Information about the author is sparse.
The summary from the rear dustwrapper flap of one of his books, presumably compiled from information
provided by him, gives a dramatic view:
It states that he 'started work when he was thirteen and has earned his living in many
parts of the world. His jobs included those of cowboy, gold prospector and wild-horse
trader, among numerous varied occupations.
He began full-time writing as a career at the end of World War Two, and has
to date , written well over a hundred and fifty books,
including about sixty children's books - some fifty of which are in print
in this country. The two most poular of his series of children's adventure stories are translated into nine languages.
His favourite relaxations are photography, cricket, motoring and motor racing. He is a member of the British Automobile Racing Club.'
We know that he died on 27th June 1971, in Haywards Heath, Sussex.
This agrees with the British Library reference to his dates being 1900-1971 (dates corrected in 2012 to read 1908-1971 - see notes on Source 1). However his death certificate states that he was born on 11th January 1908 in South London. This recorded by a lady of the same surname who was present at the death and lived at the same address, so carries some weight. His occupation is given as 'author'.
The above account from the dustwrapper reads rather like an entry in Who's Who. I have never found an entry for him in any edition
that, but I have found a note that I made recording his inclusion in the Author and Writer's Who's Who 1968, owned by a friend.
He isn't in the 1960 edition I have. Sadly, My friend now can't find his copy of the 1968 edition - so if you have a copy of the 1968 edition
please look him up and copy us what it says.|
I probably scribbled notes at the time - but it's more than a decade since I made the note, so the chances of finding any rough notes are slim.
The photograph of him in uniform is one taken in the war years in Nottingham, when he worked in the Ambulance service.
It was provided by the niece of a long-time close acquaintance of the author and much of the information about the various pen-names he used
has been kindly provided from her email(s). He had given a copy of each of his books to her aunt and following her death her niece had to
dispose of them. Her email stated that he died in 1971, in Sussex.
It would be good to clarify the birth date anomaly; and indeed to discover more of the exciting early life he had led which served
his imaginative writing so well in his adult and children's books after he became a full-time writer.
We now believe that he was born in South London in 1908.
It seems reasonable to assume that he travelled abroad, spending some time working with cowboys in America.
During the second World War he worked in Nottingham, serving with the Ambulance service.
The first book we have published by him is a Western, Killers of Red Canyon for Werner Laurie, published in 1949. He wrote this under the name Hank McCoy.
Within a few years he had written seven more in that series, as well as another book as Scott Martin, two as Tex Bancroft, four as Brett Cameron and undoubtedly more under other names.
All these were Westerns for adults, but he also wrote at least one Science Fiction story, published by Ward Lock. This was The Wheel in the Sky written as Rafe Barnard, published in 1954.
In 1953 Nelson published four Western stories about Pocomoto, written under the name
Rex Dixon. These were his first children's books. From then his output seem to have been almost
completely of Children's books, the majority fiction.
There was the Pocomoto series, aready mentioned, and the Kemlo Spaceworld series (as E C Eliott) which followed the theme of his adult Wheel in the Sky setting; the Joey series of London adventures which came from the Panther Library school series and which he wrote as Robert Martin, the nearest he approached to his own name. Later he wrote the Dance and Co London series under the same name.
These four major series ran until the mid 1960s and were his main output. However he produced other
books under the name Robert Martin apart from these series - he wrote several books aimed at
boys who would not pick up a book naturally, for Hutchinson and Benn; career angled novels
for Harrap and the Trew Twins books for younger children published by Brockhampton in the late 1950s and 1960s.
His skills as a writer resulted in his being in demand to co-operate with sportsmen in their
writing, autobiographical or for children's fiction. With Graham Hill, Mike
Hawthorn apparently and Gary Sobers, probably others.
In addition, in the early 1960s he producd two collections for Nelson, publishers of his main children's series, A Book of Pirates and A Book of Highwaymen. Oddly he used his pseudonym Rex Dixon, a name otherwise solely reserved for his children's Westerns, for these essentially non-fiction books.
In the late 1960s he wrote several 'spin-off' stories for Souvenir Press - two books from the television
series Girl from Uncle, written as Simon Latter and two from
Daktari as Frank Denver - a name he had used for one of the
Panther Library books back in 1955. That year there was also a similar 'spin-off' story to the
popular Invaders TV series, written under the name Rafe Bernard, the one he first
used for his adult Sci-Fi story The Wheel in the Sky back in 1954.
We know that he also wrote some short stories, Pocomoto ones in Swift annuals and others
under various of his pen-names including a new one - Nicholas Marrat.
These appeared in two collections of stories for boys A Book of Boys' Stories and Boy's Choice in the mid 1960s.
His final book was The Personna Book of Sports for Pelham, an encyclopaedia of different sports in Britain for the enthusiastic amateur.
In February 2012 we discovered another of his pseudonyms, Brett Cameron. We are confident (and the British
Library agree) that Buck Savage and Burt Merrill are also pseudonyms he used for some of his Western
books in the 1950s.
Although, so far, he seems to have abandoned the writing of Westerns for adults in the mid 1950s - it's perfectly possible that he did not and
that many more will appear. He seems to have chosen a new pen-name for each series of books in that field, similar to his practice with his first
children's series. There may well be more.
His first books were a success and he soon became a well-published author in a range of books. It would seem possible, maybe probable,
that he did not come to it 'cold' and that he had served some apprenticeship in journalism or at least short story or article writing for publication before 1949.
Sources for the above information are to be found on the Sources page via the Index.