and had even begun this practice while at sea. After returning to a life on land, WHH parlayed this interest into a school of physical culture but this enterprise would not last long. After a legendary encounter with Houdini failed to save the school, it was closed and Hodgson turned his attention to writing.

Although he had enjoyed some early success with articles about physical culture, it would not be as easy writing fiction. For several years, Hodgson approached his new trade with the same ferocity and single-minded focus that he had used with every other endeavor. During that time, he wrote all four of his novels, many of what would be his most famous stories and possibly created his ghost-detective character, Carnacki. Hodgson approached his writing as a business, keeping careful records of where he had submitted work, the result and how much he was paid. The connection between selling work and survival was a painfully obvious one for Hodgson. When his work finally DID begin to sell, he would be frustrated and disappointed by the lack of appreciation and limited funds that resulted. Still, he would continue writing up until the time of his death which shows that this was not an entirely financial occupation to Hodgson.

It was not until the age of 36 that Hodgson would finally marry. Shortly after, he and his wife moved to France in an effort to economize that ended when the Great War began in 1914. They returned to England where Hodgson enlisted in the Officer Training Corps and would later be assigned as a Lt. in the Royal Field Artillery which shipped over to France and faced dreadful battles. Despite several chances at going home due to injuries, Hodgson stayed in the war and eventually, on April 19th, 1918, suffered a direct hit from a German shell and was blasted to pieces.

Since his death, Hodgson has had a difficult literary legacy. As shortly as 16 years later, in 1934, Hodgson had been forgotten by all but a few devoted readers of weird literature. It was in that year that H. P. Lovecraft was introduced to Hodgson’s works by his friend, H. C. Koenig, who had been waging a one man campaign to rescue Hodgson from obscurity. Due to Koenig’s influence, Lovecraft included Hodgson in a later draft of his ground breaking essay, “Supernatural Horror in Literature”, and convinced August Derleth to publish an omnibus edition of Hodgson’s novels. These two events kept Hodgson’s works alive so that they could be discovered by later generations such as ourselves.

So, today, we remember William Hope Hodgson on the date of his birth and thank him for the stories he left us.

(The illustration at the top of this post is by the talented artist Dave Felton who has done portraits of many of the great weird literature writers from history. I am honored to have this portrait of Hodgson by him on today’s blog.)


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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


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


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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William Hope Hodgson (1877-1918)

William Hope Hodgson (1877-1918)

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

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

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

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



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Carnacki in Sweden!

9789163732386From good friend Martin Andersson comes news that a new edition of CARNACKI, THE GHOST FINDER appeared in Sweden last year.  It was published by GML Forlag which is apparently a small press over there.  You can check it out and order it here:

The brief description translates as:

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

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

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



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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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“Ballade”: a poem

Keeping with our celebration of National Poetry Month, we present another of WHH’s poems.

This striking poem was not published until the November, 1977, issue of Fantasy Crossroads, where it appeared until the alternative title, “Who Make Their Bed in Deep Waters”.  It was included in the edition of The Lost Poetry of William Hope Hodgson (2005) which was edited by Jane Frank.  It is a haunting poem which echoes Poe.


 Who Make Their Bed In The Deep Waters


            We are dying,

               And the sea is very still,

           And some of the children are crying,

            And some are ill,

                     And seven are dead

                       And their mothers make their bed.

            We are dying,

                 Two boats just full of us,

            And the little ones are lying

              Quietly–thus and thus,

                       And twelve are dead

                       And their mothers made their bed.


            We are dying,

                 Another day has gone,

        And no child is crying,

                 In the gloaming wan

                       They all are dead

                       And their mothers made their bed.


            We are dying,

             It is just before the dawn,

            The mothers all are lying

                 Silent e’er the morn

                       Forlornly dead

                       And I made their bed.


We are dying,

                 The evening’s sun is low,

            And my lover-lad is crying

                 Weak in utter woe

                       O’er me dead

                   E’er he make my bed.


We are dying,

                 My lover thought me gone,

            In his two arms lying,

                 But I saw him wan

                   Nearly dead

                       And his arms my bed.


We are silent now,

                 For I reached and drew

                       My lover to me, dying,

        And the glad young brow

                       Sailed against me lying

                 E’er he knew

                             Quietly dead

                             On my bosom for his bed.


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

Here is a brief excerpt from the review:

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

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


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blogpost200This is the 200th post of the William Hope Hodgson blog!

(Truthfully, we should have hit this milestone a while ago but I’ve been a bit busy.)

For 199 posts, I’ve extolled the virtues of Hodgson’s work and explored many facets of his life as well as other Hodgson connected items.  Hopefully, we’ll be around for another 200 more!

Actually, 2014 is shaping up to be a big year for Hodgson.  There are at least two important collections due to be released, a major donation of Hodgson papers to be unveiled, and possibly even a media project of some kind.  Things are afoot in the Hodgson world!

indexComing out in May is a collection of Hodgson’s fiction from Centipede Press: THE CENTIPEDE PRESS LIBRARY OF WEIRD FICTION: WILLIAM HOPE HODGSON.  Here is the description from Amazon:

“This collection of William Hope Hodgson contains the novels The House on the Borderland and The Ghost Pirates along with twenty one short stories, including “The Voice in the Night” and the Carnacki stories. There is an excellent introduction by S.T. Joshi and rare photographs of Hodgson.”

This is a hardcover book weighing in at a MASSIVE 900 pages!  Despite the page count, it is suprisingly affordable at only $40.  I am greatly anticipating this collection (which originally was supposed to come out last December) and will review it here as soon as I can get my hot little hands on a copy!  You can pre-order it from Amazon here:


Also coming out this year (at a date undetermined) is:


Seven Decades of Criticism on the Master of Cosmic Horror

This collection contains articles by A. Langley Searles, Emily Alder, S.T. Joshi, Mark Valentine, Benjamin Szumskyj, Andy Sawyer, Phillip A. Ellis, Marcos Legaria, Henrik Harksen and myself.  It also includes a massive bibliography that S. T. Joshi and I have been working on (with assistance from many others) for literally decades.  I think that the biblio alone will be quite an eye-opener.

This book will be appearing from Hippocampus Press but I am unsure if it will be hardcover or only paperback.  I will pass along new details as I learn them.  Sadly, it is not currently listed on the website for Hippocampus Press.

These are in addition to the two articles on WHH that I recently had published.  “HPL & WHH” in WEIRD FICTION REVIEW #4 and “The Man Who Saved Hodgson” in NAMELESS #3.

We are very close to publishing the special definitive edition of Hodgson’s CARNACKI THE GHOST-FINDER which reprints the original 1913 edition of this classic along with the three stories added by August Derleth to the Arkham House version.  Also included is an introduction by myself detailing the importance of these stories, Carnacki’s influence through the years and the last word on the authorship of “The Hog”.  I hope to have this available for ordering by the end of April.

Lastly, I have been contacted by a source who indicates that there may be a special media project involving Hodgson coming along soon.  I cannot give more details than this but the second that arrangements are finalized, I’ll report it here!  It could potentially be a very exciting project!

So it looks that as we move towards the 100th anniversary of Hodgson’s death in 2018, Hodgson is beginning to get the attention he deserves.  But we have to keep on fighting the good fight.  I encourage everyone to buy the Centipede and Hippocampus Press volumes.  Only by showing publishers that there is a demand can we keep Hodgson’s work available and alive.  Perhaps, in 2018, we may even be able to convince Penguin to produce a volume of Hodgson’s fiction as they’ve done for Lovecraft and now Clark Ashton Smith!


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Hellboy_Strange_PlacesYou just never know where Hodgson will show up!

I was reading HELLBOY: STRANGE PLACES as part of my 365 Day Graphic Novel Challenge (where I read a graphic novel a day for a year and write about it here: http://365graphicnovelchallenge.wordpress.com/ which you all know about because you follow that blog regularly, right?) when I came upon an unexpected dedication:

“For Hans Christian Anderson,

King of Mermaids,

and William Hope Hodgson,

Master of the Sargasso Sea.”


Now it is obvious to any fan of Hellboy and his creator, Mike Mignola, that there is a very strong Lovecraftian influence throughout Mignola’s work.  This was the first that I had seen of an indication that Mignola was also a fan of Hodgson though.

The book is a collection of two stories (“The Third Wish” and “The Island”).  Both of these had appeared as separate comic book mini-series.  “The Third Wish” is where the Hans Christian Anderson comes into play and it is “The Island” that was inspired by Hodgson.

Mignola says the following in his introduction to “The Island”:

“This was a rough one.

“My original idea was a story inspired by the Sargasso Sea stories of William Hope Hodgson (1877-1917) and his novel, The Boats of the Glen Carrig–a graveyard of ships and a strange island overrun with weird fungus and monsters.”

hellboy_drinking_with_skeletonsUnfortunately, the story proved to be more trouble than Mignola had anticipated.  Despite two separate attempts, he still couldn’t get the story he wanted so it morphed into “The Island” which begins rather Hodgson like with Hellboy coming ashore in a cove of wrecked ships but actually delves more into the original of Hellboy’s world and the terrifying Ogdru Jahad.

Some of Mignola’s pencilled pages are included in the back of the book and they are enough to make us hope that one day Mignola, and Hellboy, will return to the Sargasso Sea and finally tell us that ‘impossible’ tale.



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