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Hammond Innes biography




Hammond Innes

(1913 - 1998)

Hammond Innes was born in Horsham, Sussex, of Scottish descent. He was educated at Cranbrook School, Kent, and graduated in 1931. From 1934 to 1940 he worked as a staff member of the Financial News (later Financial Times), and then served in the Royal Artillery (1940-46) before becoming a fulltime writer. In 1937 he married Dorothy Mary Lange. She died in 1989. Innes's first novel, THE DOPPELGANGER, appeared in 1937. It was followed by three other works - all these early books Innes later rejected, not because of the leftist views he infiltrated between the lines, but because he considered them more or less clumsy.

In 1940 appeared WRECKERS MUST BREATHE and THE TROJAN HORSE, published by Collins. Innes began writing The Trojan Horse just after the Russian invasion of Finland in 1939. A month after completing the book he joined the army, and was sent overseas. In 1941 Innes published a war novel, ATTACK ALARM, which was the only story of the Battle of Britain written on a gunside under fire. Innes then ended editing army magazines in four countries. He did not return to England for three years. Before World War II he had written DEAD AND ALIVE, which appeared in 1946 and dealt with black market in Rome and Napoli. After the war Innes devoted himself entirely to writing, becoming one of the most popular thriller writers. Until 1953 he also published children's books under the pseudonym Ralph Hammond.

In the 1960s Innes started to spend more time with the background work of his novels and slowed down his publishing speed. After finishing sailing in the seas, Innes began to purchase land from Suffolk, Wales, and Australia, in order to protect the nature and plant trees. In the 1980s he pondered the ecological questions in some of his books. HIGH STAND (1985) was set in the wilderness of Klondike, THE BLACK TIDE (1982) was a story about pollution. An earlier work, THE DOOMED OASIS (1960), set in the contemporary Arabia and the deserts of the Empty Quarter, was about saving an oasis from extinction. Innes had been in the late 1950s ashore in the Oman with the first oil expedition on the Arabian coast of the Indian Ocean. NORTH STAR (1975), a story of infiltration and sabotage in the North Sea, also focused on oil. It was started while Innes was on board the Shell rig Staflo in the autumn of 1972, but finished two years later. " events caught up with me - the Arab-Israeli war, the oil embargoes, the shortages, the price rises... Suddenly North Sea oil was on everybody's lips, the one bright spot in the prevailing gloom. In these circumstances, I felt it essential to bring the book forward..."

Innes's other books, translated into over thirty languages, include THE LONELY SKIER (1947), BLUE ICE (1948), CAMBELL'S KINGDOM (1952), THE WRECK OF MARY DEARE (1956), ATLANTIC FURY (1962), and LEVKAS MAN (1971). GOLDEN SOAK (1973) was set in the Australia when the great mineral boom of 1969-70 began to collapse. For the novel, Innes travelled the backtrack through the Ophthalmia Range from Mt Newman to Mt Robinson.

The central theme in Innes's work is man against the forces of nature. In several stories the main character is searching the past in a remote location. Innes travelled into many parts of the world to ensure the authenticity in his works. He sailed for the Antarctica for THE WHITE SOUTH (1949), to the islands of Greece for Levkas Man, and to the Indian ocean for THE STRODE VENTURER (1965). As in the novels of Andrew Garve, Innes's knowledge of the sea and ships, and his own experiences as a seaman, provided material for his books. He was also vice-president of the Association of Sea Training Organization.

Innes's historical works include THE CONQUISTADORS (1969) and THE LAST VOYAGE (1978), a fictionalized account of Captain Cook's voyage. His last novel, DELTA CONNECTION, appeared in 1996, and included all the familiar elements of a Hammond Innes book: daring escapes, cliffhanging situations, and overpowering forces of nature. In the story an English mining engineer escapes from Romania with a young mysterious woman. Their adventures lead to Afghanistan and to struggle for survival among the word's highest mountains.

Innes was awarded a C.B.E. (Commander, Order of the British Empire) in 1978. He received Bouchercon Lifetime Achievement award in 1993. Several of Innes's works have been adapted into screen. An interesting but unrealized production was Alfred Hitchcock's version of the novel The Wreck of Mary Deare. The book belonged to MGM, and they got the director interested in the work. Hitchcock liked the powerful opening image of a ship drifting, deserted, in the English Channel. The rest was a coutroom drama in manifold flashbacks explaining the mystery. Hitchcock continued to develop ideas with his scriptwriter Ernest Lehman, but finally gave up the project.

Information source: wikipedia