Allen, Walter, 1840-1907

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Walter Allen, born in Birmingham in 1911, was the fourth son of Charles Allen and his wife, Annie. He was educated at King Edward's Grammar School, Aston and then at Birmingham University. After graduation he became a freelance writer and during the course of his career was a prolific contributor to all kinds of publications. Allen was one of a small group of novelists, which included John Hampson, Henry Green and Leslie Halward, working in Birmingham in the later 1930s. His first novel, Innocence is Drowned, was published in 1938, and this was shortly followed by Blind Man's Ditch, (1939) and Living Space, (1940). He subsequently went on to publish four more novels; All in a Lifetime, published in 1959 is considered his finest. Allen is perhaps better known for his works of literary criticism, particularly for his two studies of the novel, The English Novel: A Short Critical History (1954) and Tradition and Dream: The English and American Novel from the Twenties to Our Time (1964). Other critical works included studies of Arnold Bennett (1948) and George Eliot (1964) and he also published his autobiography in 1981 under the title As I Walked Down New Grub Street . As a literary journalist, Allen was employed as features editor for Cater's News Agency, Birmingham, 1935-37 and he was also a reviewer for the New Statesman in the later 1940s and 1950s, becoming Assistant Literary, then Literary Editor for the period 1959-61. He also held various teaching posts and visiting professorships, particularly in North America, and from 1967 until 1973, he was Professor of English at the New University of Ulster, Coleraine. Walter Allen married Peggy Joy in 1944, by whom he had two sons and two daughters. He died on 28 February 1995, aged 84.

Reference: University of Birmingham, Special Collections Department, Online Archive Catalogue ( Accessed May 2002.

From the guide to the Papers of Walter Allen, [193-]-1995, (University of Birmingham Information Services, Special Collections Department)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Sumner, Charles, 1811-1874. Correspondence, 1829-1874 Houghton Library
referencedIn Clapp, William Warland, Jr., 1826-1891. Correspondence, 1790-1891 (bulk 1840-1891) Houghton Library
referencedIn Pease, Arthur Stanley, 1881-1964. Correspondence and compositions, 1870-1963 Houghton Library
creatorOf Welsh, Herbert, 1851-1941. Papers, 1895-1913. University of Michigan
referencedIn James Russell Lowell papers, 1835-1919. Houghton Library
referencedIn Arthur J. Allen Letters, 1938-1954. Columbia University. Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf Palmer, William Henry, 1840-1871. Papers, 1858-1871. Connecticut Historical Society
referencedIn Donald and Katharine Foley Collection of Penguin Books, 1935-1965 Bancroft Library
referencedIn Houghton Mifflin Company correspondence and records, 1832-1944. Houghton Library
creatorOf Welsh, Herbert, 1851-1941. Herbert Welsh papers, 1895-1913. University of Michigan
creatorOf Papers of Walter Allen, [193-]-1995 University of Birmingham Information Services, Special Collections Department
referencedIn Smithsonian Institution. Office of the Secretary. Correspondence, 1863-1879 Smithsonian Institution Archives
referencedIn Weston-Allen family. Papers, 1848-1985 (bulk 1848-1868). Smith College, Neilson Library
referencedIn Weston-Allen Family Papers MS 185., 1848-1985, 1848-1868 Sophia Smith Collection
creatorOf Allen, Walter, 1840-1907. Weston-Allen family papers, 1848-1985 (bulk 1848-1868). Smith College, Neilson Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Allen, Arthur J., 1891-1954 person
associatedWith Allen Walter Ernest 1911-1995 person
correspondedWith Baird, Spencer F. person
associatedWith Clapp, William Warland, 1826-1891 person
associatedWith Foley, Donald L. person
associatedWith Foley, Katharine person
associatedWith Henry, Joseph, 1797-1878 person
correspondedWith Houghton Mifflin Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Knight, George H. person
correspondedWith Lowell, James Russell, 1819-1891 person
associatedWith Palmer, William Henry, 1840-1871. person
correspondedWith Pease, Arthur Stanley, 1881- person
correspondedWith Sumner, Charles, 1811-1874 person
associatedWith Welsh, Herbert, 1851-1941. person
associatedWith Weston-Allen family. family
associatedWith Weston-Allen Family family
Place Name Admin Code Country


Birth 1840

Death 1907



Ark ID: w6cc37nk

SNAC ID: 65166294