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Overview (3)

Born in Tenby, Pembrokeshire, Wales, UK
Died in George Town, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
Birth NameRichard Stanley Francis

Mini Bio (1)

Dick Francis learned to ride when he was five, on a donkey. His older brother offered him sixpence if he could jump the fence sitting backwards on the donkey. It took five tries, but the determined five-year-old did finally manage to stay on the donkey as he jumped the fence. He collected the sixpence from his brother and earned his first riding fee. Of that experience he says, "In my heart, from that moment, I became a professional horseman." He became an amateur steeplechase rider when he was 26, and two years later began riding as a professional steeplechase jockey. He won more than 350 races, and was retained as jockey to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother for four seasons. Perhaps his most famous and controversial ride was on the Queen Mother's horse, Devon Loch, in the 1956 Grand National. Fifty yards from the finish line, with the race virtually won, the horse just suddenly fell. Afterwards, they could find nothing wrong with the horse, and the mystery as to what happened has never been solved. Soon after, at 36, Francis decided to retire as a jockey. He became a racing correspondent for the Sunday Express and published his first book, an autobiography entitled "The Sport of Queens," in 1957. His first mystery novel, "Dead Cert," was published in 1962. Since then he has written an average of a mystery per year, to the delight of his many fans. He writes about what he knows best, and each novel touches on racing and horses in some way. The mysteries are more than simple "horse stories," though, as Francis uses his descriptive style to bring to life heroes who are actors, artists, photographers, bankers, contractors, wine merchants, inventors, diplomats, teachers, pilots, meteorologists - and the list goes on. Francis speculated in his autobiography that he would be remembered as "the man who didn't win the National", but to his many fans around the world, he will always be the definitive Master of Mystery.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: AZNikkiD@aol.com

Spouse (1)

Mary Margaret Brenchley (1947 - 30 September 2000) (her death) (2 children)

Trivia (19)

He was awarded the C.B.E. (Commander of Order of the British Empire) in the 2000 Queen's Birthday Honors List for his services to literature.
The events in the lives of some of his characters were based on his own experiences and those of his family. In "Knockdown", Jonah Dereham suffers from a dislocating shoulder, something from which Dick Francis suffered after he was thrown from a horse during a race. In "Forfeit", James Tyrone's wife is crippled with polio, with which Dick Francis's wife Mary was afflicted following the birth of her first child. In "Twice Shy", Jonathan Derry is a physics teacher, as was Felix Francis, Dick Francis's younger son. In "Driving Force", Freddie Croft runs a horse transport business, which Merrick Francis, Dick Francis's elder son, used to do.
Talking after the death of Dick Francis, his son Felix said about the rumours that his mother was the real author of the books: "It was the worst-kept secret in publishing. Dick Francis was *always* known by all the publishers to be two people. My mother always called my father Richard. And to me, my father was Richard and my mother was Mary, and together they were Dick. Was it Mary or was it Dick who did it? Well it was neither - they did it together. Everyone knew that - there was no mystery, no hoodwinking.".
In his biography of Dick Francis, Graham Lord alleges that Dick's wife, Mary, was the main writer of the books, on the grounds that Dick's poor educational background would preclude him from writing so eloquently. Dick and Mary worked as a team: Dick devised the plots and wrote a first draft and Mary then improved the grammar in places. Mary also did a lot of the non-horseracing research for the books: she learned to paint for "In The Frame", she learned to fly and ran an air taxi company for "Flying Finish" and "Rat Race", and she became a proficient photographer for "Reflex".
Dick Francis has received numerous awards including the Silver Dagger award from Britain's Crime Writers Association for "For Kicks," the Gold Dagger award for "Whip Hand," the Diamond Dagger award in 1990, and three Mystery Writers of America's Edgar Allan Poe Awards, for "Forfeit," "Whip Hand," and "Come to Grief," as well as the Edgar Award for Grand Master in 1996.
Dick and Mary had two sons, Merrick and Felix (born 1953). Merrick owns Lambourn Racehorse Transport Ltd, which transports many of the horses of Lambourn, England; it is the largest horse transport business in Europe (as of the late 2000s), and he has trained horses, as well.
From 1973 to 1974, Francis was the Chairman of the prestigious Crime Writers' Association.
He wrote an autobiography, "The Sport of Queens," with the help of his wife Mary, refusing to employ a ghostwriter; it was published in 1957.
In 1957, Francis went to work as a racing correspondent for The London Sunday Express, a newspaper where he worked for 16 years.
In 1957, at the age of 36, he retired at the top of his profession. Many of his characters are jockeys who are approaching the mid-30s and fearing retirement, or ex-jockeys who remember that fear and wish they could keep racing.
In 1954, he began riding the Thoroughbred horses of Queen Elizabeth II in races at many racetracks. "Queen's Jockey" is a prestigious occupation.
At the peak of his career, Francis rode in as many as 400 races a year. He was ranked among the top jockeys in Great Britain in every one of the 10 years that he rode.
In 1947, he married Mary Brenchley, a former publisher's reader; she helped editorially on all his books.
In 1946, he made his debut as an amateur jockey and, in 1948, turned professional.
He served as a pilot in the Royal Air Force during World War II. His wife Mary, years later, also learned to fly. Their expertise is evident in the 1966 novel "Flying Finish.".
Like his character Sid Halley, Dick Francis dropped out of high school at the age of 15.
Dick Francis began riding show horses at the age of 12 and always aspired to be a jockey.
Dick Francis was the son of George Vincent Francis and Catherine Mary (maiden name, Thomas) Francis. His father and grandfather were both horsemen - his father a professional steeplechase jockey and a stable manager - and Dick was riding from the age of 5.
Francis's novel Whip Hand won both the Gold Dagger Award and the Edgar Award for Best Novel. It is one of only two novels to do so. The other is The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John Le Carre.

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