|Sir Anthony Hope Hawkins|
9 February 1863|
|Died||8 July 1933
|Other names||Anthony Hope|
|Notable work(s)||The Prisoner of Zenda
Rupert of Hentzau
Sir Anthony Hope Hawkins, better known as Anthony Hope (9 February 1863 – 8 July 1933), was an English novelist and playwright. He was a prolific writer, especially of adventure novels but he is remembered best for only two books: The Prisoner of Zenda (1894) and its sequel Rupert of Hentzau (1898). These works, "minor classics" of English literature, are set in the contemporaneous fictional country of Ruritania and spawned the genre known as Ruritanian romance. Zenda has inspired many adaptations, most notably the 1937 Hollywood movie of the same name.
Early career and Zenda
Hope trained as a lawyer and barrister, being called to the Bar by the Middle Temple in 1887. He had time to write, as his working day was not overly 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 a Liberal candidate for the Southern Division of South Bucks 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. A.E.W. Mason deemed these conversations "so truly set in the London of their day that the social historian would be unwise to neglect them," and said that they were written with "delicate wit [and] a shade of sadness."
The idea for Hope's tale of political intrigue, The Prisoner of Zenda, being the history of three months in the life of an English gentleman, came to him at the close of 1893 as he was walking in London. Hope finished the first draft in a month and the book was in print by April. The story is set in the fictional European kingdom of 'Ruritania', a term which has come to mean 'the novelist's and dramatist's locale for court romances in a modern setting.' Zenda achieved instant success and its witty protagonist, the debonair Rudolf Rassendyll, became a well-known literary creation. The novel was praised by Mason, literary critic Andrew Lang, and Robert Louis Stevenson. The popularity of Zenda convinced Hope to give up the "brilliant legal career [that] seemed to lie ahead of him" to become a full-time writer but he "never again achieved such complete artistic success as in this one book." Also in 1894, Hope produced The God in the Car, a political story.
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. He went on a publicity tour of the United States in late 1897, during which he impressed a New York Times reporter as being somewhat like Rudolf Rassendyll: a well-dressed Englishman with a hearty laugh, a soldierly attitude, a dry sense of humour, "quiet, easy manners," and an air of shrewdness.
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. 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 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; Roger Lancelyn Green is especially damning of this effort. In 1907, a collection of his short stories and novelettes was published under the title Tales of Two People. 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 Beaumaroy Home from the Wars, in 1919 and Lucinda in 1920. Lancelyn Green asserts that Hope was "a first-class amateur but only a second-class professional writer.
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 died 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.
- Taylor 2004.
- Lancelyn Green 1966, p. vii.
- Hope's Biography at Online-literature.com, written by C.D. Merriman
- Lancelyn Green 1966, p. ix.
- Oxford English Dictionary
- Prisoner of Zenda site's author information
- Lancelyn Green 1966, pp. viii, x.
- "Various Dramatic Topics". New York Times. 17 October 1897. p. 21. Retrieved 19 February 2008.
- Lancelyn Green 1966, p. xi.
- The London Gazette: . 2 April 1918. Retrieved 1 February 2010.
- Lancelyn Green, Roger (1966). Introduction to Prisoner of Zenda & Rupert of Hentzau. Everyman's Library. J. M. Dent & Sons. This six-page introduction is primarily a biography and includes a detailed bibliography of Hope's oeuvre and of biography and criticism concerning him.
- Taylor, Clare L. (2004). "Hawkins, Sir Anthony Hope [pseud. Anthony Hope] (1863–1933)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/33769. Retrieved 1 February 2010.
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