William Hope Hodgson, 1877-1918

Portrait

Biographical note

English author. He produced a large body of work, consisting mostly of short stories and novels, spanning several overlapping genres including horror, fantastic fiction and science fiction.

Hodgson is most widely known for two works. The House on the Borderland is a novel of which H. P. Lovecraft wrote "but for a few touches of commonplace sentimentality [it] would be a classic of the first water". The Night Land is a much longer novel, written in an archaic style and expressing a sombre vision of a sunless far-future world. These works both contain elements of science fiction, although they also partake of horror and the occult. According to critical consensus, in these works, despite his often laboured and clumsy language, Hodgson achieves a deep power of expression, which focuses on a sense not only of terror but of the ubiquity of potential terror, of the thinness of the invisible bound between the world of normality and an underlying reality for which humans are not suited.

The Ghost Pirates has less of a reputation than The House on the Borderland, but is an effective seafaring horror story of a ship attacked and ultimately dragged down to its doom by supernatural creatures. The book purports to be the spoken testimony of the sole survivor, and the style lacks the pseudo-archaism which makes The Boats of the "Glen Carrig" and The Night Land tedious reading for many.

Hodgson is also known for his short stories featuring recurring characters: the "detective of the occult" Thomas Carnacki, and the smuggler Captain Gault. The Carnacki story "The Whistling Room" has been reprinted in numerous anthologies, including collections introduced by Alfred Hitchcock. Hodgson's single most famous short story is probably "The Voice in the Night", which has been adapted for film twice.

© 2014 The University of Adelaide
Last Modified 16/02/2014
CRICOS Provider Number 00123M
find us on facebook

Service Charter | Copyright | Privacy | Disclaimer