Writers

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Edgar Wallace

1875-1932

Richard Horatio Edgar Wallace (1875 – 1932) was an English writer. Edgar Wallace was born Richard Horatio Edgar Wallace in London. His mother, Mary Jane ‘Polly’ Richards was a widow and actor who had a sexual encounter with the lead of a play she was in, Richard Horatio Edgar. Edgar denied all knowledge of the encounter and Polly gave birth to her son in secret. Soon after his birth, baby Richard was given over to a foster family in Billingsgate and raised as Richard Freeman. Richard’s foster father, George Freeman, worked at the Billingsgate Fish Market. Wallace left school at the age of 12. He joined the army at age 21 and was a war correspondent during the Second Boer War, for Reuters and the Daily Mail. Struggling with debt, he left South Africa, returned to London, and began writing thrillers to raise income, publishing books including The Four Just Men (1905). Drawing on his time as a reporter in the Congo, covering the Belgian atrocities, Wallace serialised short stories in magazines such as The Windsor Magazine and later published collections such as Sanders of the River (1911). He signed with Hodder and Stoughton in 1921 and became an internationally recognised author. After an unsuccessful bid to stand as Liberal MP for Blackpool (as one of David Lloyd George's Independent Liberals) in the 1931 general election, Wallace moved to Hollywood, where he worked as a script writer for RKO.