Before becoming an author of fiction in the early 1960s John Gardner was variously a stage magician, a Royal Marine officer, a journalist and, for a short time, a priest in the Church of England. ‘Probably the biggest mistake I ever made,’ he says. ‘I confused the desire to please my father with a vocation which I soon found I did not have.’
Educated – “Without my cooperation,” he says - in Berkshire and at St. John’s College, Cambridge, he became a theatrical journalist in the late 1950s chronicling the years when Sir Peter Hall was reorganising the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon, giving it a London base at the Aldwych and forming the semi-permanent ensemble. Gardner also lectured in Shakespearean production in Canada and the United States.
In the early ’60s he wrote a series of highly acclaimed comic novels featuring a cowardly secret agent called Boysie Oakes, and then moved on to more serious books: particularly those featuring Big Herbie Kruger who is an outstanding fictional character of the Cold War. In the early eighties however he was invited by Ian Fleming’s literary copyright holders to write a series of continuation James Bond novels which proved to be so successful, world wide, that instead of the contracted three books he went on to publish some fourteen titles.
In all, Gardner has forty-three novels to his credit – many of them best-sellers (his Maestro was a New York Times Book of the Year). Day of Absolution is his first book for six years, following a serious battle with cancer. A new character will appear with the publication of Bottled Spider in the Spring of 2001 – Suzie Mountford a Woman Detective Sergeant working in London during World War II. Work in progress includes a further Mountford book – The Streets of Town, a third book in his acclaimed Moriarty Journals and a novel set in the West of England during the Prayer Book Rebellion of 1549.
John Gardner has variously made his home in the Republic of Ireland, and spent nine years living in the United States. Following the death of his wife in 1997 he moved back to the UK. He now lives in Hampshire. He has two daughters and a son.
Following text written by Eric Nisbet
John Gardner was educated in Berkshire and at St. John's College,
Cambridge. He has had many fascinating occupations and was variously a
Royal Marine Officer, a stage magician, theater critic, reviewer and
He ius the creator of the Moriarty Journals, and the Boysie Oakes series
and the Herbie Kruger trilogy, which has been favorably compared to le
Carreis Smiley series. He has also authored the Railton trilogy of The
Secret Houses, The Secret Generations and The Secret Families.
John Gardner was commissioned by Glidrose, the company to which Ian
Fleming assigned the copyright in his James Bond stories, to update the
series and bring a slightly older Bond into the 1980s. The first of his
Bond books, Licence Renewed, was an immediate success, the Daily
Telegraph passing the verdict that Ian Fleming would not be
displeased. To date, Gardner written sixteen novels in the James
Bond series, including the novelization of the movies Licence to Kill
John Gardner, Dead at 80 - August 6, 2007
Like the tough hero of his novels, James Bond author John Gardner, who has died at the age of 80, was built of stern stuff.
So it was no surprise that his first act after collapsing near his home in Basingstoke last Friday was to telephone his daughter, Alexis.
"He told me he'd had a bit of a turn and thought he'd fainted," says Alexis. "Two doctors happened to be passing and - typical of him - he said he didn't need an ambulance. Then he took a turn for the worse and was rushed to hospital."
Despite treatment, Gardner, who wrote 14 James Bond novels after Ian Fleming's death, died of suspected heart failure.
His passing comes after he left the U.S. having spent a fortune on treatment for cancer - a homecoming which led to the rekindling of romance with his university sweetheart Patricia, whom he split from in 1949.
Gardner went on to marry - his wife of 45 years, Margaret, died in 1997 - but remembered Patricia by using her maiden name for Suzie Mountford, the heroine of his recent World War II thrillers. The connection led to the couple getting engaged for a second time three years ago.
Eerily, Alexis tells me Patricia, 77, had a premonition of her father's death. "She complained of feeling very cold at the time he collapsed. She is distraught."
Discuss John Gardner's death.
Story taken from the Daily Mail - August 6, 2007