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Melvyn Barnes


Francis Durbridge (1912-98) was the twentieth century’s foremost writer of thrillers for radio and television. His radio serials are still broadcast today, and his novels and stage plays remain popular worldwide. Best known as the creator of the detective Paul Temple and television serials that achieved record viewing figures, he wrote very much more – as revealed in this definitive guide, the result of several years’ research that has unearthed much new information and debunked many myths.

A survey of Durbridge’s career is followed by details of his novels and his works for radio, television, the theatre and the cinema – not only in the UK, but throughout Europe. There is also a complete listing of his ninety-three Paul Temple comic strips that appeared in the London Evening News.

Melvyn has spent the whole of his career in public libraries.  He began as a school leaver in Kent, then occupied posts of increasing seniority in Hertfordshire, Manchester, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Ipswich, Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster, before retiring in 2002 after eighteen years as Director of Libraries and Art Galleries for the City of London.

He has served as President of both The Library Association and the International Association of Metropolitan City Libraries, and acted as an advisor on various bodies relating to government cultural policies and the British Library.  In 1990 he was awarded the O.B.E. for services to public libraries.

His fascination with crime fiction began as a schoolboy with radio thrillers and paperback copies of Agatha Christie, and has continued ever since.  This led to his books Best Detective Fiction (1975), Murder in Print (1986) and Dick Francis (1986), and his many contributions to periodicals in the genre and reference books including Twentieth Century Crime & Mystery Writers (four editions, 1980-96), Scribner’s Mystery and Suspense Writers (1998) and The Oxford Companion to Crime & Mystery Writing (1999).  From 1977 to 1982 he selected and edited Remploy’s “Deerstalker” series of Golden Age detective fiction reprints.

In 2015 his book Francis Durbridge: a Centenary Appreciation was self-published with a limited print run, but such was the international interest that he was encouraged to pursue further research and to solve the many puzzles surrounding Durbridge’s career.  The result is the revised and vastly expanded Francis Durbridge: The Complete Guide.

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