At our latest reading group we discussed William Vaughan Wilkins (1890-1959), a writer of popular historial romances and adventure stories, and a journalist. We have 14 Wilkins novels in the collection, thanks to a donation by reading group member Jane Varley. (See our holdings here.)
I missed the meeting because I was ill, and was very sorry to do so, for Wilkins – like so many of the novelists we read – had the group divided. Some thought (as I did) that he wrote ‘a good romp’ others were unable to finish their novels!
One of Vaughan Wilkins’ novels, A King Reluctant, was adapted as a film called Dangerous Exile (1958).
Barry wrote of this novel:
I have read, “King Reluctant,” by Vaughan Wilkins, and find that he fully merits his anonymity. I had never previously heard of him and now understand why. His style is typical of those historical novelists of the 1950’s and sixties – full of platitudes. Wilkins is a third class writer. I think he would be popular in those shop libraries, where you paid a fee to borrow a book in the pre 1960 era.
Born Camberwell 1890 (so not Welsh, as wikipedia says). Father – Clerk in holy orders, who had been born in Nottingham. Mother – born in London.
1911 census – mother a ‘professional vocalist/teacher’. WVW – article writer and sub-editor (works on own account).
1916 Army attestation papers – WVW Working as night editor of Evening Standard. Height 5′ 11”. Chest expanded 38′. Assigned as private to RASC: Horse Transport Army Service Corps. Discharged after 56 days.
1926 – still living with his father in Hammersmith.
1930 – married Mary Stanistreet Powell.
Died 1959 leaving £2837 (so his novels didn’t make him a fortune, but this was probably a respectable amount in those days).