Theresa Whistler Imagination of the Heart: The Life of Walter de la Mare.
Duckworth (London), 478 pages, £25
reviewed by Michael Glover
When Walter de la Mare turned eighty in 1953, The Times of London described him, in its caption to a large portrait photograph, as this “Genius in our Midst.” Forty years on, that genius has largely been forgotten—due, in no small part, to the vicissitudes of fashion. Long overdue, this is the first major biography of an important twentieth-century English poet, anthologist, and short-story writer.
De la Mare was born in the outer suburbs of London in 1873. His family, of French Huguenot descent, was middle-class and relatively impoverished. Poetry was the pole of his spiritual compass from early childhood, but as a young man he had precious little time to devote to his own literary interests. His first employment was as...