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William Pett Ridge was born at Chartham, near Canterbury, Kent on 22nd April 1859.
His family’s resources were certainly limited. His father was a railway porter, and his son, after schooling in Marden, Kent became a clerk in a railway clearing-house. The hours were long and arduous, but self-improvement was his goal. After working from nine until seven o’clock he attended evening classes at Birkbeck Literary and Scientific Institute and then he would write.
From 1891 his humourous sketches were published in the St James's Gazette, the Idler, Windsor Magazine and other literary periodicals of the day. He was heavily influenced by Dickens and critics thought he might be his successor.
Pett Ridge published his first novel in 1895, A Clever Wife. By his fifth novel, Mord Em'ly, three years later, his success was obvious. His writing was written from the perspective of those born with no privilege and relied on talent to find humour and sympathy in his portrayal of working class life.
Today Pett Ridge and other East End novelists including Arthur Nevinson, Arthur Morrison & Edwin Pugh are grouped together as the Cockney Novelists.
With his success Pett Ridge gave generously of both time and money to charity. In 1907 he founded the Babies Home at Hoxton, one of several children’s organisations
His circle considered Pett Ridge to be one of life's natural bachelors. In 1909 They were rather surprised therefore when he married Olga Hentschel.
As the 1920’s arrived Pett Ridge added to his popularity with the movies. Four of his books were adapted into films.
Pett Ridge now found the peak of his fame had passed. He still managed to produce a book a year but was falling out of fashion and favour with the reading public. His canon runs to over sixty novels and short-story collections as well as many pieces for magazines and periodicals.
William Pett Ridge died, on 29th September 1930, at his home, Ampthill, Willow Grove, Chislehurst, at the age of 71.
Publisher: Copyright Group