(4 November 1862 — 29 December 1960) was an English author, poet and dramatist. He was born in 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 was the author of many novels, plays and poems about Dartmoor. His Dartmoor cycle of 18 novels and two volumes of short stories still have many avid readers despite the fact that many titles are out of print.
Phillpotts also wrote many other books with a Dartmoor setting. He was for many years the President of the Dartmoor Preservation Association and cared passionately about the conservation of Dartmoor.
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.
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.
Some of his novels about Dartmoor include:
- Children of the Mist (1898)
- Sons of the Morning (1900)
- The River (1902)
- The American Prisoner (1904)
- The Whirlwind (1907)
- The Mother (1908)
- The Virgin in Judgment (1908)
- The Three Brothers (1909)
- The Thief of Virtue (1910)
- The Beacon (1911)
- The Forest on the Hill (1912)
- Orphan Dinah (1920)
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), Storm in a Teacup
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
Although mainly a novelist, he also wrote several plays, the most famous being Yellow Sands
Phillpotts was an agnostic and a supporter of the Rationalist Press Association.
Late in his long writing career he wrote a few books of interest to science fiction andfantasy readers, the most noteworthy being Saurus
, which involves an alien reptilian being observing human life, somewhat after the fashion in which ethnographers observed peoples deemed "primitive" at that time.