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About the Author: E. Phillips Oppenheim

Edward Phillips Oppenheim was an English novelist, primarily known for his suspense fiction.

He was born on 22 October 1866 in Leicester, the son of a leather merchant, and after attending Wyggeston Grammar School he worked in his father's business for almost 20 years, beginning there at a young age. He continued working in the business, even though he was a successful novelist, until he was 40 at which point he sold the business.

He wrote his first book 'Expiation' in 1887 and in 1898 he published 'The Mysterious Mr Sabin', which he described as "The first of my long series of stories dealing with that shadowy and mysterious world of diplomacy." Thereafter he became a prolific writer and by 1900 he had had 14 novels published.

While on a business trip to the United States in 1890 he met and married Elise Clara Hopkins of Boston and, on return to England, they lived in Evington, Leicestershire until the First World War,and had one daughter. His wife remained faithful to him throughout his life despite his frequent and highly publicised affairs, which often took place abroad and aboard his luxury yacht.

During World War I Oppenheim worked for the Ministry of Information while continuing to write his suspenseful novels.

He featured on the cover of 'Time' magazine on 12 September 1927 and he was the self-styled 'Prince of Storytellers', a title used by Robert standish for his biography of the author.

His literary success enabled him to buy a villa in France and a yacht, spending his winters in France where he regularly entertained more than 250 people at his lavish parties and where he was a well-known figure in high society.

He later purchased a house, Le Vanquiédor in St. Peter Port, in Guernsey. He lost access to the house during the Second World War when Germany occupied the Channel Islands but later regained it.

He wrote 116 novels, mainly of the suspense and international intrigue type, but including romances, comedies, and parables of everyday life, and 39 volumes of short stories, all of which earned him vast sums of money. He also wrote five novels under the pseudonymn Anthony Partridge and a volume of autobiography, 'The Pool of Memory' in 1939.

He is generally regarded as the earliest writer of spy fiction as we know it today, and invented the 'Rogue Male' school of adventure thrillers that was later exploited by John Buchan and Geoffrey Household.

Undoubtedly his most renowned work was 'The Great Impersonation' (1920), which was filmed three times, the last time as a strong piece of wartime propaganda in 1942. In that novel the plot hinges around two very similar looking gentlemen, one from Britain and the other from Germany, in the early part of the 20th century. Overall more than 30 of his works were made into films.

Perhaps his most enduring creation is the character of General Besserley, the protagonist of 'General Besserley's Puzzle Box' and 'General Besserley's New Puzzle Box'.

Much of his work possesses a unique escapist charm, featuring protagonists who delight in Epicurean meals, surroundings of intense luxury, and the relaxed pursuit of criminal practice, on either side of the law.

Gerry Wolstenholme


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Paperback, by Read Books

ISBN10: 1446073904 | ISBN13: 9781446073902

Edward Phillips Oppenheim (1866-1946) was the earliest writer of spy fiction as understood today, inventing the "rogue male" school of adventure thrillers and writing over 150 novels of all sorts. The Profiteers was written about the stock market post-World War I and pre-1929 crash.

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