Thursday, 17 September 2015
John Creasey: Phenomenally Productive
Creasey's most famous and successful creations were Commander George Gideon (of the Yard), Chief Inspector Roger West, Dr Palfrey, The Baron (John Mannering) and the monocled aristocrat (The Hon. Richard Rollison) known as The Toff. These series alone account for more than 200 titles, but were still in total the smaller part of Creasey's prodigious output. Somehow, in the midst of all this literary activity, Creasey also found time for a political career, first as a committed Liberal activist, later as founder of the All Party Alliance. And he was awarded an MBE for his services to the National Savings movement during the War.
They don't make them like John Creasey any more - and even if they did, the publishing industry and the reading public could no longer sustain such levels of output. Creasey was writing at a time when there was enormous demand for novels that offered the kind of easily-absorbed escapist entertainment that is now largely provided by television and, increasingly, online media.
Years ago, in the days when I used to enter the literary competitions in the Spectator and New Statesman, the challenge one week was to come up with titles of serious academic treatises on wildly unlikely writers. One of my entries was The Monocular Vision: Problems of Perception in the Toff Novels of John Creasey. I was rather pleased with that one...