Sir Hugh Walpole

Hugh Walpole, who was the son of a Bishop, was born in New Zealand in 1884. He was five years old when he came to England and was educated at King’s School in Canterbury and Emmanuel College in Cambridge. He initially worked as a teacher before turning to writing full time. He was working in Russia as a journalist with his friend Arthur Ransome when the First World War was declared. He joined the Russian Red Cross and was awarded the Order of St George. His experience at the front provided him the material for two of his successful novels, The Dark Forest and The Secret City. Hugh Walpole became a very successful novelist and was knighted in 1937.

However, Walpole did not discover the Lake District until he was forty. He bought Brackenburn, which overlooked Derwent Water, in 1923 and which he called his “little paradise on Catbells“. He wrote a great deal while at Brackenburn including the fifteen volumes of his diaries, which are now in The Keswick Museum and Art Gallery. The museum has manuscripts of many of his novels, together with the work by William Wordsworth and Robert Southey. Hugh Walpole died of a heart attack brought on by over exertion while doing volunteer war work in 1941 in Keswick. His grave, which is at the corner of the terrace on the south side of St John’s Church in Keswick, is marked by a Celtic cross.

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