Walter Beasant was born in Portsmouth in August 1836. He was educated at a number of different schools around the UK including Kings College London and Christs College Cambridge. He then travelled to Mauritius where he was appointed Mathematical Master at the Royal College.
In 1867 he returned to England due to ill-health and was appointed Secretary of the Palestine Exploration Fund. In the same year he published his first book – on French poetry. In 1871 he was admitted to Lincoln’s Inn, one of the legal centres in London.
He published approx 50 books during his lifetime – on literature (eg French poetry and French humorists), world history (eg History of Jerusalem) and London and its history (eg Early London: prehistoric, Roman, Saxon, and Norman and London in the Time of the Tudors). He also wrote novels including Children of Gibeon and All sorts and conditions of men, which sought to arouse the public conscience to the hardships suffered by the poor of the day. As a result the People’s Palace in the East end of London was built.
He was knighted in 1895 and died in London in 1901.