English novelist Edgar Wallace was born on April 1, 1875 in London, England. He is best known as an author of crime fiction and thrillers, but today he is known as the co-creator of King Kong, writing the early screenplay and story for the movie, as well as a short story "King Kong" (1933) credited to him and Draycott Dell. As an author, he wrote more than 150 detective novels, selling as many as 5 million in one year. To assist in his writing he designed and patented the Edgar Wallace Plot wheel. His popularity at the time was comparable to that of Charles Dickens. More than any other author, many of his books were adapted to the big screen, including King Kong (1933). In 1894 Wallace enlisted as a private in the Royal West regiment and served in the medical staff corps. During his service he began writing, one of his submissions a song that was eventually performed on the stage by a music hall comedian. During the Boer War, in 1896 Wallace was posted in South Africa, where he continued to write in contributions to the Cape Colony press. His meeting there with Rudyard Kipling inspired many of his poems; his collection of ballads, The Mission that Failed! (1898). He worked with Reuters for a time, then as war correspondent for the Daily Mail in 1900.
His first novel was The Four Just Men (1905) but his fame as a novelist was clinched with Sanders of the River (1911), which was based on his African adventures, with Victorian imperialist ideology of the day. Wallace also produced many articles, essays and stories for various journals. During World War I he was a special interrogator for the War Office. In 1921 he married his secretary Ethel Violet King with whom he'd have one daughter. Publications to follow were The Green Archer (1923), The Mind of Mr J.G. Reeder (1925), People; Edgar Wallace: The Biography of a Phenomenon (1926), and The Terror (1930), which is typical of his work and still ranks high as a thriller. Wallace also wrote many successful plays including The Calendar (1929) (the year he was featured on the cover of Time magazine), On the Spot, and The Case of the Frightened Lady (1931), which led to his being invited to Hollywood to write scripts. On February 10, 1931, he died in Hollywood of pneumonia. At the time of his death, Wallace was working on the screenplay for King Kong.
Michael Thomas Barry is the author of Great Britain’s Literary Legends. The book can be purchased from Amazon through the following links:
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