Anthony Hope Hawkins was born in London in 1863 as the younger son of the Reverend Edward Connerford Hawkins. He attended Balliol College, Oxford, where he had a distinguished record as an athlete and scholar. After settling in London, he read law and was called to the bar in 1887. By 1893, he had published five novels, become a successful barrister, and taken some part in politics; hence, three possible careers stood open to him. The choice was made in the autumn of 1893, when the plot of The Prisoner of Zenda came into his mind. By writing two chapters a day, Hope finished the novel in a month. At once, it became enormously popular and was hailed by Andrew Lang and Robert Louis Stevenson. The novel was soon dramatized and was produced by Sir George Alexander. The Dolly Dialogues, an equally popular volume of sketches, appeared in the same year.
Although he wrote more than thirty novels and ten plays and considered Double Harness his best work, Hope will always be remembered as the author of The Prisoner of Zenda. In this novel, he established a setting and story that was to be copied repeatedly both in England and the United States: the stock setting of a mythical Balkan kingdom where a handsome, debonair, well-born, and self-sacrificing English (or American) hero rescues a beautiful princess from various entanglements. It was the kind of novel that perfectly suited the taste of...
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