Eden Phillpotts (4 November 1862 – 29 December 1960) was an English author, poet and dramatist. He was born in Mount Abu, British India, educated in Plymouth, Devon, and worked as an insurance officer for 10 years before studying for the stage and eventually becoming a writer.
He co-wrote two plays with his daughter Adelaide Phillpotts, The Farmer’s Wife (1924) and Yellow Sands (1926); but is best known as the author of many novels, plays and poems about Dartmoor. His Dartmoor cycle of 18 novels and two volumes of short stories still has many avid readers despite the fact that many titles are out of print.
Phillpotts was for many years the President of the Dartmoor Preservation Association and cared passionately about the conservation of Dartmoor. He was also an agnostic and a supporter of the Rationalist Press Association.
Phillpotts was a friend of Agatha Christie, who was an admirer of his work and a regular visitor to his home. Jorge Luis Borges was another admirer.Borges mentioned him numerous times, wrote at least two reviews of his novels, and included him in his “Personal Library”, a collection of works selected to reflect his personal literary preferences.
Phillpotts died in Broadclyst.
Phillpotts wrote a great many books with a Dartmoor setting. One of his novels, Widecombe Fair, inspired by an annual fair at the village of Widecombe-in-the-Moor, provided the scenario for his comic play The Farmer’s Wife. It went on to become a silent movie of the same name, directed by Alfred Hitchcock and filmed in 1927. The cast included Jameson Thomas, Lillian Hall-Davis, Gordon Harker and Gibb McLaughlin.
He also wrote a series of novels each set against the background of a different trade or industry. Titles include: Brunel’s Tower (a pottery) and Storm in a Teacup (hand-papermaking).
Among his other works is The Grey Room, the plot of which is centered on a haunted room in an English manor house. He also wrote a number of other mystery novels, both under his own name and the pseudonym Harrington Hext. Titles include: The Thing at Their Heels, The Red Redmaynes, The Monster, The Clue from the Stars, and The Captain’s Curio.
The Human Boy was a collection of schoolboy stories in the same genre as Rudyard Kipling’s Stalky & Co., though different in mood and style.
Although mainly a novelist, he also wrote several plays.
Late in his long writing career he wrote a few books of interest to science fiction and fantasy readers, the most noteworthy being Saurus, which involves an alien reptilian observing human life.