Henry Patterson: The Eagle has Landed author dies aged 92

Image source, PA Media

Henry Patterson, the best-selling author of The Eagle has Landed, has died aged 92, his publisher has said.

Patterson, who began writing when he was a teacher, penned 85 novels between 1959 and 2017.

HarperCollins said Patterson died at his Jersey home surrounded by family.

The Eagle has Landed, about a Nazi plot to kidnap Sir Winston Churchill in World War Two, written under the pseudonym Jack Higgins, sold more than 50 million copies and became a film.

The 1976 screen adaptation starred Robert Duvall, Donald Sutherland and Sir Michael Caine.

Patterson sold more than 250 million books over his career, with his other works including Comes the Dark Stranger, Hell is Too Crowded and To Catch a King.

Image source, Columbia Pictures/ Getty Images
Image caption,
Sir Michael Caine and Donald Sutherland in a scene from the film The Eagle has Landed

Patterson was born in Newcastle upon Tyne, and grew up in Belfast before moving to Leeds.

He wrote novels in his spare time after becoming a teacher and received a £75 advance for his first novel, Sad Wind from the Sea, in 1959.

His final book, The Midnight Bell, was published in 2017 and was a Sunday Times bestseller.

HarperCollins said that by the time his last novel came out, they referred to him simply as "the legend".

HarperCollins chief executive Charlie Redmayne described Patterson as a "classic thriller writer: instinctive, tough, relentless", adding his novels "were, and remain, absolutely unputdownable".

Jonathan Lloyd, Patterson's literary agent, also paid tribute, saying: "I had the privilege of being at Collins Publishers when we received the manuscript of The Eagle has Landed.

"We all knew, with a rare certainty, that we would be publishing an instant classic."

Patterson is survived by four children from his first marriage - Sarah, Ruth, Sean, and Hannah - as well as his wife, Denise.