Before becoming an author of fiction in the early 1960s, John Gardner was variously a stage magician, a Royal Marine officer, a journalist and, for a short time, a priest in the Church of England.
"Probably the biggest mistake I ever made" he says. "I confused the desire to please my father with a vocation which I soon found I did not have."
Educated he would say “Without my co-operation” in Berkshire and at St. John’s College, Cambridge. He became a theatrical journalist in the late 1950s chronicling the years when Sir Peter Hall was reorganising the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon, giving it a London base at the Aldwych and forming the semi-permanent ensemble. Gardner also lectured in Shakespearean production in Canada and the United States and on a trip to Moscow with the RSC, had a memorable encounter with the KGB who found it hard to believe a journalist would accompany a leading theatre company.
In the early ’60s he wrote a series of highly acclaimed comic novels featuring a cowardly secret agent called Boysie Oakes,before moving on to more serious books: particularly those featuring Big Herbie Kruger - an outstanding fictional character of the Cold War. In the early eighties however he was invited by Ian Fleming’s literary copyright holders to write a series of continuation James Bond novels which proved to be so successful, world wide, that instead of the contracted three books he went on to publish some fourteen titles, plus two from screenplays.
In all, Gardner had fifty-three novels to his credit – many of them best-sellers and Maestro was notably a New York Times Book of the Year. Day of Absolution published in 2001 was his first book for six years, following a serious battle with cancer. He followed this with a new character that appeared with the publication of Bottled Spider in the Spring of 2001 – Suzie Mountford a Woman Detective Sergeant working in London during World War II. A further four Mountford books were to follow and a sixth was planned. Just before his death in 2007, Gardner finally completed the long awaited third novel in his Moriarty trilogy. Simply entitled Moriarty it will be published in the UK and the US November 2008.
John Gardner had made his home in the UK, the Republic of Ireland, and the United States, where he resided for seven years. Following the death of his wife Margaret in 1997 he moved back to the UK to be near his family. During this period he unexpectedly renewed his love for Patricia, his fiancé from his early time at university, and whose surname was the inspiration for his Mountford novels. He lived his final years in Hampshire where he died suddenly in August 2007. He is survived by his two daughters and his son.