- For the science fiction illustrator, see Dick Francis (illustrator).
Francis was born in Pembrokeshire, Wales. Some sources report his birthplace as the inland town of Lawrenny, but at least two of his obituaries stated his birthplace as the costal town of Tenby. He was the son of a jockey and stable manager and he grew up in Berkshire, England. He left school at 15 without any qualifications, with the intention of becoming a jockey and became a trainer in 1938. During World War II, he served in the Royal Air Force, piloting fighter and bomber aircraft, including the Spitfire and Hurricane. In October 1945, he met Mary Margaret Brenchley (17 June 1924 - 30 September 2000), whom he married in June 1947 in London; they had two sons, Merrick and Felix (born 1953). In the 1980s, Francis and his wife moved to Florida; in 1992, they moved to the Cayman Islands, where Mary died of a heart attack. In 2006, Francis had a heart bypass operation; in 2007 his right leg was amputated. He died of natural causes according to a spokesperson on 14 February 2010 at his Caribbean home in Grand Cayman; he was survived by both sons.
Horse racing career
From 1953 to 1957 he was jockey to Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. In 1957 he was forced to retire from racing as the result of a serious fall. His most famous moment as a jockey came while riding the Queen Mother's horse, Devon Loch, in the 1956 Grand National when the horse inexplicably fell when close to winning the race.
Francis wrote more than 40 international bestsellers. His first book was his autobiography The Sport of Queens (1957) which led to him becoming the racing correspondent for London's Sunday Express newspaper, remaining in the job for 16 years. In 1962 he published his first thriller Dead Cert, set in the world of racing. Subsequently he regularly produced a novel a year for the next 38 years, missing only 1998 (during which he published a short-story collection). Although all his books were set against a background of horse racing, his heroes held a variety of jobs from artist (In the Frame and To the Hilt) to private investigator (Odds Against).
Francis is the only three-time recipient of the Mystery Writers of America's Edgar Award for Best Novel, winning for Forfeit in 1970, Whip Hand in 1981, and Come To Grief in 1996. Britain's Crime Writers Association awarded him its Gold Dagger Award for fiction in 1979 and the Cartier Diamond Dagger lifetime achievement award in 1989. In 1996 he was given the Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Award, the highest honour bestowed by the MWA. He was awarded a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in 2000. In 2003 he was honoured by being awarded the Gumshoe Awards' Gumshoe Lifetime Achievement Award.
Many of Francis' books are featured in volumes of Reader's Digest Condensed Books.
Francis' manager (and co-author of his later books) was his son Felix Francis, who left his post as teacher of A-Level Physics at Bloxham School in Oxfordshire in order to work for his father and who was the inspiration behind a leading character in the novel Twice Shy. His other son Merrick, formerly a racehorse trainer, later ran his own horse transport business, which inspired the novel Driving Force.
|Title||Year||ISBN of first edition||Main character||Notes|
|The Sport of Queens||1957||autobiography|
|Dead Cert||1962||ISBN 0-330-24621-6||Alan York, amateur jockey||Basis of the movie Dead Cert (1974)|
|Nerve||1964||Rob Finn, jockey|
|For Kicks||1965||Daniel Roke, horse breeder turned investigator|
|Odds Against||1965||ISBN 0-330-10597-3||Sid Halley, investigator||Edgar Award nominee|
|Flying Finish||1966||Henry Grey, groom/heir to earldom||Edgar Award nominee|
|Blood Sport||1967||Gene Hawkins, security agent||Edgar Award nominee|
|Forfeit||1968||ISBN 0-425-20191-0||James Tyrone, reporter||Edgar Award winner|
|Enquiry||1969||Kelly Hughes, jockey|
|Rat Race||1970||Matt Shore, pilot|
|Bonecrack||1971||Neil Griffon, formerly antique dealer,then business consultant, acting as temporary trainer whilst his father is hospitalised|
|Smokescreen||1972||Edward Lincoln, movie actor who does his own stunts|
|Slayride||1973||ISBN 0-671-83271-9||David Cleveland, investigator|
|Knockdown||1974||Jonah Dereham, bloodstock agent|
|High Stakes||1975||Steven Scott, toy inventor|
|In the Frame||1976||Charles Todd, painter|
|Risk||1977||Roland Britten, accountant|
|Trial Run||1978||Randall Drew, jockey|
|Whip Hand||1979||ISBN 0-449-21274-2||Sid Halley, investigator||Edgar Award winner, Gold Dagger winner|
|Reflex||1980||Philip Nore, jockey|
|Twice Shy||1981||Jonathan Derry, teacher, second part narrated by younger brother William Derry, jockey & later racing manager|
|Banker||1982||Tim Ekaterin, banker|
|The Danger||1983||Andrew Douglas, security consultant|
|Proof||1984||Tony Beach, wine merchant|
|Break In||1985||Kit Fielding, jockey|
|Bolt||1986||Kit Fielding, jockey|
|Hot Money||1987||Ian Pembroke, former asst trainer, amateur jockey|
|The Edge||1988||Tor Kelsey, investigator|
|Straight||1989||Derek Franklin, jockey|
|Longshot||1990||John Kendall, writer|
|Comeback||1991||Peter Darwin, diplomat|
|Driving Force||1992||Freddie Croft, trucking company owner|
|Decider||1993||Lee Morris, architect|
|Wild Horses||1994||Thomas Lyon, movie director|
|Come to Grief||1995||ISBN 0-330-34777-2||Sid Halley, investigator||Edgar Award winner|
|To the Hilt||1996||Alexander Kinloch, painter|
|10 LB. Penalty||1997||ISBN 0-399-14302-5||Ben Juliard, jockey/politician's son|
|Field of Thirteen||1998||ISBN 0-515-12609-8|| short stories:
|Second Wind||1999||Perry Stuart, meteorologist|
|Shattered||2000||ISBN 0-399-14660-1||Gerard Logan, glass blower|
|Under Orders||2006||ISBN 978-0-330-44833-8||Sid Halley, investigator|
|Dead Heat||2007||ISBN 978-0-399-15476-8||Max Moreton, chef||with Felix Francis|
|Silks||2008||ISBN 978-0-718-15457-8||Geoffrey Mason, barrister||with Felix Francis|
|Even Money||2009||ISBN 978-0-399-15591-8||Ned Talbot, bookmaker||with Felix Francis|
- ↑ Our favourite thriller writer Dick Francis is back in the saddle, entertainment.timesonline.co.uk
- ↑ Dick Francis obituary, guardian.co.uk
- ↑ Author Dick Francis dies aged 89, guardian.co.uk
- ↑ Marilyn Stasio (February 15, 2010). "Dick Francis, Jockey and Writer, Dies at 89". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/15/books/15francis.html.
- ↑ Obituary London Independent, February 16, 2010.
- ↑ Keith Thursby (February 15, 2010). "Dick Francis dies at 89; champion jockey became bestselling British mystery writer". Los Angeles Times. http://www.latimes.com/news/obituaries/la-me-dick-francis15-2010feb15,0,6721531.story.
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 7.2 Francis, Dick (1999). The Sport of Queens. London: Joseph. ISBN 978-0330339025. OCLC 59457268.
- ↑ Dick Francis interview for Even Money, telegraph.co.uk
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 "Obituary: Mary Francis". The Times. October 6, 2000. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/obituaries/article986938.ece. Retrieved 2009-10-18.
- ↑ Cook, Bruce (March 21, 1989). "Novelist Dick Francis Still Rides The Wave Of Success In The Edge'". The Spokesman-Review (Spokane Chronicle). http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=pyUSAAAAIBAJ&sjid=1e8DAAAAIBAJ&pg=6991,3915766&dq=dick+francis&hl=en. Retrieved 2009-10-18.
- ↑ Dick Francis and Felix Francis
- ↑ Queen's grief as former jockey and best-selling author Dick Francis dies at 89
- ↑ Dick Francis, thriller writer and ex-jockey, dies
- ↑ "Author Dick Francis dies aged 89". BBC News. 14 February 2010. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/arts_and_culture/8515165.stm. Retrieved 14 February 2010.
- ↑ Nikkhah, Roya (1 September 2009). "Dick Francis interview". Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/authorinterviews/6121481/Dick-Francis-interview.html. Retrieved 20 February 2010.
- ↑ Philip, Robert (5 April 2002). "Grand National: Devon Loch's place in history". Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/horseracing/3025365/Grand-National-Devon-Lochs-place-in-history.html. Retrieved 2009-10-18.
- ↑ T. Rees Shapiro (February 16, 2010). "Dick Francis, British jockey turned popular mystery author, dies at 89". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/02/15/AR2010021503558.html.
- ↑ London Gazette: , 19 June 2000. Retrieved on 14 February 2010.
- Obituary: Dick Francis BBC News, news.bbc.co.uk
- 2001 audio interview by Bill Thompson of Eye on Books, discussing the end of his writing, eyeonbooks.com
- Official Dick Francis Website, dickfrancis.com
- Dick Francis Reading Group, dickfrancisbooks.com
- Books by Dick Francis, books.cfajohnson.com
- Dick Francis - Daily Telegraph obituary, telegraph.co.uk