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Dick Francis's Biography

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Dick Francis, whose full name was Richard Stanley Francis, was born on 31 October 1920.

After being a pilot in the RAF in World War II, Dick Francis enjoyed two great careers - as a jockey and then as a crime writer.

Dick Francis was Champion Jockey in the 1953-54 season, but as the final words of his autobiography, 'The Sport of Queens' says:

"I heard one man say to another, a little while ago, 'Who did you say that was? Dick Francis? Oh yes, he's the man who didn't win the National.'

"What an epitaph!"

Dick Francis is referring to the famous 1956 Grand National when with less than fifty yards to go, his horse, Devon Loch, owned by the Queen Mother, suddenly fell over whilst well in the lead.

In November 2004 Dick Francis was honoured for a lifetime contribution to racing, winning the Sir Peter O'Sullevan Annual Award, and at the ceremony he recalled that he sought Her Majesty's permission to call his autobiography 'The Sport of Queens', and added: "One perhaps couldn't have used that title today."

Dick Francis has gone on to write over 40 best-selling novels - crime capers revolving around horse racing.

Francis has won the Crime Writers' Association's Cartier Diamond Dagger for his outstanding contribution to the crime genre, and in 1996 was made the Mystery Writers of America Grand Master for a lifetime's achievement.

When Dick Francis's wife, Mary died in 2000, they had been married 53 years. A controversial biography of Dick Francis was published that claimed that Mary wrote the novels and not Dick, which Francis denied.

After Mary's death Dick Francis stopped writing the novels but years later he met Dagmar Cosby. They became close and with her inspiration, in 2006 he released a new thriller, Under Orders.

In 2000 Dick Francis was awarded a CBE.

Dick Francis died in the Cayman Islands on 14 February 2010, aged 89.

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