The Reverend Robert Lionel Fanthorpe BA, FCollP, FRSA, FCMI, Cert.Ed, (born 9 February 1935) is a British priest and entertainer, and has at various times worked as a dental technician, journalist, teacher, television presenter, author and lecturer. Born in Dereham in Norfolk, he currently lives in Cardiff in South Wales, where he was Director of Media Studies and lecturer in Religious Studies at the Sixth form college the Cardiff Academy.
One of three children born to Robert Fanthorpe (1880-1964), a shopkeeper, and Greta Christine (née Garbutt), a teacher of shorthand, he had a half-brother Hugh Cuthbert 'Bert' Fanthorpe (1904-1985), and half-sister Mona Sylvia Fanthorpe (1910-1990), both born to Robert's first wife Elizabeth, (née Hensby), born in 1879 and who died in the early 1930s.
Lionel Fanthorpe was educated at Barnard Castle School and Hamond’s Grammar School in Swaffham. He left school aged 15 and married Patricia Alice Tooke (born 1938) in 1957. For a period he worked as a journalist on the Norfolk Chronicle and then as a van driver and warehouseman at Hamerton's Stores in Dereham, taking his A-levels by private study at home and by correspondence courses. He attended the teacher-training course at Keswick Hall College in Norwich between 1961 and 1963, where he achieved Distinctions in Educational Theory and Practice and in Advanced Main Theology as part of his Certificate in Education.
Fanthorpe was a schoolmaster at Dereham Secondary Modern School from 1958 to 1961 and again from 1963 to 1967, and a Further Education Tutor based at Gamlingay Village College from 1967 to 1969. He was Industrial Training Manager for the Phoenix Timber Group of Companies in Rainham from 1969 to 1972, Head of English and then Deputy Headteacher at Hellesdon High School near Norwich from 1972 to 1979, and Headmaster of Glyn Derw High School in Cardiff from 1979 to 1989. He has a BA in Arts & Social Sciences from the Open University. He was ordained as a non-stipendiary Anglican priest in the Church in Wales in 1987, is also a minister of the Universal Life Church, and was also at one time a Freemason in Bowers Lodge in Norwich.
He is the author or co-author of more than 250 books. He has been President of the British UFO Research Association and is the President of the Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena. He presented Channel 4's Fortean TV and has made many appearances at Fortean Times magazine's UnCon, most recently in October 2004 when he gave a talk on "The Knights Templar and their Ancient Secrets". He is a Fellow of the College of Preceptors and the Chartered Management Institute.
He is a member of the high IQ society Mensa and the paranormal research society The Ghost Club. In addition, Fanthorpe is a Dan Grade martial arts instructor and a weight-training instructor. He has been a frequent and fan-favourite guest of the late night American radio talk show Coast to Coast AM.
Fanthorpe was Director of Media Studies and teacher of Religious Studies at the Sixth form college the Cardiff Academy in Cardiff in South Wales. In 2013 he appeared in the Yesterday series Forbidden History presented by Jamie Theakston.
Fanthorpe married Patricia Alice Fanthorpe (née Tooke) in Norfolk in 1957. Patricia Fanthorpe is her husband's agent, manager and business partner; they have also co-authored a number of books together, including Rennes-le-Chateau: Its Mysteries and Secrets (1991), The Oak Island Mystery: The Secret of the World's Greatest Treasure Hunt (1995), The World's Most Mysterious People (Mysteries and Secrets) (1998), Mysteries of Templar Treasure and the Holy Grail: The Secrets of Rennes Le Chateau (2004), Mysteries and Secrets of the Templars: The Story Behind the Da Vinci Code (2005), Mysteries and Secrets of the Masons: The Story Behind the Masonic Order (2006), and Satanism & Demonology: Mysteries and Secrets (2011).
Television and film appearances
|1999||The Real Nostradamus||Presenter|
|I'll See You When I Get There||Presenter|
|St Nectan's Glen||Presenter|
|2000||Castles of Horror||Presenter|
|Stations of the Cross||Presenter|
|Encounters with the Unexplained||Himself|
|2002||The Marvellous Handshake||Himself|
|2005||The Heaven and Earth Show||Himself|
|Unexplained with George Noory||Himself|
Lionel Fanthorpe's output can be grouped under three broad headings, as follows:
- Approximately 180 paperback novels and short-story collections, in the science fiction and supernatural genres, produced for the UK publisher Badger Books during the 1950s and 1960s.
- Numerous books on Christian themes, including the "Thoughts and Prayers" series.
- Compilations of Forteana (generally with the word "mystery", "mysteries" or "mysterious" in the title), co-written with his wife Patricia.
Fanthorpe began working for Badger Books in the early 1950s, and over the period of the next 15 years produced many books under different pseudonyms, some of which were pen-name shared with other of Badger Books' writers. These included: Victor La Salle, John E. Muller, and Karl Zeigfreid. Pseudonyms exclusive to Fanthorpe's short story output include Neil Balfort, Othello Baron, Noel Bertram, Oben Leterth, Elton T. Neef, Peter O'Flinn, René Rolant, Robin Tate and Deutero Spartacus. Names he used for novels include Erle Barton, Lee Barton, Thornton Bell, Leo Brett, Bron Fane, L.P. Kenton, Phil Nobel, Lionel Roberts, Neil Thanet, Trebor Thorpe, Pel Torro, and Olaf Trent.
The exact number of books Fanthorpe wrote for Badger Books is not known, but is estimated to be in excess of 180, 89 of which were written in a 3-year period – an average of a 158 page book every 12 days.
During his time at Badger Books, Fanthorpe was essentially a small cog in a large publishing machine. The way the company worked was to acquire the cover art before the book was written, and send it to the author who then had to write a story around the cover. In some cases, Badger Books re-used cover art that had been produced to illustrate completely different novels. For example, Fanthorpe's 1960 novel Hand of Doom was written to suit a cover that had been produced to illustrate John Brunner's Slavers of Space, which formed one-half of Ace double D-421.
Although generally based on situations and plots familiar from pulp fiction, the novels are noteworthy for the unashamedly "nerdy" way they draw on a vast range of academic and pseudo-academic facts to fill out their background, including the mythology of Ancient Egypt (The Eye of Karnak), Babylon (Unknown Destiny), India (Vengeance of Siva) and Greece (Negative Minus).
The stories also flaunt the author's wide knowledge of Fortean subjects, such as vimanas (The Negative Ones), Chase Vault and The Devil's Footprints (U.F.O. 517), the disappearances of Benjamin Bathurst (Time Echo) and the crew of the Mary Celeste (Barrier 346), as well as the career of Charles Fort himself (The X-Machine). Another novel that discusses Charles Fort explicitly (both in the text and in the back-cover blurb) is Forbidden Planet. This latter novel has no connection with the famous film of the same title, but instead describes a vast interstellar chess game played by superhuman entities using human beings as pawns.
Other novels are pastiches of accepted works of the Western Canon – Beyond the Void is a loose rewrite of Shakespeare's play The Tempest, and in Negative Minus the characters Suessydo and Epolenep reenact Homeric tales.
Fanthorpe's work for Badger Books was produced at high speed (each 150-page book taking a month or less to write) and he continues at a similar pace both writing and publishing.
Cross, Debbie. Down the Badger Hole. R. Lionel Fanthorpe: the Badger years. Portland: Wrigley Cross, 1995. Includes a bibliography, an introduction by David Langford, and samples of Fanthorpe's writing.
Holland, Steve. Badger Tracks: Exploring the publications of John Spencer & Co. Colchester: Underworld Studios, 1997. A comprehensive history and bibliography of Badger Books (including but not limited to the titles written by Fanthorpe).
- Reginald, Robert (1970). Stella Nova: The Contemporary Science Fiction Authors. Unicorn.
- Fanthorpe's Official Website
- Fanthorpe's Profile on the Cardiff Academy website
- Fanthorpe on The Writers of Wales Database
- Hamilton, Alex 'Writing Talk: Conversations with Top Writers of the Last Fifty Years' Matador Publishing (2012) pg 63 Google Books
- Reginald, Robert Contemporary Science Fiction Authors Unicorn & Son, Publishers (1970) pg 307 Google Books
- Reginald, Robert Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature, Volume 2 Borgo Press (1979) pg 894 Google Books
- Fanthorpe interviewed on the Oak Island Treasure website
- Fanthorpe's Profile on the ULC website
- Fanthorpe, Lionel & Patricia, Mysteries and Secrets of the Masons Publisher: Dundurn Group Ltd (2006)
- Fortean TV, Unexplained Mysteries (2007-05-27)
- Fortean TV on Internet Movie Database
- 'An Interview With Rev Lionel Fanthorpe' - 'Mysterious Britain & Ireland' website
- England & Wales, Marriage Index, 1916-2005 about Robert L Fanthorpe Ancestry.com
- Famthorpe on the British Film Institute website
- Castles of Horror on Locate.tv website
- 'Lamarr's Attacks on the Internet Movie Database
- The Omen (2006) on the Internet Movie Database
- Fanthorpe on Peltorro.com
- "Lionel Fanthorpe Introduction Page". Lionel Fanthorpe Appreciation Page.
- Wrigley-Cross Books – New and Collectible Science Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery,Horror and General Stock
- The Reverend Lionel Fanthorpe's homepage
- R. L. Fanthorpe at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
- Lionel Fanthorpe on the Internet Movie Database
- A collection of his talks on Coast to Coast radio
- Full list of his works
- A Prose By Any Other Pseudonym – The Lionel Fanthorpe Appreciation Page
- "By the Seven Green Moons of Gongle!" (negative review of Galaxy 666), by Ken DeVries, in Book-Happy No. 4 (1999)
- An example of Fanthorpe's prose
- Duke, Olly (31 October 2000). "Typical biker: Fr Lionel Fanthorpe". London: The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 7 May 2010.