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Eric Ambler's Biography

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Eric Ambler was born on 28 June 1909 in London and died there aged 89, on 23 October, 1998.

The novelist and critic Anthony Burgess coined the word, 'Amblerian', to describe Ambler's qualities.

Among the best-known of Ambler's 21 published books are 'Epitaph for a Spy' in 1938, 'The Mask of Dimitrios' in 1939, 'Journey into Fear' in 1940, and 'Topkapi' in 1962.

Eric Ambler also wrote an autobiography, 'Here Lies' in 1985.

The New York Times's obituary of Ambler by Eric Pace, explains Ambler's genesis as a thriller writer:

" ... Young Eric went to Colfe's Grammar School in London, studied engineering at London University, found it dull and left in 1927 without a degree. Then came a stint with an electrical-equipment company, a disappointing stab at show business, early, nonlucrative writing of fiction and plays, and some years in advertising, where he began as a copywriter and did well before turning full time to the writing of thrillers.

"When Mr. Ambler was still a London advertising man in 1934 he had an odd formative experience. While on vacation in Marseilles, he was cheated out of money playing poker dice with a larcenous bartender and then fantasized about murdering the man with a rifle at a street crossing in the city. At that same spot, later that year, a Croatian assassin shot and killed King Alexander of Yugoslavia.

"That coincidence spurred Mr. Ambler's imagination. In an interview half a century later, he recalled: 'I felt I had a fresh bit of my character, which was an assassin. And I felt there were people all over Europe just like me, just ready for the word to kill.'

"In his book Here Lies: An Autobiography , which came out in Britain in 1985, he wrote that he had cut out news pictures of the site of both the bartender's imagined death and the king's actual demise. 'I felt oddly guilty, but also pleased,' he added. 'In the Mediterranean sunshine there were strange and violent men with whom I could identify, and with whom, in a way, I was now in touch.'"

The Observer said of Ambler's 'Passage of Arms': "It is difficult to imagine how an adult contemporary novel of adventure could be much better done."

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