#AceHistoryNews – March.21: He was a New Zealand-born English novelist. His vivid plots, skill at scene-setting, and high profile as a lecturer on literature brought him financial success and a large readership in the UK and North America in the 1920s and 1930s, but his work has been largely neglected since his death.
Between 1909 and 1941 Walpole wrote thirty-six novels, five volumes of short stories, two original plays and three volumes of memoirs. His range included disturbing studies of the macabre, children’s stories and historical fiction, most notably his Herries Chronicle series, set in the English Lake District.
During the First World War he served in the Red Cross on the Russian–Austrian front, and worked in British propaganda. He worked in Hollywood writing scenarios for two Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer films in the 1930s.
Walpole conducted a succession of intense but discreet relationships with other men, and eventually settled down with a married policeman in the Lake District. Having as a young man eagerly sought the support of established authors, he was in his later years a generous sponsor of many younger writers.
He bequeathed a substantial legacy of paintings to the Tate Gallery and other British institutions.