John was born in London in 1947 and educated at Winchester, where he won the Queen’s Gold Medal for English Verse, and the University of Aix-Marseille (Diplome de langue et lettres Francaises.). At the age of 21 he sold his first novel, Mrs. Mount, Ascendant, to Leonard Woolf at the Hogarth Press. He subsequently worked for Hogarth/Chatto & Windus as a part-time reader and editor while breaking into TV by contributing episodes to the action-adventure series The Protectors.
After a short stretch in business he returned to full-time writing with the publication of his second novel, The Icing of Balthazar, in 1977, and a script for the cult sci-fi series Space, 1999. He also took on freelance editing work, with Edna Healy’s Lady Unknown, Sir John Gielgud’s An Actor And His Time, and the art historian Roger Hinx’s acclaimed Gymnasium of the Mind. He gave up this sort of work in 1986 having reached the summit of Sir Stephen Spender’s Journals. During this period he also contributed scripts to vintage British TV series including The New Avengers, The Return of the Saint and The Professionals.
In film and television, since the late 1980’s he has concentrated on historical subjects (Catherine The Great; Kings In Grass Castles; Paradise Found; A Bear Named Winnie; La Belle Otero ), classic adaptations (Great Expectations; The Old Curiosity Shop; David Copperfield; Kidnapped) and Biblical epics (In The Beginning; Mary Mother of Jesus; The Gospel of John). He started writing for the American market in 1987 with The Disney Channel’s thirteen-hour swashbuckler Return To Treasure Island.
He has published three other novels, including his child of shame, the airport bookstall blockbuster Bullion (1982). He has also published numerous children’s books.
His TV documentary Mrs Livingstone, I Presume won the Silver Award at the New York International Film and TV Festival. His feature adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Danny, Champion Of The World was nominated for an ACE in the writing category and won the award for Childrens’ Programming 9+, picking up five more awards in various festivals and countries. His Waltz Through The Hills picked up numerous awards, including the 1988 Australian Pater Award. As writer, he was nominated for an Emmy in 1998-99 for The Island On Bird Street and the movie itself won Best Picture in its category. His critically acclaimed mini series Victoria & Albert was nominated for Best Mini Series at Banff in 2002. His Gospel of John won the Templeton Foundation Epiphany Award in 2003. In 2005 he was nominated for a Gemini Award for A Bear Named Winnie.
In 1978 he published the best-selling Voyage In The Beagle, an account of the re-enactment of Darwin’s famous voyage in which he served as a crew member of the replica ship that featured in the BBC series The Voyage of Charles Darwin. Darwin resurfaced in his 2008 movie Darwin’s Darkest Hour.
His current projects include a feature on Mao Zedong, China Skies, a stage musical based on David Copperfield, an opera based on The Epic of Gilgamesh, a feature set in Australia, To The Bitter End, and a feature adaptation of Dante’s Inferno.
He is married and lives in Hampstead. His only son was killed in a car crash in France in 2005.
For a full list of screen credits go to: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0326089/
Twelve Curious Deaths in France is John’s 2014 release. Do miracles really happen? Did Voltaire rise from the dead? Is our fate predestined? Are sex toys dangerous? The answers are to be found in this remarkable collection. Includes how-to advice on a number of topics: delivering practical jokes from beyond the grave; how best to murder an African despot; the secret of the world’s best rabbit stew. From fantastic to factual, contemporary to historical, a mix of comedy, drama, intrigue and suspense.