Roger Lancelyn Green was one of the most varied writers in English, a Renaissance figure, a landed gentleman who, with pen and ink (never a typewriter), produced nearly a hundred volumes of literature and history, both scholarly and popular, for young and old. As well as being respected internationally for his writing, he also made a lasting mark on the local community. It was he who gave Poulton Hey (built as a dower house for the Lancelyn Green family) to the church in order to serve the needs of the housing estate that was built in the surrounding area.
He was educated at Liverpool College and Merton College, Oxford, where he entered the world of amateur theatricals, and acted for the Oxford University Dramatic Society. While at University, he met June Burdett, whom he later married. After Oxford, Roger Lancelyn Green went to London, where he played on both the legitimate stage (including a part in Peter Pan) and in pantomime.
After the death of his father, Major Herbert Lancelyn-Green MC, Roger moved into Poulton Hall, where he set to work writing volume after volume, on the Classics, on A.E.W Mason, Mrs. Molesworth, Stanley Weyman, J. M. Barrie, C. S. Lewis, and his special favourites, Rudyard Kipling and Lewis Carroll.
Poulton Hall gradually became a focal point for friends of the Greens: Neville Coghill came, as did C. S. Lewis, with whom Roger Lancelyn Green shared a love of Greece, and stage personalities, too, including Harry Andrews, Tommy Trinder and Joyce Redman.
The theatre remained a dominant force in Green’s life. Poulton Hall, inside, outside, and sometimes both, was, turned into a theatrical stage set. Among the productions that were staged was a remarkable Midsummer Night’s Dream on the front lawn that used real horses and flights of doves. Both he and his wife played parts in it. There was also a magnificent production of Through the Looking-Glass, where the audience sat in a carousel that, thanks to the sinews of dozens of Boy Scouts, was pushed on its axle to allow the seated audience to revolve from scene to scene.
None of these community efforts diminished Green’s literary output. From his pen poured forth biographies, critical studies, short stories, books of poetry, edited texts, translations of the Classics, and anthologies. For 23 years he edited the quarterly Kipling Journal. His reputation as a scholar acquired new force with his two-volume edition of Lewis Carroll’s diaries and his revision of The Lewis Carroll Handbook, even as he achieved considerable popular renown by his retelling of Greek and Norse myths and Arthurian legends. His Tellers of Tales, essays on children’s authors since 1800, has gone into numerous editions and is a classic blend of scholarship and popular writing.
Those who knew him described him as generous to a fault. His gift of Poulton Hey to the church is just one example of that generosity, and one for which we will forever be grateful.