Ward's Book of Days.
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What happened on this day in history
On this day in history in 1956, died Walter de la Mare.
Walter de la Mare rose from humble origins to become one of the greatest authors and poets of the twentieth century. He was born in Charlton, London, and after attending St Paul’s Choir School went on to become a clerk at The Anglo-American Oil Company, now Esso. His unusual surname denotes his Huguenot ancestry.
de la Mare’s clerical duties were not unduly onerous. He found time to publish Songs of Childhood in 1902, Henry Brocken (a novel) in 1904 and Poems in 1906. In 1908, de la Mare received a pension from the Civil List, which enabled him to eschew his clerical job and concentrate on writing.
de la Mare’s work focused on the imagination. He considered that, in childhood, a person is gifted with imagination and, as life progresses, the imagination deteriorates. For example, his 1921 novel Memoirs of a Midget shows life as it might be seen from the perspective of a diminutive person. Much of de la Mare’s work was of appeal to children and through this he is cursed with the label ‘children’s writer. In fact, the real marks of his ouvre are the contemplative and visionary.
de la Mare, being an old boy of St Paul's had the privilege of being buried in the crypt of St Paul's Cathedral, near to Sir Christopher Wren. His famous last words were “Too late for fruit. Too soon for flowers”.
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