Archive of Edwardian-era Writer of Horror, Sci-fi Donated to UCR

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Eaton Collection will celebrate acquisition of William Hope Hodgson collection April 16

By on April 9, 2014

manuscripts, photo

Jane and Howard Frank donated their collection of William Hope Hodgson papers, including unpublished stories, to the UCR Libraries' Eaton Collection.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Manuscripts, letters and photographs of William Hope Hodgson, a writer in Edwardian England whose short horror stories inspired generations of authors in the genre, have been donated to the UCR Libraries’ Eaton Collection of Science Fiction and Fantasy at the University of California, Riverside. This is the first collection of Hodgson material anywhere that will be available to the general public.

A reception and panel discussion honoring the donation from Jane and Howard Frank, avid collectors of science fiction and fantasy art and literature, is planned for Wednesday, April 16. The event begins at 3 p.m. in Special Collections & University Archives, located on the fourth floor of the Tomás Rivera Library.  The event is free and open to the public. Parking permits may be purchased at the kiosk on West Campus Drive, at the University Avenue entrance to the campus.

Hodgson’s work and influence on horror fiction will be discussed by a panel that includes Jane Frank and Rob Latham, UCR professor of English. Alison Scott, associate university librarian for collections and scholarly communications, will moderate.

Born Nov. 15, 1877, in Blackmore End, Essex, Hodgson was widely known for his works in horror, fantastic fiction and science fiction when he was killed in April 1918, during World War I. He wrote numerous short stories, novels and poems, including “The House on the Borderland” and “The Night Land.”

“Scholars have lamented for decades that no collection of primary materials – correspondence, diaries, etc. – had ever come to light to allow for the depth of scholarly research that has been done for his contemporaries such as H.P. Lovecraft,” said University Librarian Steven Mandeville-Gamble. “The Hodgson collection, which was so generously donated to UCR by Jane and Howard Frank, finally brings to light those critically important resources that academics have been seeking for years.”

Hodgson was one of the most important writers of weird fiction of the early 20th century, acknowledged by H.P. Lovecraft as a seminal influence on his own horror fiction, said Latham, a scholar of science fiction studies.

“His novels ‘The House on the Borderland’ and ‘The Night Land’ are masterpieces of macabre atmosphere and dreamy inventiveness, works that once read can never be forgotten,” Latham said. “This acquisition of Hodgson’s manuscripts and papers is of immense value to scholars seeking to understand his work, his place in the history of horror fiction, and his enduring legacy.”

The archive includes typescripts of 56 short stories, 36 of which have changes in Hodgson’s hand and 20 of which have never been published, said Melissa Conway, head of Special Collections & University Archives. There are 79 typescript poems, some of which were amended by Hodgson; about two dozen of Hodgson’s original photographs; correspondence, including letters from August Derleth of Arkham House, Harry Houdini and Alfred Hitchcock; family wills and contracts with publishers; a hand-written sales log recording every story, novel or poem submitted and records of publication; and other miscellaneous items.

Conway said she met Jane and Howard Frank at the 2006 Worldcon in Anaheim when they attended her presentation on the Eaton Collection.

“We’ve stayed in touch ever since,” she said. “Not long after we met they invited me to visit their amazing science fiction collection. At that time they showed me the Hodgson collection and asked if UCR would be interested in this for Eaton. Would we ever! I am so pleased that the Franks have entrusted UCR with this precious collection.  For so long, it has been difficult to do scholarly work on Hodgson due to the lack of primary sources. With this donation UCR has become the richest source of material on this writer who profoundly influenced so many later SF writers.”

Jane Frank said that she and her husband have been readers and fans of Hodgson for many years. They chose the Eaton Collection, she said, “because of its scope and dedication to scholarly research in science fiction and fantasy. Eaton is one of the few institutions capable of doing justice to the Hodgson Archive.

The couple first read Hodgson’s books more than 50 years ago. “We were impressed by the power of his writing and the immensity of his vision,” she recalled. “As we learned more of Hodgson and Hodgson’s influence on other writers, we realized that he was a major influence for such major figures as H.P. Lovecraft and others in Lovecraft’s circle. Hodgson was a great fantasy writer of the early 20th century whose literary career was tragically cut short by World War I.

“We acquired the Hodgson Archive to preserve it and keep it intact for future generations. Our donation of the archive to Eaton is in keeping with this goal.”

The Frank Collection of original fantasy art and literature is regarded as one of the world’s finest, and two books documenting the collection have been published: “The Frank Collection: A Showcase of the World’s Finest Fantastic Art” (1999), and “Great Fantasy Art Themes from the Frank Collection” (2003).

The Eaton Collection, the flagship collection of Special Collections & University Archives, remains the world’s largest publicly accessible repository of science fiction, fantasy, horror and utopian literature in the world. The collection is a comprehensive research center comprising almost 300,000 items including publications in more than 20 languages, works of criticism and scholarly journals, nearly 100,000 science fiction fanzines, multimedia holdings, and a large body of archival materials.

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