“They live in my mind. . . I can see them and hear them much more clearly than most people whom I know in life. Some, like the Toff and the Baron and Gordon Craigie, I’ve known for nearly 40 years; some, such as Cellini, only for five or six. It never occurs to me that they don’t exist.” – John Creasey
John Creasey was born in Southfields, Surrey to a working class family. He was the seventh of nine children. He was educated in London and from 1923 to 1935 he worked as various clerical jobs and sales jobs whilst trying to establish himself as a writer. Creasey’s first book was published in 1930 but his first crime novel was published in 1932 called SEVEN TIMES SEVEN.
Creasey started his publishing career by winning a competition called The Cracksman Award, sponsored by Harrap in the UK and Lippincott in the US. He won the award with ‘Meet the Baron’, having received around 743 rejections from publishers beforehand. His perseverance was second to none, and because of the award he could follow his love of writing, and pursue his career as an author. This is all the more inspiring as Creasey only noticed the competition in a newspaper containing fish and chips, whilst on his postman round, when in his twenties.
It is not known exactly how many novels Creasey penned under his own name or under his many pseudonyms. He was the author of series such as THE TOFF, GIDEON OF SCOTLAND YARD, THE BARON, INSPECTOR WEST, DEPARTMENT Z, SUPERINTENDENT FOLLY, DOCTOR CELLINI, DR PALFREY, SEXTON BLAKE, THE FANE BROTHERS, THE PATRICK DAWLISH SERIES, MARK KIRBY, and BRUCE MURDOCH. Creasey also wrote Westerns under various pseudonyms and romance novels as well as standalone novels.
His publishing worldwide was in no small way attributed to his extensive travels and his enthusiastic meetings with different publishers. He travelled frequently to the States with his family, also driving through Poland, Moscow, East Germany, and Czechoslovakia (as it was known then) and Hungary. He got to know his publishers, especially the American publishers.
His prolific writing was due partly because he was unable to join up for the second world war because of health issues, and his offering was writing and having his books published for others to read. He didn’t have an agent because they were few and far between during the war years, so much of his work was published directly through publishers.
In 1962 Creasey won an Edgar Award from The Mystery Writers of America for best novel for GIDEON’S FIRE – from the GIDEON series which he wrote under the pseudonym J J Marric. In 1969 he received the MWA’s greatest honour – the Grand Master Award. The television series GIDEON’S WAY was based on his series, and also the John Ford movie GIDEON OF SCOTLAND YARD (1968) also was known by its British title GIDEON’S DAY. THE BARON was created into a 1960s TV series starring Steve Forrest as THE BARON.
Creasey also had a healthy interest in politics, being a committed Liberal party member, although later he became an independent.
Creasey was married four times, had three sons and seven grandchildren. He died in 1973 in Salisbury.
John Creasey wrote over 400 books under a variety of pseudonyms.
Henry St. John Cooper
Robert Caine Frazer
Charles Hogarth (with Ian Bowen)
Henry St. John
Westerns under the names of Ken Ranger, Tex Riley, William K. Reilly, and Jimmy Wilde.
Romantic novels under the names of Margaret Cooke, M.E. Cooke, and Elise Fecamps