Walter de la Mare was a major influence on twentieth-century children’s literature, and many of his works, such as the book of rhymes Peacock Pie (1913), have endured. He is primarily remembered as a poet, although he also wrote stories and edited anthologies, for both children and adults. His writing, particularly his verse, is described as mysterious, dreamlike and musical, and he liked to write about childhood, animals, fairies and dreamland. From 1940 until his death, the writer took a flat in the top two stories of South End House, Montpelier Row in Twickenham (the same row where Alfred Tennyson had once lived).
His former house is now commemorated by a Blue Plaque. Walter once said that Twickenham was London’s loveliest suburb, although during World War II he was officially reprimanded for failing to observe the blackout. (On one occasion, the police even rowed across the river to complain that his upper windows were beaconing to the far bank!) His Collected Stories for Children, the work of over forty years, won the 1947 Carnegie Medal. In 1953 he was awarded the Order of Merit. He was often confined indoors through illness during his final two years but positioned a mirror opposite his bed, so that he could still enjoy the fine view of Marble Hill Gardens. Walter de la Mare was buried at St Paul’s Cathedral in London, where he’d once attended school as a chorister.
- Bingham, Jane M., ed. Writers for Children: Critical Studies of Major Authors since the Seventeenth Century. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1988.
- Carpenter, Humphrey, and Mari Prichard. The Oxford Companion to Children’s Literature. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984. Reprinted with corrections 1985.
- Chevalier, Tracy, ed. Twentieth-Century Children’s Writers. 3rd ed. Chicago and London: St. James Press, 1989.
- Deaths. Richmond and Twickenham Times. 23 June 1956.
- Major Authors and Illustrators for Children and Young Adults: A Selection of Sketches from Something about the Author. 2nd ed. 8 vols. Detroit: Thomson Gale, 2002.
- Rennison, Nick. The London Blue Plaque Guide. Stroud: Sutton Publishing, 1999.
- Watson, Victor, ed. The Cambridge Guide to Children’s Books in English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001.
Note: all photographs in this post copyright © Terri McCargar.