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Lionel Davidson

lionel davidson, lionel davidson author
Lionel Davidson FRSL 31 March 1922 – 21 October 2009 was an English novelist who wrote spy thrillers


  • 1 Life and career
  • 2 Bibliography
    • 21 Novels
    • 22 Novels for young adults published under the pseudonym "David Line"
    • 23 Short stories
  • 3 References
  • 4 External links

Life and career

Lionel Davidson was born in 1922 in Hull, Yorkshire, one of nine children of an immigrant Jewish tailor He left school early and worked in the London offices of The Spectator magazine as an office boy Later, he joined the Keystone Press Agency During World War II, he served with the Submarine Service of the Royal Navy

When the war ended, he returned to the Keystone Agency and travelled all over Europe as a freelance reporter It was during one of these trips that he came up with the idea for his first thriller, The Night of Wenceslas 1960 The novel is set in Czechoslovakia during the Cold War, and tells the story of young Nicolas Whistler, a 24-year-old Londoner whose business trip to Prague goes horribly awry Its taut prose and skilful plotting made The Night of Wenceslas an instant success, and immediately pushed Davidson into the front ranks of the genre, inviting favourable comparisons with such luminaries as Eric Ambler Davidson became one of the handful of living writers to have their first novel appear in a green Penguin jacket The book won the Crime Writers' Association's Gold Dagger Award the top prize for crime and spy fiction in Britain as well as the Authors' Club First Novel Award It was filmed as Hot Enough for June 1964, with Dirk Bogarde in the role of Whistler

His second novel The Rose of Tibet 1962 was equally well received A Long Way to Shiloh 1966 won Davidson his second Gold Dagger, and he achieved a third with The Chelsea Murders 1978 The Chelsea Murders was also adapted for television as part of Thames TV's Armchair Thriller series in 1981

Davidson then went into an extended hiatus after the publication of The Chelsea Murders He was not to write another thriller for the next sixteen years Kolymsky Heights appeared in 1994 to international acclaim and introduced its author to a new generation of readers

Davidson never quite managed to fulfil his early promise to become a major figure in British spy fiction, although his best novels are of high quality In 2001, he was awarded the CWA's Cartier Diamond Dagger lifetime achievement award, for making "a significant contribution to crime fiction published in the English language"

Davidson wrote a number of children's novels under the pseudonym David Line Run For Your Life is an example of writing which creates suspense from the opening page

Lionel Davidson died on 21 October 2009 in north London after suffering a long illness Davidson’s first wife, the former Fay Jacobs, died in 1988 He was survived by his sons Philip and Nick



  • The Night of Wenceslas Gold Dagger Award, 1960
  • The Rose of Tibet, 1962
  • A Long Way to Shiloh US title: The Menorah Men Gold Dagger Award, 1966
  • Making Good Again, 1968
  • Smith's Gazelle, 1971
  • The Sun Chemist, 1976
  • The Chelsea Murders, US title: Murder Games Gold Dagger Award, 1978
  • Under Plum Lake, 1980 children's novel
  • Kolymsky Heights, 1994

Novels for young adults published under the pseudonym "David Line"

  • Soldier and Me UK title: Run for Your Life, 1965
  • Mike and Me, 1974 More about Mike and Me at wwwLionelDavidsoncom/mikehtml
  • Screaming High, 1985

Short stories

  • Note to Survivors - first published in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, May 1958
  • Where am I Going Nowhere! - first published in Suspense London, February 1961
  • Indian Rope Trick - first published in Winter’s Crimes 13, London: Macmillan 1981; reprinted in Mysterious Pleasures London: Little, Brown 2003
  • I Do Dwell - first published in Winter's Crimes 16, London: Macmillan 1984
  • Tuesday's Child - first published in The Verdict of Us All, Crippen & Landru 2006


  1. ^ "Lionel Davidson's biography" Retrieved 4 September 2015 
  2. ^ "Archived copy" Archived from the original on 24 December 2007 Retrieved 2008-01-30 
  3. ^ "A book for the beach: Kolymsky Heights by Lionel Davidson" The Guardian Retrieved 4 September 2015 
  4. ^ "CWA Winners Acrhive Diamond 2001" The Crime Writers’ Association website Retrieved 4 September 2015 

External links

  • Official website, set up by his son
  • Lionel Davidson - an Appreciation
  • Appreciation of Davidson's novels
  • Lionel Davidson - Daily Telegraph obituary
  • The Independent: Obituary
  • Dermot Kavanagh's article on Davidson's 'The Chelsea Murders' posted on the London Fictions site
  • "Lionel Davidson: the best spy novelist you might never have read", The Telegraph, Nov 28, 2016

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