John Gordon (author)

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John Gordon
John gordon 150.jpg
Born (1925-11-19) 19 November 1925 (age 91)
Jarrow, Tyne & Wear
Occupation Writer
Nationality English
Education Wisbech Grammar School
Genre Teenage Supernatural fiction
Notable works The Giant Under The Snow;
The House On The Brink;
The Ghost On The Hill;
The Burning Baby and Other Ghosts

John Gordon (born 19 November 1925) is an English writer of adolescent supernatural fiction. He is the author of fifteen fantasy novels (including The Giant Under The Snow), four short story collections, over fifty short stories and a teenage memoir.

Most of John Gordon's novels are in the supernatural fantasy and horror genres and feature teenagers in the central roles. The adventures are often set in The Fens, an environment John found mysterious and inspirational in his own adolescence, and contain elements of East Anglian folklore (such as the doom dog - Black Shuck). His work has been compared to that of the acclaimed ghost novelist M.R. James. Indeed, The House on the Brink (1970) is regarded by admirers as one of the greatest novels in the Jamesian Tradition.[1]

His short stories have appeared in more than 50 anthologies and other publications and he is included in The Cambridge Guide to Children's Books in English.[2] His work has been translated into many languages, including Japanese, Italian, Swedish, Danish, Czech, Spanish, Polish and Lithuanian.


Born in the industrial North-East (Jarrow, Tyne and Wear), he moved to the Fens (Wisbech, Cambridgeshire) with his family at the age of twelve, where he attended Wisbech Grammar School.[3] The contrast of its flat, rural landscape had a profound effect on the young Geordie and inspired him to write many of his most popular stories (including: The House On The Brink, Ride The Wind and Fen Runners).

He served in the Royal Navy during the Second World War (on minesweepers and destroyers) and afterwards worked as a journalist in the West Country and East Anglia. It was during his time working on The Eastern Evening News in Norwich that he wrote his first novel, The Giant Under The Snow.[4]

Although Norwich and its cathedral may have been the inspiration for parts of this book, it was the Fens of John's youth that set the backdrop for most of his stories. As a reporter in Wisbech he cycled many miles covering events in the Fens, especially in the village of Upwell where his future wife Sylvia lived.[5] Inspired by the landscape John has said: "I've often thought that the flat fenland is like an open book and it has always filled my mind with stories."

Many of his books feature Wisbech locations: Peckover House, Wisbech Museum, Wisbech Castle grounds, High Street, Market Place and pubs, The Crescent and the Park. Other locations in the Fens include Pingle Bridge in Upwell and the Fen rivers (particularly the River Nene).

He continues to live and write in Norwich today, assisted by his wife Sylvia, who has been instrumental in the editing and collation of his work over the years. They have 2 children and 4 grandchildren.[6]

Book List[edit]


  • The Giant Under The Snow (1968)
  • The House on the Brink (1970)
  • The Ghost on the Hill (1976)
  • The Waterfall Box (1978)
  • The Edge of the World (1983)
  • The Quelling Eye (1986)
  • The Grasshopper (1987)
  • Ride the Wind (1989)
  • Secret Corridor (1990)
  • Blood Brothers (1991)
  • Gilray's Ghost (1995)
  • The Flesh Eater (1998)
  • The Midwinter Watch (1998) - The Guardian Children's Book of the Week[7]
  • Skinners (1999)
  • The Ghosts of Blacklode (2002)
  • Fen Runners (2009)


  • The Spitfire Grave: And Other Stories (1979)
  • Catch Your Death: And Other Ghost Stories (1984)
  • The Burning Baby and Other Ghosts (1992)
  • Left in the Dark: The Supernatural Tales of John Gordon (2006)

Anthologies (selected)[edit]

  • The Walker Book of Ghost Stories (1990)
  • Best New Horror 4 (1993)
  • The Young Oxford Book of Ghost Stories (1994)
  • The Puffin Book of Horror Stories (1994)
  • Dancing with the Dark (1997)
  • The Mammoth Book of Dracula: Vampire Tales for the New Millennium (1997)


  • Ordinary Seaman - Teenage Memoirs (1992)

Further reading[edit]

John Gordon, Word Hunter - an interview by Chris Stephenson (Carousel No.33, June 2006)

John Gordon in St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost & Gothic Writers by David Pringle (Editor). Detroit, MI : St. James Press, 1998, ISBN 1558622063.


  1. ^ Rosemary Pardoe, "An Interview with John Gordon", Ghosts & Scholars 21 (1996)
  2. ^ The Cambridge Guide to Children's Books in English (Cambridge University Press, 2001) ISBN 0-521-55064-5
  3. ^ Fenland fantasy leads the field,, Retrieved 2 October 2010
  4. ^ Review of John Gordon's The Giant Under The Snow, BBC - Norfolk Kids, 28 April 2006
  5. ^ D. L. Kirkpatrick, Twentieth-century Children's Writers (St. James Press, 1983), 323.
  6. ^ Margaret Hobson, Jennifer Madden, Children's Fiction Sourcebook (Scolar Press, 1995), 94.
  7. ^ The Guardian (Education) 12 January 1999

External links[edit]