1930-1939 (2)


Gordon Howard Eliot Hodgkin was born on 6 August in Hammersmith, London.

Hodgkin’s first name came from his maternal grandfather, Gordon Hewart, a draper’s son from Bury, Lancashire, who became a journalist, lawyer, M.P. (1913-1922) and Lord Chief Justice (1922-1940). Lord Hewart said in 1924, “it is not merely of some importance but is of fundamental importance that justice should not only be done, but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done”.

Hodgkin’s father’s side of the family connected him to a series of interlocking Quaker families, scientists such as Thomas Hodgkin (1798-1866. the older brother of his great-great-grandfather), who gave his name to Hodgkin’s disease and the pharmacist Luke Howard F.R.S. (1772-1864), who named the clouds in 1802 and after whom Hodgkin took his second name. Cousins include Roger Fry (1866-1934) and his sister Margery (1874-1958) as well as the conductor Sir John Eliot Gardiner (1943- ).

Eliot is another family name. Eliot Hodgkin (1905-1987) was another cousin, collector and artist (specialising in still lifes in tempera). Hodgkin’s father, Eliot was a passionate gardener, who was awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s gold medal, and worked for ICI. When a gardening friend, E.B. Anderson, invented the ‘queen of the dwarf irises’, he named it ‘Katherine Hodgkin’ in honour of H’s mother. The Daily Telegraph said that it “Has to be seen to be believed.”

The 'Katherine Hodgkin' Iris


At the age of 5 Hodgkin determines to become a painter.