20 December 1923|
Erith, Kent, England
|Died||10 September 2007
|Pen name||James Leasor;
James Leasor (20 December 1923 – 10 September 2007) was a prolific British author, who wrote historical books and thrillers. Leasor's 1978 book, Boarding Party, about an incident from the Second World War that until that time was secret, was turned into a film, The Sea Wolves, starring Gregory Peck, Roger Moore and David Niven.
Leasor was born in Erith, Kent, in 1923, and was educated at the City of London School. He was commissioned into the Royal Berkshire Regiment and served in Burma with the Lincolnshire Regiment during World War II. In the Far East his troopship was torpedoed and he spent 18 hours adrift in the Indian Ocean. He also wrote his first book, Not Such a Bad Day, by hand in the jungles of Burma on airgraphs, single sheets of light-sensitive paper which could be reduced to the size of microdots and flown to England in their thousands to be blown up to full size again. His mother then typed it up and sent it off to an agent, who found a publisher who sold 28,000 copies, although Leasor received just £50 for all its rights. He later became a correspondent for the SEAC, the Services Newspaper of South East Asia Command, under the inspirational editorship of Frank Owen, after being wounded in action. His novel, NTR: Nothing to Report, is a semi-autobiographical account of many of his experiences in India and Burma during the war.
After the war, he went to Oriel College, Oxford, where he read English and edited The Isis magazine. He joined the Express after university and became private secretary to Lord Beaverbrook, the proprietor of the newspaper, and then a foreign correspondent.
He first came to notice as an author with a number of critically acclaimed histories. These included The Red Fort, his account of the Indian Mutiny, on which Cecil Woodham-Smith commented in the New York Times, as "Never has this story of hate, violence, courage and cowardice been better told", The One That Got Away, about the only German prisoner of war, Franz von Werra, to escape from Allied territory during World War 2, which was later filmed starring Hardy Kruger, The Plague and the Fire, about London’s twin tragedies in the 17th Century, The Millionth Chance about the loss of the R101 airship and Singapore: The Battle that Changed the World, on the Battle of Singapore in 1942.
He became a full-time author in the 1960s, after the success of his novel, Passport to Oblivion, one of the best selling books of the 1960s, a thriller featuring Dr Jason Love, which was filmed as Where the Spies Are in 1965 starring David Niven. He wrote several more thrillers featuring Love, as well a string of other novels. He continued to write historical books, and later titles included Green Beach, about the Dieppe Raid in 1975, Boarding Party in 1978, which was filmed as The Sea Wolves, The Unknown Warrior, about an agent who was part of the D-Day deception plans, Who Killed Sir Harry Oakes? and Rhodes and Barnato, which was his final book, published in 1997.
Leasor married barrister Joan Bevan on 1 December 1951 and they had three sons. He lived for his last 40 years at Swallowcliffe Manor, near Salisbury in Wiltshire. He died in Salisbury, Wiltshire, on 10 September 2007, aged 83.
Jason Love novels
- Leasor, J. (1964). Passport to Oblivion. London: Heinemann. OCLC 11919382.
- Leasor, J. (1966). Passport to Peril. London: Heinemann. ISBN 0-434-41019-5. OCLC 3505645. Published in the U.S. as Leasor, J. (1966). Spylight. Philadelphia: Lippincott. OCLC 1378217.
- Leasor, J. (1967). Passport in Suspense. London: Heinemann. OCLC 28535433. Published in the U.S. as Leasor, J. (1967). The Yang Meridian. New York: Putnam. OCLC 408333.
- Leasor, J. (1968). Passport for a Pilgrim. London: Heinemann. ISBN 0-434-41013-6. OCLC 41039.
- Leasor, J. (1969). A Week of Love : Being Seven Adventures of Dr. Jason Love. London: Heinemann. ISBN 0-434-41014-4. OCLC 59215589.
- Leasor, J. (1971). Love-all. London: Heinemann. ISBN 0-434-41017-9. OCLC 16196092.
- Leasor, J. (1979). Love and the Land Beyond. London: Heinemann. ISBN 0-434-41027-6. OCLC 63827505.
- Leasor, J. (1989). Frozen Assets. London: Grafton. ISBN 0-246-13310-4. OCLC 19671462.
- Leasor, J. (1992). Love Down Under. London: HarperCollins. ISBN 0-246-13713-4. OCLC 26358996.
Jason Love and Aristo Autos novel
Aristo Autos novels
- Leasor, J. (1969). They Don't Make Them Like That Any More. London: Heinemann. OCLC 78482.
- Leasor, J. (1970). Never Had a Spanner on Her. London: Heinemann. OCLC 29647906.
Robert Gunn novels
- Leasor, J. (1973). Mandarin-Gold. London: Heinemann. ISBN 0-434-41022-5. OCLC 806328.
- Leasor, J. (1975). The Chinese Widow. London: Heinemann. ISBN 0-434-41023-3. OCLC 2074606.
- Leasor, J. (1976). Jade Gate. London: Heinemann. ISBN 0-434-41025-X. OCLC 2646806.
- Leasor, J. (1946) Not Such a Bad Day.
- Leasor, J. (1951). The Strong Delusion. London: Harrap. OCLC 1872596.
- Leasor, J. (1955). NTR : Nothing to Report. London: Werner Laurie. OCLC 14350159.
- Leasor, J. (1972). Follow the Drum. London: Heinemann. ISBN 0-434-41019-5.
- Leasor, J. (1982). Open Secret. London: Collins. ISBN 0-00-222336-8. OCLC 10057404.
- Leasor, J. (1984). Ship of Gold. London: Collins. ISBN 0-00-222797-5. OCLC 12502794.
- Leasor, J. (1986). Tank of Serpents. London: Collins. ISBN 0-00-222915-3. OCLC 13158926.
As Andrew MacAllan (novels)
- MacAllan, A. (1989). Succession. London: Headline. ISBN 0-7472-0094-7. OCLC 18321969.
- MacAllan, A. (1990). Generation. London: Headline. ISBN 0-7472-0116-1. OCLC 20564160.
- MacAllan, A. (1991). Diamond Hard. London: Headline. ISBN 0-7472-0346-6. OCLC 22623910.
- MacAllan, A. (1992). Fanfare. London: Headline. ISBN 0-7472-0476-4. OCLC 26357827.
- MacAllan, A. (1993). Speculator. London: Headline. ISBN 0-7472-0731-3. OCLC 29222039.
- MacAllan, A. (1994). Traders. London: Headline. ISBN 0-7472-0995-2. OCLC 30778975.
- Leasor, J. At Rest at Last - first published in The Rigby File (1989), ed. Tim Heald
- Leasor, J. (1951). The Monday Story. Oxford University Press. OCLC 30190895.
- Leasor, J. (1952). Author by Profession. London: Cleaver-Hume Press. OCLC 1925903.
- Leasor, J. (1954). Wheels to Fortune; a brief account of the life and times of William Morris, Viscount Nuffield. London: The Bodley Head. OCLC 14118317.
- Leasor, J. (1955). The Serjeant-major; a biography of R.S.M. Ronald Brittain, M.B.E., Coldstream Guards. London: Harrap. OCLC 2154501.
- Leasor, J. (1956). The Red Fort; an account of the Siege of Delhi in 1857. London: W. Laurie. OCLC 2514152.
- Burt, K.; Leasor, J. (1956). The One That Got Away. London: Collins. OCLC 2071959.
- Leasor, J. (1957). The Millionth Chance; the story of the R. 101. London: H. Hamilton. OCLC 2216706.
- Leasor, J.; Hollis, L. (1959). The Clock with Four Hands; based on the experiences of General Sir Leslie Hollis. New York: Reynal. OCLC 385375.
- Eton, P.; Leasor, J. (1960). Wall of Silence. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill. ISBN 0-434-41019-5. OCLC 1609399.
- Leasor, J. (1961). The Plague and the Fire. New York: McGraw-Hill. OCLC 6683903.
- Leasor, J. (1962). Rudolf Hess : The Uninvited Envoy. London: Allen & Unwin. OCLC 1373664.
- Leasor, J. (1968). Singapore: The Battle that Changed the World. London: Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 0-340-04434-9. OCLC 23377403.
- Leasor, J. (1975). Green Beach. London: Heinemann. ISBN 0-434-41024-1. OCLC 1354236.
- Leasor, J. (1978). Boarding Party. London: Heinemann. ISBN 0-434-41026-8. OCLC 4191743. Republished in paperback 1980 as The Sea Wolves with a special foreword by Lord Mountbatten of Burma.
- Leasor, J. (1980). The Unknown Warrior. London: Heinemann. OCLC 6869173. Republished in paperback as Leasor, J. (1980). X-Troop. London: Heinemann. OCLC 16603611.
- Leasor, J. (1983). Who Killed Sir Harry Oakes?. London: Heinemann. ISBN 0-434-41029-2. OCLC 10520894.
- Leasor, J. (1988). The Marine from Mandalay. London: Leo Cooper. OCLC 29637493.
- Leasor, J. (1997). Rhodes & Barnato : The Premier and the Prancer. London: Leo Cooper. ISBN 0-85052-545-4. OCLC 37321005.
- Woodham-Smith, Cecil (21 April 1957). "A greased cartridge set it off". New York Times. p. Book Review section.
- "Obituary: James Leasor". The Telegraph. 17 September 2007. Retrieved 23 September 2007.
- "Obituary: James Leasor". London: The Times. 22 September 2007. Retrieved 23 September 2007.
- "Obituary: James Leasor". The Independent. 22 December 2007. Retrieved 27 August 2011.