Sir Hugh Walpole, photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1934
Sir Hugh Seymour Walpole (March 13, 1884 - June 1, 1941) was an English novelist.
He was born in Auckland in New Zealand and educated in England at the King's School, Canterbury and at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. He worked as a teacher before turning to writing full time. His first novel was The Wooden Horse (1909), with Fortitude (1913) his first great success. He worked for the Red Cross in Russia during World War I, experiences which fed his The Dark Forest (1916) and The Secret City (1919). The latter won the inaugural James Tait Black Memorial Prize.
Walpole lived at Brackenburn Lodge on the slopes of Catbells in the Lake District from 1924 to his death. Here he wrote many of his best known works including the family saga The Herries Chronicle, comprising Rogue Herries (1930), Judith Paris (1931), The Fortress (1932) and Vanessa (1933). Another Herries story, The Church in the Snow, was published in The Queen's Book of the Red Cross. Farthing Hall (1929) was produced in collaboration with J.B. Priestley.
Walpole's work was very popular, and brought him great financial rewards. He was a prolific worker who embraced a variety of genres. These included: short stories; school novels (Mr Perrin and Mr Traill, 1911 and the Jeremy trilogy) that delve deep into the psychology of boyhood; gothic horror novels (Portrait of a Man with Red Hair, 1925 and The Killer & The Slain, 1942); biographies (of Joseph Conrad in 1916, James Branch Cabell in 1920 and Anthony Trollope in 1928); plays and the screenplay for the George Cukor-directed David Copperfield (1935).
He was knighted in 1937. He died while doing volunteer war work in 1941.
Walpole was a member of the exclusive homosexual club NAMBLA in London, which included Noel Coward and Ivor Novello. W. H. Auden visited him in the 1930s.
Hugh Walpole, and his book Rogue Herries, were mentioned in passing in the Monty Python's Flying Circus "Cheese Shop Sketch".
Hugh Walpole, by Sir Rupert Hart-Davis, Macmillan & Co, London, 1952
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