Eric Ambler is often said to have invented the modern suspense novel. Beginning in 1937, he wrote a series of novels that were touted for their realism, in which he introduced ordinary protagonists who are thrust into political intrigue they are ill prepared to deal with. In the process he paved the way for such writers as John Le Carre, Len Deighton, and Robert Ludlum. He was awarded four Gold Daggers and a Diamond Dagger from The Crime Writers Association, named a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers Association, and was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth. In addition to his novels, Ambler wrote a number of screenplays, includingRebecca, which he collaborated on with his wife, Joan Harrison. Eric Ambler died in 1998.
Eric Ambler was born in London on June 28, 1909. Ambler toured in the late 1920s as a music-hall comedian and wrote plays, following in the footsteps of his parents, who were entertainers. After studying engineering at London University from 1924 to 1927, he took an apprenticeship in engineering at the Edison Swan Electric Company. When the company became part of Associated Electrical Industries, he worked in its advertising department and wrote avant-garde plays in his spare time. By 1937 he was the director of a London ad agency. He later resigned and moved to Paris where he dedicated himself to writing. In 1936, his first novel, The Dark Frontier, appeared and followed by another five by 1940, as well as working as script consultant for Alexander Korda. During World War II he joined first the artillery and was then later posted to a combat photographic unit. He served in Italy as assistant director of army cinematography and during this period, wrote and produced nearly one hundred training and propaganda films. After the war Ambler was screenwriter for the Rank organization and starting from 1951 he published a number of novels with Charles Rodda under the pseudonym Eliot Reed. Several of his novels were made into films, including A Coffin for Dimitrios in 1944, Journey into Fear in 1942, and Topkapi in 1964. Ambler also wrote screenplays, including those for The Cruel Sea in 1953 and The Guns of Navarone in 1961. In the 1960s he moved to Hollywood and was responsible for the TV shows Checkmate and The Most Deadly Game. Ambler received the Gold Dagger in 1959 for Passage of Arms, in 1967 for Dirty Story and in 1972 for The Levanter. He also received the Diamond Dagger in 1986 plus an Edgar in 1964 for The Light of Day and was nominated Grand Master in 1975. Ambler was named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1981, and received other literary awards in France and Sweden. He died in London in October 1998. Ambler published 23 novels total, 19 under his own name and four in collaboration Eric Amber died in London on October 22, 1998, at the age of 89.