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About the Author: William Le Queux

William Tufnell Le Queux was born in London on 2 July 1864. His father, also William of Chateauroux, Indre, was a French draper's assistant and his mother was English.

He was educated in Europe and studied art under Ignazio Spiridon in Paris. He walked extensively in France and Germany and supported himself for a time writing for French newspapers. It was one of his sensational stories in 'The Petit Journal' that attracted the attention of the French novelist Emile Zola and it was supposedly he who encouraged Le Queux to become a full-time writer.

In the late 1880s he returned to London where he edited the magazines 'Gossip' and 'Piccadilly' before joining the staff of the newspaper 'The Globe' in 1891 as a parliamentary reporter. But he resigned in 1893 and decided to abandon journalism to concentrate on writing and travelling. And his extensive travelling saw him visit Russia, the Near East, North Africa, Egypt and the Sudan and in 1912-13 he was a correspondent in the Balkan War for the Daily Mail. On his travels he found it necessary to become an expert revolver shot.

His first book was 'Guilty Bonds' (1891), which concentrated on political conspiracy in Russia to such a degree that it was subsequently banned in that country. A series of short stories 'Strange Tales of a Nihilist' followed in 1892 and from then on he was producing books on a regular basis until his death, and beyond, as a number of posthumous works were published.

His works mainly related to espionage activity and it was said that he was employed for a number of years as a member of the British Secret Service, where he was an expert on wireless transmission. He did claim to have been the first wireless experimenter to have broadcast from his station at Guildford in 1920/21 and he was president of the Wireless Experimental Association and a member of the Institute of Radio Engineers.

He stated at one time that he began writing to help finance his work for British Intelligence for whom he was required to undertake much travelling and to make personal contact with royalty and other high-ranking people. He recorded some of the latter meetings in his autobiography entitled 'Things I Know about Kings, Celebrities and Crooks' (1923).

He was at one time Consul of the Republic of San Marino and he possessed Italian, Serbian and Montenegrin decorations. He was also a keen collector of medieval manuscripts and monastic seals.

However, all his activities did not stop him turning out novel after novel and at the time of his death he had well over 100 books to his credit.

After several weeks' illness, he died at Knocke, Belgium, in the early hours of 13 October 1927. His body was returned to England and on 19 October he was cremated at Golders Green with the Reverend Francis Taylor of Bedford conducting the service, which was attended by Le Queux's brother and a few intimate friends.

Gerry Wolstenholme
January 2013


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ISBN10: 1447405986 | ISBN13: 9781447405986

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