Dick Francis was born Richard Stanley Francis on October 31, 1920, in Lawrenny, near Tenby in southern Wales to George Vincent Francis and Catherine Mary (née Thomas) Francis. His father and grandfather were both horsemen, and Francis was riding from the age of five. He began riding show horses at the age of twelve and always had the ambition to become a jockey. Francis interrupted his pursuit of a riding career to serve as a pilot in the Royal Air Force during World War II, but in 1946 he made his debut as an amateur jockey and turned professional in 1948. At the peak of his career, Francis rode in as many as four hundred races a year and was ranked among the top jockeys in Great Britain in every one of the ten years he rode. In 1954, he began riding for Queen Elizabeth; in 1957, he retired at the top of his profession and began his second career.
Francis began writing as a racing correspondent for the London Sunday Express, a job he held for the next sixteen years, and started work on his autobiography, The Sport of Queens: The Autobiography of Dick Francis (1957). Although he had dropped out of high school at the age of fifteen, he refused the services of a ghostwriter, relying only on his wife, Mary Margaret Brenchley, a former publisher’s reader to whom he had been married in 1947, for editorial help, a job she performed for all of his books until her death in 2000. Reviewers were pleasantly surprised by Francis’s natural and...
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