Alfred Alexander Gordon Clark Biography

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(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Cyril Hare, born as Alfred Alexander Gordon Clark, was educated at a British public school, where he claimed to have been starved of food and crammed full of learning. Thence he went to New College, Oxford, where he gained first-class honors in history. He was always destined for the law, however, and he was called to the bar in 1924 and practiced, mostly in the criminal courts, as a member of the chambers of Roland Oliver, one of the most prestigious firms of London lawyers.

In 1933, he married Mary Barbara Lawrence, and the couple had one son and two daughters. For some time, he had contributed lightweight, humorous material to Punch and other magazines; a few years after his marriage, he began writing detective fiction under the pseudonym Cyril Hare, derived from his home address (Cyril Mansions) and his practice address (Hare Court). He continued to do so for the rest of his life, often making use of material drawn from his own experience both within and outside the legal profession. At the start of World War II, he undertook a tour as a judge’s marshal, from which came Tragedy at Law (1942). Later, after a brief spell in the ministry of economic warfare (which helped him to write With a Bare Bodkin, 1946), he spent nearly five years as a temporary official in the public prosecutions department.

He returned to private practice in 1945, and in 1950, he was appointed a county court judge in his native Surrey, where he was concerned with civil rather than criminal proceedings. He was a supporter of amateur music making (this is reflected in When the Wind Blows, 1947) and was always much in demand as a public speaker. In the last years of his life, his other commitments limited his time for writing fiction, and his last works declined in quality.