William Garner (novelist)

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William Garner (born 1920, in Grimsby, Lincolnshire, England) was an English thriller writer. He died in 2005.[1]

Life and work[edit]

Garner graduated from the University of Birmingham in 1941 with a BSc (with honors). He served with the Royal Air Force from 1941 to 1946, rising to the rank of flight lieutenant.[2]

He married Gwen Owen in 1944 while she was in the WAAF.[1] Their daughter Lesley Garner is the Daily Telegraph's self-help columnist.[1] [1]

He was public relations director for Monsanto Company, London, from 1949 to 1964, and for Massey Ferguson Ltd. (London office) from 1964 to 1966. He became a full-time writer in 1967.[2]

His early novels feature British spy Michael Jagger, a high-living, self-hating, risk-loving ex-agent (in disgrace).

Marghanita Laski writing in The Listener, called Garner "Our cleverest thriller writer".[3] The Observer believed Garner was "A novelist of stature who leaves his own distinctive imprint on the le Carré scene."[4] The Crime Writers' Association short-listed Rat's Alley for their Gold Dagger award.[5]

When asked to describe himself, Garner replied "Strongly motivated. Views on almost everything that matters. Views on what matters might differ from those of many."[2]

He is also the author of the article "Spies and sex make a puzzling mix", first published in The Observer in 1987.

Arthritis increasingly crippled Garner's hands later in life, preventing him from writing.[1]


Michael Jagger novels[edit]

  • Overkill (1966)
  • The Deep, Deep Freeze (1968)
  • The Us or Them War (1969)
  • A Big Enough Wreath (1974)

John Morpurgo trilogy[edit]

  • Think Big, Think Dirty (1983)
  • Rats' Alley (1984)
  • Zones of Silence (1986)


  • The Puppet-Masters (1969) published in the U.S. as "The Manipulators"
  • The Andra Fiasco (1971) published in the U.S. as "Strip Jack Naked"
  • Ditto, Brother Rat (1972)
  • The Mobius Trip (1978)
  • Paper Chase (1988)
  • Sleeping Dogs (1990)


  1. ^ a b c d Garner, Leslie. Life Lessons: Things I Wish I'd Known Earlier. Hay House, 2009.
  2. ^ a b c Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale, 2001.
  3. ^ Review of Rats' Alley, quoted on 1985 Methuen paperback edition.
  4. ^ Review of Paper Chase, quoted on 1987 Methuen paperback edition.
  5. ^ Sobin, Roger. The Essential Mystery Lists: For Readers, Collectors, and Librarians. Poisoned Pen Press: 2007.

Further reading[edit]

  • The Cold War File. By Andy East. Published by Scarecrow Press, 1983. pp. 122–127.