Philip Kerr

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Philip Kerr
Kerr at PEN American Center in 2014
Kerr at PEN American Center in 2014
BornPhilip Ballantyne Kerr
22 February 1956
Edinburgh, Scotland
Died23 March 2018(2018-03-23) (aged 62)
London, England
Pen nameP. B. Kerr

Philip Ballantyne Kerr (22 February 1956 – 23 March 2018) was a British author,[1][2][3] best known for his Bernie Gunther series of historical detective thrillers.

Early life[edit]

Kerr was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, where his father was an engineer and his mother worked as a secretary.[4] He was educated at a grammar school in Northampton. He studied at the University of Birmingham from 1974 to 1980, gaining a master's degree in law and philosophy.[5] Kerr worked as an advertising copywriter for Saatchi & Saatchi[5] before becoming a full-time writer in 1989. In a 2012 interview, Kerr noted that he began his literary career at the age of twelve by writing pornographic stories and lending them to classmates for a fee.[5]


A writer of both adult fiction and non-fiction, he is known for the Bernhard "Bernie" Gunther series of 14 historical thrillers set in Germany and elsewhere during the 1930s, the Second World War and the Cold War. He also wrote children's books under the name P. B. Kerr, including the Children of the Lamp series. Kerr wrote for The Sunday Times, the Evening Standard, and the New Statesman. He was married to fellow novelist Jane Thynne; they lived in Wimbledon, London,[6] and had three children. Just before he died, he finished a 14th Bernie Gunther novel, Metropolis, which was published posthumously, in 2019.[7]

Awards and honours[edit]

In 1993, Kerr was named in Granta's list of Best Young British Novelists.[5] In 2009, If the Dead Rise Not won the world's most lucrative crime fiction award, the RBA Prize for Crime Writing worth €125,000.[8] The book also won the British Crime Writers' Association's Ellis Peters Historic Crime Award that same year.[9] His novel, Prussian Blue, was longlisted for the 2018 Walter Scott Prize.


Kerr died at age 62 from bladder cancer on 23 March 2018.[10]



Bernie Gunther[edit]

  • "Berlin Noir" "Bernie Gunther" trilogy, republished 1993 by Penguin Books in one volume. ISBN 978-0-14-023170-0.
  • Later "Bernie Gunther" novels

Scott Manson novels[edit]

Stand alone novels[edit]

Non fiction[edit]

  • The Penguin Book of Lies. 1991;1996
  • The Penguin Book of Fights, Feuds and Heartfelt Hatreds: An Anthology of Antipathy. 1992;1993

Children's fiction (as P. B. Kerr)[edit]

Children of the Lamp[edit]

Stand alone fiction[edit]


  1. ^ "Philip Kerr". International Science Fiction Database.
  2. ^ The International Who's Who 2004. Europa Publications. 2003. p. 875. Philip Kerr 22 February.
  3. ^ "Philip Kerr". Wavesound. Retrieved 8 November 2017.
  4. ^ Sandomir, Richard (27 March 2018). "Philip Kerr, 62, Author of 'Gunther' Crime Novels, Is Dead". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 March 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d Toby Clements (23 January 2012). "Philip Kerr: Interview". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 4 November 2013.
  6. ^ Lauren May (13 September 2013). "Tom Hanks poised to bring novels of Wimbledon author Philip Kerr to small screen". Your Local Guardian. Retrieved 4 November 2013.
  7. ^ "Quercus pays tribute to 'cherished' author Philip Kerr - The Bookseller". Retrieved 29 March 2018.
  8. ^ Giles Tremlett (3 September 2009). "Philip Kerr wins €125,000 RBA crime writing prize". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 September 2013.
  9. ^ "Philip Kerr wins the 2009 CWA Ellis Peters Historic Crime Award" (Press release). The Crime Writers' Association. 29 October 2009. Archived from the original on 7 November 2013.
  10. ^ Kean, Danuta (25 March 2018). "Philip Kerr obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 May 2018.
  11. ^ The text on the dust jacket of UK hardback editions of Field Grey, as well as many listings at online retailers, contain an incorrect early plot summary referencing many elements – including the Isle of Pines as a location and Fidel Castro and a French intelligence officer named Thibaud as characters – that do not appear in the final book.
  12. ^ Prague Fatale was originally announced under the title The Man with the Iron Heart. The name had to be changed shortly before publication, when the publishers discovered there was already a novel with the same title, also about Reinhard Heydrich, by author Harry Turtledove.
  13. ^ a b "Philip Kerr".
  14. ^ Dead Meat was adapted for British television as Grushko, and a media tie-in edition was later published with that title.
  15. ^ As of 2021, published only in German and Turkish translations.
  16. ^ As of 2021, published only in a German translation.

External links[edit]