RALPH HODGSON Biography - Famous Poets and dancers


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Ralph Hodgson (September 9 1871 - November 3 1962) was an English poet, very popular in his lifetime on the strength of a small number of anthology pieces, such as The Bull. He was one of the more ‘pastoral’ of the Georgian poets.


He was born in Darlington. From about 1890 he worked for a number of London publications. He was a comic artist, signing himself ‘Yorick’, and became art editor on C. B. Fry’s Weekly Magazine of Sports and Out-of-Door Life. His first poetry collection, The Last Blackbird and Other Lines, appeared in 1907. He seems to have covered his tracks in relation to much of his life; he was averse to publicity. It is said that his father was a coal merchant, and that he ran away from home while at school. He did keep up a copious correspondence with other poets and literary figures, including those he met in his time in Japan such as Takeshi Saito .


In 1912 he founded a small press, At the Sign of the Flying Fame, with the illustrator Claud Lovat Fraser (1890-1921) and the writer and journalist Holbrook Jackson (1874-1948). It published his collection The Mystery (1913). Hodgson received the Edmond de Polignac Prize in 1914, for a musical setting of The Song of Honour, and was included in the Georgian Poetry anthologies. The press became inactive in 1914 as World War I broke out and he and Lovat joined the armed forces (it did continue until 1923). Hodgson was in the Royal Navy and then the British Army. His reputation was established by Poems (1917).


His first wife Janet (nee Chatteris) died in 1920. He then married Muriel Fraser (divorced 1932). Shortly after that he accepted an invitation to teach English at Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan. In 1933 he married Lydia Aurelia Bolliger, a American missionary and teacher there.


In 1938 Hodgson left Japan, visited friends in the UK including Siegfried Sassoon (they had met 1919) and then settled permanently with Aurelia in Minerva, Ohio. He was involved there in publishing, under the Flying Scroll imprint, and some academic contacts. He died in Minerva.


Arthur Bliss set some of his poems to music. His Collected Poems appeared in 1961, The Skylark (1959) having been his only new book in many decades.