Leonard Wibberley

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Leonard Wibberley
Leonard Wibberley with friend.jpg
Leonard Wibberley with actress Rosalind Russell, ca 1962
Born Leonard Patrick O'Connor Wibberley
(1915-04-09)9 April 1915
County Dublin, Ireland
Died 22 November 1983(1983-11-22) (aged 68)
Santa Monica, California, US
Pen name Patrick O'Connor
Occupation Writer, author
Genre Fiction, non-fiction, satire
Children Cormac Wibberley

Leonard Patrick O'Connor Wibberley (9 April 1915 – 22 November 1983), who also wrote under the name Patrick O'Connor, was a prolific and versatile Ireland-born author and spent most of his life in the United States.[1] Wibberley published more than 100 books but is perhaps best known for five satirical novels about an imaginary country Grand Fenwick, particularly The Mouse That Roared (1955).[1]

Wibberley's adult and juvenile publications cut across the categories of fictional novels, history, and biography. He also wrote short stories (several published in The Saturday Evening Post), plays, and long verse poems. He produced more than 50 juvenile books; for example (with Farrar, Straus and Giroux), the seven-volume Treegate series of historical fiction, which takes place during the American Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, and a four-volume life of Thomas Jefferson. As Patrick O'Connor, he wrote the Black Tiger series on auto racing, for young adults. He also wrote a mystery series and is classified as a science fiction writer.

Throughout the decades, scenes and senses of the sea play important parts in both Wibberley's fiction and nonfiction. Three of his novels have been made into movies: The Mouse That Roared (1959), The Mouse on the Moon (1963), and The Hands of Cormac Joyce (1972).


Leonard Wibberley was born in Dublin and educated in Ireland and England. His father was author Thomas Wibberley, a Professor of Agriculture, University College, Cork (one of the three constituents of the National University of Ireland) and Queen's University Belfast. The elder Wibberley was an experimental agronomist, who wrote several books arguing his methods and inventions, by which he believed the UK might feed itself, absent empire: notably Farming on Factory Lines: continuous cropping for the large farmer (London, 1919). The latter's second name, "Patrick", was his confirmation name; his third, a matronymic also used as nom de plume: from his mother's, "Sinaid O'Connor".[2]

Wibberley began a long career in newspapers as copy boy for the Sunday Dispatch (London), progressed to reporter for the Daily Mirror (London), and then editor (among other jobs) in Trinidad, before moving to the United States in 1943, where, in his late twenties, he was both foreign correspondent for the Evening News (London), and cable dispatch editor for the Associated Press (New York City) during World War II.[2]

In 1947, Wibberley moved permanently to California as foreign correspondent, then reporter, for the Los Angeles Times. While working for that newspaper he began his novel-writing career. After leaving the Times he was briefly a reporter for the Turlock Journal, until the appearance of his first novel, The King's Beard (1952), at age 37. He then settled permanently in Hermosa Beach, California, as a full-time author. From that date, he published over 100 books, at a rate of at least one a year and averaging more than three. Many were with three publishers: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; William Morrow; Dodd, Mead and Company. The best-known of Wibberley's books, The Mouse that Roared, was kept in print for some time by Bantam Books and then Four Walls Eight Windows.

Personal life[edit]

Wibberley took part in plays, did local radio readings, and wrote a syndicated column, The Wibberley Pages.[where?] He was married twice: first in Trinidad, to writer Olga Maynard, and second in California, to Hazel Holton. He had a total of seven children, including philosophy author Patrick Maynard (by his first marriage) and film writer Cormac Wibberley (by his second marriage).


Wibberley died of a heart attack in Santa Monica, California, aged 68, on 22 November 1983.[citation needed]


Wibberley donated manuscripts and proofs of many of his works to "The Leonard Wibberley Archive" of the library collections of the University of Southern California, where they are available.[3]

In 1993, Borgo Press published a posthumous book of his last short writings.[4]

Published adult writing[edit]

Short stories, novellas[edit]

The Saturday Evening Post[edit]

  • "The Day New York Was Invaded" ( 24, 31 December 1954; 7,15, 22, 29 January 1955)
  • "The Hands of Cormac Joyce", novelette (issue includes picture of author): 232, n 29 (16 January 1960)
  • "The Time of the Lamb" 233 n 26, combined issues ( 24–31 December 1960)
  • "The Captive Outfielder": 234, n 12 (21 March 1961)
  • "The Ballad of the Pilgrim Cat": 234, n 44 (18 November 1961)
  • "The Man Who Lived on Water": 235, n 13 (31 March 1962)
  • "Prevarication Jones": 235, n 24 (2 June 1962); repr. Sept.-Oct. 1994
  • "Two Angels on Duty": 235, n 28 (28 July 1962); repr. September 1996

The "Mouse" series[edit]

Other novels[edit]

  • Mrs Searwood's Secret Weapon. Boston: Little, Brown, 1954
  • McGillicuddy McGotham. Boston: Little, Brown, 1956
  • Take Me to Your President. New York: Putnam, 1957
  • The Quest of Excalibur. New York: Putnam, 1959
  • Stranger At Killknock. New York: Putnam, 1961
  • A Feast of Freedom. New York: William Morrow, 1964
  • The Island of the Angels. New York: William Morrow, 1964
  • The Centurion. New York: William Morrow, 1966
  • The Road from Toomi. New York: William Morrow, 1967
  • The Hands of Cormac Joyce. New York: William Morrow, 1967
  • Adventures of an Elephant Boy. New York: William Morrow, 1968
  • Meeting with a Great Beast. New York: William Morrow, 1971
  • Flint's Island: A sequel to 'Treasure Island' . New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1972
  • The Testament of Theophilus. New York: William Morrow, 1972
  • The Last Stand of Father Felix. New York: William Morrow, 1973
  • 1776—and All That. New York. William Morrow, 1975
  • One in Four. New York: William Morrow, 1976
  • Homeward to Ithaka. New York: William Morrow, 1978

As Leonard Holton: "Father Joseph Bredder" mystery series, Dodd, Mead (New York)[edit]

  • The Saint Maker, 1959
  • A Pact with Satan, 1960
  • Secret of the Doubting Saint, 1961
  • Deliver Us from Wolves, 1963
  • Flowers by Request, 1964
  • Out of the Depths, 1966
  • A Touch of Jonah, 1968
  • A Problem in Angels, 1970
  • The Mirror of Hell, 1972
  • The Devil to Play, 1974
  • A Corner of Paradise, 1977


  • The Trouble with the Irish (or the English, Depending on Your Point of View). New York: Henry Holt, 1956
  • The Coming of the Green. New York: Henry Holt, 1958
  • No Garlic in the Soup!: A Portuguese Adventure. New York: Ives Washburn, 1959
  • The Land That Isn't There: An Irish Adventure. New York: Ives Washburn, 1960.
  • Yesterday's Land: A Baja California Adventure. New York: Ives Washburn, 1961
  • Zebulon Pike: Soldier and Explorer. New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1961
  • Ventures into the Deep. New York: Ives Washburn, 1962
  • Ah, Julian!: A Memoir of Julian Brodetsky. New York: William Morrow, 1963
  • Fiji: Islands of the Dawn. New York: Ives Washburn, 1964
  • Toward a Distant Island: A Sailor's Odyssey. New York: Ives Washburn, 1966.
  • Hound of the Sea: The Story of a Racing Yacht. New York: Ives Washburn, 1969
  • Voyage by Bus: Seeing America by Land Yacht. New York: William Morrow, 1971
  • The Shannon Sailors: A Voyage to the Heart of Ireland. New York: William Morrow, 1972
  • The Good-Natured Man: A Portrait of Oliver Goldsmith. New York: William Morrow, 1979

Published youth (juvenile) writing[edit]

As Christopher Webb, with Funk & Wagnalls, New York[edit]

  • Mark Toyman's Inheritance, 1960
  • The River of Pee Dee Jack, 1962
  • Quest of the Otter, 1963
  • Matt Tyler's Chronicle, 1966
  • The Ann and Hope Mutiny, 1966

As Patrick O'Connor[edit]

"Black Tiger" series, E. M. Hale (Eau Claire, Wisc.)[edit]

  • The Black Tiger, 1956
  • Mexican Road Race, 1957
  • Black Tiger at Le Mans, 1958
  • Black Tiger at Bonneville, 1960
  • Black Tiger at Indianapolis, 1962
  • A Car Called Camellia, 1970

Ives Washburn (New York)[edit]

  • Society of Foxes (illus. Clyde N. Geary), 1954
  • Flight of the Peacock, 1954
  • The Watermelon Mystery, 1955
  • Gunpowder for Washington, 1956
  • The Lost Harpooner, 1957
  • The Five Dollar Watch Mystery, 1959
  • Treasure at Twenty Fathoms, 1961
  • The Raising of the Dubhe, 1964
  • Seawind from Hawaii, 1965
  • Beyond Hawaii, 1969

Farrar, Straus & Giroux Ariel youth books[edit]

  • The King's Beard, 1952 (before FS & G bought Ariel)
  • The Secret of the Hawk, 1953
  • Deadmen's Cave, 1954
  • The Wound of Peter Wayne, 1955
  • Kevin O'Connor and the Light Brigade, 1957
  • Encounter Near Venus, 1967
  • Attar of the Ice Valley, 1968
  • Journey to Untor, 1970
  • The Last Battle, 1976
  • Perilous Gold, 1978
  • The Crime of Martin Coverly, 1980

"John Treegate" series (originally four)[edit]

  • John Treegate's Musket, 1959
  • Peter Treegate's War, 1960
  • Sea Captain from Salem, 1961
  • Treegate's Raiders, 1962
  • Leopard's Prey, 1971
  • Red Pawns, 1973 (sequel)

Non-fictional F S & G books[edit]

  • The Coronation Book: The dramatic story in its history and legend. Ariel, 1953
  • The Epics of Everest, 1955
  • The Life of Winston Churchill, 1956
  • John Barry—Father of the Navy, 1957
  • Wes Powell—Conqueror of the Colorado, 1958
  • Guarneri: Story of a Genius, 1974

Life of Thomas Jefferson historical novels[edit]

  • Young Man from the Piedmont: The Youth of Thomas Jefferson (1963)
  • A Dawn in the Trees: Thomas Jefferson, the Years 1776–1789 (1964)
  • The Gales of Spring: Thomas Jefferson, the Years 1789–1801 (1965)
  • Time of the Harvest: Thomas Jefferson, the Years 1801–1826 (1966)

Other juvenile fiction[edit]

  • Little League Family. New York: Doubleday, 1978

Collected short works[edit]

  • Something to Read: A personal selection from his writing by this thoughtful, humorous man. New York: Ives Washburn, 1959

Plays and long verse pieces[edit]

  • Once, in a Garden: A dramatic full length play. Dramatic Publishing Co., 1975
  • 1776—And All That
  • Black Jack Rides Again
  • The Gift of a Star
  • The Heavenly Quarterback
  • McGillicuddy McGotham
  • The Mouse on Mars
  • The Mouse that Roared
  • Take Me to Your President
  • Two Angels on Duty
  • The Shepherd's Reward: A Christmas Legend. New York: Ives Washburn, 1959
  • The Ballad of the Pilgrim Cat. New York: Ives Washburn, 1962

Posthumously published short works[edit]

  • Christopher and Hazel Wibberley (eds.) (1993). Shamrocks and Silver Seas and Other Illuminations. San Bernardino: Borgo Press. 


  1. ^ a b Kerr, Peter (25 November 1983). "LEONARD WIBBERLEY, 68, DIES; WROTE 'MOUSE THAT ROARED'". The New York Times. 
  2. ^ a b "Leonard Wibberley says", dust jacket of The Trouble with the Irish (see "Non-fiction" in bibliog. above).
  3. ^ "Profile". University of Southern California archives. Retrieved April 11, 2014. 
  4. ^ Christopher and Hazel Wibberley (eds.) (1993). Shamrocks and Silver Seas and Other Illuminations. San Bernardino: Borgo Press. 

External links[edit]