Peter Cheyney: Prince of Hokum
Michael Harrison


Reginald Southouse Cheyney was born in Whitechapel High Street, it the East End of London, in 1896, in circumstances which were to make his own life as romantically improbable as the most outrageously successful of the tales which brought him riches and world-renown. His mother was a corset-maker; his father a fish-salesman. Both were Cockneys.

‘Peter’ Cheyney began his writing by supplying additional ‘material’ for a then popular knock-about farce, following this up by sketches and humorous songs for well-known music-hall stars.

‘After several trials at making a living in some spheres unconnected with writing, he came, by way of acting and broadcasting, to free-lance journalism, combining that precarious trade with the conduct of a literary agency which developed into a detective agency.

‘But it was not until the age of forty—at a time when most men have established themselves either for success or for failure—that he published his first fill-length crime-story, This Man is Dangerous, and embarked upon a flood-tide of success. It was in this novel that he gave the world his Lemmy Caution, ‘the greatest and most human detective since Sherlock Holmes.’

‘The final fifteen years of Cheyney’s life were marked—since he had been warned that he was under sentence of an early death—by a desperate resolve to leave a literary memorial to himself. He drove himself as few other writers—even including Edgar Wallace—have driven themselves, and during these last fifteen years of a life perhaps over-crammed with experience, Cheyney produced his regular two novels a year, besides other writings. He died in 1951, aged fifty-five; and in that year 2,650,000 copies of his books were sold.

‘This first full-length biography by an author who knew Cheyney well is an enthralling success-story: the almost classic version a the tale of the ‘small-town boy makes good.’ It is the story of a man, thirsty for fame, but willing to give his full energies to the achievement of his all-compelling ambition.

e-Book, 262 pp. (Tina Rhea #35)
ISBN 978-1-55497-285-2 $10.00