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William Hope Hodgson

A Master of Supernatural Horror

By Mike Singleton - MikeydredPublished 2 years ago Updated 11 months ago 3 min read
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William Hope Hodgson is a writer who has been compared to Edgar Allen Poe, although I would veer away from that description for a lot of his stories. I have once more picked up on “The House On The Borderland” which is, in my opinion (and that of a lot of other people) a masterpiece of the unnatural supernatural in the realms of Clark Ashton-Smith, Arthur Machen and HP Lovecraft.

The book is set in Ireland and uses the “found manuscript scenario” (revived in a different format for films like the “Blair Witch Project” which used found video). I posted a picture of the introductory sheet and (as I often do on Instagram) set my location to where the book was supposed to be set, a village called Kraighten in the West of Ireland. I couldn’t find the village so settled for Ahascragh, although the book immediately refers to somewhere called Adrahan, I don’t know if that was a construct or if it is real. That is a precursor to the discovery of the manuscript by two companions on a fishing and hunting trip in an area of Ireland that could have staged “Deliverance”.

This is just one of his books, but probably his best-known. It takes in fantasy and science fiction and cosmic evil and will take you on an unbelievable journey.

In 1899, at age 22, he opened a School of Physical Culture in Ainsworth Street, Blackburn, England, as "the inventor and teacher of a system that will cure indigestion" but that was not the reason we are talking about him here.

Hodgson was born in Essex but moved, serving in the navy and during World War One was thrown from a horse which resulted in a broken jaw a serious head injury and mandatory discharge,

As well as “The House On The Borderland '' he is also known for “The Night Land” an end of the world scenario where the sun has died and the remains of humanity are holed up in a large pyramid besieged by monsters, but he also wrote stories based on his seafaring experience such as “The Boats of The Glen Carrig” and “The Ghost Pirates”.

One of my favourites of his was a collection called “Carnacki The Ghost Finder” about a psychic investigator, some of his cases were simply explained, others were often besieged with supernatural horror.

While his only novels were these:

  • The Boats of the "Glen Carrig" (1907)
  • The House on the Borderland (1908)
  • The Ghost Pirates (1909)
  • The Night Land (1912)
  • The Dream of X (1912) (an abridgement of The Night Land)
  • The House on the Borderland and Other Novels (1946) (a posthumous collection of Hodgson's four major novels)
  • Captain Dang (unfinished)

He produced a plethora of short stories and series spanning many genres and I still have to read most of them.

William Hope Hodgson’s Wiki entry is below and is fairly comprehensive with a list of his novels and short stories, and many of them I have not read yet, but he was an influence on many horror and supernatural writers such as HP Lovecraft.

His books are available as ebooks on Amazon, in some cases they are actually free if you have a Kindle account, so thanks to technology you can dip in and see if this is your thing.

I have to recommend “The House On The Borderland”, “The Night Land” and “Carnacki The Ghost Finder”. These are books that I revisit time and time again, although they are physical copies, rather than ebooks but I have taken advantage of the free ebooks and you should too.

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