R. D. Wingfield

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R. D. Wingfield
Born (1928-06-06)6 June 1928
Hackney, London, England
Died 31 July 2007(2007-07-31) (aged 79)
Occupation author, playwright
Genre Crime fiction

Rodney David Wingfield (6 June 1928 – 31 July 2007) was an English author and radio dramatist. He is best remembered for creating the character of Detective Inspector Jack Frost, who was later played by Sir David Jason in A Touch of Frost.

Early life[edit]

Rodney David Wingfield was born in Hackney, east London in 1928.[1] He was educated at the Coopers' Company School and during the Second World War was evacuated to Frome, Somerset.[2] Wingfield was exempted from National Service due to poor eyesight and had various office jobs in the East End before joining the Petrofina oil company.[1] His first radio play, Compensating Error was accepted by the BBC in 1968 and two more were then commissioned, at which point Wingfield resigned from his job.[1] His radio plays are discussed at ukonline. Wingfield's radio plays are always clever, with crisp often acerbic dialogue, having well-defined characters and action that intrigues. After hooking the listener he often leads them astray with his trademark tricks, twists and surprises.

Inspector Frost[edit]

In 1972, Macmillan Publishers invited him to write a book, and he wrote Frost at Christmas. This was rejected and not published until the early 1980s in Canada.[1] Wingfield had originally planned to kill Frost in the first book, but he was persuaded instead to leave it as an open ending.[1] Following this, two more Frost books were written: A Touch of Frost and Night Frost. In 1977 Frost appeared in a radio play called Three Days of Frost, in which Frost was played by Leslie Sands, a friend of Wingfield's.[1] The books were first published in the United Kingdom in early 1989, and in 1992 Frost first appeared on television in A Touch of Frost, played by David Jason.[2] Wingfield was never enthusiastic about the TV adaptation of his detective, once saying he had nothing against David Jason but "he just isn't my Frost".[1][2]

Hard Frost was published in 1995, followed by Winter Frost in 1999.[2] Wingfield did not enjoy writing books, and much preferred writing radio scripts.[1] In 20 years he wrote over 40 radio mystery plays, but stopped in 1988, with Hate Mail, due to the decline of radio and the success of his Frost books.[1][2] As well as the many mystery plays, Wingfield also penned a comedy radio series, The Secret Life of Kenneth Williams, starring Kenneth Williams as a secret agent.[2] Wingfield was a very private man, always avoiding book launches and publishing parties, and being rarely photographed.[3]


In 1982 Leslie Sands played Sergeant Fowler in Wingfield's radio thriller Outbreak of Fear, a murder mystery set in the West Country.

The 'winkle' postcard (sent by Inspector Frost) is most probably based on a Donald McGill seaside postcard.[4]

Later years[edit]

In 2002, R. D. Wingfield was diagnosed with prostate cancer.[1] At about the same time he started writing the sixth, and final, Frost book, A Killing Frost.[1] His wife, Phyllis Patten, whom he married in 1952, died in 2004. They had a son, Phillip.[1] The cancer killed Wingfield in 2007,[2] and A Killing Frost was published on 7 April 2008.[5] All the books are now available in E-book format.

In 2011, the first of three new Frost books was published with the approval of the Wingfield family. The three books, First Frost, Fatal Frost and Morning Frost, were published under the name James Henry. In the case of First Frost, this pseudonym refers to James Gurbutt and Henry Sutton, but in Fatal Frost and Morning Frost it refers to Gurbutt only.[6]


Inspector Frost novels[edit]