Leasor, James 1923–2007
Leasor, James 1923–2007
(Thomas James Leasor, Andrew MacAllan)
See index for CA sketch: Born December 20, 1923, in Erith, Kent, England; died September 10, 2007. Journalist, publisher, historian, novelist, and nonfiction writer. Leasor's novels were sometimes inspired by his travels as a foreign correspondent for the London Daily Express from 1948 to 1955, where he also worked as a reporter, feature writer, and columnist. Several of his history books were based on knowledge he acquired as a British soldier during World War II, including Boarding Party, which describes a torpedo attack on his transport ship in the Bay of Bengal that left him stranded in the water for several harrowing hours; the book later inspired the feature film The Sea Wolves. Leasor was the author of a few dozen suspense novels and the creator of the amateur spy Dr. Jason Love, introduced in Passport to Oblivion(1964) and immortalized on the silver screen by actor David Niven in Where the Spies Are. Though the Love character never achieved the popularity of James Bond, especially on the international scene, he was quite familiar to British readers as the suave doctor whose adventures took him to exotic lands in search of villains and rogues. A few of Leasor's later novels appeared under the pseudonym Andrew MacAllan. Leasor was admired for the speed and ease with which he was able to spin an entertaining yarn, and his gift for narrative also enlivened his nonfiction. His history books alternated in almost equal number with his novels and were equally well received by critics and the British reading public. Many of the accounts related historical events from World War II or biographies of military leaders of that period. The One That Got Away(1967) told the story of the only German prisoner of war known to have escaped captivity. Leasor wrote of earlier times as well, in books like Red Fort: An Account of the Siege of Delhi in 1857(1956). Leasor supplemented his income as an editorial advisor to British magazine publishers in the 1950s and 1960s, and as a director of Elm Tree Books in the 1970s. He was also a director of Pagoda Films and Jason Love Limited.
OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES:
St. James Guide to Crime and Mystery Writers,4th edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.
Times(London, England), September 22, 2007, p. 77.