When I was growing up we had a small, dark room in the house called “The Glory Hole”; it was full of sloping shelves and and cardboard boxes. The boxes were full of books, a lot of them hardback, including the following authors, and I read them all. I couldn’t read these books now but I don’t think anyone reads them any more; I never see them in book shops. Many of these books were also adapted for movies, and again, I couldn’t watch them now but they were terrific at the time.
First – Alastair McClean – “MacLean was the son of a Church of Scotland minister and learned English as a second language after his mother tongue, Scottish Gaelic. He was born in Glasgow but spent much of his childhood and youth in Daviot, ten miles south of Inverness. He was the third of four sons.” From Wikipedia.
I couldn’t list all his books here but I will mention “Ice Cold in Alex”, “Where Eagles Dare” and “The Guns of Navarone”, great stories turned into movies.
“Desmond Bagley (29 October 1923 – 12 April 1983) was a British journalist and novelist principally known for a series of best-selling thrillers. Along with fellow British writers such as Hammond Innes and Alistair MacLean, Bagley established the basic conventions of the genre: a tough, resourceful, but essentially ordinary hero pitted against villains determined to sow destruction and chaos in order to advance their agenda. The success of The Golden Keel led Bagley to turn full-time to novel writing by the mid-1960s. He published a total of sixteen thrillers, all craftsman-like and almost all best-sellers. Typical of British thriller writers of the era, he rarely used recurring characters whose adventures unfolded over multiple books. Exceptions include Max Stafford (a security consultant featured in Flyaway and Windfall), Slade (a spy who appeared in Running Blind and The Freedom Trap), Metcalfe (the smuggler/mercenary in The Golden Keel and The Spoilers). His work yielded five relatively unremarkable adaptations: The Freedom Trap (1971), released in 1973 as The Mackintosh Man by Warner Brothers, directed by John Huston and starring Paul Newman and Dominique Sanda; Running Blind, adapted for television by the BBC in 1979; Landslide, made for television in 1992; The Vivero Letter, filmed in 1998; and The Enemy, starring Roger Moore in 2001.” From Wikipedia.
Hammond Innes: “Unusually for the thriller genre, Innes’ protagonists were often not “heroes” in the typical sense, but ordinary men suddenly thrust into extreme situations by circumstance. Often, this involved being placed in a hostile environment (the Arctic, the open sea, deserts), or unwittingly becoming involved in a larger conflict or conspiracy. The protagonist generally is forced to rely on his own wits and making best use of limited resources, rather than the weapons and gadgetry commonly used by thriller writers.
Four of his early novels were made into films: Snowbound (1948) from The Lonely Skier (1947), Hell Below Zero (1954) from The White South (1949), Campbell’s Kingdom (1957) from the book of the same name (1952), and The Wreck of the Mary Deare (1959) also from the book of the same name (1956). His 1973 novel Golden Soak was adapted into a six-part television series in 1979.” From Wikipedia.
Nicholas Montsarrat: “Monsarrat’s first three novels, published in 1934–1937 and now out of print, were realistic treatments of modern social problems informed by his leftist politics. The Visitor, his only play, fell into the same category. His fourth novel and first major work, This is the Schoolroom, took a different approach. The story of a young, idealistic, aspiring writer coming to grips with the “real world” for the first time, it is at least partly autobiographical. The Cruel Sea (1951), Monsarrat’s first postwar novel, is widely regarded as his finest work, and is the only one of his novels that is still widely read. Based on his own wartime service, it followed the young naval officer Keith Lockhart through a series of postings in corvettes and frigates. It was one of the first novels to depict life aboard the vital, but unglamorous, “small ships” of World War II—ships for which the sea was as much a threat as the Germans. Monsarrat’s short-story collections H.M.S. Marlborough Will Enter Harbour (1949), and The Ship That Died of Shame (1959, made into a film of the same name), mined the same literary vein, and gained popularity by association with The Cruel Sea.” From Wikipedia.
Peter Cheyney: Cheyney wrote his first novel, the Lemmy Caution thriller This Man Is Dangerous in 1936 and followed it with the first Slim Callaghan novel, The Urgent Hangman in 1938. The immediate success of these two novels assured a flourishing new career, and Cheyney abandoned his work as a freelance investigator. Sales were brisk; in 1946 alone, 1,524,785 copies of Cheyney books were sold worldwide.A meticulous researcher, Cheyney kept a massive set of files on criminal activity in London until they were destroyed during the Blitz in 1941; he soon began to replace his collection of clippings. Cheyney dictated his work. Typically Cheyney would “act out” his stories for his secretary, Miss Sprauge, who would copy them down in shorthand and type them up later. The Caution books read very much like what they are: pulp stories written in ersatz American by a British writer. With private detective Slim Callaghan he invented a non-American who is based in Cheyney’s home territory of London.” From Wikipedia.
Mazo de la Roche – almost my first introduction to romance – all the men in the family had dark red hair; all heroes!
“Mazo Louise Roche was born in Newmarket, Ontario, Canada. Her books became best-sellers and she wrote 16 novels in the series known as the Jalna series or the Whiteoak Chronicles. The series tells the story of one hundred years of the Whiteoak family covering from 1854 to 1954. The novels were not written in sequential order, however, and each can be read as an independent story.
It is interesting to note the similarities and differences in the experiences of the Whiteoak family and de la Roche’s. While the lives and successes of the Whiteoaks rise and fall, there remained for them the steadiness of the family manor, known as Jalna. De la Roche’s family endured the illness of her mother, the perpetual job searches of her father, and the adoption of her orphaned cousin while being moved 17 times. Her family did work a farm for a few years for a wealthy man who owned the farm for a hobby. Several critics believe that Finch Whiteoak who majors in Finch’s Fortune (1932) is a reflection of de la Roche herself. He was a somewhat tortured concert pianist with overtones of gayness. The names of many of the characters were taken from gravestones in a Newmarket, Ontario cemetery.
The Jalna series has sold more than eleven million copies in 193 English and 92 foreign editions. In 1935, the film Jalna, based on the novel, was released by RKO Radio Pictures and, in 1972, a CBC television series was produced based on the series.” From Wikipedia.
Another six coming soon . . .