He was born in Dorchester, son of a Welsh clergyman, and was educated at Sherborne School and Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. While lecturing in the USA, he contracted tuberculosis. After his return in 1909, he travelled again, living for a while in Switzerland and also in Kenya. His time in Africa proved inspirational, as did many of his life experiences. Other writings included a novel, Apples Be Ripe (1930), and a biography of Henry Hudson (1927).