Walpole was socially well-connected, a prolific and highly popular author of historical fiction, school stories, and comical Gothic tales. Many of his works now appear contrived and sentimental, but his best draw on personal experience and remain readable and moving. The Dark Forest (1916) has documentary detail from Walpole's own wartime Red Cross service in Russia, allied to a tragic love-story between an Englishman and a nurse. The Cathedral (1922) is set in the fictional town of ‘Polchester’, telling of the progressive disintegration of a proud churchman as his marriage and ecclesiastical life fall apart; he is unable to adapt to changing moral and social values. Walpole's school books, notably the Jeremy series and Mr Perrin and Mr Traill (1911), make light-hearted reading but describe public-school life evocatively. Similarly, the Herries Chronicle, set in eighteenth-century Cumberland, starting with Rogue Herries (1930), still rewards the reader.
W. Somerset Maugham, Simon Raven JS