Hodgson, Ralph, 1871-1962

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1871-09-09
Death 1962-11-03

Biographical notes:

Ralph Hodgson, British poet who wrote "Song of Honour," "The Bull," "Time, You Old Gypsy Man," and "Eve." Hodgson taught in Japan for fourteen years at Sendai University, then moved to the United States in 1938, settling in Ohio, where he spent the rest of his life with his wife Aurelia Bolliger Hodgson.

From the description of Ralph Hodgson papers, 1695-1976 (bulk 1914-1970). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 82097276

From the description of Ralph Hodgson papers, 1695-1976 (bulk 1914-1970). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 702150452

Ralph Hodgson, British poet, was born September 9, 1871 in Darlington, England. Very little is known about his early life. He joined the Navy at the beginning of World War I, and later was commissioned into the Royal Artillery. After his first wife Janet Chatteris died in 1920, he married Muriel Fraser and left England in 1924, accepting an invitation to teach English at Sendai University in Japan. He divorced Muriel in 1932, and the next year married Aurelia Bolliger, who was a mission school teacher in Japan. In 1938 Hodgson left Japan and retired to live in the United States, where Aurelia had been born. They purchased a farm outside of Minerva, Ohio, near Canton, and apart from giving a few lectures and workshops around the country in the 1940s, Hodgson lived out the remaining years of his life in Ohio. His health began to fail in the 1950s, and he died in November 1962.

Hodgson's first book of poems, The Last Blackbird and Other Lines, was published in 1907. In 1913 he founded, with Claud Lovat Fraser and Holbrook Jackson, a private press named "At the Sign of the Flying Fame," which published his poems as chapbooks and broadsides. These poems included those on which his reputation was based: "The Bull," "The Song of Honour," and "Eve." In 1917 these poems and others were gathered in Poems .

Though his published output was limited, in the years following the publication of Poems Hodgson was a well-known and respected poet. During his time in Japan his poetic production slowed down, but once he moved to Ohio he began to write again. He published a series of broadsides entitled "Flying Scrolls" between 1941 and 1951 at the Boerner Printing Company in Minerva, Ohio. The Skylark and Other Poems was published in 1954, and Collected Poems in 1961. In 1914 Hodgson won the Polignac prize for "The Song of Honour," and in 1938 he was awarded the insignia of the Rising Sun. He was recognized for distinguished achievement from the American Academy and the National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1946, and received the Queen's gold medal for poetry in 1954. Through the years Hodgson numbered many other writers of the day among his friends, including Siegfried Sassoon, T. S. Eliot, and Walter de la Mare.

Beyond his literary career, Hodgson had wide-ranging interests, which included boxing; he is said to have run away from school to join the boxing world for a time. He was also an artist, and while still a young man traveled to the United States and worked as an assistant scene painter in New York City's Thalia Theater. He worked in London as an artist for several different newspapers and magazines, signing some of his works 'Yorick.' He became art editor of C. B. Fry's Weekly Magazine of Sport and Outdoor Life in 1912. He was drawn to the outdoors and to animals, particularly birds and dogs (and especially bull terriers). In 1920, Hodgson inspired the campaign against the trafficking in birds' feathers for women's apparel, which resulted in the Plumage Act of 1921. He was also fascinated by English history and topography, and was a collector of books and maps on that subject. A calling card made by Sassoon for Hodgson humorously sums up this versatile man's many interests: "Mr. Ralph Hodgson, Minerva, Ohio. Birds watched and bull terriers taken in free of charge. Pugilism. Snooker. Poetry. Dog Fancier. Telegrams. 'Cruftitude.'"

From the guide to the Ralph Hodgson papers, 1695-1976, 1914-1970, (Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library)

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Subjects:

  • Authors, American--20th century
  • Boxing
  • Poets, English--20th century
  • World War, 1914-1918--Personal narratives, British
  • American poetry--20th century
  • Poets, English
  • Bull terrier
  • Authors, Japanese--20th century
  • English poetry--20th century
  • Poets, American--20th century
  • Poets, English--20th century--Archives

Occupations:

  • Poets, English

Places:

  • London (England) (as recorded)