Dick Francis


Dick Francis (October 31, 1920) is a British jockey and author.

He was born Richard Stanley Francis in Lawrenny, south Wales. The son of a jockey, he had a successful career himself as a jockey, winning over 350 races.

During World War II, he served in the Royal Air Force piloting fighter and bomber aircraft including the Spitfire. He left the RAF in 1946 to become a celebrity in the world of British National Hunt racing.

From 1953 to 1957 he was jockey to Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. He was forced to retire from racing as the result of a serious fall in 1957. His most famous moment as a jockey came while riding the Queen Mother’s horse, Devon Loch, in the 1956 Grand National: the horse inexplicably fell when close to winning the race.

His first book was his autobiography, The Sport of Queens (1957), which led to him becoming the racing correspondent for the London Sunday Express, a position he held for 16 years. In 1962, he published his first thriller, Dead Cert, which was set in the world of racing. Subsequently, he regularly produced a novel a year for the next 38 years, missing only 1998 (during which year he published a short-story collection). Although all his books were set against a background of horseracing, his heroes held a variety of jobs, from artist (To the Hilt) to private investigator (Odds Against).

He was made an Officer of the most noble Order of the British Empire in 1984.

The 1999 unauthorised biography, Dick Francis: A Racing Life, suggested that his books had in fact been written by Mary, Dick Francis’ wife. Whether this is true or not, by all accounts Mary did much of the research and editing of Francis’ later novels and stories, and often worked collaboratively with her husband on each book’s actual composition. Dick Francis himself has written no new works after Mary’s death in the year 2000.

Dick Francis’ manager is his son Felix Francis. Felix left his well-paid post as a teacher at a UK private school (Bloxham School in Oxfordshire) in order to work for his father.

His works include –

  • The Sport of Queens (1957)
  • Dead Cert (1962)
  • Nerve (1964)
  • For Kicks (1965)
  • Odds Against (1965)
  • Flying Finish (1966)
  • Blood Sport (1967)
  • Forfeit (1968)
  • Enquiry (1969)
  • Rat Race (1970)
  • Bonecrack (1971)
  • Smokescreen (1972)
  • Slayride (1973)
  • Knockdown (1974)
  • High Stakes (1975)
  • In the Frame (1976)
  • Risk (1977)
  • Trial Run (1978)
  • Whip Hand (1979)
  • Reflex (1980)
  • Twice Shy (1981)
  • Banker (1982)
  • The Danger (1983)
  • Proof (1984)
  • Break In (1985)
  • Bolt (1986)
  • Hot Money (1987)
  • The Edge (1988)
  • Straight (1989)
  • Longshot (1990)
  • Comeback (1991)
  • Driving Force (1992)
  • Decider (1993)
  • Wild Horses (1994)
  • Come to Grief (1995)
  • To the Hilt (1996)
  • 10 LB. Penalty (1997)
  • Field of Thirteen (1998) – short stories
  • Second Wind (1999)
  • Shattered (2000)

For more information see: http://www.dickfrancis.com/