Siegfried Sassoon

Ralph Hodgson

Born in Darlington Hodgson was a champion billiards player and boxer. He worked for a time in a theatre in New York before returning to England. From about 1890 he wrote for a number of London publications and was also a comic artist. During the First World War he served in both the Royal Navy and Army.

Sassoon first met Hodgson while he was staying with the Turner’s at Tufton Street. Hodgson being a regular visitor there from 1920 to July 1924 when he left England to take up a professorship teaching English at Sendai University in Japan.

Hodgson returned to England a few times to visit friends, one occasion being in October 1931 when he and Sassoon planned a five day motoring tour of second hand bookshops. They set off in Sassoon’s car on the 10 November starting at a bookshop in Hull and working their way down through Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk and Suffolk, visiting at least seventeen bookshops. Towns visited were Hull, Grimsby, Boston, Alford, Great Yarmouth, Norwich, Heacham and Ipswich.

Ralph Hodgson

Ralph Hodgson 1871-1962

Hodgson left Japan for good in 1938 and returned to the UK to visit friends. He went to visit Sassoon and Hester at Heytesbury House in August of that year and stayed for two weeks. He then left to finally settle in Ohio, USA.

Sassoon admired Hodgson’s poems ‘The Bull’ and ‘The Song of Honour,’ and had wanted to meet him since 1914. Sassoon thought Hodgson might be able to resolve the internal conflict he was experiencing between the sporting ‘fox-hunting man’ and the poet. A brilliant (and prolific) talker, Hodgson seemed to Sassoon to be a ‘prodigious genius’ and the strongest of the Georgian Poets. However, Jean Moorcroft Wilson states that “after ‘The Song of Honour’ in 1913, Hodgson didn’t produce another work of substance until ‘The Muse and the Mastiff’ in 1942, and even that was a disappointment to some of his greatest admirers, though not to Sassoon.”

When Sassoon moved to Fitz House in Teffont Magna in November 1931, Hodgson was one of his first guests. Hodgson had written to Sassoon praising his collection ‘The Heart’s Journey,’ and he  also wrote in 1938 regarding the book Sassoon was writing ‘The Old Century and Seven More Years’ stating, “You don’t know how good it is. It’s nature (human) with a pen. I hope it’s going to be of great length…”

The Muse & The Mastiff - By Ralph Hodgson (from Siegfried Sassoon’s own library)

The Muse & The Mastiff

The Muse & The Mastiff – A Dramatic Poem by Ralph Hodgson. Published in 1942 by Boerner Printing Co., for the author., This book is from the library of Siegfried Sassoon and carries the Sotheby’s auction dispersal label in the bottom left corner (right) as provenance.

The Muse & The Mastiff Frontis

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