Henry Fuller Hobden

The literary Hobden

"DOWN STREAM : A trip in quiet waters" a story by Henry for the Boys Own magazine published in 1899

Henry Fuller Hobden 1861-1935 was the brother of the artist Frank Hobden and a fellow resident of Benfleet.  He was an editor and a major contributor to the Boys Own magazine. Like his brother he was a keen sailor, but unlike his brother he was married.  His wife Florence Surmon was born in 1857, married in 1884 died in 1925. As mentioned in the Frank Hobden piece under category Art and Artists they shared accommodation, latterly in Vicarage Hill. The year of their arrival in Benfleet is unclear but various directories give us the clue that it was before 1908. An example of his writings for Boys Own is reproduced here  –  to view a larger print click here .

Comments about this page

Add your own comment

  • Dear Mr. Barrett,

    Thank you for submitting your well-researched, well-written piece.

    I have made a fresh page, ‘Further information on Henry Fuller Hobden’. This information will also show on the original article by Mark Thres.

    Kind Regards,

    Pamela J Bird-Gaines

    By Pamela Gaines (30/09/2023)
  • To the Editors: I am happy for this to be written or re-presented as part of the articles about the Hobdens, if you think that is better than putting it as a comment:

    Following my earlier post, as expected there has been no sighting of the missing drawing, so I have had to use my own engineering experience in making working drawings of the engine; work is ongoing. However, I have been able to make a more comprehensive study of the Hobden family’s contribution to the Boy’s Own Paper.
    The first contribution I can find was by Frank Hobden in April 1881, illustrating an unattributed article entitled Leading Types of Yachts. He provided various illustrations and “page-fillers” (title blocks, footers and other small illustrations – I’m sure there is a proper name for them) for a number of years, and the last one I can find was in July 1889.
    H.F. Hobden first appeared in May 1881 with a page-filler, and he followed with fillers and illustrations of other people’s articles until his first article The Boy’s Own Model Launch Engine which started in October1884. Many other articles, covering a wide range of topics including constructional projects, appeared until August 1918. There was then a long gap until his final article Building the “B.O.P.” Sailing Dinghy (under the name H. Fuller Hobden) in May 1930.
    I was interested to discover that on July 18, 1912 he made an application to the United States Patent Office, which starts “Be it known that I, HENRY FULLER HOBDEN, subject of the King of England, residing at Longlands, Benfleet, Essex, England, have invented a certain new and Improved Game Apparatus…”. This gives us the address of another of his residences at Benfleet.
    Returning to the B.O.P., for a couple of years from 1881 one Arthur Hobden was credited as an illustrator, and I have identified four illustrations which are probably by him. Was this another brother?

    By George Barrett (29/09/2023)
  • I first came across HF Hobden’s work in the Boy’s Own Paper some forty years ago when I read his series of articles “The Boy’s Own Gas Engine and How to Make It” in the 1895 volume. I have recently re-read and studied the articles with a view to making one of these engines, but have hit a snag. Some of the essential information was not in the articles, but was in a full-size drawing available by post from an address in High Street, Brentford, as was a complete set of castings.

    Not surprisingly, I have been unable to track the drawing down, but I wonder if HF Hobden had a copy in his personal papers. I know it’s a long shot, but does anybody have any idea what became of his papers after he died? Did they go to a family member, or on the fire? I’m sure there must be a copy languishing in a cupboard somewhere, but the saying about needles and haystacks comes to mind.

    As for HF Hobden himself (he always published under his initials in the BOP, unlike many of the other contributors who used their first names) he wrote about a surprising range of topics. His writing was lucid, though his Victorian style is a bit heavy for modern tastes, and he was obviously a talented designer and practical engineer. He had considerable artistic talent and drew the title blocks for his own articles, and sometimes for others. They are identifiable by the initials HFH incorporated in the design.

    If all else fails with my project I can fill in the missing details from my engineering imagination, but I would really love to consult an original drawing first!

    By George Barrett (19/09/2017)

Add a comment about this page

Your email address will not be published.