|Birth Day:||April 1, 1875|
|Death Date:||Feb 10, 1932 (age 56)|
|Height:||in centimeters - N/A|
|Weight:||in kg - N/A|
As per our current Database, Edgar Wallace died on Feb 10, 1932 (age 56).
Wallace served as chairman of the Press Club, which continues to present an annual Edgar Wallace Award for excellence in writing. Following the great success of his novel The Ringer, Wallace was appointed chairman of the British Lion Film Corporation in return for giving British Lion first option on all his output. Wallace's contract gave him an annual salary, a substantial block of stock in the company, a large stipend from everything British Lion produced based on his work, plus 10% of British Lion's overall annual profits. Additionally, British Lion employed his elder son, Bryan E. Wallace, as a film editor. By 1929, Wallace's earnings were almost £50,000 per annum (equivalent to about £2 million in current terms). He also invented at this time the Luncheon Club, bringing together his two greatest loves: journalism and horse-racing.
He worked as a war correspondent before becoming a crime writer. He published his first work, a collection of ballads, in 1898.
Wallace's parents had a "broom cupboard" style sexual encounter during an after-show party. Discovering she was pregnant, his mother invented a fictitious obligation in Greenwich that would last at least half a year and obtained a room in a boarding house where she lived until her son's birth, on 1 April 1875. During her confinement she had asked her midwife to find a couple to foster the child. The midwife introduced Wallace's mother to her close friend, Mrs Freeman, a mother of ten children, whose husband George Freeman was a Billingsgate fishmonger. On 9 April 1875, his mother took Wallace to the semi-literate Freeman family, and made arrangements to visit often.
By his early teens, Wallace had held down numerous jobs such as newspaper-seller at Ludgate Circus near Fleet Street, milk-delivery boy, rubber factory worker, shoe shop assistant, and ship’s cook. A plaque at Ludgate Circus commemorates Wallace's first encounter with the newspaper business. He was dismissed from his job on the milk run for stealing money. In 1894, he became engaged to a local Deptford girl, Edith Anstree, but broke the engagement and enlisted in the infantry.
Wallace registered in the British Army under the name Edgar Wallace, after the author of Ben-Hur, Lew Wallace. At the time the medical records register him as having a 33-inch chest and being stunted from his childhood spent in the slums. He was posted in South Africa with the West Kent Regiment, in 1896. He disliked army life but managed to arrange a transfer to the Royal Army Medical Corps, which was less arduous but more unpleasant, and so transferred again to the Press Corps, which he found suited him better.
Wallace began publishing songs and poetry, much inspired by Rudyard Kipling, whom he met in Cape Town in 1898. Wallace's first book of ballads, The Mission that Failed!, was published that same year. In 1899, he bought his way out of the forces and turned to writing full-time. Remaining in Africa, he became a war correspondent, first for Reuters and then the Daily Mail (1900) and other periodicals during the Boer War.
In 1901, while in South Africa, Wallace married Ivy Maude Caldecott (1880?–1926), although her father Reverend William Shaw Caldecott, a Wesleyan missionary, was strongly opposed to the marriage. The couple's first child, Eleanor Clare Hellier Wallace, died suddenly from meningitis in 1903, and the couple returned to London soon afterward, deeply in debt.
In London, Wallace worked for the Mail and began writing detective stories in a bid to earn quick money. A son, Bryan, was born in 1904 followed by a daughter, Patricia, in 1908. In 1903, Wallace met his birth mother Polly, whom he had never known. Terminally ill, 60 years old, and living in poverty, she came to ask for money and was turned away. Polly died in the Bradford Infirmary later that year.
Unable to find any backer for his first book, Wallace set up his own publishing company, Tallis Press, which issued the thriller The Four Just Men (1905). Despite promotion in the Mail and good sales, the project was financially mismanaged, and Wallace had to be bailed out by the Mail's proprietor Alfred Harmsworth, who was anxious that the farrago might reflect badly on his newspaper. Problems were compounded when inaccuracies in Wallace's reporting led to libel cases being brought against the Mail. Wallace was dismissed in 1907, the first reporter ever to be fired from the paper, and he found no other paper would employ him, given his reputation. The family lived continuously in a state of near-bankruptcy, Ivy having to sell her jewellery for food.
During 1907, Edgar travelled to the Congo Free State, to report on atrocities committed against the Congolese under King Leopold II of Belgium and the Belgian rubber companies, in which up to 15 million Congolese were killed. Isabel Thorne, of the Weekly Tale-Teller penny magazine, invited Wallace to serialise stories inspired by his experiences. These were published as his first collection Sanders of the River (1911), a best seller, and in 1935 it was adapted into an eponymous film, starring Paul Robeson. Wallace went on to publish 11 more similar collections (102 stories). They were tales of exotic adventure and local tribal rites, set on an African river, mostly without love interest as this held no appeal for Wallace. His first 28 books and their film rights he sold outright, with no royalties, for quick money. Critic David Pringle noted in 1987: "The Sanders Books are not frequently reprinted nowadays, perhaps because of their overt racism".
During 1916, Ivy had her last child, Michael Blair Wallace by Edgar and filed for divorce in 1918.
Ivy moved to Tunbridge Wells with the children, and Wallace drew closer to his secretary Ethel Violet King (1896–1933), daughter of banker Frederick King. They married in 1921; their daughter Margaret Penelope June (known as Penny Wallace) was born in 1923.
Wallace began to take his fiction writing career more seriously and signed with publishers Hodder and Stoughton in 1921, organising his contracts, instead of selling rights to his work piecemeal in order to raise funds. This allowed him advances, royalties, and full scale promotional campaigns for his books, which he had never before had. The publisher aggressively advertised him as a celebrity writer, ‘King of Thrillers’, known for this trademark trilby, cigarette holder, and yellow Rolls Royce. He was said to be able to write a 70,000 word novel in three days and plough through three novels at once, and the publishers agreed to publish everything he wrote as fast as he could write it. In 1928, it was estimated that one in four books being read in the UK had come from Wallace's pen. He wrote across many genres including science fiction, screen plays, and a non-fiction ten-volume history of the First World War. All told, he wrote over 170 novels, 18 stage plays, and 957 short stories, and his works were translated into 28 languages. The critic Wheeler Winston Dixon suggests that Wallace became somewhat of a public joke for this prodigious output.
On 6 June 1923, Edgar Wallace became the first British radio sports reporter, when he made a report on The Derby for the British Broadcasting Company, the newly founded predecessor of the BBC.
Wallace's ex-wife Ivy was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1923, and though the tumour was successfully removed, it returned terminally by 1925, and she died in 1926.
Edgar Wallace enjoyed writing science fiction but found little financial success in the genre despite several efforts. His constant need for income always brought him back to the more mundane styles of fiction that sold more easily. Planetoid 127, first published in 1924 but reprinted as late as 2011, is a short story about an Earth scientist who communicates via wireless with his counterpart on a duplicate Earth orbiting unseen because it is on the opposite side of the Sun. The idea of a mirror Earth or mirror Universe later became a standard subgenre within science fiction. The story also bears similarities to Rudyard Kipling's hard science fiction story Wireless. Wallace's other science fiction works include The Green Rust, a story of bio-terrorists who threaten to release an agent that will destroy the world's corn crops, 1925, which accurately predicted that a short peace would be followed by a German attack on England, and The Black Grippe, about a disease that renders everyone in the world blind. His last work of science fiction and the only one widely remembered today is the screenplay for King Kong.
Wallace wrote a controversial article in the Daily Mail in 1926 entitled "The Canker In Our Midst" about paedophilia and the show business world. Describing how some show business people unwittingly leave their children vulnerable to predators, it linked paedophilia with homosexuality and outraged many of his colleagues, publishing associates, and business friends including theatre mogul Gerald du Maurier. Biographer Margaret Lane describes it as an "intolerant, blustering, kick-the-blighters-down-the-stairs" type of essay, even by the standards of the day.
Wallace did not use plot formulae, unlike many other thriller writers. The critic Wheeler Winston Dixon maintains that Wallace covered a wide variety of perspectives and characterisations, exploring themes such as feminist self-determination (Barbara on her Own 1926, Four-Square Jane 1929, The Girl from Scotland Yard 1926), upsetting peerage hierarchies (Chick, 1923), science fiction (The Day of Uniting, 1926), schizophrenia (The Man Who Knew, 1919) and autobiography (People, 1926).
Wallace had written the initial 110-page first draft for King Kong entitled "The Beast" over five weeks, from late December 1931 to January 1932. The movie was initially to be called The Beast, and this was the name of Wallace's treatment. In all, there were three draft versions, another entitled "Kong". Kong was rejected as the title for the film because it was too similar to another Cooper film, Chang, released in 1927, and because it sounded Chinese. Wallace suggested the title King Ape. Wallace's own diary described the writing process for this draft: Cooper fed aspects of the story (inspired partly by an aspiration to use as much footage of an abandoned RKO picture with a similar premise, Creation, as possible) in story conferences and phone conversations; Wallace then executed Cooper's ideas, the latter approving the developing script on a sequence-by-sequence basis. While working on the project, Cooper also screened various recent films for Wallace to put him in the right mindset, including Tod Browning's Dracula and James Whale's Frankenstein, as well as the fragments of sequences shot by Willis O'Brien for Creation that were to be reused in the current script.
Wallace became active in the Liberal Party and contested Blackpool in the 1931 general election as one of a handful of Independent Liberals, who rejected the National Government, and the official Liberal support for it, and strongly supported free trade. He also bought the Sunday News, edited it for six months, and wrote a theatre column, before it closed. In the event, he lost the election by over 33,000 votes. He went to America, burdened by debt, in November 1931. Around the same time, he wrote the screenplay for the first sound film adaptation of The Hound of the Baskervilles (1932), produced by Gainsborough Pictures.
In December 1931, Wallace was assigned work on the RKO "gorilla picture" (King Kong, 1933) for producer Merian C. Cooper. By late January, however, he was beginning to suffer sudden, severe headaches and was diagnosed with diabetes. His condition deteriorated within days. Violet booked passage on a liner out of Southampton, but received word that Edgar had slipped into a coma and died of the condition, combined with double pneumonia, on 10 February 1932 in North Maple Drive, Beverly Hills. The flags on Fleet Street's newspaper offices flew at half-mast, and the bell of St. Bride's tolled in mourning. He was buried at Little Marlow Cemetery, Fern Lane, Buckinghamshire, not far from his UK country home, Chalklands, in Bourne End.
In December, 1932, his story and screenplay for King Kong were "novelized" or transcribed by Delos W. Lovelace, a journalist and author himself who knew Cooper from when they worked on the same newspaper, and appeared in book form under the title King Kong. Lovelace based the transcription largely on the Ruth Rose and James A. Creelman screenplay. This "novelization" of King Kong, attributed to Wallace, Cooper, and Lovelace, was originally published by Grosset and Dunlap. The book was reissued in 2005 by the Modern Library, a division of Random House, with an introduction by Greg Bear and a preface by Mark Cotta Vaz, and by Penguin in the US. In the UK, Victor Gollancz published a hardcover version in 2005. The first paperback edition had been published by Bantam in 1965 in the US and by Corgi in 1966 in the UK. In 1976, Grosset and Dunlap republished the novel in paperback and hardcover editions. There were paperback editions by Tempo and by Futura that year as well. In 2005, Blackstone Audio released a spoken-word version of the book as an audiobook on CD with commentary by Ray Bradbury, Harlan Ellison, and Ray Harryhausen, among others. Harryhausen stated that he had read the original screenplay by Wallace. There were also German and Czech versions of the novel in 2005.
Violet Wallace outlived her husband by only 14 months. She died suddenly in April 1933, aged 33, while the estate was still deep in debt.
On 28 October 1933, Cinema Weekly published the short story "King Kong", credited to Edgar Wallace and Draycott Montagu Dell (1888–1940). Dell had known and worked with Wallace when both worked for British newspapers. This can be called a "story-ization" of the Wallace and Cooper story which relied on the Rose and Creelman screenplay, but which like the Wallace treatment, begins at the island. Both Wallace and Cooper had signed a contract which allowed them to develop the story in a book or short story or serial form. Walter F. Ripperger also wrote a two-part serialization of the Wallace and Cooper story in Mystery magazine titled "King Kong" in the February and March issues in 1933.
Wallace's eldest son Bryan (1904–1971) was also an author of mystery and crime novels. In 1934 Bryan married Margaret Lane (1907–94), a British writer. Lane published Edgar Wallace's biography in 1938.
Q. D. Leavis, Arnold Bennett and Dorothy L Sayers led the attack on Wallace, suggesting he offered no social critique or subversive agenda at all and distracting the reading public from better things. Trotsky, reading a Wallace novel whilst recuperating on his sickbed in 1935, found it to be "mediocre, contemptible and crude... [with no] shade of perception, talent or imagination." Critics Steinbrunner and Penzler stated that Wallace's writing is "slapdash and cliché-ridden, [with] characterization that is two dimensional and situations [that] are frequently trite, relying on intuition, coincidence, and much pointless, confusing movement to convey a sense of action. The heroes and villains are clearly labelled, and stock characters, humorous servants, baffled policemen, breathless heroines, could be interchanged from one book to another." The Oxford Companion to the Theatre asserts, however, that "In all his works [Wallace] showed unusual precision of detail, narrative skill, and inside knowledge of police methods and criminal psychology, the fruits of his apprenticeship as a crime reporter".
Violet Wallace's own will left her share of the Wallace estate to her daughter Penelope (1923–1997), herself an author of mystery and crime novels, who became the chief benefactor and shareholder. Penelope married George Halcrow in 1955 and they went on to run the Wallace estate, managing her father's literary legacy and starting the Edgar Wallace Society in 1969. The work is continued by Penelope's daughter, also named Penelope. The Society has members in 20 countries. The literary body is currently managed by the London agency A.P. Watt.
In 1959, a revival of Wallace's work occurred in West Germany, and his eldest son Bryan relocated there for some time. These later became a staple of late-night television. In 2004, Oliver Kalkofe produced the movie Der Wixxer, an homage to the popular black and white Wallace movies. It featured a large number of well known comedians. In 2007, Kalkofe produced a sequel Neues vom Wixxer.
The original Wallace screenplay was published in the 2013 book Ray Harryhausen – The Master of the Majicks, Volume 1: Beginnings and Endings by Mike Hankin.
Edgar was born in England to impoverished actor parents and was adopted at the age of three by Clara and George Freeman. Wallace later had several children with his first wife, Ivy Maude Caldecott. Following his 1918 divorce, he was remarried to author Margaret Lane.
Currently, Edgar Wallace is 146 years, 6 months and 18 days old. Edgar Wallace will celebrate 147th birthday on a Friday 1st of April 2022. Below we countdown to Edgar Wallace upcoming birthday.