Hammond Innes

Hammond Innes

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Ralph Hammond Innes was a British novelist who wrote over 30 novels, as well as children's and travel books.

Innes was born in Horsham
Horsham is a market town with a population of 55,657 on the upper reaches of the River Arun in the centre of the Weald, West Sussex, in the historic County of Sussex, England. The town is south south-west of London, north-west of Brighton and north-east of the county town of Chichester...

, Sussex, and educated at the Cranbrook School in Kent
Kent is a county in southeast England, and is one of the home counties. It borders East Sussex, Surrey and Greater London and has a defined boundary with Essex in the middle of the Thames Estuary. The ceremonial county boundaries of Kent include the shire county of Kent and the unitary borough of...

. He left in 1931 to work as a journalist, initially with the Financial Times
Financial Times
The Financial Times is an international business newspaper. It is a morning daily newspaper published in London and printed in 24 cities around the world. Its primary rival is the Wall Street Journal, published in New York City....

(at the time called the Financial News). The Doppelganger, his first novel, was published in 1937. In WWII
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 he served in the Royal Artillery
Royal Artillery
The Royal Regiment of Artillery, commonly referred to as the Royal Artillery , is the artillery arm of the British Army. Despite its name, it comprises a number of regiments.-History:...

, eventually rising to the rank of Major. During the war, a number of his books were published, including Wreckers Must Breathe (1940), The Trojan Horse (1941) and Attack Alarm (1941); the last of which was based on his experiences as an anti-aircraft gunner during the Battle of Britain
Battle of Britain
The Battle of Britain is the name given to the World War II air campaign waged by the German Air Force against the United Kingdom during the summer and autumn of 1940...

 at RAF Kenley
RAF Kenley
The former Royal Air Force Station Kenley, more commonly known as RAF Kenley was a station of the Royal Flying Corps in World War I and the RAF in World War II. It is located near Kenley, London, England.-History:...

. After being demobbed in 1946, he worked full-time as a writer, achieving a number of early successes. His novels are notable for a fine attention to accurate detail in descriptions of places, such as in Air Bridge (1951), set partially at RAF Gatow, RAF Membury
RAF Membury
RAF Station Membury is a former World War II airfield built in the civil parish of Lambourn in Berkshire, England. The airfield is located approximately mi north-northwest of Hungerford, at the Membury services stop of the M4 motorway; about miles west-southwest of London...

 after its closure and RAF Wunstorf during the Berlin Airlift.

Innes went on to produce books in a regular sequence, with six months of travel and research followed by six months of writing. Many of his works featured events at sea. His output decreased in the 1960s, but was still substantial. He became interested in ecological themes. He continued writing until just before his death. His last novel was Delta Connection (1996).

Unusually for the thriller genre, Innes' protagonists were often not "heroes" in the typical sense, but ordinary men suddenly thrust into extreme situations by circumstance. Often, this involved being placed in a hostile environment (the Arctic, the open sea, deserts), or unwittingly becoming involved in a larger conflict or conspiracy. The protagonist generally is forced to rely on his own wits and making best use of limited resources, rather than the weapons and gadgetry commonly used by thriller writers.

Four of his early novels were made into films: Snowbound (1948) from The Lonely Skier (1947), Hell Below Zero (1954) from The White South (1949), Campbell's Kingdom (1957) from the book of the same name (1952), and The Wreck of the Mary Deare (1959) also from the book of the same name (1956). His 1973 novel Golden Soak was adapted into a six-part television series in 1979. An audio adaptation of The Doomed Oasis has been repeated on the UK digital radio station BBC Radio 7.

Innes' great love and experience of the sea, as an experienced yachtsman, was reflected in many of his novels. At his death he left the bulk of his estate to the Association of Sea Training Organisations, to enable others to gain training and experience in sailing the element he loved.


  • The Doppelganger (1937)
  • Air Disaster (1937)
  • Sabotage Broadcast (1938)
  • All Roads Lead to Friday (1939)
  • The Trojan Horse (1940)
  • Wreckers Must Breathe (also published in the U.S. as Trapped) (1940)
  • Attack Alarm (1941)
  • Dead or Alive (1946)
  • Killer Mine (1947)
  • The Lonely Skier (also published in the U.S. as Fire in the Snow) (1947)
  • The Blue Ice (1948)
  • Maddon’s Rock (also published in the U.S. as Gale Warning) (1948)
  • The White South (also published in the U.S. as The Survivors) (1949)
  • The Angry Mountain (1950)
  • Air Bridge (1951)
  • Campbell’s Kingdom (1952)
  • The Strange Land (also published in the U.S. as The Naked Land) (1954)
  • The Wreck of the Mary Deare
    The Wreck of the Mary Deare
    The Wreck of the Mary Deare is a novel written by British author Hammond Innes and later a movie starring Gary Cooper. It tells the story of the titular ship, which is found adrift at sea by John Sands. Sands boards it hoping to claim it for salvage, but finds the first officer, Gideon Patch, still...

  • The Land God Gave to Cain (1958)
  • The Doomed Oasis (1960)
  • Atlantic Fury (1962)
  • The Strode Venturer
    The Strode Venturer
    The Strode Venturer is a thriller by Hammond Innes published in 1965.The novel is set between London, the Maldives and a bit in the indian sub-continent. It provides a first person account of the adventures of a man who finds himself searching for the black sheep among a wealthy ship owning family....

  • Levkas Man (1971)
  • Golden Soak (1973)
  • North Star (1975)
  • The Big Footprints (1977)
  • The Last Voyage: Captain Cook’s Lost Diary (fictionalised account of Captain Cook's third and last voyage) (1978)
  • Solomons Seal (1980)
  • The Black Tide (1982)
  • High Stand (1985)
  • Medusa (1988)
  • Isvik (1991)
  • Target Antarctica (1993)
  • Delta Connection (1996)

Books for children (as Ralph Hammond)

  • Cocos Gold (1950)
  • Isle of Strangers (1951)
  • Saracen's Tower (1952)
  • Black Gold on the Double Diamond (1953)


  • Harvest of Journeys (1962)
  • Scandinavia (1963)
  • Sea and Islands (1967)
  • The Conquistadors (1969)
  • Australia (1971)
  • East Anglia (1986)

External links