Anthony Hope [pseudonym of Sir Anthony Hope Hawkins] (1863–1933), British novelist mostly recognised for his adventure romance The Prisoner of Zenda. (1894)
Sir Anthony Hope Hawkins was born 9 February 1863 at Clapton House, Clapton, London, England. He was the youngest child of the Reverend Edwards Comerford Hawkins (d. 1906) headmaster of St John's Foundation School for the Sons of Poor Clergy, and Jane Isabella Grahame.
Hawkins attended his father's school, then went on to Marlborough College, where he was editor of The Marlburian. He then attended Balliol College, Oxford, became president of the Oxford Union in 1886 and graduated with honours in 1886. He was called to the bar by the Middle Temple in 1887 and had started writing short stories. He privately published the satire A Man of Mark in 1890.
Hawkins lived with his widowed father while pursing his career in law and writing. Father Stafford was published in 1891 but Mr Witt's Widow (1892) was his first taste of success. Sport Royal, (1893) A Change of Air (1893) and Half-a-Hero (1893) followed. Hawkins story of political court and intrigue, The Prisoner of Zenda (1894) `being the history of three months in the life of an English gentleman', is set in the fictional Germanic kingdom of Ruritania, which coined the term `Ruritania’, meaning `the novelist's and dramatist's locale for court romances in a modern setting.' (Oxford English Dictionary). It was an immediate success due to its charming and witty protagonist adventurer Rudolf Rassendyll and was adapted for theatre in 1895.
The God in the Car, a political story was published in 1894. Originally a serial published in the Westminster Gazette the Dolly Dialogues (1894) are poignant and witty sketches of society. Later this same year Hawkins would leave the bar to devote his full attentions to writing. Titles to follow were The Chronicles of Count Antonio, The Heart of the Princess Osra, (1896) and Phroso (1897) which were reviewed favourably. Hawkins embarked on a three-month lecture tour of America in 1897. He wrote Simon Dale in 1898 but it was his Rupert of Hentzau (1898) sequel to Zenda that restored his popularity. The King's Mirror followed in 1899 which Hawkins felt was his best work. Quisanté was published in 1900 and in the same year he was elected chairman of the committee of the Society of Authors. Hawkins also tried his hand at writing plays and The Adventure of Lady Ursula was produced in 1898.
On 1 July 1903 Hawkins married Elizabeth Somerville (1885/6–1946) with whom he had two sons and a daughter. For the next fourteen years they would live at 41 Bedford Square. A year later Double Harness (1904) was published, and his book about his love of acting A Servant of the Public came out in 1905. Sophy of Kravonia, (1906) Second String (1910) and Mrs Maxon Protests (1911) followed to mixed reviews. Though his writing career was waning he secured a respectable income from film rights and reprints. During World War I Hawkins would work for the Ministry of Information to counteract German propaganda, writing tracts including The New (German) Testament (1914). Hawkins was knighted for his services in 1918. Beaumaroy Home from the Wars (1919) was published a year later while Hawkins was suffering from long bouts of depression. 1927 saw Memories and Notes published.
Sir Anthony Hope Hawkins died at his home at Heath Farm on 8 July 1933 of throat cancer.
The Prisoner of Zenda has been adapted numerous times for television and film, the best-known version from 1937.
Biography written by C.D. Merriman for Jalic Inc. Copyright Jalic Inc 2005. All Rights Reserved.
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