About the author

In the years I’ve been researching Hodgson’s story people have often asked, ‘Why the interest – are you related?’ I’m not.

I don’t have a personal stake in this story at all, except that once, as a child of 7 or 8 years old, I came across Before Action in the poetry section of the Children’s Encyclopaedia. The poem was alive. I felt Noel Hodgson’s fear. I sensed how very young he was (even though 23 would have seemed very old to me then). I knew that deep sigh of resignation that echoes through the words – ‘I don’t want to go through with this, but if I have to I will – somehow’.

The book told me that he died on the Somme, as he expected, and his story lived on in the recesses of my mind, tied by a fine thread of memory to November poppies and to every other mention I found of the Somme and the Great War. As time passed I began to see how many other writers I enjoyed – Tolkien and C.S. Lewis especially – also had a thread of story linking back to that war. I started to collect old books of war poetry, always hoping to find Hodgson’s book. And one day, in my final year at university, there it was, for £3 in a second-hand bookshop in Bath. That discovery started me on this research.

As for the rest, I’ve had five books published so far:

Prince Leopold: The Untold Story of Queen Victoria’s Youngest Son
[Sutton Publishing 1998; two later paperback editions]

Romanov Autumn: Stories from the Last Century of Imperial Russia
[Sutton Publishing 2000; two later paperback editions and two foreign translations]

Queen Victoria’s Family: A Century of Photographs 1840 – 1940
[Sutton Publishing 2001; later reissued in paperback]

The Camera and the Tsars: The Romanov Family in Photographs
[Sutton Publishing 2004; later reissued in paperback; two foreign translations]

From Cradle to Crown: British Nannies and Governesses at the World’s Royal Courts
[Sutton Publishing 2006]

Contributions to the New Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and to T & V Holt, Violets from Oversea, [Leo Cooper 1996; later reissued as Poets of the First World War]

I have an M.A. in history and my first published article was on Noel Hodgson for This England in 1988, reprinted in the book Salute to the Soldier Poets in 1990.

I’ve also written several hundred articles on 19th and early 20th century royalty, write regularly for Royalty Digest Quarterly, have helped plan and have spoken of tours related to war poetry and to royalty, and have contributed research, photographic research and interviews to a growing list of TV programmes.

Charlotte Zeepvat

9 thoughts on “About the author

  1. W.N Hodgson (Devonshire Regiment) appears on the Berwick First World War memorial and also on the memorial dedicated to the congregation of Berwick Holy Trinity Church. Is this the same man and if so what was his connection with Berwick?

    • Yes, it is. His father, Henry Bernard Hodgson, was Vicar of Holy Trinity Church from 1897 until 1914 (a few months before the outbreak of war), when he became Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich. The Bishop’s house in Ipswich was never really Noel Hodgson’s home – he was at Oxford when his parents left Berwick and then the war started and he was in the army. He had a much stronger connection with Berwick. His name’s also on the memorials at Thornbury, where he was born, at Durham School and Christ Church Oxford, and on the House of Lords Memorial (as a Bishop’s son).

  2. In the “Last Leave” extract you mention a relative of mine H.P.Cole died 3/4/1916, my wife and I visited his memorial in Corbie on the 2/04/2012 to pay our respects and left a Poppy Day Cross. What a waste of all our fine young men! regards Nigel

  3. Thank you, Nigel. I think Humphrey Cole’s part in the story is especially sad because he had so little time. It’s good to know that his family remembers him.

    • I have walked the Black Sail pass and stayed at the bothy, ascending both Great Gable and Green Gable, its a hidden gem. I believe the bothy is a youth hostel. Nigel

      • I’d like to walk there myself some time, just to see what he saw. For the moment, though, I’m having to make do with photographs (though I do know some people who take very good photographs!)

  4. Hi Charlotte,

    I am very interested in W.N. Hodgson and was wondering if you had any idea when this book might be published ? One of the questions that is always asked about his death is that he was apparenty killed along with his batman and there is some suggestion that they were buried next to/near each other but no one appears to know who that was. If we look at the Devonshire Cemetery and we accept that information, the most likely candidate is possibly Private Samuel Ogden ? Have you come across any mention of the identity of who his batman may have been ?

    Many thanks

    • The author, John Lewis-Stempel, in his book ‘Six Weeks’, names Hodgson’s valet as ‘Pearson’.
      All the Best

  5. I dropped by Thornbury Parish Church this morning – wasting some time before an old friends funeral nearby.
    Being a keen scholar of WW1 – I was naturally drawn to the war memorial and Hodgson’s name immediately stood out as one of the few officers and the only holder of the Military Cross .
    It’s a magnificent church and well worth a visit but I could see no other mention of him in the church presumably as his father had gone on to greater things as a bishop !

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