Victor Canning was primarily a writer of thrillers, and wrote his many books under the pseudonyms Julian Forest and Alan Gould. Among his immediate contemporaries were Eric Ambler, Alistair Maclean and Hammond Innes.

Canning was a prolific writer throughout his career, which began young: he had sold several short stories by the age of nineteen and his first novel, Mr Finchley Discovers His England (1934) was published when he was twenty-three. Canning also wrote for children: his trilogy The Runaways was adapted for US children’s television.

Canning’s later thrillers were darker and more complex than his earlier work and received great critical acclaim. The Rainbird Pattern was awarded the CWA Silver Dagger in 1973 and nominated for an Edgar award in 1974.

In 1976 The Rainbird Pattern was transformed by Alfred Hitchcock into the comic film The Family Plot, which was to be Hitchcock’s last film. Several of Canning’s other novels including Golden Salamander (1949) were also made into films during Canning’s lifetime.

Selected Titles

Standalone fiction     

  • Polycarp’s Progress    1935
  • Fly away Paul    1936
  • Matthew Silverman     1937
  • Fountain Inn     1939

Mr Finchley series (comic novels)    

  • Mr. Finchley Discovers His England    1934
  • Mr. Finchley Goes to Paris    1938
  • Mr. Finchley Takes the Road    1940

Smiler series - animal-based adventure YA-ish series     

  • The Runaways    1972
  • Flight of the Grey Goose     1973
  • The Painted Tent     1974