By the miracle of Google (and I can’t for the life of me remember what I was looking for at the time) this morning I discovered this, the personal website of one-time – or, more accurately, four-times – Avengers tie-in writer John Garforth.
Garforth wrote four Avengers novels for Panther Books in 1967. Two years earlier Hodder and Stoughton had put out Deadline and Dead Duck, two rather classy tie-ins written by Peter Leslie but with Patrick Macnee credited as their author… a marketing ploy which seemed as transparent and ludicrous to my eleven-year-old self as it does now.
Both had their virtues. Leslie’s books read like a literary source from which the show might have been adapted; Garforth’s Panthers were shorter, racier, and had a more contemporary feel to them. All were true tie-ins as opposed to novelisations; which is to say, they were original works based on the series’ characters, and not pre-existing scripts adapted into prose form.
I’d had a long-standing curiosity about Garforth, who’d seemed to explode with a flurry of published work relating to stuff I was obsessed with (The Champions, Sexton Blake) and then to disappear. The opening scenes of The Passing of Gloria Munday seemed to suggest a familiarity with my part of the world at a time when anywhere that wasn’t ‘Swinging London’ didn’t get a look-in, unless it was in a booze-and-shagging kitchen-sink drama.
He didn’t disappear, of course. He simply disappeared from my world and got on with his real life. He had a day job in local government, first as a librarian and later as an arts administrator, running the programming for venues that included the King George’s Hall, Blackburn (featured in my novella In Gethsemene). He’s now a Staffordshire County Councillor and Labour Party activist.
Under the heading of Writer he skips lightly over his published work, saying:
“I found an agent and began to receive commissions as a noveliser of television series and as a ghost writer. These included ‘The Avengers’, ‘Champions’, four Paul Temple novels, Sexton Blake and – the silliest of them all – a novel called The Pallisers based on Simon Raven’s television series. But I earned more during this fifteen year period than most reputable novelists and certainly more from writing than local government was paying… I recommend that if anybody comes across any of these works in second hand shops or jumble sales you buy them and destroy them unread and I will reimburse you the 50p or whatever you paid, as a service to literature.”
In my case that’s a bit unlikely, given the trouble that I went to in order to track down presentable replacements for my own lost copies!
Scroll down the site’s news page, and you’ll find a piece titled My Avengers Past Catching Up with Me, in which Garforth discusses the writing of the novels and describes an encounter with Diana Rigg at her Dolphin Square flat.
One response to “John Garforth”
I read “The Passing of Gloria Munday,” and I’m sure the others, so thanks for paying tribute to John Garforth. He gave his readers a lot of pleasure, which is more than a lot of writers can say.
It’s also great to remember that writers are shape-shifters and lots have day jobs aside from their writing. I almost wrote “proper jobs.” Oh dear, paging Dr. Freud!