John Creasey

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John Creasey MBE (17 September 1908 – 9 June 1973) was an English crime and science fiction writer who wrote more than six hundred novels using twenty-eight different pseudonyms.

He created several characters which are now famous, such as The Toff (The Honourable Richard Rollison), Commander George Gideon of Scotland Yard, Inspector Roger West, The Baron (John Mannering), Doctor Emmanuel Cellini and Doctor Stanislaus Alexander Palfrey. The most popular of these was Gideon of Scotland Yard, who was the basis for the television series Gideon's Way and for the John Ford movie Gideon of Scotland Yard (1958), also known by its British title Gideon's Day. The Baron character was also made into a 1960s TV series starring Steve Forrest as The Baron.

Life and career[edit]

John Creasey was born in Southfields, Surrey, to a working-class family. He was the seventh of nine children of Ruth and Joseph Creasey, a poor coach maker. Creasey was educated at Fulham Elementary School and Sloane School, both in London. From 1923 to 1935 he worked various clerical, factory, and sales jobs while trying to establish himself as a writer. After a number of rejections, Creasey's first book was published in 1930. His first crime novel, Seven Times Seven, was published in January, 1932 by Melrose. It was a story about a gang of criminals. In 1935 he became a full-time writer. In 1937 alone, twenty-nine of his books were published. A phenomenally fast writer, he once suggested that he could be shut up in a glass-box and write there a whole book.

The Gideon's Way television series was produced from 1964 to 1966 in the UK, based on the Commander George Gideon character, starring John Gregson in the title rôle. From 1965 to 1966 a television version of Creasey's The Baron character was produced, starring Steve Forrest as The Baron. Between 1967 and 1971 the BBC produced a radio version of Creasey's Roger West stories with actor Patrick Allen in the title role as Scotland Yard Chief Inspector Roger "Handsome" West, with Allen's real-life wife Sarah Lawson playing the role of West's wife Janet.

In 1938, he created the character The Toff with the first novel Introducing the Toff. The Toff series would continue for 59 novels from 1938 to 1978. The Toff was The Honourable Richard Rollison. He is an aristocrat and an amateur sleuth and detective. ("Toff" is a British slang expression for an aristocrat.)

During World War II, he created the character of Dr. Stanislaus Alexander Palfrey, a British secret service agent, who forms Z5, a secret underground group that owes its allegiance to the Allies. The first novel of the Dr. Palfrey 34-book series was Traitor's Doom, published in 1942 by John Long Ltd., while the last was The Whirlwind in 1979.

In 1962, Creasey won an Edgar Award for Best Novel, from the Mystery Writers of America (MWA), for Gideon's Fire, written under the pseudonym J. J. Marric. In 1969 he received the MWA's greatest honor, the Grand Master Award.

Creasey had as many publishers as he had pseudonyms, but enjoyed enduring relations with John Long and Hodder & Stoughton in the UK. After he finally broke into the American market in the 1950s, many of his books were released by Harper and Scribners; Walker reissued many older titles in the revised editions.

Several movies have been made based on John Creasey novels: Salute the Toff (1952, also known as Brighthaven Express in the USA), Hammer the Toff (1952), John Ford's Gideon's Day (1958, also known as Gideon of Scotland Yard in the USA), released by Columbia Pictures, and Cat and Mouse (1958, also known as The Desperate Men in the USA), written as Michael Halliday.

He died at Salisbury, Wiltshire in 1973.

In 2007, his family transferred all of Creasey's copyrights and other legal rights to Owatonna Media. Owatonna Media on-sold these copyrights to Coolabi Plc in 2009, but retained a master licence in radio and audio rights. These rights are commercially licensed in the UK and abroad.

Richard Creasey[edit]

John's son Richard Creasey is also an author as well as a distinguished television producer, having served both in the private sector and at the BBC, and as the British producer of Patrick Watson's worldwide Canadian television documentary series The Struggle for Democracy. He has developed his father's "Doctor Palfrey" series by penning a new series of techno-thrillers around the character of Doctor Thomas Palfrey.

Crime Writers' Association (CWA)[edit]

In 1953, John Creasey founded the Crime Writers' Association (CWA) in the UK. The CWA New Blood Dagger is awarded in his memory, for first books by previously unpublished writers; sponsored by BBC Audiobooks, it includes a prize of £1000. This award was known previously as the John Creasey Memorial Dagger.

Pseudonyms[edit]

His pseudonyms include:

Westerns under the names of Ken Ranger, Tex Riley, William K. Reilly, and Jimmy Wilde. Romantic novels under the names of Margaret Cooke, M.E. Cooke, and Elise Fecamps.

Political career[edit]

As well as being an author, Creasey was a committed Liberal party member though he later became an independent.[1] He said that he had been organising Liberal street-corner meetings from the age of 12. At the time of the 1945 general election Creasey was Chairman of the local Liberal Association in Bournemouth where his publicity and writing skills were instrumental in helping the Liberals to an atypical second place. He was adopted as prospective parliamentary candidate for Bournemouth West in 1946 and appeared on the platform at the 1947 Liberal Assembly, which was held in Bournemouth.

He fought Bournemouth West in the 1950 general election, coming third. He became increasingly unhappy with the party through the 1950s though and disagreed so much with the party's policy concerning the Suez Crisis he resigned his membership. However after the Orpington by-election success of 1962 and impressed with Jo Grimond's leadership of the party he seemed to be reviving his Liberal activity. By January 1966 however, he had founded the All Party Alliance, a pressure group which sought to unite the best people from all parties.

Creasey fought by-elections as an independent in support of this idea in 1967 at Nuneaton, Brierley Hill and Manchester Gorton. He also fought Oldham West during the by-election of June 1968. He did well for an independent with the first-past-the-post system, having limited resources and often little time to campaign.

In Oldham West he beat his old party's candidate into fourth place. He could not seem to shed his affection for the Liberal party however, congratulating Birmingham Ladywood by-election victor Wallace Lawler in July 1969 and attending the 1969 party assembly albeit to promote All Party Alliance aims.

Honours[edit]

He was awarded the Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for services in the United Kingdom's National Savings Movement during World War II.

Bibliography[edit]

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The Commander George Gideon series (published under the pseudonym "J. J. Marric," 1955-1976)[edit]

The series was continued after Creasey's death by William Vivian Butler ("as J.J. Marric"):

  • Gideon's Force (1978)
  • Gideon's Law (1981)
  • Gideon's Way (1983)
  • Gideon's Raid (1986)
  • Gideon's Fear (1990)

Dr. Palfrey (Z5) series, writing as John Creasey (1942-1979)[edit]

Four additional Z5 stories have been written by the author's son Richard; in these, the central figure is Thomas Palfrey, the doctor's grandson: Eternity's Sunrise (2012); Hard Targets (2013, an omnibus of three shorter adventures - "Wings of Fear," "Burning Night," and "Deadly Sleep").

The Department Z series, as John Creasey (1933-1957)[edit]

Chief Inspector Roger West series, as John Creasey (1942-1978)[edit]

The Toff series, as John Creasey (1938-1978)[edit]

Sexton Blake series, writing as John Creasey (1937-1943)[edit]

Standalone novels, as John Creasey[edit]

The Baron series (under the pseudonym "Anthony Morton," 1937-1979)[edit]

The Bruce Murdoch series (under the pseudonym "Norman Deane," 1939-1942)[edit]

  1. Secret Errand (1939)
  2. Dangerous Journey (1939)
  3. Unknown Mission (1940)
  4. The Withered Man (1940)
  5. I Am the Withered Man (1941)
  6. Where is the Withered Man (1942)

The Liberator series (as "Norman Deane," 1943-1945)[edit]

  1. Return to Adventure (1943)
  2. Gateway to Escape (1944)
  3. Come Home to Crime (1945)

The Mark Kirby series (under the pseudonym "Robert Caine Frazer," 1959-1964)[edit]

  1. Mark Kilby Solves a Murder (1959) a.p.a. R.I.S.C. (1962), a.p.a. The Timid Tycoon (1966)
  2. Mark Kilby and the Secret Syndicate (1960)
  3. Mark Kilby and the Miami Mob(1960)
  4. Mark Kilby Stands Alone (1962)
  5. Mark Kilby Takes a Risk (1962)
  6. The Hollywood Hoax (1964)

The Superintendent Folly series (under the pseudonym "Jeremy York," 1942-1948)[edit]

In the asterisked titles, Folly was added for the revised editions of novels originally written as standalones.

The Fane Brothers series[edit]

Written under the pseudonym "Michael Halliday" for UK publication (1952-1955), but published under the pseudonym "Jeremy York" in the US (all in 1972).

The Doctor Cellini series[edit]

Written under the pseudonym "Michael Halliday" for UK publication (1965-1975), but published under the pseudonym "Jeremy York" for US.

Standalone novels (as "Jeremy York," 1941-1960)[edit]

Standalone novels (written under the pseudonym "Peter Manton," 1937-1954)[edit]

The Patrick Dawlish Series (written under the pseudonym "Gordon Ashe," 1939-1975)[edit]

Standalone novels (as "Gordon Ashe," 1940-1957)[edit]

  1. Who Was the Jester? (1940)
  2. No Need to Die (1955)
  3. The Man Who Stayed Alive (1955)
  4. You're Bet Your Life (1957)

Westerns (various pseudonyms)[edit]

One-Shot Marriott and Roaring Guns were written under the pseudonym "Ken Ranger"; the rest were written under the pseudonyms "Tex Riley" (asterisked below) or "William K. Riley" (indicated below by # sign after date of publication).

Romance novels (various pseudonyms)[edit]

Those indicated by "1" after the publication date were written under the pseudonym "Margaret Cooke";
those indicated by "2" after the publication date were written under the pseudonym "Elise Fecamps";
those indicated by "3" after the publication date were written under the pseudonym "Henry St John Cooper".

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ "Man of Mystery", Ian Millsted, Journal of Liberal History, Issue 57, Winter 2007-08

External links[edit]