by Marcus L. Rowland
Copyright © 1996, revised 1998
Return to main index
This collection includes all of the Carnacki stories by William Hope Hodgson. Six were first published in British magazines in 1910-12, then reprinted in the anthology Carnacki The Ghost Finder in 1913. A 1948 American printing (edited by August Derleth) added three more stories; The Hog (also published in Weird Tales in 1947), The Haunted Jarvee and The Find.
All subsequent editions have included these stories. To the best of my knowledge they were previously unpublished, although it is possible that they appeared in one or another of the chap-books Hodgson published in America. The list below shows the names and file names of the stories in order of publication, dates, a code which will be used to refer to them in the remainder of this document and the file names of any illustrations that accompanied their original publication:
* Stories in Carnacki The Ghost Finder, 1913 edition
The text files (in FF4-TXT.ZIP) are ASCII with paragraph breaks but no line breaks.
The Idler was a monthly magazine published from 1892 to 1911. Its stories were often reprinted in McClure's Magazine in America. Editors included the humorist Jerome K. Jerome.
The New Magazine was published by Cassell & Co. from April 1909 to at least June 1929; no editor is credited in any issue.
See any history of fantasy or SF for details of Weird Tales.
Most modern editions of Carnacki the Ghost finder have the stories in the following order:
[TI] [GM] [HAL] [WR] [SEH] [HI] [HJ] [FD] [HG].
I have scanned the earlier stories from photocopies of the magazines in which they originally appeared, with the headings etc. that accompanied them. Unfortunately this was not possible for the last three stories, which were scanned from the 1974 Sphere edition, by far the most common British version. Since some readers may prefer to use the printed book, this document mentions any relevant changes, referring to the printed book (and specifically this edition) as [CGF]. It should perhaps be pointed out that the punctuation of the stories in [CGF] seems very poor; this is typical of all modern editions I've seen. If referring to a story detail that is only found in the book, the code above is used. Thus [CGF/WR] means "The version of The Whistling Room in Carnacki The Ghost Finder (1974 Sphere edition)". One story, The Thing Invisible, is included in both versions; there are major differences between them and the later version is considerably better. I am not sure which version appeared in the 1913 printing of [CGF].
For the other stories the book differs from the magazine versions in minor respects, such as the names of characters and there are numerous differences of punctuation etc. The precise wording also sometimes changes. In many cases passages that were originally printed as one paragraph are split into several shorter paragraphs in the book and sentences are also sometimes subdivided. Usually these changes make little or no difference to the meaning, although generally the pacing of the magazine stories seems a little faster, while the grammar and style of the book version are slightly better.
Some changes should be explained in more detail. In [GM] the butler is called by a Christian name, Peter; in [CGF/GM] this is changed to a surname, Peters, which would be more appropriate for an elderly servant. [HAL] omits a sentence explaining that the 'haunt' was probably faked to cover '...the meeting-place of a certain 'political' club much wanted by the authorities...', which can be found in [CGF/HAL]; this may have been a typesetting error, or the result of an editorial decision, since there was continuing unrest in Ireland. In [CGF/HAL] Carnacki tells the policemen '...not to move outside of the Barriers, whatever happened; NOT EVEN THOUGH THE HOUSE SEEM TO BE ROCKING AND ABOUT TO TUMBLE on to them...'; the capitals were added after the original appearance of [HAL]. This comment is hardly likely to calm anyone's fears and the emphasis suggested by the capitals could only make things worse. [WR] is largely unchanged, but includes The Idler's amusing advertisment for the story, which was not in [CGF]. [SEH] omits a passage describing a lantern momentarily emitting a "fan-shaped jet of blackness" before normal sight returns, which was presumably added to the text for [CGF/SEH].
As already mentioned, The Thing Invisible shows the most radical changes, with long passages modified between the two versions. The 1912 version includes a major error of British etiquette; early in the story Carnacki repeatedly addresses Sir Alfred Jarnock as "Sir Jarnock", when the correct term would be "Sir Alfred". Later this is corrected and it is correct throughout [CGF/TI]. It would be tedious to list all the other changes; [CGF/TI] adds scenes and clarifies many details. The cast of characters is slightly different. Because of these changes, both versions of the story are included in THING.TXT.
The Hog is divided into numbered sections; this may be the work of an editor, either Dorothy McIlwraith, who edited Weird Tales in 1947, or August Derleth, who assembled the 1948 edition. Where necessary these numbers are used to refer to the appropriate part of the text; for example, [TH:5] means "The Hog, section 5".
The sequence in which the original six stories were published suggests that Hodgson contracted to write six stories for The Idler, but either missed the deadline for the May 1910 issue (which had no Carnacki story), or had The Thing Invisible rejected then subsequently sold it to The New Magazine. If any reader has more information, it would be greatly appreciated.
The most likely reasons why the three later stories were unpublished in Hodgson's lifetime are the unusual length of The Hog (about 16,000 words, which would be awkwardly large for most monthly magazines of the period) and the subject matter of the other stories; The Haunted Jarvee may have seemed too like Hodgson's earlier nautical stories and The Find is a pure detective story, with no suggestion of supernatural activities, so would not appeal to the same audience. It is also very short (about 3000 words), which would again fit badly into the monthly magazine format of the period. It is possible that they were included in one or another of Hodgson's American chap-books.
Due to the limitations of the ASCII character set, it was not possible to include italics in the text files when this collection was originally assembled. All of these stories have some italicised sections, usually a word or two or a couple of sentences, used to add emphasis at moments of unusual stress. These have been restored to the HTML files (although it is possible that some were missed). If you need information on this particular aspect of Hodgson's writing, or want to be entirely sure that you are looking at the original text, refer back to the printed sources.