Jack Higgins

For the editorial cartoonist, see Jack Higgins (cartoonist). For the footballer, see Jack Higgins (Gaelic footballer).
Jack Higgins
Photo of Jack Higgins
Born Henry Patterson
(1929-07-27) 27 July 1929
Newcastle upon Tyne, England
Occupation Novelist
Language English
Nationality British
Alma mater London School of Economics
Genre Thriller, espionage, mystery
Notable works
Years active 1959–present
  • Amy Hewett Patterson
  • Denise Higgins
Children 4

Jack Higgins (born 27 July 1929) is the principal pseudonym of British novelist Harry Patterson. He is one of the best-selling authors of popular thrillers and espionage novels. His breakthrough novel The Eagle Has Landed (1975) sold over 50 million copies[1] and was adapted into a successful film by the same title.[2] Some of his other notable books are A Prayer for the Dying (1987), The Eagle Has Flown (1991), Thunder Point (1993), Angel of Death (1995), Flight of Eagles (1998), and Day of Reckoning (2000).[1] His 84 novels in total have sold over 150 million copies and have been translated into 55 languages.[3]


Early life

Jack Higgins was born Henry Patterson[4] on 27 July 1929 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.[1] When his father abandoned them soon after, his Irish mother returned with him to her home town of Belfast, Northern Ireland, to live with her mother and her grandfather on Shankill Road.[1] Raised amid the religious and political violence of Belfast, Patterson learned to read at the age of three, when he was tasked with reading The Christian Herald to his bed-ridden grandfather.[1] At night, he would crouch beneath a window and read by the light of the street lamps.

I read Oliver Twist when I was six. Not because it was a classic, but because it was a book that was available. I probably didn't understand everything in it—for years I used to pronounce the word rogue as rogger—but I didn't care. I just loved reading.[1]

When his mother remarried, the family moved to Leeds, West Yorkshire, England, where Patterson attended the Roundhay Grammar School for Boys. He proved to be an indifferent student and left school with few formal qualifications. In 1947 he began two years of National Service, at first with the East Yorkshire Regiment,[5] and later as a non-commissioned officer in the Royal Horse Guards Regiment of the Household Cavalry[6] doing security work on the East German border.[7][1] During his military service, Patterson discovered that he possessed both considerable sharpshooting skills and considerable intelligence.

After leaving the army, he returned to London to study Sociology at London School of Economics while supporting himself as a driver and labourer at night. He chose the school for its "history of nonconformism".[1] He received his third-class degree after three years of study.[1] After getting a teaching qualification, he took a job lecturing in Social Psychology and Criminology at Allerton Grange Secondary School Leeds.[1] He taught Liberal Studies at Leeds Polytechnic and Education at James Graham College, which became part of Leeds Polytechnic in 1976.

Writing career

In 1959, Higgins began writing novels.[1] One of his aliases was James Graham. The growing success of his early work allowed him to take time off from his teaching, and he eventually left the classroom to become a full-time novelist.

Patterson's early novels, written under his own name as well as under the pseudonyms James Graham, Martin Fallon, and Hugh Marlowe, are thrillers that typically feature hardened, cynical heroes, ruthless villains, and dangerous locales. Patterson published thirty-five such novels (sometimes three or four a year) between 1959 and 1974, learning his craft. East of Desolation (1968), A Game for Heroes (1970) and The Savage Day (1972) stand out among his early work for their vividly drawn settings (Greenland, the Channel Islands, and Belfast, respectively) and offbeat plots.

Patterson began using the pseudonym Jack Higgins in the late 1960s; his first minor bestsellers appeared in the early 1970s, two contemporary thrillers The Savage Day and A Prayer for the Dying[8] but it was the publication of his thirty sixth book, The Eagle Has Landed, in 1975, that made Higgins' reputation. The Eagle Has Landed represented a step forward in the length and depth of Patterson's work. Its plot concerns with a German commando unit sent into England to kidnap Winston Churchill, and is reminiscent of Alberto Cavalcanti's wartime film Went the Day Well?, which itself was directly based on the 1942 Graham Greene short story "The Lieutenant Died Last". The main character is Irish gunman, poet, and philosopher Liam Devlin. Higgins followed The Eagle Has Landed with a series of thrillers, including several (Touch the Devil, Confessional, The Eagle Has Flown) featuring return appearances by Devlin.

The third phase of Patterson's career began with the publication of Eye of the Storm in 1992, a fictionalised retelling of an unsuccessful mortar attack on Prime Minister John Major by a ruthless young Irish gunman-philosopher named Sean Dillon, hired by an Iraqi millionaire. Cast as the central character over the next series of novels, it is apparent that Dillon is in many ways an amalgamation of Patterson's previous heroes — Chavasse with his flair for languages, Nick Miller's familiarity with martial arts and jazz keyboard skills, Simon Vaughan's Irish roots, facility with firearms and the cynicism that comes with assuming the responsibility of administering a justice unavailable through a civilized legal system.

Personal life

Higgins met Amy Hewett while both were studying at the London School of Economics.[4] They were married in 1958, shortly after receiving a £75[1] ($210) advance for his first novel—"the biggest wedding present we could have had."[4] They have four children: Sarah (born 1960), Ruth (born 1962), Sean (born 1965), and Hannah (born 1974).[4][9] Their daughter Sarah Patterson penned the novel The Distant Summer (1976).[10] Higgins lives on Jersey, in the Channel Islands, with his second wife, Denise.[1][11]


Year Title[12] Writing as Featuring Publisher Notes
1959 Sad Wind from the Sea Harry Patterson Mark Hagen John Long
1960 Cry of the Hunter Harry Patterson Martin Fallon John Long
1961 The Thousand Faces of Night Harry Patterson Hugh Marlow John Long
1962 Comes the Dark Stranger Harry Patterson Martin Shane John Long
1962 Hell Is Too Crowded Harry Patterson Matthew Brady John Long
1962 The Testament of Caspar Schultz Martin Fallon Paul Chavasse Abelard-Schuman The Bormann Testament
1963 The Dark Side of the Island Harry Patterson Hugh Lomax Fawcett
1963 Pay the Devil Harry Patterson Clay Fitzgerald Barrie & Rockliffe
1963 Seven Pillars to Hell Hugh Marlowe Gavin Kane Abelard-Schuman Sheba
1963 Year of the Tiger Martin Fallon Paul Chavasse Abelard-Schuman
1964 Passage by Night Hugh Marlowe Harry Manning Abelard-Schuman
1964 A Phoenix in the Blood Harry Patterson Jay Williams
1964 Thunder at Noon Harry Patterson John Dillinger Revised in 1983 as Dillinger
1964 Wrath of the Lion Harry Patterson
1965 The Graveyard Shift Harry Patterson Nick Miller
1965 The Keys of Hell Martin Fallon Paul Chavasse
1966 A Candle for the Dead Hugh Marlowe Sean Rogan The Violent Enemy
1966 The Iron Tiger Jack Higgins Jack Drummond
1966 Midnight Never Comes Martin Fallon Paul Chavasse
1966 The Violent Enemy Hugh Marlowe Sean Rogan A Candle for the Dead
1967 Brought in Dead Harry Patterson Nick Miller
1967 Dark Side of the Street Martin Fallon Harry Youngblood
1968 East of Desolation Jack Higgins Joe Martin Berkley
1968 Hell Is Always Today Harry Patterson Nick Miller
1969 A Fine Night for Dying Martin Fallon Paul Chavasse
1969 In the Hour Before Midnight Jack Higgins Stacy Wyatt The Sicilian Heritage
1969 The Sicilian Heritage Jack Higgins Stacy Wyatt In the Hour Before Midnight
1970 A Game for Heroes James Graham Owen Morgan
1970 Night Judgement at Sinos Jack Higgins Jack Savage
1971 The Last Place God Made Jack Higgins Sam Hannah
1971 Toll for the Brave Jack Higgins Ellis Jackson
1971 The Wrath of God James Graham Emmet Kogh
1972 The Khufra Run James Graham Jack Nelson
1972 The Savage Day Jack Higgins Holt
1973 A Prayer for the Dying Jack Higgins Martin Fallon Holt
1974 The Run to Morning Martin Fallon Oliver Grant Bloody Passage
1975 The Eagle Has Landed Jack Higgins Liam Devlin Holt
1976 Storm Warning Jack Higgins Holt
1977 The Valhalla Exchange Jack Higgins Hamilton Canning
1978 Day of Judgement Martin Fallon Simon Vaughan Holt
1979 To Catch a King Harry Patterson Walter Schellenberg
1980 Solo Jack Higgins Asa Morgan Stein and Day The Cretan Lover
1981 Luciano's Luck Jack Higgins Harry Carter Stein and Day
1982 Touch the Devil Jack Higgins Liam Devlin Stein and Day
1983 Dillinger Jack Higgins John Dillinger Thunder at Noon revised and reissued
1983 Exocet Jack Higgins Charles Ferguson Stein and Day
1985 Confessional Jack Higgins Liam Devlin Stein and Day
1986 Night of the Fox (novel) Jack Higgins Harry Martineau Simon & Schuster
1989 Memoirs of a Dance Hall Romeo Jack Higgins Simon & Schuster
1989 A Season in Hell Jack Higgins Tonny Villiers Simon & Schuster
1990 Cold Harbour Jack Higgins Craig Osbourn Simon & Schuster
1990 The Eagle Has Flown Jack Higgins Liam Devlin Simon & Schuster
1992 Eye of the Storm Jack Higgins Sean Dillon Putnam Midnight Man
1993 Thunder Point Jack Higgins Sean Dillon Putnam
1994 On Dangerous Ground Jack Higgins Sean Dillon Putnam
1994 Sheba Jack Higgins Gavin Kane Berkley
1995 Angel of Death Jack Higgins Sean Dillon Putnam
1995 The Morgan Score Jack Higgins Asa Morgan
1996 Drink with the Devil Jack Higgins Sean Dillon Putnam
1996 Year of the Tiger 1996 Jack Higgins Paul Chavasse Berkley
1997 The President's Daughter Jack Higgins Sean Dillon Putnam
1998 Flight of Eagles Jack Higgins Harry Kelso Putnam
1999 The White House Connection Jack Higgins Sean Dillon Putnam
2000 Pay the Devil Jack Higgins Clay Fitgerald Harper Collins Set in 19th century Ireland.
2000 Day of Reckoning Jack Higgins Sean Dillon Putnam
2001 Edge of Danger Jack Higgins Sean Dillon Putnam
2002 The Keys of Hell Jack Higgins HarperCollins
2002 Midnight Runner Jack Higgins Sean Dillon Putnam
2003 Bad Company Jack Higgins Sean Dillon Putnam
2004 Dark Justice Jack Higgins Sean Dillon Putnam
2005 Without Mercy Jack Higgins Sean Dillon Putnam
2006 The Bormann Testament Jack Higgins
2006 Sure Fire Jack Higgins Putnam With Justin Richards
2007 The Killing Ground Jack Higgins Sean Dillon Putnam
2007 Rough Justice Jack Higgins Sean Dillon Putnam
2008 Death Run Jack Higgins Putnam With Justin Richards
2009 A Darker Place Jack Higgins Sean Dillon Putnam
2009 First Strike Jack Higgins Putnam With Justin Richards
2009 Sharp Shot Jack Higgins Putnam With Justin Richards
2009 The Wolf at the Door Jack Higgins Sean Dillon Putnam
2010 The Judas Gate Jack Higgins Sean Dillon Putnam
2012 A Devil is Waiting Jack Higgins Sean Dillon Putnam
2013 The Death Trade Jack Higgins Sean Dillon Putnam
2014 Rain on the Dead Jack Higgins Sean Dillon Putnam


Year Title Writing as Director Starring Notes
1967 The Violent Enemy Hugh Marlowe Don Sharp Tom Bell From the novel A Candle for the Dead
1972 The Wrath of God James Graham Ralph Nelson Robert Mitchum
1976 The Eagle Has Landed Jack Higgins John Sturges Donald Sutherland
1984 To Catch a King Harry Patterson Clive Donner Robert Wagner Television film
1987 A Prayer for the Dying Jack Higgins Mike Hodges Mickey Rourke
1989 Confessional Jack Higgins Keith Carradine Television series, 4 episodes
1990 Night of the Fox Jack Higgins Charles Jarrott George Peppard Television film
1996 On Dangerous Ground Jack Higgins Lawrence Gordon Clark Rob Lowe Television film
1996 Windsor Protocol Jack Higgins George Mihalka Kyle MacLachlan Television film
1997 Midnight Man Jack Higgins Lawrence Gordon Clark Rob Lowe Television film, from the novel Eye of the Storm
1998 Thunder Point Jack Higgins George Mihalka Kyle MacLachlan Television film


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Crace, John (30 July 2010). "A Life in Writing: Jack Higgins". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 September 2014.
  2. Canby, Vincent (26 March 1977). "The Eagle Has Landed (1976)". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 September 2014.
  3. "Author Interview: Jack Higgins". HarperCollins. Retrieved 24 September 2014.
  4. 1 2 3 4 Hauptfuhrer, Fred (17 January 1977). "The Eagle Has Landed Jack Higgins in a High Tax Bracket ...". People. New York: Time, Inc. 7 (2). Retrieved 25 September 2014.
  5. http://www.qahh.org.uk/jack-higgins-biography/
  6. http://www.householdcavalry.net/history/4587346307
  7. http://www.midsussextimes.co.uk/news/eagle-has-landed-author-jack-higgins-offers-charity-nights-in-west-sussex-1-7202553
  8. Harpercollins.ca
  9. Higgins, Jack (2010). Confessional. Open Road Media. ISBN 978-1480479449.
  10. Patterson, Sarah (1976). The Distant Summer. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0671222574.
  11. Swaim, Don (16 January 1987). "Audio Interview with Jack Higgins". Wired for Books. Retrieved 14 October 2014.
  12. "Jack Higgins Homepage: Books". Scintilla. Retrieved 25 September 2014.

External links

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