Edgar Wallace

   Edgar Wallace was an English novelist and playwright; born in London, 1875. His parents were poor and died while he was yet a small child. He was saved from life in the workhouse by a fish porter, James Freeman, and his wife. Wallace spent his early life under their care. Wallace was educated at a public school in Peckham where he began selling papers in his spare time. At the age of 11 he joined the crew of a Grimsby trawler as cabin boy. He entered the British army when he was 18 and served as a private during the Boer War. While fighting in Africa, he began his career as a writer. His first works were patterned after those of Kipling, who had captured the admiration of the young author. The two soon became close friends. Wallace secured an honorable discharge from the army and followed his chosen occupation as correspondent for Reuter's Agency. Before returning to England, he served as editor of the first English newspaper in the Boer territory. By 1905 he had begun his mass production of fiction books, writing at least a dozen novels a year. He employed two stenographers and a voice recording device to help him in his work. In 1931 he visited Hollywood with the intention of writing a story a week for the screen. He had to cut his schedule in half, however, because the studios were unable to keep pace with him. His stories were all of the thriller type and included the play, On The Spot; and the novels, The Man Who Bought London, The Melody of Death, Heine the Spy, and White Face. The popularity of his more than 150 detective thrillers was demonstrated by the sale of nearly 5,000,000 annually. His play, On The Spot, dealing with crime in Chicago, was written in two days. Wallace died in Hollywood, 1932.