Born in the Savoy Hotel, London, on the 30th of October 1894, Philip Arnold Heseltine came from a well-to-do family of stockbrokers, solicitors, and art connoisseurs, his father dying when he was only two. His domineering mother, Edith Covernton, had Welsh connections and Warlock was to have strong ties with Wales throughout his life. In 1903 she married Walter Buckley Jones and mother and son moved to moved to Jones’s estate, Cefn Bryntalch, in Wales.
1903 – 1911: School, Delius, Eton
Joining Stone House Preparatory School in 1903, his interest in music was awakened through the pianola; his education continued at Eton in 1908 where his musical interests were encouraged by a sympathetic piano teacher, Colin Taylor. It was Taylor who in 1911 obtained permission for him to attend a concert of Delius‘s music, an event which was to have a lasting effect on his life. Warlock’s interest in Delius’s music had begun as early as 1909 and, by the time of his first meeting with Delius at that concert in 1911, he had already become obsessed with his music. From then on a quite remarkable friendship developed between the two men and for the next seven years Delius was Warlock’s mentor as well as a regular correspondent for the rest of his life.
1911 – 1915: Cologne, University, Daily Mail, Cornwall
Although it had been presumed that Warlock would follow in the family footsteps and work in either the Stock Exchange or Civil Service, there was a certain indecision about his immediate future and, on finishing school, he spent a few months in Cologne, studying German and the piano. These musical studies, however, proved unsuccessful and, resigned to a non-musical career, he entered Oxford in October 1913 to read for a degree in classics. Dissatisfied and unhappy, he left after only one year and for a short while enrolled as a student at the University of London, but this second attempt at a University career was even shorter lived than his first.
In February 1915 he secured an appointment as music critic on the staff of the Daily Mail though he soon found the work frustrating and lasted in the position for barely four months. One of his early interests was Elizabethan literature and now, finding himself unemployed, he spent time in the British Museum editing early music.
It was during this period that he met D. H. Lawrence whose work he admired, soon finding himself part of the author’s circle and planning a Utopian settlement in America. At the beginning of 1916 Warlock, a conscientious objector, followed Lawrence to Cornwall and involved himself in an unsuccessful venture to publish Lawrence’s books. The friendship between the two men, however, proved highly volatile and they soon parted company under acrimonious circumstances.