John Creasey and Dr Palfrey Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

John Creasey and Dr Palfrey

1 Conversation

John Creasey: Ten Authors in One | The First of Many | Simple Facts | The Toff
Gideon of the Yard (as JJ Marric) | Department Z | Dr Palfrey
Patrick Dawlish (as Gordon Ashe) | As Jeremy York | Inspector West
Michael Fane and Dr Cellini | The Baron

In the early days of World War II, John Creasey saw in the global nature of the war a theme for spy adventure stories which would help foster his ideal of 'one world'. So he created Dr Palfrey as the leader of an allied secret service whose members owed loyalty to the corporate body of Western Allies, not to an individual nation. These long (120,000 word) books were immediately enormously successful, and many believe them to be among the best spy stories written about that war.

Before the war ended, Creasey saw the chance of fostering his ideals - and the series - still further, by having Palfrey's Z5 organisation fight small but deadly groups of Nazi and Japanese forces holding out in mountain fastnesses. But this theme could not continue indefinitely, and with the dropping of the first atom bomb the author began to dwell on individuals who, with atomic (later nuclear) power or other all-powerful weapons, might dominate the world without needing vast armed forces. The House of the Bears was the first story to illustrate this.

Gradually, the Dr Palfrey series changed. Creasey began to use simple scientific facts as the bases for stories of great imaginative power and political vision. One of the most vivid of these was The Flood, in which appeared a tiny crustacean called octi, whose body-gas turned to water on contact with the air. Soon the whole world was threatened with flood water, whole cities, even whole nations, being submerged.

In this book, as indeed with most of the books in this series, Creasey makes a passionate plea for peace and understanding among men of all races. Every one of his Palfrey stories since 1947 has, in fact, been allegorical. The Flood, for instance, pointed out the dangers of propaganda; The Plague of Silence, those of censorship; The Sleep, those of the indifference of so many people to the evils about them.

But by far the most terrifying of all Creasey's allegories is The Famine, in which he 'created' a creature called lozi, a kind of rabbit with a nine-day gestation period and litters of up to 12 at a time. These he used in order to show how the population explosion, unless checked, could well bring about the end of civilisation as we know it: for in about 150 days the lozi multiplied so enormously that they almost ate man off the face of the Earth.

The Palfrey books, then, fall into two distinct periods. The later ones are increasingly popular in Britain and America; the earlier ones, reprinted in both paperback (Arrow) and library (John Long) editions, now have a great nostalgic appeal to older readers, as well as a historical fascination for younger readers, as the publishers Walker (hardcover), Lancer and Belmont found. The bridge between the two forms is, of course, Dr Palfrey himself, a man of great vision and high ideals, committed absolutely to the battle against the powers of evil.

The DR PALFREY SERIES contained 34 tiltes, the first published in 1942

Original TitleFirst British EditionFirst US Edition
Traitor's Doom19421970
The Perilous Country19431972
The Legion of the Lost19431974
Dangerous Quest19441973
The Hounds of Vengeance1945-
Death in the Rising Sun1945-
Shadow of Doom1946-
The House of the Bears1947-
Sons of Satan1947-
Dark Harvest1948-
The Wings of Peace1948-
The Dawn of Darkness1949-
The League of Light1949-
The Man Who Shook the World1950-
The Prophet of Fire1951-
The Children of Hate* (US The Killers of Innocence)19521971
The Touch of Death19541969
The Mists of Fear1955-
The Flood19561969
The Plague of Silence19581968
The Drought19591967
The Terror19621966
The Depths19631967
The Sleep19641968
The Inferno19651966
The Famine19661968
The Blight19671968
The Oasis19681970
The Smog19701971
The Unbegotten19711972
The Insulators19721973
The Voiceless Ones19731974
The Thunder-Makers19741975
The Whirlwind1975-

* Changed for paperback reprint in England to The Children of Despair.

Bookmark on your Personal Space

Conversations About This Entry

Edited Entry


Infinite Improbability Drive

Infinite Improbability Drive

Read a random Edited Entry

Categorised In:

Written by

Edited by

h2g2 Editors

Write an Entry

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a wholly remarkable book. It has been compiled and recompiled many times and under many different editorships. It contains contributions from countless numbers of travellers and researchers."

Write an entry
Read more