Tom Hood

For other people named Thomas Hood, see Thomas Hood (disambiguation).
Tom Hood

Portrait of Tom Hood, by Elliott & Fry, albumen carte-de-visite, 1860s–1870s
Born (1835-01-19)19 January 1835
Leytonstone, England
Died 20 November 1874(1874-11-20)
Surrey, England
Nationality English
Alma mater Pembroke College, Oxford
Genre Satire

Tom Hood (19 January 1835 – 20 November 1874), was an English humorist and playwright, and son of the poet and author Thomas Hood. A prolific author, in 1865 he was appointed editor of the magazine Fun. He founded Tom Hood's Comic Annual in 1867.


Tom Hood in caricature
by Frederick Waddy (1872)

Hood was born at Lake House, Leytonstone, England, the son of the poet Thomas Hood and his wife. After attending University College School and Louth Grammar School, he entered Pembroke College, Oxford, in 1853. There he studied for the Church and passed all the examinations for the degree of BA, but did not graduate.

At Oxford he wrote his Farewell to the Swallows (1853) and Pen and Pencil Pictures (1854). He began to write for the Liskeard Gazette in 1856, and edited that paper in 1858–1859. In 1861 he wrote Quips and Cranks, and Daughters of King Daher, and other Poems.[1] The next year, he published Loves of Tom Tucker and Little Bo-Peep, a Rhyming Rigmarole, followed in 1864 by Vere Vereker's Vengeance, a Sensation, and in 1865 by Jingles and Jokes for the Little Folks. His novels included A Disputed Inheritance (1863), A Golden Heart (1867),[2] The Lost Link (1868),[3] Captain Masters's Children (1865),[4] and Love and Valour (1872).[5] In 1866 he translated Ernest L'Épine's La Légende de Croquemitaine.[6]

He also wrote two books on English verse composition, several children's books (in conjunction with his sister, Frances Freeling Broderip), and a body of magazine and journal articles. Hood drew with considerable facility, and illustrated several of his father's comic verses, some of which were collected in his father's book, Precocious Piggy.[7][8]

Meanwhile, in 1860, the younger Hood obtained a position in the War Office, which he served for five years.

In 1865 he left when selected as editor of Fun, the comic paper, which became very popular under his direction.

In private life, Hood's geniality and sincere friendliness secured him the affection and esteem of a wide circle of acquaintance.[9] Some of these friends became contributors to his publications. For example, he befriended the dramatist W. S. Gilbert and the American journalist Ambrose Bierce,[10] both frequent contributors to Fun. Hood wrote the burlesque, Robinson Crusoe; or, The Injun Bride and the Injured Wife (1867), together with Gilbert, H. J. Byron, H. S. Leigh and Arthur Sketchley. Hood's Fun gang also included playwright Thomas W. Robertson, among others.[11] In 1867 he first issued Tom Hood's Comic Annual.

Hood died suddenly in his cottage at Peckham Rye, Surrey in November 1874.

Controversy over Alice in Wonderland

In 1887 the literary critic Edward Salmon suggested[12] that Lewis Carroll had plagiarised[13][14] Hood's From Nowhere to the North Pole (1875)[15] when writing Alice:

Between Tom Hood and Mr. Lewis Carroll — to call Mr. D. C. Lutwidge by his famous nom de plume — there is more than a suspicion of resemblance in some particulars. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland narrowly escapes challenging a comparison with From Nowhere to the North Pole. The idea of both is so similar that Mr. Carroll can hardly have been surprised if some people have believed he was inspired by Hood.[16]

Carroll replied a month later, in a terse letter to editor of The Nineteenth Century:

SIR, I find it stated, in an article on 'Literature for the Little Ones,' in your October number, that my little book, 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland,' first published in 1865,[17] was probably suggested by the late Mr. T. Hood's 'From Nowhere to the North Pole,' first published in 1864. May I mention, first, that I have never read Mr. Hood's book; secondly, that I composed mine in the summer of 1862, and wrote it out, in the form lately published in facsimile, during 1863? Thus it will be seen that neither book could have been suggested by the other.

As it is, in my view, and no doubt in that of many others of your readers, an act of dishonesty to imitate another man's book without due acknowledgment,[18] I trust to your sense of justice to allow this reply to the charge brought against me in the above-named article to appear in your forthcoming number.[19]

In 1889 Carroll even inserted an announcement in the back of The Nursery "Alice",[20] correcting his previous explanation and further denying Tom Hood's influence:

In October 1887, the writer of an article on "Literature for the Little Ones": in The Nineteenth Century, stated that, in 1864 "TOM HOOD was delighting the world with such works as From Nowhere to the North Pole. Between TOM HOOD and Mr. LEWIS CARROLL there is more than a suspicion of resemblance in some particulars. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland narrowly escapes challenging a comparison with From Nowhere to the North Pole. The idea of both is so similar that Mr. Carroll can hardly have been surprised if some people have believed he was inspired by HOOD." The date 1864 is a mistake. From Nowhere to the North Pole was first published in 1874.[21]

Legacy and honours


  1. The Daughters of King Daher, a Story of the Mohammedan Invasion of Scinde; and other Poems, Saunders, Otley, and Co. 1861.
  2. A Golden Heart: A Novel, Vol. II, Vol. III, Tinsley Brothers, 1867.
  3. The Lost Link: A Novel, Vol. II, Vol. III, Tinsley Brothers, 1868.
  4. Captain Master's Children: A Novel, Vol. II, Vol. III, Sampson Low, Son, and Marston, 1865.
  5. Love and Valor, James R. Osgood and Company, 1872.
  6. The Days of Chivalry, or the Legend of Croquemitaine, Cassell, Petter and Galpin, 1866.
  7. Anonymous (1873). Cartoon Portraits and Biographical Sketches of Men of the Day. Illustrated by Waddy, Frederick. London: Tinsley Brothers. p. 64. Retrieved 2010-12-30.
  8. "Clever and kindly Tom Hood, not long before he died, gave me a bound copy of that droll yet sympathetic nursery story, written by his distinguished father the poet and wit, entitled ' The Headlong Career and Woeful Ending of Precocious Piggy.' Tom Hood often told me how, as a little boy, he had enjoyed the comical history, when it was related to him by his father, who had written it especially for the amusement of his children, and who were all, more or less, deeply interested in Piggy's adventures. I have drawn many a laugh and many a tear from the little ones to whom I have read the story, and my copy, a gift from the son, who so cleverly illustrated his father's quaint fancy, is much prized by me." — Squire & Effie Bancroft, Mr. & Mrs. Bancroft on and off the Stage, Vol. II, Chap. 1, Richard Bentley & Son, 1888, p. 13.
  9. "Tom Hood had an influence among the younger writers and artists of his day that cannot be over-rated. He was the most unselfish and least jealous of men. He loved to get his friends about him to talk shop, and to encourage one another in their various callings. Every Friday night of his life, though not particularly blest with this world's riches, he gave a cheery Bohemian supper-party, to which the best fellows in the world were invited. Who that was privileged to attend them can have forgotten Tom Hood's " Friday nights" in South Street, Brompton, where after a pipe and music, conversation, and poetry readings, we sat down to a homely meal of cold joint and roast potatoes, and discussed all the wonderful things that we youngsters intended to do in the future." — Clement Scott, Thirty Years at the Play, The Railway and General Automatic Library, 1891, pp. 20–21.
  10. Robert L. Gale, An Ambrose Bierce Companion, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2001.
  11. T. H. S. Escott, "Beginning Work (1865–6)." In Platform, Press, Politics & Play, J. W. Arrowsmith, 1895.
  12. Carolyn Sigler, "Authorizing Alice: Professional Authority, the Literary Marketplace, and Victorian Women's Re-Visions of the Alice Books," The Lion and the Unicorn, Vol. 22, No. 3, September 1998.
  13. Florence Becker Lennon, Lewis Carroll, Cassell & Co., 1947, p. 329.
  14. Carolyn Sigler, Alternative Alices: Visions and Revisions of Lewis Carroll's Alice Books : An Anthology, University Press of Kentucky, 1997, p. 206.
  15. From Nowhere to the North Pole, Chatto & Windus, 1875.
  16. Edward Salmon, "Literature for the Little Ones", The Nineteenth Century, Vol. XXII, October 1887, p. 571.
  17. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Macmillan and Co., 1865.
  18. "Perhaps the hardest thing in all literature – at least I have found it so: by no voluntary effort can I accomplish it: I have to take it as it comes – is to write anything original. And perhaps the easiest is, when once an original line has been struck out, to follow it up, and to write any amount more to the same tune. I do not know if "Alice in Wonderland" was an original story – I was, at least, no conscious imitator in writing it – but I do know that, since it came out, something like a dozen story-books have appeared, on identically the same pattern." — Lewis Carroll, "Preface," Sylvie and Bruno, Macmillan & Co., 1890, p. xii.
  19. The Nineteenth Century, Vol. XXII, November 1887, p. 744.
  20. "According to Selwyn Goodacre and Jeffrey Stern, the same warning also appeared in the first editions of Sylvie and Bruno (1890) and Sylvie and Bruno Concluded (1893), as well in the reprints of the People's Edition of Wonderland until 1893 and Through the Looking-Glass until 1894." — Jan Susina, "Imitations of Alice: Lewis Carroll and the Anxiety of Influence." In The Place of Lewis Carroll in Children's Literature, Chap. V, Routledge, 2010.
  21. "Carroll had contacted his publisher, Macmillan, concerning the matter and learned the British Museum had a first edition of Hood's book dated 1875, although it would have most likely been published early enough to catch the Christmas trade. Macmillan even noted that a review for From Nowhere to the North Pole had appeared in Athenæum on 12 December 1874, which described it as "a fantastic history in the style of Alice's Adventures." Once it became apparent that Wonderland was published prior to From Nowhere to the North Pole, Carroll no longer considered that the two texts could have been created independently. He now assumed that Hood must have been imitating him." — Susina (2010), p. 73.
  22. Society and Caste, T. Edgar Pemberton (ed.), D. C. Heath & Co., Publishers, 1905.
  23. Poems: Humorous and Pathetic, Chatto and Windus, 1877.
  24. "In 1875 Hood died. One day, several weeks later, Bierce was walking opposite Warwick Castle when he suddenly felt the presence of his friend in the street. The experience was never forgotten and he made fantastic use of it years later in "The Damned Thing," one of his most famous stories." — Carey McWilliams, "Ambrose Bierce," The American Mercury, February 1929.
  25. Gale (2001), pp. 131–132.
  26. Victoria County History of Essex, 1973


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