Mary Margaret Francis

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Mary Margaret Francis
BornMary Margaret Brenchley
(1924-06-17)17 June 1924
Died30 September 2000(2000-09-30) (aged 76)
Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman
SpouseDick Francis

Mary Margaret Francis (17 June 1924 – 30 September 2000) was a British woman. She has been credited with an extensive role helping her husband, crime writer Dick Francis, write his novels.[1]


Mary Margaret Brenchley was born on 17 June 1924, to a printing company director. She attended Milton Mount College then Royal Holloway, University of London, studying French and English. While at university, she published two short stories. After working as a publisher's reader, an English teacher and assistant stage manager at the Hereford Theatre, she met the jockey Dick Francis at a wedding in 1945, and married him in 1947, making her wedding dress out of cheesecloth. In 1949, Mary Francis had their first child Merrick.[1][2][3] Their second child is Felix Francis. She also operated a dress shop.[1][3]

She helped her husband write many of his books and was credited with an extensive contribution to them by Dick Francis,[1] though the extent of her contribution has been debated. Graham Lord argued in an unauthorized biography that she was a major contributor[4][5] for his books and served as a ghostwriter. Francis told Lord that, "Dick would like me to have all the credit for them",[6] and she encouraged him to write his autobiography. For Flying Finish, she started an air taxi service in 1975, wrote a manual "Flying Start: A Guide to Flying Light Aircraft" and learnt to fly. She also learned photography, took several book-jacket photos, and also edited his novels.[1][3] Dick Francis told his interviewers Jean Swanson and Dean James:

Mary and I worked as a team. ... I have often said that I would have been happy to have both our names on the cover. Mary's family always called me Richard due to having another Dick in the family. I am Richard, Mary was Mary, and Dick Francis was the two of us together.[7]

The couple spent their later years in Florida and the Cayman Islands.[2] She died on 30 September 2000 in an apartment in George Town.[8] A memorial service for her was held on 29 November at the Queen's Chapel of the Savoy, in which Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother was represented by Alastair Aird. John Major was also present.[9]


  1. ^ a b c d e Carvajal, Doreen. "Mary Francis, 76, Quiet Force Behind Dick Francis's Novels". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 October 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Mary Francis". The Times. 6 October 2000. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 28 October 2018.
  3. ^ a b c Woo, Elaine (10 October 2000). "Mary Francis; Edited Husband's Novels". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  4. ^ "Was It Author's Wife Who Dunnit?". New York Post. 20 October 1999. Retrieved 28 October 2018.
  5. ^ Woo, Elaine (10 October 2000). "Mary Francis; Edited Husband's Novels". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  6. ^ "Dick Francis thrillers 'were ghost written by wife'". The Independent. 20 October 1999. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  7. ^ Swanson, Jean; Dean James (2003). "An Interview with Dick Francis". The Dick Francis Companion. New York: Berkeley Prime Crime. pp. 1–10. ISBN 0-425-18187-1.
  8. ^ Davies, Hugh (5 October 2000). "'Heartbroken' Dick Francis buries his wife". ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 28 October 2018.
  9. ^ "Mrs. Dick Francis". The Times. 29 November 2000. ISSN 0140-0460.