Louis Tracy – Reflections through Travel

Louis Tracy was recognised not only for his writing, but also his notable love for humanity and the great influence he displayed during WWI. His work during the British War Mission in the USA, resulted in him receiving the CBA award. Tracy continued to write during his war efforts, and throughout his career also used two pseudonyms, Robert Fraser and Gordon Holmes (which was used mainly for collaborations with M. P. Shiel.) Facts about Tracy’s life were recorded in short autobiographical works as well as interviews he did during his career.

Tracy was born in Liverpool, to an upper-middle class family on March 18, 1863. He was first educated privately at home, and then at the French Seminary in Douai. During his youth, he developed a love for the army, and joined the First Volunteer Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment. By his eighteenth birthday Tracy had become a captain, a rare accomplishment. Even though his early involvement in war resulted in ill health, he continued to volunteer and became a spokesperson for war movements throughout his life.

In 1884, after they received a letter from Tracy, The Northern Echo offered him a job as a reporter. He continued his journalism career both in Cardiff, Wales and then in Allahabad, India. Upon his return to England in 1892, Tracy co-founded The Sun with T. P. O’Connor. In 1894, he jointly bought The Evening News and Post, which he renamed The Evening News and became editor. Shortly after he sold his share to his partner, and used most of the money to help feed millions at 23 soup kitchens which he established during that year’s harsh winter.

Tracy’s writing style was simple and straightforward, and many of his stories included romantic elements, a gripping mystery and a happy ending. Most of them had an English detective, even when they were set in other countries. Tracy’s travels and experience in the military, as well as his love for the sea, influenced his novels. He became a volunteer coast guard during his career, and assisted with shipwrecks. His 1905 novel, Pillar of Light, reflects this period of his life as it is set near the sea.

Tracy’s writing was steady and quick and he wrote between 2 and 3 books per year. His work continued even after WWI began and he was required to visit the United States frequently. Tracy became appointed the sub-commander of the Whitby Branch of the North Riding Volunteer Reserve, and witnessed a German raid on the town’s coast. On March 5, 1916, he went to New York to gain support for England in the war effort. He persevered with letters, press releases and speeches, and was honoured several times after the war ended for his efforts.

Tracy continued to release novels until his death on August 13, 1928 at his home in Dunholme, Kent. His obituaries praised his character, describing him as ‘a very modest man, with simple tastes and quiet pleasures.’