Saturday, 4 September 2010

Jack Higgins

BBC television has just broadcast Meet the Author, where Nick Higham talked to the popular author Jack Higgins, who came to fame 35 years ago when he wrote The Eagle Has Landed.  That book alone has sold tens of millions of copies. 

Jack Higgins is his pen-name but his real name is Harry Patterson and he spent much of his childhood in Belfast, a fact he spoke about in the television interview.

Harry Patterson was born in Newcastle in 1929 and his father left soon after he was born.  'My dad doesn't exist for me. I know he married again because a relative got in touch, but I'm not interested.'

His mother then brought him back to Ulster and he lived with her mother and grandfather in the Shankill Road in Belfast.  'We had to live with relatives on the Shankill,' recalled Higgins. 'I can remember top and tailing in bed, that sort of thing.'  It was there in Belfast that he developed an interest in reading and books.

The Culture Northern Ireland website says that he grew up in the Markets area, something that needs to be corrected. 

There is a proposal to develop a 'Shankill cultural quarter' in Belfast and this would celebrate the history and culture of the Shankill.  Part of that project will undoubtedly include prominent writers and artists who were born in or grew up in the Shankill area and Harry Patterson is one of that number.

When the former Shankill politician Johnny McQuade MP was a young man he boxed professionally under the name 'Jack Higgins'.  I don't know if there is any connection between that and Patterson's choice of 'Jack Higgins' as a pseudonym.

No comments:

Post a Comment