Victor Canning

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Victor Canning (16 June 1911 – 21 February 1986) was a prolific writer of novels and thriller who flourished in the 1950s, '60s and '70s, but whose reputation has faded since his death in 1986. He was personally reticent, writing no memoirs and giving relatively few newspaper interviews.


Canning was born in Plymouth, Devon, the eldest child of a coach builder, Fred Canning, and his wife May, née Goold. During World War I his father served as an ambulance driver in France and Flanders, while he with his two sisters went to live in the village of Calstock ten miles north of Plymouth, where his uncle Cecil Goold worked for the railways and later became station master. After the war the family returned to Plymouth. In the mid 1920s they moved to Oxford where his father had found work, and Victor attended the Oxford Central School. Here he was encouraged to stay on at school and go to university by a classical scholar, Dr. Henderson, but the family could not afford it and instead Victor went to work as a clerk in the education office at age 16.

Within three years he had started selling short stories to boys’ magazines and in 1934, his first novel. Mr. Finchley Discovers his England, was accepted by Hodder and Stoughton and became a runaway best seller. He gave up his job and started writing full time, producing thirteen more novels in the next six years under three different names. Lord Rothermere engaged him to write for the Daily Mail, and a number of his...
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