Eden Phillpotts was born in India in 1862. His novels, however, are as definitely associated with Devonshire as Hardy’s are with Wessex, and Bennett’s with North Staffordshire. Phillpotts is noted for his power to paint “landscapes with figures.” The “figures” are the farmers, villagers, and shepherds of that part of Devon, known as Dartmoor; and the landscapes are the granite crags, the moors; and farmlands of “good red earth.” Widecombe Fair (1913) is the twentieth volume that he has published as a result of twenty years’ work among these children of Devon. Sometimes the roughness and untutored emotions of the Dartmoor characters repel the readers; but these characters form strong, picturesque groups of human beings, and their dialect adds a pleasant flavor to the novels. Phillpotts’s frequent use of coincidences weakens the effect and mars the naturalness of the plot, since their recurrence comes to be anticipated. Children of the Mist (1898) and Demeter’s Daughter (1911) are among his ablest novels.
Maurice Hewlett was born in Kent in 1861, of an old Somerset family. He began writing in his boyhood, giving proof even then of his skill in catching the manner of other writers. His style to-day reechoes his reading of many authors in Latin, French, Italian, and English.
The Life and Death of Richard Yea-and-Nay (1900) shows Hewlett’s romantic fancy and love for historical characters and pageants. While this novel is full of life, color, and movement, it displays his proneness to allow the romantic vein to run to the fantastic in both episode and style. The Stooping Lady (1907) deals with the love of a lady of high degree for a humble youth whom her devotion ennobles.
Hewlett’s style is finished and richly poetical, but often too ornate and too encrusted with archaic terms and other artificial forms.
Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, born in Cornwall in 1863, is a fiction writer, critic, poet, and anthologist. Having much of Stevenson’s love for romantic adventure, he was chosen to finish St. Ives, left incomplete by Stevenson. The Splendid Spur (1889), a spirited tale of romance and war in the perturbed time of Charles I., is one of his best stories of adventure.
Among his books on simple Cornish life may be mentioned The Delectable Duchy (1893). It is a collection of short stories and sketches. Quiller-Couch sees life without a touch of morbid somberness and he commands a vivacious, highly-trained style.
William Frend De Morgan was born in London, in 1839. He published his first novel, Joseph Vance (1906), at the age of sixty-seven. This plain, straightforward story of a little boy befriended by a generous-hearted London doctor won for De Morgan wide and hearty applause. While some contemporary writers fashion their style and select their material on the models of French or Russian realists, De Morgan goes to the great English masters, Thackeray and Dickens. Like them, De Morgan writes copiously and leisurely.