Who was Ronald Frederick (R. F.) Delderfield, and what did he contribute to British literature?

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Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Ronald Frederick (R. F.) Delderfield was particularly noted for being an English historical novelist specializing in writing historical novels focusing on young English men returned from war, especially the Boer War during the Edwardian period, the reign of King Edward VII from 1901 to 1910 just prior to WWI . His novels focused not just on the English war history of the Edwardian period but also on war history between this period and the 1960s, which would include both world wars. Delderfield's novels particularly portrayed how English society had been impacted by war.

Lots of examples exist of Delderfield's historic novels geared towards portraying post-war English society. One example in particular is the novel To Serve Them All My Days featuring a World War I shell-shock victim who taught history at a public school soon after being released from a shell-shock ward. The novel exposes the problems that the consequences of the two world wars posed for the private education sector in England as well as the initiation of the Labour party political movement. Other examples can be seen in the God is an Englishman series and the A Horseman Riding By trilogy. It has been noted that "Delderfield's novels celebrate English history, humanity, and liberalism while demonstrating little patience with entrenched class differences and snobbery yet also sometimes advocating individualism, self-reliance, and other traditional Victorian values" ("R. F. Delderfield"). His novels were so influential that many were adapted as television screenplays.

Aside from historical novels focusing on the Edwardian era and post-war society, Delderfield also wrote non-fiction works focusing on the Napoleonic Wars and even an autobiography.