Anthony Hope

Prolific English Adventure Novelist and Playwright Sir Anthony Hope Hawkins, was born 9 February 1863. Hope was educated at St John’s School, Leatherhead, Marlborough College and Balliol College, Oxford. Hope trained as a lawyer and barrister, being called to the Bar by the Middle Temple in 1887. He served under the future Liberal Prime Minister Herbert H Asquith, who thought him a promising barrister and who was disappointed by his decision to turn to writing.

Hope had time to write, as his working day was not over full during these early years and he lived with his widowed father, then vicar of St Bride’s Church, Fleet Street. Hope’s short pieces appeared in periodicals but for his first book he was forced to resort to a self-publishing press. A Man of Mark (1890) is notable primarily for its similarities to Zenda: it is set in an imaginary country, Aureataland and features political upheaval and humour. More novels and short stories followed, including Father Stafford in 1891 and the mildly successful Mr Witt’s Widow in 1892. He stood as the Liberal candidate for Wycombe in the election of 1892 but was not elected. In 1893 he wrote three novels (Sport Royal, A Change of Air and Half-a-Hero) and a series of sketches that first appeared in the Westminster Gazette and were collected in 1894 as The Dolly Dialogues, illustrated by Arthur Rackham. Dolly was his first major literary success.

He then wrote The Prisoner of Zenda, in 1894, a tale of Political Intrigue set in a fictional country of Ruritania. Which details three months in the life of a witty debonair English gentleman, named Rudolf Rassendyll. This Together with its sequel Rupert of Hentzau (1898) spawned the genre known as Ruritanian romance. Zenda has also inspired many adaptations, most notably the 1937 Hollywood movie adaptation of the same name. The popularity of Zenda convinced Hope to give up the “brilliant legal career to become a full-time writer. In 1894, Hope produced The God in the Car, a political story and in total Hope wrote 32 volumes of fiction over the course of his lifetime and he had a large popular following. In 1896 he published The Chronicles of Count Antonio, followed in 1897 by a tale of adventure set on a Greek island, entitled Phroso. In 1898, he wrote Simon Dale, an historical novel involving actress and courtesan Nell Gwyn. Marie Tempest appeared in the dramatisation, called English Nell. One of Hope’s plays, The Adventure of Lady Ursula, was produced in 1898. This was followed by his novel The King’s Mirror (1899), which Hope considered one of his best works; and Captain Dieppe (1899). In 1900, he published Quisanté and he was elected chairman of the committee of the Society of Authors. He wrote Tristram of Blent in 1901, “The Intrusions of Peggy” in 1902, and Double Harness in 1904, followed by A Servant of the Public in 1905, about the love of acting.

In 1906, he produced Sophy of Kravonia, a novel in a similar vein to Zenda which was serialised in the Windsor Magazine and filmed twice, in Italy in 1916 as Sofia De Kravonia, and in the USA in 1920 as Sophy of Kravonia or, The Virgin of Paris. Both adaptations featured the actress Diana Karenne in the title role (billed as “Diana Kareni” in the latter film). In 1907, a collection of his short stories and novelettes was published under the title Tales of Two People; as well as the novel “Helena’s Path”. In 1910, he wrote Second String, followed by Mrs Maxon Protests the next year. Hope wrote and co-wrote many plays and political non-fiction during the First World War, some under the auspices of the Ministry of Information. Later publications included The Secret of the Tower, and Beaumaroy Home from the Wars, in 1919 and Lucinda in 1920. Hope married Elizabeth Somerville (1885/6–1946) in 1903 and they had two sons and a daughter. He was knighted in 1918 for his contribution to propaganda efforts during World War I. He published an autobiographical book, Memories and Notes, in 1927. Hope sadly died on 8 July 1933 from the effects of of throat cancer at the age of 70 at his country home, Heath Farm at Walton-on-the-Hill in Surrey.There is a blue plaque on his house in Bedford Square, London.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky

CrimeBest known for writing the novel “Crime and Punishment” the Russian Novelist Fyodor Dovstoyevsky sadly passed a way on 9th February. Born 11 November 1821 in the Mariinsky hospital in Moscow, Russia. Dostoyevsky was introduced to literature at an early age – fairy tales and legends, as well as books by English, French, German and Russian authors. His mother’s sudden death in 1837 devastated him. At around the same time, he left school to enter the Nikolayev Military Engineering Institute. Once he graduated, he worked as an engineer and briefly enjoyed a liberal lifestyle.

He soon began to translate books to earn extra money. Around the mid-1840s he wrote his first novel, Poor Folk, allowing him to join St Petersburg’s literary circles. He also wrote short stories and essays which explore human psychology in the troubled political, social and spiritual context of 19th-century Russia. Although Dostoyevsky began writing books in the mid-1840s, his most remembered are from his last years, including Crime and Punishment, The Idiot and The Brothers Karamazov. He wrote eleven novels, three novellas, seventeen short novels and three essays, and has been acknowledged by many literary critics as one of the greatest and most prominent psychologists in universal literature.

In 1849 he was arrested for his involvement with the Petrashevsky Circle, a secret, however society of liberal utopians as well as a literary discussion group. He and other members were condemned to death, but the penalty proved to be a mock execution and the sentence was commuted to four years’ hard labour in Siberia. After his release, Dostoyevsky was forced to serve as a soldier, but was discharged from the military due to his ill health. In the following years Dostoyevsky worked as a journalist, publishing and editing several magazines of his own and later a serial, A Writer’s Diary. When he began to travel around western Europe, his finances suffered because of his gambling addiction and he had to face the humiliation of begging for money. He suffered from epilepsy throughout his adult life. But through sheer energy and the volume of his work, he eventually became one of the most widely read and renowned Russian writers, His books remain popular and have been translated into more than 170 languages and sold around 15 million copies. He has also influenced a vast range of writers, from Anton Chekhov and James Joyce to Ernest Hemingway, Jean-Paul Sartre and Ayn Rand, to name but a few.