Cyril Walter Hodges was born in Beckenham, Kent, the son of Cyril Hodges, "a leading figure in advertising and copyrighting". He was educated at Dulwich College and Goldsmiths' College, Hodges fell in love with and married Greta Becker, a ballet dancer, in 1936. They remained married until she died in 1999.
Hodges spent most of his career as a freelance illustrator. For many years he did line drawings for the Radio Times. Among the writers for children with whom he collaborated as an illustrator were Ian Serraillier, Rosemary Sutcliff (The Eagle of the Ninth), Rhoda Power (Redcap Runs Away), and Elizabeth Goudge (The Little White Horse).
During a year spent in New York he was encouraged to write, as well as illustrate, Columbus Sails, a work of historical fiction for children. It proved popular on both sides of the Atlantic. Its success eventually led to several others including The Namesake: A Story Of King Alfred; Magna Carta; The Norman Conquest; The Marsh King, a Namesake sequel about Alfred the Great; and The Spanish Armada (1964 to 1967). The Namesake was a commended runner up for the annual Carnegie Medal, which recognises the author of the year's best British children's book.
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