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Jack Higgins: The Legendary British Writer

Jack Higgins is one of the most popular and respected British writers of the modern era. Jack Higgins happens to be one of the literary pseudonyms of Henry Patterson. He wrote under multiple pseudonyms but Jack Higgins is by far the most popular one. Jack Higgins is known for turning the political thriller genre upside down with the rule of three: never follow publishers’ recommendations, never write works that don’t make money, and rarely respond to reader feedback and reviews from professional critics. In this post, we will find out more about Jack Higgins. Let’s get started.

Jack Higgins: All You Need To Know

When was Jack Higgins born?

The future bestselling author was born on July 27, 1929, in the city of Newcastle upon Tyne on the northeast coast of England. Natives of Newcastle in the UK are commonly referred to as Geordies, and their speech is characterized by a unique dialect of British English (popularized by the reality show Geordie Show).

When Jack Higgins was two years old, his parents, Englishman Henry Patterson and Irishman Rita Higgins Bell split up. The boy and his mother moved to Irish relatives in Belfast.

How was Jack Higgins’ childhood?

Jack Higgins (Henry Patterson) grew up in an atmosphere of political and religious violence, caused by the confrontation between Irish militants and the British police. However, the native of Newcastle mastered the diploma before the first time he became an eyewitness to the explosion of a bomb planted by terrorists. At the age of three, the boy, at the request of his bedridden grandfather, was already reading aloud to him. Within a couple of years, Henry became an appreciative reader of the Belfast Public Libraries. In the evenings, young Patterson got out of the house and devoured books in the light of street lamps.

The teenager spent the war years in Leeds, Britain’s third largest city, where his remarried mother worked as a waitress. At Roundhay Gymnasium, Henry was a mediocre student, and once, after hitting the institution’s wall clock with a snowball, he earned a slap in the face from the headmaster. The man accompanied the slap in the face with the words “You will not achieve anything in life!”. Patterson recalled this phrase when he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Leeds in 1995.

Did Jack Higgins serve in the Army?

In the late 40s, Henry served in the army – first in the East Yorkshire Regiment, which was part of the British Army of the Rhine, and then as a non-commissioned officer of the Royal Horse Guards, patrolling the border of West Germany with the GDR. Patterson proved to be a disciplined military man and an excellent marksman.

On testing in the army, the future writer was surprised to find that his IQ is 147, which prompted the guy to return to civilian life and continue his education.

Demobilized, the Newcastle native studied at the London School of Sociology and Political Science, working as a tram and theater ticket salesman, driver, and labourer. After completing his education, Henry became a teacher of social psychology and the psychology of crime and spent his evenings writing stories and short plays.

Jack Higgins: Writing Career

In the late 1950s, Patterson, who lectured at Leeds Polytechnic and was friends with the young actor Peter O’Toole and the aspiring novelist John Brain, with the help of literary agent Paul Scott, found a publisher who agreed to publish the novel Sad Wind from the Sea. The action of the debut work was set in the South China Sea, where Henry had never been.

When did Jack Higgins start using his literary pseudonym?

Between 1959 and 1974, the writer published 35 novels using the pseudonyms Harry Patterson, Martin Fallon, Hugh Marlow, and from the late 60s Jack Higgins but remained a second-line writer. The most striking works of this period were “Day of Reckoning”, “Game for Heroes” and “Prayer of the Day”. The last of these books, about a former member of the Irish Republican Army trying to escape a bloody past, was made into a film by Mike Hodges in 1987. Mickey Rourke, Liam Neeson, Bob Hoskins, and Alan Bates played the central roles in the film A Prayer of the Day.

Which is Jack Higgins’s first hit book?

The Eagle Has Landed novel, first published in 1975, brought worldwide fame to Higgins. In the center of the plot of the work is a fictitious attempt to kidnap Winston Churchill by the German special services during the Second World War. The novel was almost immediately turned into a film by John Sturges. The roles of central characters in the film were portrayed by Michael Caine, Donald Sutherland, and Robert Duvall.

The continuation of the work “The Eagle Has Landed” was the book “The Eagle Has Flown”, published in 1991. The third wave of Higgins’ work began in 1992 with the publication of Eye of the Storm, a novel about a fictional assassination attempt on John Major. At the behest of the author, an Iraqi millionaire became the customer of the crime, and the young Irish militant Sean Dillon became the perpetrator.

Who was Jack Higgins married to?

A native of the county of Tyne and Wear proved to be prolific not only in writing but also in his personal life. His first wife Emmy Hewitt, whom the aspiring British writer met while studying at the London School of Sociology and Political Science, gave the man three daughters and a son. Sarah’s daughter Peru owns the novel The Distant Summer, which the couple’s first-born girl wrote at the age of 16.

In 1984, when the only son of Henry Jack was 10 years old, the writer’s marriage to Emmy broke up. A year after the divorce, the writer married literary agent Denz Palmer. There were no children in this particular marriage of Higgins.

When the Newcastle native became a millionaire, he escaped high British taxes by fleeing to the island of Jersey, located in the English Channel. All works were written by hand. The working day of the writer began every evening in an Italian restaurant and continued at home with a glass of champagne and a breakfast of scrambled eggs and bacon, after which the man went to bed. Judging by his photographs, Jack Higgins loved smoking a pipe.

How did Jack Higgins die?

The novelist’s swan song was the work “Midnight Bell”, published at the turn of 2016 and 2017, the central character of which is an old acquaintance of Higgins’ readers, Sean Dillon. The book made the Sunday Times bestseller list.

In 2021, under the title Graveyard to Hell, a trilogy of police detective thrillers by the writer, created in the 60s, was released. The earthly life of the son of an Irish woman and an Englishman, who became famous for his literary work, ended on April 9, 2022, in his own house on the island of Jersey, surrounded by his family.

Jack Higgins: Bibliography

Paul Chavasse series:

1962 – Rain over Hamburg

1963 – Dark Side of the Street

1966 – Midnight will never come

1969 – Good weather for fishing

1996 – Year of the Tiger

2002 – Keys to Hell

Liam Devlin Series:

1975 – The Eagle Has Landed

1985 – Terrorist

1990 – The Eagle Has Flown

Dougal Munro and Jack Carter series:

1986 – Benefit Fox

1990 – Cold Harbor

Sean Dillon Series:

1992 – Ground Zero

1993 – Cape Thunder

1994 – Wolf Path

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