Sir Walter Besant (14 August 1836 – 9 June 1901), was a novelist and historian. William Henry Besant was his brother, and another brother, Frank, was the husband of Annie Besant. The son of a merchant, he was born at Portsmouth, Hampshire and attended school at St Paul's, Southsea, Stockwell Grammar, London and King's College London. In 1855, he was admitted as a pensioner to Christ's College, Cambridge, where he graduated in 1859 as 18th wrangler. After a year as Mathematical Master at Rossall School, Fleetwood, Lancashire, and a year at Leamington College, he spent six years as professor of mathematics at the Royal College, Mauritius. A decline in health compelled him to resign, and he returned to England and settled in London in 1867. From 1868 to 1885 he held the position of Secretary to the Palestine Exploration Fund. In 1871, he was admitted to Lincoln's Inn.