Sir Hugh Walpole (Sir Hugh Seymour Walpole) Biography
(1884–1941), (Sir Hugh Seymour Walpole), Mr. Perrin and Mr. Traill, The Dark Forest
British novelist, born in New Zealand, educated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, the son of a canon who became bishop of Edinburgh in 1910. Like E. M. Forster he was a tutor to the children of Elizabeth von Arnim; he also taught at a preparatory school for a short time, which provided the background for his novel Mr. Perrin and Mr. Traill (1911). His First World War experiences, serving with the Red Cross and with a British propaganda unit in Russia, were reflected in The Dark Forest (1916) and The Secret City (1919). A sequence of three stories about a young boy, beginning with Jeremy (1919), introduced the cathedral city of Polchester which provided the setting for The Cathedral (1922); it also showed the influence of Trollope about whom he wrote in Anthony Trollope (1928). A darker current emerged in his two fantastic horror thrillers, The Old Ladies (1924) and Portrait of a Man with Red Hair: A Romantic Macabre (1925). From 1924 Walpole lived in Cumberland, the setting of his ‘Herries Chronicle’ (Rogue Herries, 1930; Judith Paris, 1931; The Fortress, 1932; and Vanessa, 1933). As well as numerous novels he wrote critical works, plays and screenplays, and Joseph Conrad (1916, revised 1924). Walpole was a popular figure in literary circles of his time and a friend of Henry James, but he was concerned that his work lacked the innovation of contemporary modernist writers such as his friend, V. Woolf. There is a life by R. Hart-Davis (1952).