Biography and History

Sir Walter Besant was a late nineteenth-century English novelist and historian. Born in Portsea in 1836, Besant attended King’s College in London and later, Christ’s College at Cambridge. After graduating from Christ’s in 1859, Besant became a senior professor at the Royal College in Mauritius. He returned to London in 1867 to pursue a career in writing, and he wrote several successful works of non-fiction before turning to novels. Besant was active in the London literary community; he formed a Rabelais Club to promote discussion among London authors; was active in the construction of a “People’s Palace” that contained schools, a gymnasium, and a library for the use of the poor; and founded the Society of Authors to protect writers against exploitation. He died in 1901.

Source: From the finding aid for C0708

Occupations

  • Novelists, English -- 19th century..