English writer John Frederick Burke (1922-2011) was born in Rye, Sussex, but soon moved to Liverpool, where his father was a Chief Inspector of Police.
Burke became a prominent science fiction fan in the late 1930s, and with David McIlwain he jointly edited one of the earliest British fanzines, The Satellite, to which another close friend, Sam Youd was a leading contributor All three men would become well known SF novelists after the war, writing as Jonathan Burke, Charles Eric Maine and John Christopher respectively.
Burke’s first novel Swift Summer(1949) won an Atlantic Award in Literature from the Rockefeller Foundation, and he went on to become a popular SF and crime novelist, all his work being of a high literary standard.
During the early 1950s he wrote numerous science fiction novels that were published in hardcover as well as paperback, and his short stories appeared in all the leading UK SF magazines, most notably in New Worlds and Authentic Science Fiction.
In the mid 1950s he worked in publishing, first as a Production Manager for the prominent UK publishers Museum Press, and then in an editorial capacity for the Books For Pleasure Group. In 1959 he was employed as a Public Relations Executive for Shell International Petroleum, before being appointed as European Story Editor for 20th Century-Fox Productions in 1963.
His cinematic expertise led to his being commissioned to write dozens of best-selling novelizations of popular film and TV titles, ranging from such films as A Hard Day’s Night, Privilege, numerous Hammer Horror films, through to The Bill and Gerry Anderson’s UFO series (under the pseudonym ‘Robert Miall’.) A member of the Crime Writers’ Association, his many 1960s crime and detective novels and short stories were published on both sides of the Atlantic, and widely translated. Burke also edited the highly successful Tales of Unease anthologies, which spawned a television series. He is noted for his supernatural “Dr. Caspian” trilogy, beginning with The Devil’s Footsteps (1976).
Altogether he wrote more than 150 books in all genres, including work in collaboration with his wife Jean, and also published many non-fiction works on an astonishing variety of subjects, most notably music and English county guidebooks.