Hodgson, Barbara L. 1955-
HODGSON, Barbara L. 1955-
PERSONAL: Born 1955, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; daughter of Stanley and Beatrice Theresa Hodgson. Education: Simon Fraser University, B.A., 1977; Capilano College, diploma in graphic design, 1982. Hobbies and other interests: Painting, photography, travel.
ADDRESSES: Offıce—Barbara Hodgson Design, 404-402 West Pender, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada V6B 1T6.
CAREER: Douglas & McIntyre (publisher), Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, worked as assistant, then book designer and art director for Trade Publishing Division, 1982-89; Barbara Hodgson Design, Vancouver, principal, 1991—. Byzantium Books (book packaging company), founding partner, 1993—. Simon Fraser University, sessional instructor, 1990, and lecturer in book design; Emily Carr School of Art and Design, instructor, 1990-93. Also worked as museum artifact illustrator and exhibit curator; gives readings from her works, including appearances at Harbour-front Centre and North Shore Writers Festival; guest on media programs.
AWARDS, HONORS: Studio magazine awards, 1986, 1989, 1995, 1996; GDC Awards, three awards, 1987, two awards, 1991, two awards, 1995, three awards, 1997, one award, 2000; Gilbert Paper Letterhead Award, 1988; Alcuin Society, two awards, 1989, two awards, 1990, two awards, 1994, and, Award for Excellence in Book Design in Canada, prose fiction category, 2002, for Hippolyte's Island; Applied Arts magazine awards, 1997, two awards, 1999, two awards, 2000.
(Designer) Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Kubla Khan: A Pop-up Version of Coleridge's Classic, illustrated by Nick Bantock, Viking (New York, NY), 1994.
(And illustrator) The Tattooed Map, Chronicle Books (San Francisco, CA), 1995.
(With Nick Bantock and Karen Elizabeth Gordon) Paris out of Hand, Chronicle Books (San Francisco, CA), 1996.
(Compiler) The Rat: A Perverse Miscellany, Ten Speed Press (Berkeley, CA), 1997.
(And illustrator) The Sensualist (novel), Chronicle Books (San Francisco, CA), 1998.
Opium: A Portrait of the Heavenly Demon, Chronicle Books (San Francisco, CA), 1999.
In the Arms of Morpheus: The Tragic History of Laudanum, Morphine, and Patent Medicines, Firefly Books (Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada), 2001.
(And illustrator) Hippolyte's Island, Chronicle Books (San Francisco, CA), 2001.
No Place for a Lady: Tales of Adventurous Women Travelers, Ten Speed Press (Berkeley, CA), 2002.
Good and Evil in the Garden (essays), Heavenly Monkey (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 2003.
(And illustrator) The Lives of Shadows (novel), Chronicle Books (San Francisco, CA), 2004.
SIDELIGHTS: A book designer and illustrator, Barbara L. Hodgson founded Byzantium Books with Nick Bantock, author of the hugely popular, mixed format "Griffin & Sabine" series, with whom she collaborated on Kubla Khan: A Pop-up Version of Coleridge's Classic and Paris out of Hand. She is well known in her own right as a novelist and illustrator, with such books to her credit as The Lives of Shadows and Hippolyte's Island, which combine text, drawings, maps, and handwritten notes to tell unusual, often mysterious tales. Hodgson has also published a number of nonfiction books on subjects including opium and morphine, rats, and women travelers.
Her first solo effort, The Tattooed Map, takes the form of a journal written by Lydia, an inveterate traveler and collector who awakes one morning in Morocco to discover a series of flea bites on her wrist. Eventually, these bites take the form of a map, invisible to all but Lydia and a mysterious Moroccan man. When Lydia disappears, her traveling companion Christopher finds the journal, as well as the photos, maps, and ticket stubs that are included in the book and play an integral part in the mystery. Christopher takes up the tale at this point, chronicling his attempts to find Lydia. "The prose as 'written' by each of the characters resounds, each with its own individual voice, and the manner in which Hodgson lays out her plot, while unorthodox in terms of most novels, becomes a fascinating and gripping journey the reader will not want to end," concluded Fantasy & Science Fiction contributor Charles DeLint. Similarly, Hippolyte's Island uses old maps, sketches of plants and animals, and numerous other illustrations to tell the story of reporter Hippolyte Webb's journey to find the mysterious Aurora Islands, which appear on ancient maps of the South Atlantic but are unknown to modern geographers. "The real fun begins when Webb's footloose existence clashes with the precise, ordered world of Marie Simplon, his New York editor," noted a Publishers Weekly contributor. The reviewer added, "Hodgson, using her talents as both writer and artist, once again displays her gift for bringing charmingly idiosyncratic characters to life."
In her first nonfiction book, The Rat: A Perverse Miscellany, Hodgson again mixes media, editing a combination of text with medieval engravings, comics, and movie stills to reveal mankind's mixture of fascination and repulsion for this small, but sometimes devastating, creature. The result is "a book whose charm is not unlike that of a favorite frightening movie scene lovingly seen and recalled again and again," commented Booklist reviewer Mike Tribby.
Two other Hodgson titles illustrate humanity's love/hate relationship with narcotics. In Opium: A Portrait of the Heavenly Demon she brings together woodcuts, photographs, and stills from silent movies with first-person accounts, pulp fiction excerpts, and poetry to tell the history of this drug. Some critics, though, were put off by the seeming glamorization of opium. With its "ill-informed text and endless, lavish illustrations of silk-clad maidens and wise, wizened old Chinamen lost to their dreams," maintained Julian Keeling in the New Statesman, "this book seeks to present opium in the best possible light, as if it were a lengthy advert[izement] sponsored by some opium growers association." In contrast, Toronto Star reviewer Len Gasparini called Opium "a rich pipeful of so many fascinating facts, photographs, anecdotes and colour illustrations that the reader can open the book to any page and experience vicariously the intoxication of Hodgson's brilliant research."
In the Arms of Morpheus: The Tragic History of Laudanum, Morphine, and Patent Medicines again portrays the history of a once-ubiquitous, perfectly legal narcotic in "a creative mixture of narrative, literary excerpts, photographs, and illustrations," in the words of Library Journal contributor Kathy Arsenault. Here, Hodgson reveals facts such as that Otto von Bismarck habitually used a shot of morphine to calm his nerves before addressing the German Reichstag, and that artists, doctors, and housewives alike prized the drug for its soothing qualities. The author also includes an "Opium at the Movies" filmography, which further illustrates the drug's one-time popularity.
Hodgson has also produced a history that harks back to the exotic voyages of her fictional characters. In No Place for a Lady: Tales of Adventurous Women Travelers, she draws on diaries, letters, and memoirs to bring to life the seventeenth-, eighteenth-and nineteenth-century ladies who traveled throughout Asia and Africa by horse, camel, or foot. "The charm of this book lies not only in quotations or intriguing anecdotes, but also in the lavish illustrations," noted Herizons contributor Claire Helman. Some of these women traveled out of necessity, including Lady Elizabeth Craven, who was essentially tossed out of England "for adulterous behavior." Others simply refused to accept domestic restrictions, as was the case for Lady Hester Stanhope, who became the first Western woman since the Roman empire to visit the lost capital of Queen Zenobia and who ultimately settled in the wild mountainous region of Lebanon. Still others went to learn. Lady Mary Wortley Montague, for one, became the first European to describe the hidden world of the Turkish harem. But all the women travelers in Hodgson's book showed a thirst for adventure, and many donned men's clothes in order to visit even more dangerous places. Toronto Star contributor Nancy Wigston concluded that "Hodgson's book, thoroughly researched, meticulously annotated, remains a seductive introduction to the world of traveling women."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, August, 1997, Mike Tribby, review of The Rat: A Perverse Miscellany, p. 1862; September 15, 1999, Mike Tribby, review of Opium: A Portrait of the Heavenly Demon, p. 201; September 15, 2001, Whitney Scott, review of Hippolyte's Island, p. 190; November 15, 2001, Mike Tribby, review of In the Arms of Morpheus: The Tragic History of Laudanum, Morphine, and Patent Medicines, p. 527.
Boston Globe, January 31, 2002, Julie Hatfield, "'Island' Takes Readers on a Delightful Adventure," p. C4.
Chicago Tribune, January 8, 2003, Anne Stein, "Discovering Those Who Paved Way for Women Travelers Today," Women's News, p. 3.
Fantasy & Science Fiction, June, 1996, Charles DeLint, review of The Tattooed Map.
Herizons, winter, 2004, Claire Helman, review of No Place for a Lady: Tales of Adventurous Women Travelers, p. 38.
Library Journal, January, 2002, Kathy Arsenault, review of In the Arms of Morpheus, p. 141.
New Statesman, December 4, 2000, Julian Keeling, "The Drugs Don't Work," p. 52.
New York Times Book Review, January 17, 1999, Eric Burns, "A Box of Wonders," section 7, p. 20; October 17, 1999, Carolyn T. Hughes, "Perils of the Poppy," section 7, p. 23.
Publishers Weekly, August 19, 1996, review of Paris Out of Hand, p. 50; August 2, 1999, review of Opium, p. 66; August 13, 2001, review of Hippolyte's Island, p. 286.
School Library Journal, March, 1998, review of The Rat.
Times (London, England), November 22, 2000, "In Xanadu," p. 18.
Toronto Star, January 30, 2000, Len Gasparini, "Tokin' Offerings," Entertainment, p. 1; August 17, 2003, Nancy Wigston, "Fabled Femmes," p. D16.*