Besant, Walter

BORN 14 Aug 1836, Portsmouth, Hampshire - DIED 9 Jun 1901, London
GRAVE LOCATION London: St John-at-Hampstead, Churchyard Extension, Church Row, Hampstead (C 64)

Walter Besant was the son of a merchant. He graduated in 1859 at Christ's College, Cambridge and taught as a professor of mathematics at the Collège Royal of Mauritius for six years (1861-1867). Health problems forced him to return to England and he settled in London.

From 1868 to 1885 he was the Secretary to the Palestine Exploration Fund. He turned to writing and researched french poetry, especially the work of Rabelais. In 1872 he started writing the so called Besant-Rice novels, together with James Rice. In 1874 he married Mary Garat Foster and they had four children.

After Rice's death in 1882 he wrote many more novels, among them "All in a Garden Fair" (1883) and "Dorothy Forster" (1884). He also authored historical works and biographies. In 1884 he was one of the founders of the Society of Authors. In 1890 he finished Wilkie Collins' last novel "Blind Love" after Collins had died in 1889. Many of his books deal with social problems.

He was a freemason and a founder of their research lodge Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076 in 1884. In 1895 he was knighted and he died in London in 1901. Social reformer Annie Besant was his sister in law (she married and divorced his younger brother Frank). There is a memorial for Walter Besant in St. Paul's Cathedral.

Work: "The Golden Butterfly" (1876, with James Rice); "All Sorts and Conditions of Men" (1882); "Children of Gibeon" (1886).

Related persons
• has a connection with Collins, Wilkie
• was a friend of Du Maurier, George

0/0/1890"Blind Love" by Wilkie Collins is published. Collins had died before it was finished and Walter Besant had completed the story. [Collins, Wilkie]


Sir Walter Besant's grave at St. John-at-Hampstead, London.
Picture by Androom (13 Aug 1997)


Plaque for Walter Besant at Victoria Embankment in London.
Picture by Androom (17 Apr 2024)


Walter Besant - Wikipedia
Besant, Sir Walter | Infoplease

Bessel, Ehmi

Published: 01 Jan 2006
Last update: 21 Apr 2024