Hugh Walpole was born in New Zealand in 1884, the son of a Bishop. He came to England when he was five years old. He was educated at King’s School, Canterbury, and Emmanuel College, Cambridge.
He lived in Cumbria from 1924 until his death in 1941. Hugh Walpole bought Brackenburn, overlooking Derwentwater, his ‘little paradise on Catbells’, in 1923. Originally a bungalow built of local Honister slate in 1909, he enlarged it and converted the upper story of the nearby garage into a library and study, which eventually housed his library of 30000 books, and his collection of paintings.
The terraced garden in front of the house was designed by Walpole, who channelled a small beck to feed fountains and a pond. Literary visitors included J.B. Priestley, Sinclair Lewis, Arthur Ransom, W.H. Auden and Francis Brett Young.
Walpole wrote a great deal while at Brackenburn, including his Cumberland family saga ‘The Herries Chronicle’ (‘Rogue Herries’, ‘Judith Paris’, ‘The Fortress’, and ‘Vanessa’). He also wrote the 15 volumes of his diaries.
Hugh Walpole died in 1941 of a heart attack at Brackenburn, aged 57. He is buried in Keswick St John churchyard. It is marked by a Celtic cross, at the corner of the terrace on the West side of the church.