Edgar Wallace (Richard Horatio Edgar Wallace) Biography
(1875–1932), (Richard Horatio Edgar Wallace), The Four Just Men, King Kong, The Man Who Bought London
British novelist, short-story writer, poet, and journalist, probably the most popular mystery and crime writer of all time. Born in Greenwich, the illegitimate son of an actor and actress, he was adopted by a fish porter, joined the army, and served in South Africa during the Boer War, writing war poetry and acting as a correspondent for Reuters and London newspapers. His first mystery and best-known work, The Four Just Men (1905), was promoted by a vast advertising campaign, and was followed by a stream of novels (173 in all), short stories, and plays; these earned him a fortune, yet he left vast debts when he died in Hollywood while working on the screenplay of King Kong. Much of his work is worthless: from it, however, can be singled out the novels The Man Who Bought London (1915), The Tomb of Ts'in (1916), The Crimson Circle (1922), and the short stories which feature J. G. Reeder, an original detective (The Mind of Mr J. G. Reeder, 1925; US title The Murder Book of Mr J. G. Reeder, and others), together with those set in West Africa (Sanders of the River, 1911, and others). See M. Lane, Edgar Wallace: The Biography of a Phenomenon (1938, revised 1964).