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A Jockey's Life: The Biography of Lester Piggott

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Piggott, Britain's top rider for some three decades, retired in 1985 at age 50 and is now a trainer. Descended from trainers and jockeys on both sides of his family, he seemed destined for a career in racing and began as an apprentice at 12. Two years later he was clocking over 400 rides a season and winning more than 50. Within a decade, Piggott was the most successful rider in England, a situation that continued for years, until he began to tire of merely amassing victory statistics. From 1954 to 1966, he rode for trainer Noel Murless, who had horses belonging to Queen Elizabeth, Aly Khan and Sir Victor Sassoon, but then determined to freelance, which he did until his retirement. Piggott has had his difficulties: severely hearing-impaired since birth, he suffered numerous injuries, and he always had trouble with his weight. Anyone associated with the sport of kings would be fortunate to have Francis as a biographer, and the prolific mystery writer, himself an ex-jockey, has done a superb job here. Photos not seen by PW. (October 10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399131790
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/1/1986
  • Pages: 338
  • Product dimensions: 9.36 (w) x 6.36 (h) x 1.34 (d)

Meet the Author

Dick Francis
Dick Francis
Dick Francis was one of the most successful postwar steeplechase jockeys, winning more than 350 races and riding for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. After his retirement from the saddle, he published an autobiography, The Sport of Queens, before going on to write more than forty acclaimed books, including the New York Times bestsellers Even Money and Silks. A three-time Edgar Award winner, he also received the prestigious Crime Writers’ Association’s Cartier Diamond Dagger, was named Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America, and was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2000. He died in 2010 at age eighty-nine, and remains among the greatest thriller writers of all time.

Felix Francis is the younger of Dick Francis’s two sons. Over the last forty years Felix has assisted with the research of many of the Dick Francis novels, not least Twice Shy, Shattered, and Under Orders. Since 2006, Felix has taken a more significant role in the writing, first with Dead Heat and then increasingly with the bestsellers, Silks and Even Money. Crossfire is the fourth novel of this father-and-son collaboration. Felix Francis lives in England.

Biography

Dick Francis was born in Lawrenny, South Wales in 1920. He served in the Royal Air Force for six years during World War II, piloting fighter and bomber aircraft including the Spitfire and Lancaster between 1943 and 1946.

Following the war, Francis, the son of a jockey, became a celebrity in the world of British National Hunt racing. He won more than 350 races, was Champion Jockey in 1953-1954, and was retained as jockey to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother for four seasons, 1953 through 1957. Francis rode eight times in the world famous Grand National Steeplechase, and nearly won in 1956 when his horse, the Queen Mother's Devon Loch, a few strides away from victory with a clear field, suddenly collapsed. This incident, which Francis calls "both the high point and low point of my career as a jockey," was the impetus for him to begin a second career as a writer. Shortly after the incident, a literary agent approached Francis about writing an autobiography.

In 1957, Francis suffered another serious fall and was advised to retire from race riding. He completed his autobiography, The Sport of Queens, which was published later that year, and accepted an invitation to write six features for the London Sunday Express. He stayed on as the newspaper's racing correspondent for 16 years.

Sports writing soon led to fiction writing, which in turn led to a string of bestselling novels. His first, Dead Cert, was published in 1962. His 36th novel, 10 Lb. Penalty, was published in the U. S. by G. P. Putnam's Sons in September 1997. In addition to his novels and autobiography, Francis has also published a biography of Lester Piggott, A Jockey's Life, and eight short stories. He has edited (with John Welcome) four collections of racing stories, and has contributed to anthologies and periodicals.

Francis's books have been bestsellers in a number of countries, and have been translated into more than 30 languages, including all European languages, Japanese, Korean, Taiwanese, Bantu, and several dialects of Chinese. Each of his novels has also been recorded on audio in both Britain and the United States.

Francis was made an Officer of the most noble Order of the British Empire in 1984, and was awarded the British Crime Writers Association silver dagger in 1965, gold dagger in 1980 and Cartier diamond dagger for his life's work in 1990. The recipient of three Edgar Allen Poe Awards for Best Novel from the Mystery Writers of America, most recently for 1995's Come to Grief, Francis is the only person to have been awarded the prestigious award more than once. The Mystery Writers of America named Francis Grand Master for his life's work in 1996, and he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Tufts University in 1991.

Author biography courtesy of Penguin Group (USA).

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    1. Also Known As:
      Sir Richard Stanley Francis (full name)
    2. Hometown:
      Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, British West Indies
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 31, 1920
    2. Place of Birth:
      Tenby, Pembrokeshire, southwest Wales
    1. Date of Death:
      February 14, 2010
    2. Place of Death:
      Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, British West Indies

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