John Edmund Gardner (not to be confused with literary scholar John Champlin Gardner, Jr., 1933-1982) was born on November 20, 1926, in Seaton Delaval, Northumberland, England. He developed an interest in writing very early and at the age of nine told his father he wanted to be a writer. His progress toward that goal, however, was hardly direct. After wartime service in Britain’s Royal Navy in the latter part of World War II and as a commando with the marines in 1946, he graduated from St. John’s College, Cambridge University, in 1950. He decided to follow his father into the Anglican priesthood and was ordained in 1953. Meanwhile, in 1952, he married Margaret Mercer, with whom he had two children. Gardner developed doubts about whether he had followed the right calling and eventually left the priesthood in 1958. He then worked as a theater critic and art editor for a Stratford-on-Avon newspaper for six years.
Gardner came to realize that he wanted to write books of his own rather than to remain a critic. After writing a nonfictional work discussing his alcoholism, he became a mystery novelist. He won popularity immediately with his Boysie Oakes series, but his career did not really blossom until 1981, when he was selected to continue the James Bond series, more than fourteen years after Ian Fleming died. At first, he contracted to write three books to bring Bond into the late twentieth century. However, his contract was repeatedly renewed because of...
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