Len Deighton

British military historian, cookery writer, graphic artist, and novelist Len Deighton was born 18 February 1929 in Marylebone, London, in 1929. His father was a chauffeur and mechanic, and his mother was a part-time cook. At the time they lived in Gloucester Place Mews near Baker Street. His interest in spy stories may have been partially inspired by the arrest of Anna Wolkoff, which he witnessed as an 11-year-old boy. Wolkoff, a British subject of Russian descent, was a Nazi spy. She was detained on 20 May 1940 and subsequently convicted of violating the Official Secrets Act for attempting to pass secret documents to the Nazis.

After leaving school, Deighton worked as a railway clerk before performing his National Service, which he spent as a photographer for the Royal Air Force’s Special Investigation Branch. After discharge from the RAF, he studied at Saint Martin’s School of Art in London in 1949, and in 1952 won a scholarship to the Royal College of Art, graduating in 1955. While he was at the RCA he became a “lifelong friend” of fellow designer Raymond Hawkey, who later designed covers for his early books. Deighton then worked as an airline steward with BOAC. Before he began his writing career he worked as an illustrator in New York and, in 1960, as an art director in a now defunct London advertising agency, Sharps Advertising. He is credited with creating the first British cover for Kerouac’s On the Road. He has since used his drawing skills to illustrate a number of his own military history books.

Following the success of his first novels, Deighton became The Observer’s cookery writer and produced illustrated cookbooks and wrote and drew a weekly strip cartoon-style illustrated cooking guide in London’s The Observer newspaper – Len Deighton’s Cookstrip. At least one of the strips is pinned up in Deighton’s spy hero’s kitchen in the 1965 film of his novel The IPCRESS File. In September 1967 he wrote an article in the Sunday Times Magazine about Operation Snowdrop – an SAS attack on Benghazi during World War II and The following year David Stirling was awarded substantial damages in libel from the article. He also wrote travel guides and became travel editor of Playboy, before becoming a film producer.

After producing a film adaption of his 1968 novel Only When I Larf, Deighton and photographer Brian Duffy bought the film rights to Joan Littlewood’s stage musical Oh, What a Lovely War! Deighton wrote the screenplay and was an uncredited producer of the film but he had his name removed from the credits, however, a move that he later described as “stupid and infantile”. That was his last involvement with the cinema. Deighton left England in 1969 and briefly resided in Blackrock, County Louth, in Ireland, only returning to England apart from personal visits and media appearances, his last one since 1985 being a 2006 interview that formed part of a “Len Deighton Night” on BBC Four.

Several of Deighton’s novels have been adapted for film and television, including The Ipcress File, SS-GB And Funeral In Berlin. His first four novels featured an anonymous anti-hero, named “Harry Palmer” in the films and portrayed by Michael Caine. The first trilogy of his Bernard Samson novel series was made into a twelve-part television series by Granada Television in 1988, and Quentin Tarantino has since expressed interest in filming the trilogy. Deighton also wrote a World War II historical novel Bomber about an RAF Bomber Command raid over Germany is and also reportedly began an unfinished Vietnam War novel, a portion of which appeared as the story First Base in his short story collection Declarations of War. He also wrote Len Deighton’s London Dossier (1967), a guide book to Swinging Sixties London with a “secret agent” theme – contributions from other writers are described as “surveillance reports” and his 1977 novel Fighter: The True Story of the Battle of Britain was said by Albert Speer (once Hitler’s Minister of Armaments) to be “an excellent, most thorough examination”.

Advertisements

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

One of the Great American Novels, Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was first published 18 February in rhe United Stares and 10th December 1884 in London. It is told in the first person by Huckleberry “Huck” Finn, a friend of Tom Sawyer and narrator of two other Twain novels (Tom Sawyer Abroad and Tom Sawyer, Detective) and is a sequel to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. It features colorful description of people and places along the Mississippi River and satirizes the Southern antebellum society. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is an often scathing look at entrenched attitudes, particularly racism and has been studied by serious literary critics since its publication. It was criticized upon release because of its coarse language and became even more controversial in the 20th century because of its perceived use of racial stereotypes, despite strong arguments that the protagonist & tenor of the book, is anti-racist & explores notions of race and identity & highlights the hypocrisy required to condone slavery within an ostensibly moral system.

While some scholars suggest that Jim was a good-hearted, moral character, others have criticized the novel as racist.Huck struggles not only with the challenges of his strenuous journey, but also with the 19th century social climate and the role it forces on him regarding Jim. Throughout the story, Huck is in moral conflict with the received values of the society in which he lives, and while he is unable to consciously refute those values even in his thoughts, he makes a moral choice based on his own valuation of Jim’s friendship and human worth, a decision in direct opposition to the things he has been taught. Mark Twain in his lecture notes proposes that “a sound heart is a surer guide than an ill-trained conscience”, and goes on to describe the novel as “…a book of mine where a sound heart and a deformed conscience come into collision and conscience suffers defeat”.To highlight the hypocrisy required to condone slavery within an ostensibly moral system, Twain has Huck’s father enslave him, isolate him, and beat him. When Huck escapes – which anyone would agree was the right thing to do – he then immediately encounters Jim “illegally” doing the same thing. Some scholars discuss Huck’s own character, and the novel as a whole, in context of its relation to African-American culture as a whole. John Alberti quotes Shelley Fisher Fishkin who writes in her 1990’s book Was Huck Black?: Mark Twain and African-American Voices, “by limiting their field of inquiry to the periphery,” white scholars “have missed the ways in which African-American voices shaped Twain’s creative imagination at its core.” It is suggested that the character of Huckleberry Finn illustrates the correlation, and even interrelatedness, between white and black culture in the United States.

The story begins in fictional St. Petersburg, Missouri, on the shore of the Mississippi River, sometime between 1835 and 1845 (when the first steamboat sailed down the Mississippi). Two young boys, Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn, have each come into a considerable sum of money as a result of their earlier adventures (The Adventures of Tom Sawyer). Huck has been placed under the guardianship of the Widow Douglas, who, together with her sister, Miss Watson, are attempting to civilize him. Huck appreciates their efforts, but finds civilized life confining. His spirits are raised somewhat when Tom Sawyer helps him to escape one night past Miss Watson’s slave Jim. However, his shiftless father “Pap”, sudden reappears who is an abusive parent and drunkard. Although Huck is successful in preventing him from acquiring his fortune, Pap forcibly gains custody of him and moves him to his backwoods cabin. Although Huck prefers this to his life with the widow, he resents his father’s drunken violence and his habit of keeping him locked inside the cabin so he escapes, elaborately fakes his own murder, and sets off down the Mississippi River.While living quite comfortably in the wilderness along the Mississippi, Huck encounters Miss Watson’s slave Jim on an island called Jackson’s Island. Huck learns that Jim has also run away & is trying to make his way to Cairo, Illinois, and then to Ohio. At first, Huck is conflicted over whether to tell someone about Jim’s running away, but as they travel together and talk in depth, Huck begins to know more about Jim’s past and his difficult life &, Huck begins to change his opinion about people, slavery, and life in general.

Huck and Jim take residence In a cavern on a hill on Jackson’s Island. When they can, they scrounge around the river looking for food, wood, and other items. One night, they find a raft they will eventually use to travel down the Mississippi. Later, they find an entire house floating down the river and enter it to grab what they can and also find a dead man, shot in the back while apparently trying to ransack the house. Huck find out the latest news in the area, and is worried by what he learns, so he returns quickly to the island where he tells Jim of the impending danger. The two immediately load up the raft and leave the islands. Huck and Jim become separated. Huck is given shelter by the Grangerfords, a prosperous local family & becomes friends with Buck Grangerford, a boy about his age, and gets involved in the Grangerfords blood feud against another family, the Shepherdsons which comes to a head when Buck’s sister, Sophia Grangerford, elopes with Harney Shepherdson. In the resulting conflict, all the Grangerford males from this branch of the family are shot and killed, and Huck narrowly avoids his own death in the gunfight,

After reuniting with Jim they Sail farther south on the Mississippi River, and rescue two cunning grifters, who join Huck and Jim on the raft. The younger of the two swindlers, a man of about thirty, introduces himself as a son of an English duke (the Duke of Bridgewater) and his father’s rightful successor. The older one, about seventy, then trumps the Duke’s claim by alleging that he is the Lost Dauphin, the son of Louis XVI and rightful King of France. He continually mispronounces the duke’s title as “Bilgewater” in conversation.The Duke and the King then join Jim and Huck on the raft, committing a series of confidence schemes on the way south. To allow for Jim’s presence, they print fake bills for an escaped slave; and later they paint him up entirely in blue and call him the “Sick Arab”. On one occasion they arrive in a town and advertise a three-night engagement of a play which they call “The Royal Nonesuch”. The play turns out to be only a couple of minutes of hysterical cavorting, not worth anywhere near the 50 cents the townsmen were charged to see it. ThenA drunk called Boggs arrives in town and threatens a southern gentleman by the name of Colonel Sherburn. so Sherburn kills him and almost gets lynched. By the third night of “The Royal Nonesuch”, the townspeople are getting fed up but the Duke and the King have already skipped town, and together with Huck and Jim, they continue down the river.

ln the next town they decide to impersonate two brothers of Peter Wilks, a recently deceased man of property, and manage to convince nearly all the townspeople that he is one of the brothers, a preacher just arrived from England, while the Duke pretends to be a deaf-mute to match accounts of the other brother. One man in town is certain that they are a fraud and confronts them. Afterwards, the Duke, suggests that they should cut and run. The King boldly states his intention to continue to liquidate Wilks’ estate.However Huck likes Wilks’ daughters, who treat him with kindness and courtesy, so he tries to thwart the grifters’ plans by stealing back the inheritance money. The arrival of two new men who seem to be the real brothers throws everything into confusion when none of their signatures match the one on record. The townspeople devise a test, which requires digging up the coffin to check. When the money is found in Wilks’ coffin, the Duke and the King are able to escape in the confusion. They manage to rejoin Huck and Jim on the raft & Huck resolves to free Jim, who is being held at the plantation of Silas and Sally Phelps. Huck intercepts Tom on the road and tells him everything, Tom joins Huck’s scheme & develops an elaborate plan to free Jim…

Happy Birthday🎈🎉🎂🎁🎊🎈

  • English actress Patricia Routledge Was Born 17th February 1929  (Hyacinth Bucket – prounounced “Bouquet” in Keeping up Appearances)
  • Australian actor and comedian Barry Humphries Was Born 17th February 1934 (Dame Edna Everage)
  • Born 17th February 1940 – Gene Pitney, American singer (d. 2006)
  • Born 17th February 1965 – Michael Bay, American film director
  • Born 17th February 1971 – Denise Richards, American actress (Wild Things)
  •  American musician Taylor Hawkins, (Foo Fighters and Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders) was Born 17th February 1972
  • American actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Dark Knight Rises, Looper) was Born 17th February 1981
  • English singer Ed Sheeran was Born 17th February 1991
  • English actress Bonnie Wright, Was Born 17th February 1991 – (Ginny Weasly In the Harry Potter films)

English actress and singer Dame Katherine Patricia Routledge, DBE was born 17 February 1929). She is best known for her role as Hyacinth Bucket in the BBC sitcom Keeping Up Appearances (1990–1995), for which she was nominated for the BAFTA TV Award for Best Light Entertainment Performance in 1992 and 1993. Her film appearances include To Sir, with Love (1967) and Don’t Raise the Bridge, Lower the River (1968). Routledge made her professional stage debut at the Liverpool Playhouse in 1952 and her Broadway debut in How’s the World Treating You in 1966. She won the 1968 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her role in Darling of the Day, and the 1988 Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical for Candide.

On television, she came to prominence during the 1980s in monologues written by Alan Bennett and Victoria Wood; appearing in Bennett’s A Woman of No Importance (1982), as Kitty in Victoria Wood as Seen on TV (1985–1986), and being nominated for the BAFTA TV Award for Best Actress for Bennett’s Talking Heads: A Lady of Letters (1988). She also starred as Hetty Wainthropp in the British television series Hetty Wainthropp Investigates (1989, 1996–1998).

Ruth Rendell CBE

Prolific English Author Ruth Rendell, Baroness Rendell of Babergh, CBE, was Born Ruth Barbara Grasemann on 17 February 1930, in South Woodford, London. She was educated at the County High School for Girls in Loughton, Essex. After high school she became a feature writer for her local paper, the Chigwell Times. Even at an early age, making up stories was irresistible to Rendell. As a reporter, she visited a house that was rumoured to be haunted and invented the ghost of an old woman. The owners threatened to sue the newspaper for devaluing their home. Later, she reported on the local tennis club’s annual dinner without attending, so missing the untimely death of the after-dinner speaker in mid-speech. She resigned before she could be fired.

Rendell met her husband, Don Rendell when she was working as a newswriter. They married when she was 20, and had a son, Simon, now a psychiatric social worker who lives in Colorado. The couple divorced in 1975, but remarried two years later. Rendell is known best for writing gripping Psychological Murder Mysteries and her best Known creation, Chief Inspector Wexford, is the hero of many popular police stories. Rendell started her career when she wrote two unpublished novels before finally striking lucky with the 1964 publication of From Doon With Death, which was the first mystery to feature her enduring and popular detective Chief Inspector Reginald Wexford, who is featured in From Doon with Death, a New Lease of Death, Murder being once done, Put on by Cunning, an Unkindness of Ravens, Road Rage, Adam & Eve & Pinch Me and The Monster in the Box. 

Rendell also writes crime-fiction that explores the psychological background of criminals and their victims, many of them mentally afflicted or otherwise socially isolated. In addition to these police procedurals starring Wexford, Rendell has written psychological crime novels exploring such themes as romantic obsession, misperceived communication, the impact of chance and coincidence, and the humanity of the criminals involved. Among such books are A Judgement In Stone, The Face of Trespass, Live Flesh, Talking to Strange Men, The Killing Doll, Going Wrong and Adam and Eve and Pinch Me. Many credit her and close friend P. D. James for upgrading the entire genre of whodunit, shaping it more into a whydunit. Rendell’s protagonists are often socially isolated, suffer from mental illness, and/or are otherwise disadvantaged; she explores the adverse impacts of their circumstances on these characters as well as on their victims.

Rendell has also written under her pseudonym Barbara Vine, (the name derives from her own middle name and her grandmother’s maiden name), with the publication of A Dark-Adapted Eye, King Solomon’s Carpet, A Fatal Inversion and Asta’s Book (alternative US title, Anna’s Book), among others, these are similar to her psychological crime novels while further developing themes of human misunderstandings and the unintended consequences of family secrets and hidden crimes. The author is noted for her elegant prose and sharp insights into the human mind, as well as her cogent plots and characters. Rendell has also injected the social changes of the last 40 years into her work, bringing awareness to such issues as domestic violence and the change in the status of women.

Throught her career Lady Rendell received many awards, including the Silver, Gold, and Cartier Diamond Daggers from the Crime Writers’ Association, three Edgars from the Mystery Writers of America, The Arts Council National Book Awards, and The Sunday Times Literary Award. She is also a Patron of the charity Kids for Kids, helping children in rural areas of Darfur. She was made a CBE in 1996 and a life peer as Baroness Rendell of Babergh, of Aldeburgh in the County of Suffolk, in 1997. She sat n the House of Lords for Labour. In 1998 Rendell was named in a list of the biggest private financial donors to the Labour Party. Ruth Rendell Sadly passed away Saturday 2 May 2015 however her novels remain popular and A number of her works have also been adapted for film and television.

Christopher Eccleston

English actor Christopher Eccleston was born 16 February 1964 in Langworthy, Salford, The family lived in a small terraced house in Blodwell Street, before moving to Little Hulton when Eccleston was seven months old. Eccleston attended Joseph Eastham High School, where he became head boy.

At the age of 19, he was inspired to enter the acting profession by such television dramas as Boys from the Blackstuff. Eccleston completed a two-year Performance Foundation Course at Salford Tech before going on to train at the Central School of Speech and Drama. As an actor, he was influenced in his early years by Ken Loach’s Kes and Albert Finney’s performance in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, but he soon found himself performing the classics, including the works of Shakespeare, Chekhov, and Molière. At the age of 25, Eccleston made his professional stage debut in the Bristol Old Vic’s production of A Streetcar Named Desire. Underemployed as an actor for some years after graduating from school, Eccleston took a variety of odd jobs at a supermarket, on building sites, and as an artist’s model.

Eccleston first came to public attention as Derek Bentley in the film Let Him Have It (1991) and an episode of Inspector Morse, “Second Time Around” (1991). In 1992, he played the role of Sean Maddox in the BBC drama miniseries Friday on my Mind. He garnered A regular role in the television series Cracker (1993–94) which brought him recognition in the UK. Eccleston also appeared in the episode “One, Two, Buckle My Shoe” of the Poirot series adapted from mysteries by Agatha Christie. He also appeared in the low-budget Danny Boyle film Shallow Grave (1994), with Ewan McGregor. The same year, he won the part of Nicky Hutchinson in the epic BBC drama serial Our Friends in the North, Alongside Mark Strong, Gina McKee and Daniel Craig. In 1996, he took the part of Trevor Hicks—a man who lost both of his daughters in the 1989 Hillsborough disaster—in the television drama film Hillsborough, penned by Jimmy McGovern. In real life, he was the best man to Trevor Hicks at his wedding in March 2009.

His film career has since taken off with a variety of roles, including Jude (1996), Elizabeth (1998), eXistenZ (1999), Gone in 60 Seconds (2000), The Others (2001), 24 Hour Party People (2002) and 28 Days Later (2002). He played a major role as the protagonist of the 2002 Revengers Tragedy, adapted from Thomas Middleton’s play of the same name.[14] He starred in the independent films A Price Above Rubies (1998) and The Invisible Circus (2001). He starred in the car-heist film Gone in 60 Seconds, but did not take his driving test until January 2004. He said on BBC’s Top Gear that his licence restricts him to vehicles with automatic transmission.

He has appeared in a variety of television roles, especially in British dramas. These have included Hearts and Minds (1995) for Channel 4, Clocking Off (2000) and Flesh and Blood (2002) for the BBC and Hillsborough (1996), a modern version of Othello (2001), playing ‘Ben Jago’, (the Iago character); and the religious telefantasy epic The Second Coming (2003) for ITV, in which he played Steve Baxter, the son of God. He has made guest appearances in episodes of the comedy drama Linda Green (2001) and macabre sketch show The League of Gentlemen (2002). Eccleston appeared in a stage role in Hamlet in the 2002 production at Leeds’s West Yorkshire Playhouse. March–April 2004 saw him return to the venue in a new play, Electricity.

Eccleston has been twice nominated in the Best Actor category at the British Academy Television Awards. His first nomination came in 1997 for Our Friends in the North, but he lost to Nigel Hawthorne (for The Fragile Heart). He was nominated in 2004 for The Second Coming; Bill Nighy won for State of Play. Eccleston won the Best Actor category at the 1997 Broadcasting Press Guild Awards for Our Friends in the North. In 2003 he won the RTS Best Actor award for a second time, for his performance in Flesh and Blood. In July 2004, a poll of industry experts, conducted by Radio Times magazine, voted Eccleston the “19th Most Powerful Person in Television Drama.”

Eccleston also portrayed the ninth incarnation of the Doctor in the 2005 revival of the BBC science fiction television series Doctor Who, Eccleston was the first actor to play the role who was born after the series began, albeit by less than three months. However Eccleston decided to leave the role after just one series, because he feared becoming typecast. Other newspaper reports state he was “overworked” “exhausted” and “didn’t enjoy the environment that the cast an crew had to work in”. Following his appearance in Doctor Who Eccleston was voted “Most Popular Actor” at the 2005 National Television Awards for his portrayal of the Doctor.

In July 2012, Eccleston spoke positively of his time on Doctor Who during a talk at the National Theatre This led to speculation he was considering making a return appearance as the Ninth Doctor for the show’s 50th anniversary special, “The Day of the Doctor”, in 2013. The 11th Doctor, Matt Smith, stated that he would have loved Eccleston to return. However Eccleston declined following talks with executive producer Steven Moffat. In 2005, Eccleston appeared on stage at the Old Vic theatre in London in the one-night play Night Sky alongside Navin Chowdhry, Bruno Langley, David Warner, Saffron Burrows and David Baddiel. Eccleston sat on the 2nd Amazonas International Film Festival Film Jury in November 2005. The director Norman Jewison was chairman of the Jury. In December 2005, Eccleston travelled to Indonesia’s Aceh province for the BBC Breakfast news programme, examining how survivors of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami were rebuilding their lives.

In 2006, Eccleston appeared in the ITV documentary special Best Ever Muppet Moments and appeared as the narrator in a production of Romeo and Juliet at the Lowry theatre in Salford. The theatre company with which he performed, Celebrity Pig (of which he is patron), is made up of learning disabled actors. In August 2006, Eccleston filmed New Orleans, Mon Amour with Elisabeth Moss which was directed by Michael Almereyda and shot in post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans. In 2006 he also starred in Perfect Parents, an ITV drama written and directed by Joe Ahearne, who had directed him in Doctor Who. Eccleston joined the cast of the NBC TV series Heroes in the episode “Godsend”, portraying the character Claude who has the power of invisibility, and helps Peter Petrelli with his powers. Eccleston appeared as the Rider in a film adaptation of Susan Cooper’s novel The Dark Is Rising.

In 2008 Eccleston appeared on the BBC Four World Cinema Award show arguing the merits of five international hits such as The Lives of Others and Pan’s Labyrinth with Jonathan Ross and Archie Panjabi. In 2009, Eccleston starred opposite Archie Panjabi in a short film called The Happiness Salesman. He also appeared as the villainous Destro in the G.I. Joe film, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. Eccleston also appeared in an episode of The Sarah Silverman Program as science fiction hero named Doctor Laser Rage. In 2010 Eccleston appeared as John Lennon Alongside Naoko Mori, who had previously appeared with him in Doctor Who, as Yoko Ono in “Lennon Naked”. Eccleston starred in the first episode of BBC One anthology drama Accused. He won an International Emmy Award for his role. In May 2011, he starred as Joseph Bede in BBC2’s seven part drama The Shadow Line and also played the role of Pod Clock in an adaptation of Mary Norton’s children’s novel The Borrowers on BBC One. In 2012, he starred in the political thriller Blackout and portrayed Creon in an adaptation of Antigone at the Royal National Theatre. In 2013, Eccleston portrayed the villainous Malekith in Thor: The Dark World, the sequel to Thor and the eighth instalment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe And also portrayed The Reverend Matt Jamison on the HBO drama series The Leftovers. In 2016 Eccleston began appearing as the eccentric but lovable granddad Maurice Scott in the BBC drama The A Word. Eccleston is also portraying Macbeth in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Macbeth during 2018.

Matt Groening (The Simpsons, Futurama)

American cartoonist, writer, producer, animator, and voice actor Matthew Abraham Groening was born February 15, 1954. He is the creator of the comic strip Life in Hell (1977–2012) and the television series The Simpsons (1989–present), Futurama (1999–2003, 2008–2013), and Disenchantment (2018–present). The Simpsons is the longest-running U.S. primetime-television series in history and the longest-running U.S. animated series and sitcom.

Groening made his first professional cartoon sale of Life in Hell to the avant-garde Wet magazine in 1978. At its peak, the cartoon was carried in 250 weekly newspapers. Life in Hell caught the attention of James L. Brooks. In 1985, Brooks contacted Groening with the proposition of working in animation for the Fox variety show The Tracey Ullman Show. Originally, Brooks wanted Groening to adapt his Life in Hell characters for the show. Fearing the loss of ownership rights, Groening decided to create something new and came up with a cartoon family, the Simpson family, and named the members after his own parents and sisters—while Bart was an anagram of the word “brat”. The shorts would be spun off into their own series The Simpsons, which has since aired 652 episodes. In 1997, Groening and former Simpsons writer David X. Cohen developed Futurama, an animated series about life in the year 3000, which premiered in 1999, running for four years on Fox, before being picked up by Comedy Central for additional seasons. Groening developed a new series for Netflix titled Disenchantment, which premiered in August 2018.

Groening has won 12 Primetime Emmy Awards, ten for The Simpsons and two for Futurama as well as a British Comedy Award for “outstanding contribution to comedy” in 2004. In 2002, he won the National Cartoonist Society Reuben Award for his work on Life in Hell. He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on February 14, 2012.

Dick Francis CBE FRSL

British steeplechase jockey and crime writer, Richard Stanley “Dick” Francis CBE FRSL sadly passed away on 14 February 2010, At his Caribbean home in Grand Cayman. He was Born 31 October 1920 in Coedcanlas, Pembrokeshire, Wales, the son of a jockey and stable manager and grew up in Berkshire, England. He left school at 15 without any qualifications,with the intention of becoming a jockey and became a trainer in 1938. During World War II, Francis volunteered, hoping to join the cavalry. Instead, he served in the Royal Air Force, working as ground crew and later piloting fighter and bomber aircraft, including the Spitfire and Hurricane. He said in an interview that he spent much of his six years in the Air Force in Africa. In October 1945, he met Mary Margaret Brenchley (17 June 1924 – 30 September 2000), at a cousin’s wedding And Dick and Mary were married in June, 1947, in London. She had a degree in English and French from London University at the age of 19, was an assistant stage manager and later worked as a publisher’s reader. She also became a pilot, and her experiences flying contributed to many novels, including Flying Finish, Rat Race, and Second Wind. She contracted polio while pregnant with their first child, a plight dramatized in the novel Forfeit, which Francis called one of his favorites. They had two sons, Merrick and Felix.

After leaving the RAF in 1946, Francis became a celebrity in the world of British National Hunt racing, winning over 350 races, becoming champion jockey in the 1953–54 season. Shortly after becoming a professional, he was offered the prestige job of first jockey to Vivian Smith, Lord Bicester. From 1953 to 1957 he was jockey to Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. His most famous moment came while riding the Queen Mother’s horse, Devon Loch, in the 1956 Grand National when the horse inexplicably fell when close to winning the race. Decades later, Francis considered losing that race his greatest regret and called it “a disaster of massive proportions. Like most jump jockeys, Francis had his share of injuries. He was hospitalized at the age of 12 when a pony fell on him and broke his jaw and nose. Many protagonists in his novels have broken bones and damaged organs . Dick Francis played an important role in 1983, when the Grand National at Aintree Racecourse “stood at the brink of extinction,” So ‘”Britain’s Jockey Club negotiated a $14 million deal to buy the land and save the race forever. by enlisting two prominent racing personalities – Lord Derby and novelist Dick Francis – were selected to raise the money in a worldwide campaign.” Other philanthropists, including Charles C. Fenwick Jr., who rode Ben Nevis to victory in the 1980 Grand National, and Paul Mellon, a breeder and racing enthusiast, also contributed to save the race.

After retiring from horse racing on the advice of Lord Abergevenny Francis Went onto Write more than 40 international best-sellers. His first book was his autobiography The Sport of Queens (1957), for which he was offered the aid of a ghostwriter, which he spurned. The book’s success led to his becoming the racing correspondent for London’s Sunday Express newspaper, and he remained in the job for 16 years.In 1962, he published his first thriller, Dead Cert, set in the world of racing. Subsequently he regularly produced a novel a year for the next 38 years, missing only 1998 (during which he published a short-story collection). Although all his books were set against a background of horse racing, his male heroes held a variety of jobs including artist (In the Frame and To the Hilt), private investigator (Odds Against, Whip Hand, Come to Grief, Under Orders—all starring injured ex-jockey Sid Halley, investigator who appears in the Jockey Club (The Edge), pilot (Rat Race and Flying Finish), wine merchant (Proof). All the novels are narrated by the hero, who in the course of the story discovers himself to be more resourceful, brave, tricky, than he had thought, and usually finds a certain salvation for himself as well as bestowing it on others. Details of other people’s occupations fascinated Francis, and the reader finds himself or herself immersed in the mechanics of such things as photography, accountancy, the gemstone trade, restaurant service on transcontinental trains—but always in the interests of the plot. Dysfunctional families were a subject which he exploited particularly well (Reflex, a baleful grandmother; Hot Money, a multi-millionaire father and serial ex-husband; Decider, the related co-owners of a racecourse).

His first novel, Dead Cert, was also adapted for film in 1974. Directed by Tony Richardson, it starred Scott Antony, Judi Dench and Michael Williams. It was adapted again as Favorit (a Russian made-for-television movie) in 1977 Francis’s protagonist Sid Halley was featured in six TV movies made for the program The Dick Francis Thriller: The Racing Game(1979-1980), starring Mike Gwilym as Halley and Mick Ford as his partner, Chico Barnes. Three more TV films of 1989 were adaptations of Bloodsport, In the Frame, and Twice Shy, all starring Ian McShane and featuring protagonist David Cleveland, from the novel Slayride.

Francis is the only three-time recipient of the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Award for Best Novel, winning for Forfeit in 1970,Whip Hand in 1981, and Come To Grief in 1996. Britain’s Crime Writers Association awarded him its Gold Dagger Award for fiction in 1979 and the Cartier Diamond Dagger Lifetime Achievement Award in 1989. he was granted another Lifetime Achievement Award .Tufts University awarded him an honorary doctorate in 1991. In 1996 he was given the Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Award, the highest honour bestowed by the MWA. In 2000, he was granted the Malice Domestic Award for Lifetime Achievement. He was created an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1983 and promoted to Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2000. Francis has been long accustomed to celebrity as a British sports star, but today he is a worldwide phenomenon, having been published in 22 languages. In Australia, he is recognized in restaurants, from his book-jacket picture. He and Mary will see people reading the novels on planes and trains.”Francis was elected in 1999 a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature’ . In the 1980s, Francis and his wife moved to Florida; in 1992, they moved to the Cayman Islands, where Mary died of a heart attack in 2000. In 2006, Francis had a heart bypass operation; in 2007 his right leg was amputated.