Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
Because Eric Ambler’s earliest novels were the first realistic portrayals of international intrigue that adhered to high literary standards, he must be considered the virtual creator of the modern genre of espionage fiction. He was born in London on June 28, 1909, the son of Alfred Percy Ambler and his wife, Amy Madeline Andrews. His parents were music hall artists, and though his father later worked in advertising, his parents’ enthusiasm for music and the theater profoundly affected Ambler’s early development.
In 1917, he entered Colfe’s Grammar School with a scholarship and later studied piano at Blackheath Conservatory. In 1926, he was awarded an engineering scholarship to Northhampton Polytechnic, which later became part of the University of London. He spent most of his two years there reading in the British Museum and attending films, plays, and law court sessions because by this time, influenced by the plays of Henrik Ibsen, he was determined to be a playwright. Ambler’s recognition of the Machiavellian aspects of politics and the realities of class struggle were enhanced during the General Strike of 1926, when the London Rifle Brigade, in which he had enlisted as a Territorial, was deputized as “special constables.”
In 1928, Ambler left school to take a position as a technical trainee at the Edison Swan Electric Company, but his artistic ambition was still strong. He attempted to write a novel about his father’s...
(The entire section is 1149 words.)
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Biography (Critical Survey of Mystery & Detective Fiction, Revised Edition)
Eric Clifford Ambler was born in London on June 28, 1909, the son of Alfred Percy Ambler and Amy Madeline Ambler, part-time vaudevillians. He attended Colfe’s Grammar School and in 1926 was awarded an engineering scholarship to London University, though he spent much of his time during the two years he was there reading in the British Museum, attending law-court sessions, and seeing films and plays. In 1928 he abandoned his education to become a technical trainee with the Edison Swan Electric Company, and in 1931 he entered the firm’s publicity department as an advertising copywriter. A year later, he set himself up as a theatrical press agent, but in 1934 he returned to advertising, working with a large London firm.
Throughout this period, Ambler was attempting to find himself as a writer. In 1930 he teamed up with a comedian, with whom he wrote songs and performed in suburban London theaters. In 1931 he attempted to write a novel about his father. Later, he wrote unsuccessful one-act plays. In the early 1930’s he traveled considerably in the Mediterranean, where he encountered Italian fascism, and in the Balkans and the Middle East, where the approach of war seemed obvious to him.
In 1936 Ambler published his first novel of intrigue, The Dark Frontier, quit his job, and went to Paris, where he could live cheaply and devote all of his time to writing. He became a script consultant for Hungarian film director/producer Alexander...
(The entire section is 361 words.)