British author Jack Higgins, who wrote ‘The Eagle Has Landed’ and other bestselling spy thrillers and novels, has died. He was 92 years old.
Publisher HarperCollins said Higgins died at his home on the island of Jersey in the English Channel, surrounded by his family.
Born Henry Patterson in Newcastle, England, in July 1929, Higgins served in the army before studying sociology at the London School of Economics. He became a teacher in the northern city of Leeds and a writer in his spare time, with novels selling modestly from the late 1950s.
That changed with the publication in 1975 of “The Eagle Has Landed”, about a fictional World War II plot to kidnap British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. In a 2010 interview with The Guardian, Higgins recounted a crucial call from his accountant.
“He asked me what I wanted out of my writing,” Higgins said. “I replied that I wasn’t really sure, before adding jokingly that it would be nice to make a million by the time I retire. He then said, ‘Well you’re a fucking dick. ‘fool. Because you just made so much this week. What are you going to do about that?'”
He was advised to leave England due to 1970s tax rates and settled with his family in Jersey.
“The Eagle Has Landed” became more popular after the release of the 1976 film adaptation. Michael Caine, Donald Sutherland and Robert Duvall were among the stars of the eponymous film which was a box office success.
In a statement, HarperCollins chief executive Charlie Redmayne said Higgins’ death marked “the end of an era”.
“I’ve been a fan of Jack Higgins for longer than I can remember. He was a classic thriller writer: instinctive, tough, relentless,” he said.
“The Eagle Has Landed and his other books by Liam Devlin, his later series by Sean Dillon, and so many others were and remain absolutely unassailable.”
Patterson has written nearly 80 books, most under the pseudonym Jack Higgins. Other Higgins tracks include “The Eagle Has Flightn”, “Angel of Death”, “Day of Reckoning”, and “A Darker Place”.
According to his publisher’s website, the novels have sold over 250 million copies and been translated into dozens of languages.
His survivors include his wife, Denise, and four children from his previous marriage.