Edgar Wallace and Adoption

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Wallace, 1928




Wallace was born to an unmarried actress and fostered by a Billingsgate Fish Market porter and his wife when he was nine days old. His foster family already had 10 children. They were poor but a loving and happy family.

He took the name Dick Freeman but wrote as Edgar Wallace and grew to be one of the most successful and widely-read popular novelists in the world, with about 173 novels and 40 plays to his bibliography. At one point in his career 25% of all books sold in Britain were by Wallace, and his total sales to date are over 25,000,000.

He wrote the first 1,500 words of each novel in longhand, and then would dictate the rest to his secretary; he never revised or corrected anything - that was left to the secretary. In addition, he was a prolific journalist.

Although highly successful, he died deeply in debt, because he spent his fortune as fast as he earned it; he had to keep writing at the pace he did to sustain his lavish lifestyle.


Dever, Maria, and Dever, Aileen. Relative Origins: Famous Foster and Adopted People. (Portland: National Book Company, 1992) Lane, Margaret. Edgar Wallace: The Biography of a Phenomenon. (New York: Doubleday, Doran, 1939) Kuusankosken Kaupunginkirjasto. "Edgar Wallace (1875-1932)." Available at: