Walter Delaplaine Scull was born in Bath, Somerset on 9th February 1863.
He was the elder of two children born to his English mother, Anna and his American father, Gideon (an historian and genealogist). His sister Edith Maria Lydia was born in Great Malvern, Worcestershire in 1868.
His father’s family were Quaker wool merchants, who had a successful family business, David Scull &Co. in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
His early life was spent in the Midlands, and in Hounslow Heath in London. In September 1877 the family had moved to Rugby, Warwickshire, where Walter became a pupil at Rugby School at the age of 14.
He left Rugby in July 1881 and went up to Lincoln College, Oxford in the following October. He came down in 1884 with a BA degree, and was listed as a student of the Inner Temple in 1883, but did not practice as a lawyer.
Walter was a painter of note, who flourished between 1885 and 1903. He did not paint for a living as he was a gentleman ‘of independent means’ but painting, and also writing stories and articles for publication, were pursued as hobbies.
His first publication ‘Goethe and Socialism’ was printed for private circulation in London in 1888, and in the same year he painted ‘The Highgate Road in Autumn, looking towards Erskine House’.
In 1892 he wrote an article in the ‘Magazine of Art’ about George du Maurier, the cartoonist of ‘Punch’ for over 30 years, and a fellow resident of Hampstead.
It would appear that Walter took a ‘grand tour’ to Egypt early in 1893 because three of his paintings ‘Sailboats on the Nile’; ‘Temple of Abu Simbel, Daybreak’; and ‘Landscape of the Nile, with hills behind’ were all painted there in January.
Another painting called ‘The Destroyer’ dated 1895 is in the Brighton Museum, and was presented by him to the Museum in 1905.
In 1896 his book of fantasy tales called ‘The Garden of the Matchboxes and other Stories’ was published. In a review of the book in ‘The Academy’ on 4th July of that year, Grant Allen writes “As literary craftsmanship, these maiden stories attain an unusually high and even level. They are all style”.
It was at around this time that his play ‘Bad Lady Betty’ was published in London by Elkin Mathews.