Anthony Hope
The Prisoner of Zenda

"Economy is going without something you do want in case you should, some day, want something you probably won't want" (The Dolly Dialogues)

Although the name Anthony Hope is to be found on all his novels, the author's full nomenclature and title is Sir Anthony Hope Hawkins. Though now considered to be a comparatively minor figure he was a popular writer in the 1890s due to the fame and success of his "Ruritanian" novels. Ruritania is the fictitious land in South-Eastern Europe in which his historical romances beginning with The Prisoner of Zenda (1894) were set. Hope was born on February 9th, 1863, to the Vicar of St. Brides, Fleet Street in London. His education was at the famous Marlborough private school and subsequently at Balliol College, Oxford University. He trained to be a barrister and was called to the Bar in 1877 where he practised until 1894. During this time he wrote in his spare time, producing quite a number of short stories and also an unnoticed first novel, A Man of Mark (1890). Success came with The Dolly Dialogues, published in the "Westminster Gazette" in 1894. These witty sketches inspired Hope to leave the legal profession and take up writing full-time. The Prisoner of Zenda was published in May of 1894 and was popular enough to be dramatised in 1896.

Hope gained praise from prestigious quarters. Robert Louis Stevenson himself, who had opened the reading public in England up to Hope's form of adventure romance, showered Hope with praise. Perhaps predictably, so did the influential poet and critic Andrew Lang (1844-1912) who favoured historical adventures of Doyle, Haggard and Hope over Hardy or Henry James. Zenda's sequel, Rupert of Hentzau (1898), was also popular. Hope continued writing though to less acclaim after Tristram of Blent (1901). After his marriage to Elizabeth Sommerville Sheldon of New York City in 1903 he wrote various novels such as Sophy of Kravonia (1906) and Lucinda (1920). As a result of his services at the Ministry of Information during World War I, Hope was knighted and subsequently published his Memories and Notes (1927).

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