Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Born On This Day- March 13th... Old Queen, Sir Hugh Seymour Walpole

Walpole making Noel Coward beg for it.

Although I am an avowed Anglophile, I must admit to never having read the works of Hugh Walpole, & I figure I served his genres by having reading Evelyn Waugh. Walpole was born in Auckland, New Zealand & educated at Cambridge University. Walpole was a prolific writer: 36 novels, 5 volumes of short stories, 2 plays & 3 volumes of memoirs. His skill at scene-setting& spirited plots, his striking profile as a well-paid lecturer & his driving ambition brought him a large readership in Britain & the USA. A best-selling author in the 1920s & 1930s, his works are rarely read since his death. Walpole wrote successfully & profitably in many genres: novels, short stories, school novels, gothic horror & biography. He also wrote plays & screenplays, including George Cukor’s David Copperfield for MGM in 1935.

Walpole was a prominent member of the1930s London gay literary group including Noel Coward, Ivor Novello, W.H. Auden & Christopher Isherwood. Among his many lovers were the celebrated Danish opera tenor- Lauritz Melchior  & English set designer- Percy Anderson. In 1929 he met a handsome London policeman- Harold Cheever, who became his chauffeur & companion for the rest of Walpole’s life.

He died from a heart attack in 1941 while doing Red Cross volunteer war work in English Lake Country where he lived & based most of his stories.

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