Authors: Walter de la Mare

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

English poet and novelist

Author Works


Songs of Childhood, 1902

Poems, 1906

The Listeners, and Other Poems, 1912

A Child’s Day: A Book of Rhymes, 1912

Peacock Pie: A Book of Rhymes, 1913

The Sunken Garden, and Other Poems, 1917

Motley, and Other Poems, 1918

Flora: A Book of Drawings, 1919

Poems 1901 to 1918, 1920

Story and Rhyme, 1921

The Veil, and Other Poems, 1921

Down-Adown-Derry: A Book of Fairy Poems, 1922

Thus Her Tale, 1923

A Ballad of Christmas, 1924

Stuff and Nonsense and So On, 1927

Self to Self, 1928

The Snowdrop, 1929

News, 1930

Poems for Children, 1930

Lucy, 1931

Old Rhymes and New, 1932

The Fleeting, and Other Poems, 1933

Poems, 1919 to 1934, 1935

This Year, Next Year, 1937

Memory, and Other Poems, 1938

Haunted, 1939

Bells and Grass, 1941

Collected Poems, 1941

Collected Rhymes and Verses, 1944

The Burning-Glass, and Other Poems, 1945

The Traveller, 1946

Rhymes and Verses: Collected Poems for Young People, 1947

Inward Companion, 1950

Winged Chariot, 1951

O Lovely England, and Other Poems, 1953

The Complete Poems, 1969

Long Fiction:

Henry Brocken, 1904

The Return, 1910

The Three Mulla-Mulgars, 1910 (reprinted as The Three Royal Monkeys: Or, The Three Mulla-Mulgars, 1935)

Memoirs of a Midget, 1921

At First Sight: A Novel, 1928

Short Fiction:

Story and Rhyme: A Selection, 1921

The Riddle, and Other Stories, 1923

Ding Dong Bell, 1924

Broomsticks, and Other Tales, 1925

Miss Jemima, 1925

Readings, 1925-1926 (2 volumes)

The Connoisseur, and Other Tales, 1926

Told Again: Traditional Tales, 1927

Old Joe, 1927

On the Edge, 1930

Seven Short Stories, 1931

The Lord Fish, 1933

The Nap, and Other Stories, 1936

The Wind Blows Over, 1936

Animal Stories, 1939

The Picnic, 1941

The Best Stories of Walter de la Mare, 1942

The Old Lion, and Other Stories, 1942

The Magic Jacket, and Other Stories, 1943

The Scarecrow, and Other Stories, 1945

The Dutch Cheese, and Other Stories, 1946

Collected Stories for Children, 1947

A Beginning, and Other Stories, 1955

Ghost Stories, 1956

Short Stories, 1927-1956, 2001 (Giles de la Mare, editor)


Crossings: A Fairy Play, pr. 1919


Rupert Brooke and the Intellectual Imagination, 1919

The Printing of Poetry, 1931

Lewis Carroll, 1932

Poetry in Prose, 1936

Pleasures and Speculations, 1940

Chardin, J.B.S. 1699-1779, 1948

Private View, 1953

Edited Texts:

Come Hither, 1923

The Shakespeare Songs, 1929

Christina Rossetti’s Poems, 1930

Desert Islands and Robinson Crusoe, 1930

Stories from the Bible, 1930

Early One Morning in the Spring, 1935

Animal Stories, 1939

Behold, This Dreamer!, 1939

Love, 1943


Of French Huguenot and Scottish ancestry, Walter John de la Mare (deh-luh-MAYR) was born at Charlton, Kent, April 25, 1873, and died at Twickenham, Middlesex, June 22, 1956. He was educated at St. Paul’s Cathedral Choir School, where he founded The Choristers’ Journal. Though he never went to college, Oxford, Cambridge, and St. Andrews all gave him honorary doctorates. Declining knighthood, he accepted both the Companion of Honor (1948) and the Order of Merit (1953).{$I[AN]9810001468}{$I[A]De la Mare, Walter[DelaMare, Walter]}{$I[geo]ENGLAND;De la Mare, Walter[DelaMare, Walter]}{$I[tim]1873;De la Mare, Walter[DelaMare, Walter]}

Walter de la Mare

(Library of Congress)

In his early days de la Mare used the pseudonym Walter Ramal. In the 1890’s he wrote for such periodicals as The Cornhill Magazine, The Sketch, and The Pall Mall Gazette. For many years he reviewed widely, especially for the London Times Literary Supplement. In 1902, Andrew Lang persuaded Longmans to publish his first book, Songs of Childhood. From 1890 to 1908, de la Mare worked as a statistician for the Anglo-American Oil Company; in later years he devoted all his time to literature. He was married to Constance Ingpen and became the father of four children.

Though friendly and accessible, de la Mare was a very independent writer. He followed his own inspiration and stood apart from literary movements. He was one of the great masters of the supernatural story; as a poet of childhood he was without a peer. His genius was as highly individualized as William Blake’s. De la Mare is best known as a poet; even his prose is essentially the product of a poet’s mind. For all that, more than one critic has called Memoirs of a Midget the greatest British novel of the twentieth century. A prolific writer, he also produced many learned and highly individualized anthologies as well as critical and ruminative works, often difficult to classify.

Memoirs of a Midget has its kinship to the work of Charles Dickens and Emily Brontë, but it is a highly original and distinctive novel. Like de la Mare’s poems, it shows great sensitivity to nature; like many of his tales, it hovers at times on the edge of the supernatural. Essentially, however, it is a serious study of human relationships, centering on the conflict between society and the individual. The reader is absorbed in the life history of Miss M., who longs passionately to share the world on equal terms with other human beings. Readers sympathize intensely with her passionate response to beauty, her consuming desire to know the meaning of life, and they shudder for her when she degrades herself. Though the novel is not didactic, its values are sound and sure, and the world in which its action is staged is a world of unimaginable terrors where the final word is love’s.

BibliographyAllen, Walter. The Short Story in English. New York: Oxford University Press, 1981. Argues that, as a short-story writer, de la Mare closely resembles Henry James in his supernatural stories, for his stories are rooted in mundane reality.Atkins, John. Walter de la Mare: An Exploration. London: C and J Temple, 1947. A slim volume of appreciation by Atkins, who concentrates on de la Mare’s stories and on two of the novels, neglecting the verse, which he considers inferior. The study is a rambling discourse without a solid structure and is not recommended for newcomers to de la Mare.Benntinck, Anne. Romantic Imagery in the Works of Walter de la Mare. Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen Press, 2001. Devotes one chapter apiece to each of seven major Romantic themes or leitmotifs in de la Mare’s poetry. Includes bibliography, index of works, general index.Duffin, Henry Charles. Walter de la Mare: A Study of His Poetry. London: Sidgwick and Jackson, 1949. The author focuses on de la Mare’s verse. He considers him a sublime visionary poet of exceptional lucidity whose excessive creative energies are diminished in the prose stories, which he also considers delightful. His main thesis is that de la Mare’s poetry neither criticizes nor escapes life, but rather heightens it.Fowler, Alastair. A History of English Literature. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1987. Fowler considers de la Mare the strangest, most elusive poet of the early twentieth century. His interest in supernaturalism was no eccentricity, but it was the expression of a metaphysical puzzlement about the nature of reality. He was a genuine philosopher, comparable to John Donne and other Metaphysical poets. Primarily a connoisseur of darkness, he is absurdly undervalued by most critics.Hopkins, Kenneth. Walter de la Mare. 1953. Rev. ed. London: Longmans, Green, 1957. This slim volume touches on de la Mare’s life and his prose and verse writings. The author, who is an ardent admirer of de la Mare, briefly examines all of his major writings. A useful but limited introduction to de la Mare. Supplemented by a select bibliography.McCrosson, Doris Ross. Walter de la Mare. New York: Twayne, 1966. A good critical introduction to de la Mare. McCrosson examines at length the author’s total literary output, concentrating particularly on the novels, which she feels not only have been neglected but also contain the clearest statement of his vision of life. The writer points out that de la Mare’s fascinating quest into the mysteries of life never coalesced into a coherent vision. Complemented by a chronology and a select bibliography.Manwaring, Randle. “Memories of Walter de la Mare.” Contemporary Review 264 (March, 1994): 148-152. A reminiscence of a longtime acquaintance of de la Mare that comments on his style and his influence. Reflects de la Mare’s childish delight in simple things that is so often reflected in his stories.Megroz, R. L. Walter de la Mare: A Biographical and Critical Study. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1924. Megroz conducted the first study of de la Mare’s work, “treading what is almost virgin soil,” as he phrased it. The author professes his deep admiration for de la Mare, sketches a brief biography, comments on personal impressions, and then devotes his study to the poetry. His book is less a critical examination of de la Mare and more an appreciation.Perkins, David. “Craftsmen of the Beautiful and the Agreeable.” In A History of Modern Poetry. Vol. 1. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1976. Perkins emphasizes de la Mare’s complicated relationship to the Romantics. Like them, he often wrote about the world as a dream. He was aware of the conventional nature of Romantic poetry and often the poems are about conventions. Unlike certain Romantics, he does not portray evil as sublime. He is a master at interrogative conversation and anticipates the modernist stress on the accents of daily speech.Sisson, C. H. English Poetry, 1900-1950. Manchester, England: Carcanet Press, 1981. Sisson mentions that de la Mare was the last of the Romantics. His poetry combines Romantic themes with the more personal themes of twentieth century verse. It is characterized by purity of language and hushed, intimate accents, and it succeeds in capturing the intimate rhythms of speech. De la Mare was at his best in a limited range of subjects. His finest work pictures life on the edge of a dream.Wagenknecht, Edward. Seven Masters of Supernatural Fiction. New York: Greenwood Press, 1991. See the chapter on Walter de la Mare, which includes a brief biographical sketch and discusses his fiction in the context of the English literary tradition. Wagenknecht deals with both the short and the long fiction, providing a succinct overview of de la Mare’s body of work in prose.Whistler, Theresa. Imagination of the Heart: The Life of Walter de la Mare. London: Duckworth, 1993. A good biography of de la Mare. Includes bibliographical references and an index.
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