Richard Stanley Francis was born on Halloween, 1920 in Wales. At the age of fifteen, Dick dropped
out of Maidenhead County School and won a hunter show, therefore starting an illustrious career
as a steeplechase jockey. Dick has had three main careers: Air Force pilot and airframe fitter
(during the war years), jockey and novelist. In 1947, Dick married Mary Margaret Brenchly. Ten
years later, he retired from racing at the age of 37 and became a racing correspondent for the London
Sunday Express. Five years after that in 1962, his first novel Dead Cert was published.
A clever man, Francis made a deal with his publishing company that as long as he wrote a book a year, they
would keep all of his novels in print. In 1983, he is knighted with the Order of the British
Empire. Although there are rumours that 10 lb Penalty will be his last book, we can
always hope. Dick and his wife now live in the Cayman Islands.
Another Bio from Putnam:
Dick Francis was born in Lawrenny, South Wales in 1920. He served in the Royal Air Force for six years during World War II, piloting fighter and bomber aircraft including the Spitfire and Lancaster between 1943 and 1946.
Following the war, Francis, the son of a jockey, became a celebrity in the world of British National Hunt racing. He won more than 350 races, was Champion Jockey in 1953/54, and was retained as jockey to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother for four seasons, 1953 through 1957. Francis rode eight times in the world famous Grand National Steeplechase, and nearly won in 1956 when his horse, the Queen Mother's Devon Loch, a few strides away from victory with a clear field, suddenly collapsed. This incident, which Francis calls "both the high point and low point of my career as a jockey," was the impetus for him to begin a second career as a writer. Shortly after the incident, a literary agent approached Francis about writing an autobiography.
In 1957, Francis suffered another serious fall and was advised to retire from race riding. He completed his autobiography, The Sport of Queens, which was published later that year, and accepted an invitation to write six features for the London Sunday Express. He stayed on as the newspaper's racing correspondent for 16 years.
Sports writing soon led to fiction writing, which in turn led to a string of bestselling novels. His first, Dead Cert, was published in 1962. His 36th novel, 10 Lb. Penalty, was published in the U.S. by G.P. Putnam's Sons in September 1997. In addition to his novels and autobiography, Francis has also published a biography of Lester Piggott, A Jockey's Life, and eight short stories. He has edited (with John Welcome) four collections of racing stories, and has contributed to anthologies and periodicals.
Francis's books have been bestsellers in a number of countries, and have been translated into more than 30 languages, including all European languages, Japanese, Korean, Taiwanese, Bantu, and several dialects of Chinese. Each of his novels has also been recorded on audio in both Britain and the United States.
Francis was made an Officer of the most noble Order of the British Empire in 1984, and was awarded the British Crime Writers Association silver dagger in 1965, gold dagger in 1980 and Cartier diamond dagger for his life's work in 1990. The recipient of three Edgar Allen Poe Awards for Best Novel from the Mystery Writers of America, most recently for 1995's Come to Grief, Francis is the only person to have been awarded the prestigious award more than once. The Mystery Writers of America named Francis Grand Master for his life's work in 1996, and he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Tufts University in 1991.
Dick Francis and his wife, Mary, who helps with much of the research for his books, live in the Caribbean. They recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.
"The real reason for my being a jockey, however, is not to be found in the freedom, the friendships or the
travelling that I enjoyed, or even in the great satisfaction of winning races: and it is not in the means it gave me
of earning a living either, for if I had been a millionaire I would still have been a jockey.
The simple fact is that I like riding horses, and I like the speed and challenge of racing." - Dick Francis
"Although it may seem that steeplechase jockeys are recklessly risking their lives in a dangerous sport,
it is a matter of record that the death rate of window cleaners is very much higher. If any window cleaners'
wives are reading this,
I sincerely apologise for passing on this most unwelcome piece of news." - Dick Francis