Biography (Critical Survey of Mystery & Detective Fiction, Revised Edition)
Eden Phillpotts was born in Mount Abu, India, on November 4, 1862, to Captain Henry Phillpotts, an Indian army officer, and Adelaide Matilda Sophia Waters, whose father worked for the Indian civil service. When he was three years old, his father died, and his mother, barely twenty-one years old, returned to Devonshire, England, taking Eden and his two brothers with her. He was educated at public school in Plymouth, which he left at the age of seventeen for a clerk’s job in an insurance firm in London. Phillpotts studied acting for several years in his spare time but decided that he was not suited to it and began trying his hand at writing. By 1890, he had become somewhat successful at marketing some of his writing, and he left his job with the insurance company to become an assistant editor for Black and White, a minor periodical. Practice and an enormous creative energy enabled Phillpotts to give up his editorial work and devote himself full-time to writing. He moved from London to Devon, settling first at Torquay, where he spent thirty years. In 1929, he moved to Broadclyst, a town near Exeter, and not far from the Dartmoor National Park. He remained at Broadclyst until his death in 1960.
In 1892, while still in London, Phillpotts was married to Emily Topham. Together they had a son, Henry Eden, born in 1895, and a daughter, Mary Adelaide, born in 1896. Soon after his wife died in 1928, Phillpotts was married to Lucy Robina Joyce Webb, the daughter of a physician.
During his long life, Phillpotts wrote more than one hundred novels, of which nineteen were tales of mystery and detection. He also wrote some forty-five plays, numerous short stories, verse, and children’s literature. In addition, he published essays, travel writing, and memoirs. At his death he also left behind some six thousand letters written during his lifetime.