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James Hadley Chase (1906 - 1985)

René Lodge Brabazon Raymond was born in London, in 1906, the day of Christmas.
Son of an Army Officer, Colonel Francis Raymond, (Indian Army), he was educated at King's School, Rochester (Kent). He was at first headed for a scientific career. Preparing a diploma of bacteriology, he went to Calcutta for a specific study on hydrophobia. His father had founded the Raymond Research Laboratory and had been the principle of Bengal Veterinary College until 1912.

Then, refusing a job of bank clerk, he preferred the world of books. He started out selling Arthur Mee's Children Encyclopaedia. He said that in two years he knocked  100,000 doors. In "More Deadly than the Male", written in 1946, his main character, George Fraser, is selling the Child's Self-Educator in London suburbs, so we are given an intensive course in salesmanship... with all the tricks of this door to door job.
At the age of twenty he joined the biggest book wholesalers in Britain, kept his finger on the public pulse, worked out for himself what it was they wanted in fiction - and, one day, at the age of thirty three, he came up with "No orchids for Miss Blandish", which he wrote in six weekends.


During the Second World War René Raymond served in the Royal Air Force. He was commissioned into the Administrative and Special Duties Branch with the rank of Pilot Officer on 26 June 1941. On 26 June 1942 he was promoted to Flying Officer, on 8 October 1943 to Flight Lieutenant and finally Squadron leader in 1944. Between November 1941 until the end of 1945, at the head of the Branch P9 of the Directorate of Personal Services, he was, among other duties, the editor of the Royal Air Force Journal, a biweekly publication.

Just after the war, in 1946, René Raymond and his war comrade David Langdon, another squadron leader, edited Slipstream (A Royal Air Force Anthology), the profit from the sales going to the R.A.F. Benevolent Fund. Slipstream is a collection of short stories from the R.A.F. Journal, among them "The mirror of room 22" written by René Raymond.

Clive Richards from the Ministry Of Defence, Air Historical Branch, indicates that in the first issue of the R.A.F. journal there is an article, "R.A.F. in Iceland" by R. B. R., which must belong to René Brabazon Raymond.

If you are interested you can download raf01.doc (Word, 54Ko) or raf01.pdf (Acrobat Reader, 38 Ko)


David Langdon has also contributed to the Lilliput Magazine since the first volume, mainly for cartooning.

Vladimir Matuchienko, a Russian fan of JHC, advises us there is a short storie of James Hadley Chase in the Lilliput Magazine of March 1943.

This short storie "Discretion : There's a Horse on the sofa", is decorated by some drawings signed by David Langdon.


You can download it : discretion.pdf (Acrobat Reader, 81Ko)








In different countries many directors have adaptated Chase thrillers for cinema and television. See his filmography on the french pages.


At home, James was a good husband, married some fifty years to the same wife, Sylvia Ray.
He dedicated "Cade" (1966) to his wife :
"For Sylvia, my wife, my secretary, my cook, my interpreter, my chauffeur and my right hand - plus thirty three years of kindness and understanding."
He died in 1985 at Corseaux-sur-Vevey (Switzerland). He had written 89 thrillers translated in 32 languages.


download the pages of Book and Magazine Collector n°85 :

article1c.doc  (232 Ko),

or article1c.pdf  (242 Ko)
(Acrobat Reader)

Find more details at :

  • A Tribute from a Die-Hard Fan, the Doctor Sarkar Indian website

    "For further information :
    'Raffles and Miss Blandish' by George Orwell (Horizon, October 1944);
    Persephone by D. Streatfield (1959);
    Encyclopedia of Mystery and Detection, ed. by Chris Steinbrunner and Otto Penzler (1976);
    Twentieth Century Crime and Mystery Writers, ed. by John M. Reilly (1985);
    Cult Fiction by Andrew Calcutt and Richard Shephard (1998)

See also this very well documented French website :

  • Claude Rassat
    You will find on his website, among other interesting information and many extracts from interviews, that JHC began to use different writer names (Raymond Marshall, Ambrose Grant, James L. Docherty) just to get more paper allocations during the war...

Photos have been scanned from Robert Hale and Gallimard covers

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