William Hope Hodgson: Biography & Quotes

Instructor: Summer Stewart

Summer has taught creative writing and sciences at the college level. She holds an MFA in Creative writing and a B.A.S. in English and Nutrition

Known for his horror and fantasy stories, British author William Hope Hodgson wrote hundreds of short stories, poems, novels, and essays. In this lesson, we will go over his short life and his prolific writing habits.

A Writer Who Wears Many Hats

During his short life, William Hope Hodgson produced tons of stories, poems, novels, and essays during the early 1900s. Hodgson was also a trained bodybuilder and dabbled in other art forms such as photography. Hodgson worked as a sailor and took many photos of cyclones and storms. He is most remembered for his novel The House on the Borderland and the anthologized story, The Whistling Room. Hodgson's writings were inspired by his years working as a sailor. In this lesson, you will learn about William Hope Hodgson's life and works.

Portrait of William Hope Hodgson
hodgson

The Early Life of William Hope Hodgson

William Hope Hodgson was born in Blackmore End, Essex, England in November 1877. Hodgson was the son of a priest, and he traveled a lot as a boy due to his father traveling to many churches. Hodgson expressed his desire to become a sailor for many years, but it wasn't until he ran away from school that his father agreed. Hodgson was a ''short, slender, and very good-looking'' young man, and he learned that being at sea required a tough persona. During his apprenticeship and work at sea as a seafarer, he was bullied, and this inspired him to start bodybuilding. Hodgson used the training ''exercises developed by Eugene Sandow'', the leading bodybuilder during the time. He became incredibly strong and after leaving his position, he opened a personal training center at 22 years old.

Personal Training and Essays

Hodgson found his groove as a personal trainer, working with elite police officers in Blackburn, England. He wrote several essays on physical fitness after his personal training business failed, but luckily, this attention to writing inspired him to pursue a career in creative writing.

William Hope Hodgson's Literary Works

In the first decade of the 1900s, Hodgson's work began circulating in literary journals. In 1904, The Goddess of Death was published in Royal Magazine. In the next few years, he wrote and published several other short stories before releasing his first novel, The Boats of the Glen Carrig in 1907. The novel and many of his short stories were set at sea, inspired by his years as a sailor.

His second novel, The House on the Borderland came out in 1908 and is often referred to as his best work. He prefaced the novel by saying, ''the inner story must be uncovered, personally, by each reader, according to ability and desire.'' He acted as if the manuscript itself was given to him and that he didn't write it, which plays into the mystery of the horrific events that take place in the book. The story follows the Recluse, a man who stays in a home in the countryside and his encounters with supernatural beings and phenomena. The book is classified as a horror novel, but it is also considered one of the first weird fiction pieces of the century. Weird fiction entails the blending of horror, scientific themes, and the supernatural. Despite his contributions and critical acclaims in life, he never became a well-to-do writer like many of his colleagues.

Hodgson's work continued to receive good reviews, and he continued to write novels, poetry, and short stories. He created a recurring character named Thomas Carnacki, who was the main character of The Whistling Room, a story about a room in a house that makes a whistling sound. Carnacki is a detective who investigates strange mysteries and tells his friends about them over dinner. Carnacki was the main character in six short stories.

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