Although writer Dick Francis died 2 years ago this month at the age of 89 his books are still popular and his legacy lives on through his son Felix. Francis was born in Wales, UK in 1920. As a child Francis grew up around horses and preferred spending time with them to going to school! As a result of this he left school at the age of 15 with no qualifications and went to work with his father who managed the stables where the young Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret had horses.
Dick Francis achieved huge success as a writer but his true love was horses and he was he only turned to writing when his career in horse racing came to an end in January 1957. The previous year he had ridden the Queen Mother’s horse, Devon Loch, in the Grand National when 50 yards before the finish line the horse mysteriously collapsed and was beaten. Francis’ disappointment was intense and after another dramatic fall decided to retire.
Francis had married in 1947 and his wife was a teacher with a University degree. It has long been rumoured that Mary, in fact, wrote the books but they were published under her husband’s name because of his fame as a jockey would improve sales. Francis’ biographer, Graham Lord, asked that question directly and Mary was “evasive”.
The books all have a horse racing background but explore a variety of other subjects including politics, photography and flying. The books are well researched and are very entertaining.
The Haileybury Branch of the Temiskaming Shores Public Library has a number of these books in its collection and encourages patrons to experience the world of horse racing whilst enjoying some fast paced action!