Francis Beeding

Francis Beeding is the pseudonym used by two British male writers, John Leslie Palmer (1885-1944) and Hilary St George Saunders (1898-1951). The pseudonym was a joint effort and was apparently chosen because Palmer always wanted to be called Francis and Saunders had once owned a house in the Sussex village of Beeding.The pair met when undergraduates at Oxford and remained friends when they both worked at the League of Nations in Geneva and it was while there that they decided to collaborate on writing detective novels.Discussing their collaboration at one time Saunders commented, 'Palmer can't be troubled with description and narrative, and I'm no good at creating characters or dialogue.' Whatever the reason it certainly worked.Palmer was drama critic for 'The Saturday Evening Review of Literature' and also the 'Evening Standard'. As well as his collaboration on detective novels he wrote such as 'The Comedy of Manners', 'Moliere' and other books on the theatre. He also wrote novels under the pseudonym of Christpher Haddon.Saunders served with the Welsh Guards in World War I and was awarded the Military Cross. He worked for the Air Ministry in World War II and was the anonymous author of the popular bestseller 'The Battle of Britain' in 1940. It sold over three million copies in England and was translated into 25 languages. He also wrote 'The Green Beret' (1949), an official history of the British commandos. He was librarian at the House of Commons from 1946 to 1950.Palmer and Saunders' collaboration on detective fiction began with 'The Seven Sleepers' in 1925. It was the first of 17 spy titles concerning Colonel Alastair Granby, DSO, of the Secret branch of the British Intelligence Service. Many of those titles contained a number from one to 13 but they did not run consecutively; for example 'The Six Proud Walkers' was published in 1928 while 'The One Sane Man' was published in 1934. Overall they produced 31 mysteries.Perhaps their most famous novel was 'Death Walks in Eastrepps' (1931), a title that the Sherlock Holmes scholar Vincent Starrett once described as the best detective novel that he had ever read.Their novel 'The House of Dr. Edwardes' (1927) was filmed by Alfred Hitchcock as 'Spellbound' in 1945, starring Gregory Peck and Ingrid Bergman.Gerry WolstenholmeDecember 2011
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