John Masefield was born in 1878 in Hertfordshire. After leaving school he went to sea, but deserted his ship when the urge to write professionally overtook him. He spent two years doing odd jobs in New York whilst learning his craft as a writer. He moved back to England in 1897. After serving in the First World War, Masefield became a full time writer, writing many popular novels and collections of poetry, including the children's novels The Box of Delights and The Midnight Folk.