13 March 2007

Carnacki the Ghost Finder. William Hope Hodgson,1913.

William Hope Hodgson, CARNACKI THE GHOST FINDER, Eveleigh Nash, 1913.

Current Selling Prices
$2500-$6000 /£1200-£3000 Want level 25-50 Highish

6 short stories first printed in 'The Idler' between 1910 and 1912 and first collected together for this red cloth Nash book of 1913. Much reprinted - a recent edition (which has an afterword by the highly rated novelist and former bookdealer Iain Sinclair) has a blurb that says it all: 'Join the World's strangest Sleuth at the Outer Limits of classic Supernatural Horror... Terrifying, unearthly adventures of the world's strangest detective." Sometimes compared to Lovecraft but he is less totally alien and somewhat more accessible.

More Lovecraftian is his equally valuable 1912 book 'The Night Land.' We described our last copy thus: 'Death of the sun, other dimensional aliens, monsters, and sub-humans. .. a monumental phantasmagoric of the far future, later editions being considerably abridged; scarce.' It also has the reputation of being the hardest read of all Hodgson's oeuvre.

VALUE? At one point we bought some of Hope Hodgson's family copies of his books including his own annotated copy of the "Boats of the 'Glen-Carrig' " with Hodgson's jottings to himself regarding references to the moon in the text + a few marginal notations and corrections throughout. Sold in 1998 and now worth rather more (deep pang of regret, a sigh and a curse) at the time they didn't sell with alacrity in the £3000 range. £3000 tends to be the high asking price now for unsigned very good clean Hodgsons, the price which gives the buyer serious pause; although sales are not unknown at this level. Underneath these prices there is a good but possibly narrow trade in his works, usually in lesser condition.

Most of Hodgson's works are not fiendishly scarce but they are uncommon and valuable in bright collectable condition. They have also gone into the hands of collectors who cannot be parted from them.

Signed material is now almost unknown, Hodgson died relatively young (40). In 1917, while serving in World War I as a forward observer near Ypres, he was tragically killed by German artillery. His 1908 novel House on the Borderland (praised by Lovecraft) is probably the most difficult to get in sharp condition. Iain Sinclair cites the intriguing combination of John Buchan and Thomas de Quincy as influences on this work; his 'Radon Daughters' revolves around a quest for the missing WHH manuscript of a sequel to 'Borderland.'

Dust jackest are not completely unknown - his 1914 novel 'Men of the Deep Waters' turned up wearing a slightly shabby jacket at Bonham's in 2002 and collected £1800. Most jackets, however, tend to be on earlyish reprints--see the Pavilion / Tartarus site , from where this image below comes (with many thanks).

After the 1913 book 3 more Carnacki offerings appeared - "The Haunted Jarvee" posthumously in 1929, and two more Carnacki stories, "The Find" and "The Hog," were published in 1947 by August Derleth.

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