Horace Annesley Vachell

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H. A. Vachell by caricaturist Harry Furniss

Horace Annesley Vachell (1861–1955) was a prolific English writer of novels, plays, short stories, essays and autobiographical works.

Born in Sydenham, Kent on 30 October 1861, he was educated at Harrow and Sandhurst. After a short period in the Rifle Brigade, he went to California where he became partner in a land company and married Lydie Phillips, his partner's daughter. His wife died in 1895 after the birth of their second child. He is said to have introduced the game of polo to Southern California.

After 17 years abroad, by 1900 Vachell was back in England and went on to write over 50 volumes of fiction including a popular school story, The Hill (1905), which gives an idealised view of life at Harrow and of the friendship between two boys. He also wrote 14 plays, the most successful of which in his lifetime was Quinneys (1914), made into a film in 1919 and again in 1927. 'Quinneys' was first published as a book by John Murray, London in 1914. It was "a book of friends; of quaint human characters against the background of a shop for faked antiques and genuine love."[1] Another play, The Case of Lady Camber (1915), was the basis for the film Lord Camber's Ladies (1932), produced by Alfred Hitchcock but not directed by him. It was later adapted again as The Story of Shirley Yorke. Vachell's last autobiographical book, More from Methuselah (1951), was published in the year of his 90th birthday.

Although some fiction, like the stories in Bunch Grass (1912), is set in American ranching country, much of his writing concerns a comfortably prosperous English way of life which was echoed in his beautiful old house near Bath and his old-fashioned, distinguished appearance and manner. He was a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He died on 10 January 1955 in Somerset.


  1. ^ "Books that demand notice". The Independent. 14 December 1914. Retrieved 24 July 2012. 

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