Edgar Wallace  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

"Even though there are countless film adaptations of Edgar Wallace novels worldwide, the crime films produced by the German company Rialto Film between 1959 and 1972 are the best-known of those, to the extent that they form their own subgenre known as Krimis (abbreviation for the German term "Kriminalfilm" (or "Kriminalroman"). Other Edgar Wallace adaptations in a similar style were made by the Germans Artur Brauner and Kurt Ulrich, and the British producer Harry Alan Towers." --Sholem Stein

"George Orwell called Wallace a "bully worshipper" and "proto-fascist"." --Sholem Stein

"“I am going to give [my readers] crime and blood and three murders to the chapter.” -- Edgar Wallace cited in Edgar Wallace, the Biography of a Phenomenon (1938) by Margaret Lane

"Such is the insanity of the age that do not doubt. for one moment the success of my venture." -- Edgar Wallace cited in Edgar Wallace, the Biography of a Phenomenon (1938) by Margaret Lane

"Once considered the most famous author of the 20th Century, this Demon Writer of Fleet Street— whose lurid screen adaptations are credited by Dario Argento with helping to inspire his own cinematic acts of murder — is now all but forgotten." The Video Watchdog Book, page 138, Tim Lucas, 1992

"[ Edgar Wallace ] began writing in 1905, at the height of the period of uncertainty that also influenced the works of Feuillade and Gaston Leroux." --Immoral Tales: European Sex & Horror Movies 1956-1984, p. 13

Related e



Richard Horatio Edgar Wallace (1 April 1875 – 10 February 1932) was an English writer.

Born into poverty as an illegitimate London child, Wallace left school at the age of 12. He joined the army at age 21 and was a war correspondent during the Second Boer War, for Reuters and the Daily Mail. Struggling with debt, he left South Africa, returned to London, and began writing thrillers to raise income, publishing books including The Four Just Men (1905). Drawing on his time as a reporter in the Congo, covering the Belgian atrocities, Wallace serialised short stories in magazines such as The Windsor Magazine and later published collections such as Sanders of the River (1911). He signed with Hodder and Stoughton in 1921 and became an internationally recognised author.

After an unsuccessful bid to stand as Liberal MP for Blackpool (as one of David Lloyd George's Independent Liberals) in the 1931 general election, Wallace moved to Hollywood, where he worked as a script writer for RKO. He died suddenly from undiagnosed diabetes, during the initial drafting of King Kong (1933).

Wallace was such a prolific writer that one of his publishers claimed that a quarter of all books in England were written by him. As well as journalism, Wallace wrote screen plays, poetry, historical non-fiction, 18 stage plays, 957 short stories, and over 170 novels, 12 in 1929 alone. More than 160 films have been made of Wallace's work. As well as the creation of King Kong, he is remembered as a writer of 'the colonial imagination', for the J. G. Reeder detective stories, and for The Green Archer serial. He sold over 50 million copies of his combined works in various editions, and The Economist describes him as "one of the most prolific thriller writers of [the 20th] century", although the great majority of his books are out of print in the UK, but are still read in Germany.


Postscript, 1935-Present

A lot of work based on Edgar Wallace's material has been produced, particularly in the 1920s and 1930s. A large number of movies have been based on his novels. The Green Archer was a well-regarded serial in the days of silent cinema. However, these works never achieved the prominence accorded to such characters as Sherlock Holmes et al, which is a great pity, because if done properly, many of Wallace's best stories, such as The Just Men and Mr J G Reeder would make excellent adventure-thrillers.

In 1959 a mini-revival of his work occurred in Germany and around the Eastern bloc, and his eldest son Bryan relocated there for some time to edit and direct many of the string of made-for-tv a string of B-movies filmed in that country. These later became a staple of late-night television. In 2004 Oliver Kalkofe -one of the best known German comedy stars- produced the movie 'Der Wixxer' which is an homage to the popular black and white Wallace movies. It featured a large number of well known comedians.

Both his elder son Bryan Edgar Wallace and his youngest daughter Penelope Wallace were also authors of mystery and crime novels. In 1969, Penelope founded The Edgar Wallace Appreciation Society which she ran until her death in 1997, the work being continued by her daughter, also Penelope.

Literary works

African novels (Sanders of the River series)

  • Sanders of the River (1911) - short stories serialised in The Weekly Tale-Teller, filmed in 1935
  • The People of the River (1911) - short stories serialised in The Weekly Tale-Teller
  • The River of Stars (1913) - full-length novel featuring a cameo appearance by Sanders.
  • Bosambo of the River (1914) - short stories serialised in The Weekly Tale-Teller
  • Bones (1915) - short stories serialised in The Weekly Tale-Teller
  • The Keepers of the King's Peace (1917) - short stories serialised in The Windsor Magazine
  • Lieutenant Bones (1918) - short stories serialised in The Windsor Magazine
  • Bones in London (1921) - short stories serialised in The Windsor Magazine
  • Sandi the Kingmaker (1922) - full-length novel serialised in The Windsor Magazine
  • Bones of the River (1923) - short stories serialised in The 20-Story Magazine
  • Sanders (1926) - short stories
  • Again Sanders (1928) - short stories

The series was later continued by Francis Gérard -

  • The Return of Sanders of the River - short stories (1938)
  • The Law of the River - short stories (1940)
  • The Justice of Sanders - short stories (1951)

Four Just Men series

Mr. J. G. Reeder series

Detective Sgt. (Insp.) Elk series

Educated Evans series

  • Educated Evans (1924)
  • More Educated Evans (1926)
  • Good Evans (1927)

Smithy series

  • Smithy (1905)
  • Smithy Abroad (1909)
  • Smithy and The Hun (1915)
  • Nobby or Smithy's Friend Nobby (1916)

Crime novels

Other novels

Poetry collections

  • The Mission That Failed (1898)
  • War and Other Poems (1900)
  • Writ In Barracks (1900)


  • Unofficial Despatches of the Anglo-Boer War (1901)
  • Famous Scottish Regiments (1914)
  • Field Marshal Sir John French (1914)
  • Heroes All: Gallant Deeds of the War (1914)
  • The Standard History of the War (1914)
  • Kitchener's Army and the Territorial Forces: The Full Story of a Great Achievement (1915)
  • Vol. 2–4. War of the Nations (1915)
  • Vol. 5–7. War of the Nations (1916)
  • Vol. 8–9. War of the Nations (1917)
  • Famous Men and Battles of the British Empire (1917)
  • The Real Shell-Man: The Story of Chetwynd of Chilwell (1919)
  • People or Edgar Wallace by Himself(1926)
  • The Trial of Patrick Herbert Mahon (1928)
  • My Hollywood Diary (1932)



  • The Valley of Ghosts (1928, British film)
  • Mark of the Frog (1928, American film)
  • Prince Gabby (1929, British film)
  • The Squeaker (1930, British film)
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles (1932, British film)
  • King Kong (1932, January 5, 1932 first draft of original screenplay entitled "The Beast", 110 pages) While the script was not used in its entirety, much of it was retained for the final screenplay. Portions of the original Wallace screenplay were published in 1976. The complete original screenplay was published in 2013 in Ray Harryhausen – The Master of the Majicks, Vol. 1 by Archive Editions in Los Angeles. The Delos Lovelace transcription remains the official book-length treatment of the story.

Short story collections

  • P.C. Lee (1909) Police Constable Lee; 24 short stories
  • The Admirable Carfew (1914)
  • The Adventures of Heine (1917)
  • Tam O' the Scouts (1918)
  • The Man Called McGinnice (1918)
  • The Fighting Scouts (1919)
  • The Black Grippe (1920)
  • Chick (1923)
  • The Black Avons (1925)
  • The Brigand (1927)
  • The Mixer (1927)
  • This England (1927)
  • The Orator (1928)
  • The Thief in the Night (1928)
  • Elegant Edward (1928)
  • The Lone House Mystery and Other Stories (Collins and son, 1929)
  • The Governor of Chi-Foo (1929)
  • Again the Ringer The Ringer Returns (US Title) (1929)
  • The Big Four or Crooks of Society (1929)
  • The Black or Blackmailers I Have Foiled (1929)
  • The Cat-Burglar (1929)
  • Circumstantial Evidence (1929)
  • Fighting Snub Reilly (1929)
  • For Information Received (1929)
  • Forty-Eight Short Stories (1929)
  • Planetoid 127 and The Sweizer Pump (1929)
  • The Ghost of Down Hill & The Queen of Sheba's Belt (1929)
  • The Iron Grip (1929)
  • The Lady of Little Hell (1929)
  • The Little Green Man (1929)
  • The Prison-Breakers (1929)
  • The Reporter (1929)
  • Killer Kay (1930)
  • Mrs William Jones and Bill (1930)
  • Forty Eight Short-Stories (George Newnes Limited ca. 1930)
  • The Stretelli Case and Other Mystery Stories (1930)
  • The Terror (1930)
  • The Lady Called Nita (1930)
  • Sergeant Sir Peter or Sergeant Dunn, C.I.D. (1932)
  • The Scotland Yard Book of Edgar Wallace (1932)
  • The Steward (1932)
  • Nig-Nog and other humorous stories (1934)
  • The Last Adventure (1934)
  • The Woman From the East (1934) – co-written with Robert George Curtis
  • The Edgar Wallace Reader of Mystery and Adventure (1943)
  • The Undisclosed Client (1963)
  • The Man Who Married His Cook (White Lion, 1976)
  • The Death Room: Strange and Startling Stories (1986)
  • The Sooper and Others (1984)
  • Stories collected in the Death Room (William Kimber, 1986)
  • Winning Colours: The Selected Racing Writings of Edgar Wallace (1991)


  • King Kong, with Draycott M. Dell, (1933), 28 October 1933 Cinema Monthly

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Edgar Wallace" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools