Sir Hugh S. Walpole, 1884-1941
In 2011, Peter Hitchens, an admirer of Walpole, though not an uncritical one, wrote:
Henry James and John Buchan praised him. Joseph Conrad, T. S. Eliot and Virginia Woolf were kind about him. What’s more, his books sold enormously well on both sides of the Atlantic, he was knighted, and he became very rich … Yet now he has vanished completely, his books not even to be found on the back shelves of most second hand shops, dismissed as “unreadable.”
If one is curious about how such a thing could happen, check out one of Hugh Walpole’s novels at the Salem Athenaeum and join the discussion of Hugh Walpole’s work at the Reappraisal Reading Circle’s meeting on Monday, May 14 at 7 pm. If Hugh Walpole was, as has been said, the most successful romantic novelist of his time, is it the genre that has failed him, or is it his style and artlessness, or the sensibilities of our time? Of the nearly 40 novels Walpole wrote, few titles have any name recognition at all today, but little girls have been named Judith and Vanessa for his characters. Colleges have retained his books – colleges and the Salem Athenaeum. Walpole wrote psychological novels, children’s stories, historical fiction (Herries Chronicles), regional fiction, and gothic horror stories (Portrait of a man with red hair, and The killer and the slain), detective stories (Behind the Screen) and biography (Anthony Trollope). Lately, it seems that some readers who report to Goodreads have discovered Walpole. How will the Athenaeum readers respond to Walpole at the meeting on May 14?
Reappraisal Reading Circle meets to discuss the works of prolific, popular authors of the past whose works are held in quantity by the Athenaeum. All are welcome to participate!