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Special Collections authors you’ve probably never heard of

Part II: Anthony Hope

British author Sir Anthony Hope Hawkins (pseud. Anthony Hope) was born 150 years ago on February 9, 1863. A lawyer by trade, Hawkins began publishing short stories and novels in his late twenties. He is best known for the runaway bestseller The Prisoner of Zenda, published in April 1894. The novel, set in a fictional kingdom called Ruritania, is a tale of romance and political intrigue. When the heir to the Ruritanian throne is kidnapped, his identical cousin, a young Englishman, must impersonate the king until he can be rescued. The Prisoner of Zenda has been adapted for stage and screen numerous times, most famously by David O. Selznick in 1937.

Hawkins continued writing well into the 20th century. Though his popularity as a novelist declined, he was knighted in 1918 for his services to British propaganda efforts during the First World War. Another interesting fact about Hawkins: he was the cousin of Kenneth Grahame, author of The Wind in the Willows.

Special Collections has numerous items related to Hawkins and The Prisoner of Zenda, including a collection of Hawkins’ correspondence (call number: Vault MSS 226) and first editions of Hawkins’ novels (several signed or inscribed by the author).

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