Thomas Henry Gallon was born in Bermondsey, London, on 5 December 1866, the son of John P. Gallon (an engineer, fitter and turner) and his wife Martha K. Gallon. Tom Gallon grew up in hard times as a young boy, starting work at a London warehouse where he worked 12 hours a day, later finding a position as a clerk in a City office before becoming usher in a large private school; later he worked as a secretary to the mayor of a town in the country.
Writing was always his ambition and, after many hardships (to which can be added that of ill-health) he found great success with his first novel, Tatterley. "Tatterley changed my world for me," Gallon would later say, "yet it was quite an accidental success. I had always wanted to write from the time I was a boy, and my first story was actually accepted and paid for when I was seventeen and a half. I received thirty shillings for it, and I naturally thought my fortune was made."
The book was considered by some a second-rate imitation of Charles Dickens' Christmas Carol as it concerns Caleb Fry, a grasping, unscrupulous money-grabber in the mould of Scrooge. Caleb has the audacious idea of pretending to die, returning as his own double and confidential servant to his heir. He discovers that he dislikes his heir and, instead, feels sympathy for a nephew he had previously robbed and disinherited.
Like Dickens, Gallon often wrote Christmas tales, the first appearing in Phil May's Winter Illustrated Annual entitled 'The Power of Philip Wade'. Another Scrooge-like character appeared in his The Man Who Knew Better. Gallon would later sit on The Dickens Testimonial Committee, wrote 'A Dickens Dream' for The Strand and sat as a member of the Dickens Fellowship on the jury of a mock trial of John Jasper, accused of the murder of Edwin Drood (based on Dickens' unfinished novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood), the trial presided over by G. K. Chesterton as the Judge. (Jasper, incidentally, was found guilty of manslaughter.)
Gallon won great popularity with his novels, publishing two, three or four new novels a year as well as contributing to many popular papers such as The Strand. "Books have always influenced me," he said. "I think that every book a novelist reads must influence him in one way or another. A layman reads a novel, as a rule, for its story, but the professional writer looks at a book from many points of view. He studies its style, technique, characterisation, plot, dialogue; his professional eye is attracted to many points that escape the ordinary reader's notice; and, therefore, as I say, every book he reads must influence him, if not in one way, than in another. Personally, I dare not read anything except the lightest of fiction when I am writing a novel, lest it take me off the rails of my own work. More than once I have had to abandon a tale because I found myself unwittingly plagiarising in it some work read months before that had greatly impressed me."
Gallon lived at 3 Gray's Inn Place, London , 190 Adelaide Road, St John's Wood, London N.W. [1903/13].
In July 1913, Gallon's younger brother, Frederick Herbert Gallon, a struggling artist living at Little Kingshill, near Great Missenden, shot his wife and their 5-year-old son before killing himself.
Tom Gallon died fourteen months later at his home, 43 Springfield Road, Hampstead. He had been suffering for some weeks from pleurisy and his end came when he suffered a heart attack on 4 November 1914. He was 48 years old.
Many of his novels were subsequently filmed, amongst them The Princess of Happy Chance (1916), Meg the Lady (1916), The Cruise of the Make-Believes (1918), The Lackey and the Lady (1919), A Rogue in Love (1922), Boden's Boy (1923), Off the Highway (1925, based on Tatterley) and The Great Gay Road (1931).
Miss Nellie Tom-Gallon, Gallon's younger sister, was also an authoress, born Helen Kate Gallon in 1874. She died at her home at 10 Belsize Park, London, on 1 February 1938, made a financial bequest to the Society of Authors in memory of her brother and the Tom-Gallon Trust Award has been awarded bi-annually since 1943.
Tatterley. The story of a dead man. London, Hutchinson & Co., 1897; New York, D. Appleton & Co., 1897.
A Prince of Mischance. London, Hutchinson & Co., 1897; New York, D. Appleton & Co., 1898.
Dicky Monteith. A love story. London, Hutchinson & Co., 1898; New York, D. Appleton & Co., 1898.
Comethup. London, Hutchinson & Co., Oct 1899; as The Idol of the Blind. New York, D. Appleton & Co., 1899..
The Kingdom of Hate. A romance. London, Hutchinson & Co., 1899; New York, D. Appleton & Co., 1899.
Kiddy. London, Hutchinson & Co., May 1900; as Kiddie, New York, B. B. Vallentine, 1900.
A Rogue in Love. London, Hutchinson & Co., Nov 1900.
The Man Who Knew Better. A Christmas dream, illus. Gordon Browne. Westminster, Archibald Constable & Co., Oct 1901; New York, Appleton & Co., 1901.
Rickerby's Folly. London, Methuen & Co., 1901.
The Second Dandy Chater. London, Hutchinson & Co., 1901; New York, Dodd, Mead & Co., 1901.
The Charity Ghost. A tale of Christmas, illus. Gordon Browne. London, Hutchinson & Co., 1902.
The Dead Ingleby. London, Hutchinson & Co., 1902.
The Mystery of John Peppercorn. London, Hutchinson & Co., 1902.
The Girl Behind the Keys. London, Hutchinson & Co., 1903; ed by Arlene Young, Peterborough, Ont., Broadview Encore Editions, 2006.
In a Little House. London, Hutchinson & Co., 1903.
The Lady of the Cameo. London, Hutchinson & Co., 1903.
Nobody's Baby. A Christmas idyll, illus. Gordon Browne. London, Eveleigh Nash, 1903.
Boden's Boy. London, Hutchinson & Co., 1904.
The Golden Thread. The story of a stolen Christmas. London, Eveleigh Nash, 1904.
Jarwick the Prodigal. London, Ward, Lock & Co., 1904.
Peplow's Paper-Chase. London, Hutchinson & Co., 1904.
Aunt Phipps. London, Hutchinson & Co., 1905.
Lagden's Luck. Bristol, Arrowsmith, 1905.
Meg the Lady. A romance. London, Hutchinson & Co., 1905.
Fortunes A-Begging. A romance. London, Hurst & Blackett, 1906.
Jimmy Quixote. London, Hurst & Blackett, 1906.
Christmas at Poverty Castle. London, Eveleigh Nash, 1907.
The Cruise of the Make-Believes. London, Hutchinson & Co., 1907; Boston, Little, Brown & Co., 1907.
Judy--and the Philosophers. London, Hutchinson & Co., 1907.
The Lackey and the Lady. London, Hurst & Blackett, 1908.
Tinman, illus. Amédeé Forestier. London, Ward, Lock & Co., 1908.
Brother Rogue and Brother Saint. London, Stanley Paul & Co., 1909.
The Dream--And the Woman. London, Stanley Paul & Co., 1909.
The Great Gay Road. London, John Long, 1910.
The Mystery of Roger Bullock. London, Stanley Paul & Co., 1910.
The Rogue's Heiress. London, Hutchinson & Co., 1910; New York, G. W. Dillingham Co., 1910.
As He was Born. London, Eveleigh Nash, 1911.
Dead Man's Love. London, Ward, Lock & Co., 1911.
By the Name of Miss Smith. London, Hodder & Stoughton (1d stories), 1912.
Levity Hicks. London, John Long, 1912.
Memory Corner. London, John Long, 1912; New York, G. W. Dillingham Co., 1912.
Young Eve and Old Adam. London, John Long, 1913.
"It Will Be All Right!" London, Hutchinson & Co., 1914.
The Man in Motley. London, Mills & Boon, 1915.
The Princess of Happy Chance. London, Hutchinson & Co., 1915.
The Diamond Trail. London, Mills & Boon, 1916.
The Man Hunt. London, Mills & Boon, 1916.
The Lady in the Black Mask. London, Mills & Boon, 1917.
The Touch of the Child, and other stories. London, Mills & Boon, 1918.
The Man Who Stole the Castle, with Leon M. Lion (Garrick Theatre, 1900)
Memory's Garden (1902)
Lady Jane's Christmas Party (Garrick Theatre, 1904)
Law and Order (Palace Theatre, 1908)
The Great Gay Road (Court Theatre, 1911)
Aurora's Captive (Prince of Wales Theatre, 1913)
All's Fair (Tivoli Musichall, 1913)
Felix Gets a Month, with Leon M. Lion (Haymarket Theatre, 1917)
Pistols For Two, with Leon M. Lion (Coliseum, 1917)
The Angel of the White Feet. A play in one act by Douglas Bain, adapted from the short story by Tom Gallon. London, H. K. Lewis, 1911.
The Touch of the Child. A dramatic incident in one act by Leon M. Lion, adapted from Tom Gallon's story. in T. H. Lacy's Acting Edition of Plays Vol.162, 1913.
Novels by Nellie Tom-Gallon
Monsieur Zero, with Calder Wilson (collection). London, T. Fisher Unwin, 1923.
He Who Walked in Scarlet, with Calder Wilson. London, T. Fisher Unwin, 1924.
Dawn of Desire. London, Diamond Press, 1927.
Full Passion Mood. London, Diamond Press, 1928.
The Man Who Changed His Wife. London, E. Nash & Grayson, 1928.
I Meant No Harm! London, Heath Cranton, 1935.