After an unhappy childhood - both parents lost early, farmed out to an aunt, wretched schooldays - he was sent to the training ship HMS Conway, with the twin aim of equipping him for life at sea and breaking what his aunt saw as a dangerous addiction to reading. The effect was to spark young Masefield's love of the sea, nautical lore and storytelling - and to confirm him in his addiction to books, which he now had a great deal more time to indulge. Masefield's maiden sea voyage was to Chile, then after his return he took to the sea again, aboard a windjammer bound for New York - where he promptly jumped ship and lived for several months as a vagrant, taking odd jobs where he could find them. After returning to the city, he worked in a carpet factory in Yonkers, where, despite the long hours and hard toil, he fed his reading addiction with as many as 20 books a week.
Soon after his return to England, he met his future wife, settled down and embarked on an extremely busy and prolific career as poet, novelist, propagandist, lecturer and indefatigable all-round writer, accumulating honours as he sailed on into old age. I don't suppose much will survive of him but those few anthology pieces - and perhaps his children's books The Midnight Folk and The Box Of Delights? Well, it is enough.