Author Topic: Robert Erskine Childers  (Read 141 times)

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Robert Erskine Childers
« Reply #1 on: Jul:30:2019 »

Robert Erskine Childers - 1870-1922

In January 1901 Childers started work on his novel, The Riddle of the Sands, but initially progress was slow it was not until winter of that year that he was able to tell Williams, in one of his regular letters, of the outline of the plot. At the end of the following year, after a hard summer of writing, the manuscript went to Reginald Smith at Smith Elder, but in February 1903, just as Childers was hoping to return to The HAC in South Africa, Smith sent back the novel, with instructions for extensive changes.

With the help of his sisters, who cross-checked the new manuscript pages against the existing material, Childers produced the final version in time for publication in May 1903. Based on his own sailing trips with his brother Henry along the German coast, it predicted war with Germany and called for British preparedness. There has been much speculation about which of Childers's friends was the model for "Carruthers" in the novel and it seems that he is based not on Henry Childers but on yachting enthusiast Walter Runciman; "Davies", of course, is Childers himself. Because of The Riddle, Childers was invited to join the Savile Club, then a literary centre in London. Widely popular, the book has never gone out of print and in 2003, several centenary editions were published. The Observer included the book on its list of "The 100 Greatest Novels of All Time". The Telegraph listed it as the third best spy novel of all time. It has been called the first spy novel (a claim challenged by advocates of Rudyard Kipling's Kim, published two years earlier), and enjoyed immense popularity in the years before World War I. It was an extremely influential book: Winston Churchill later credited it as a major reason that the Admiralty decided to establish naval bases at Invergordon, Rosyth on the Firth of Forth and Scapa Flow in Orkney. It was also a notable influence on authors such as John Buchan and Eric Ambler.