Monday, May 12, 2014

Philip Chambers and Sexton Blake

Philip Chambers is a writer almost next nothing is known of. He was born in 1936, is possibly dead by now, wrote six Sexton Blake stories in the early sixties and nothing else. I've skimmed through his Blake story Bullets to Bagdad (1960) in which a secret organization is planning to take over the government in Iraq and take their oil supplies. In the story Blake's boss is and old man called Craille. He's the leader of the British counter-intelligence organization, as secret as the criminal organization in the book.

Here are some of Chambers's Sexton Blake covers. Pretty good ones, too, but I don't know the illustrator. There's a signature in Keep It Secret!, it seems it says "S. Barany".



4 comments:

Chap O'Keefe said...

I knew Philip Chambers during the time I worked at Fleetway as SBL editor Howard Baker's assistant. My understanding was that he came from northern England and was able with help from a well-placed family to live with his young wife in a service flat in upmarket St John's Wood.

Philip's main ambition appeared to be writing for TV and urging others to do the same! I still have carbon copies of some of the scripts he wrote (e.g. for The Avengers) plus other material produced by and for organizations like the Screen Writers' Guild.

Unfortunately, I believe Philip Chambers had something of a drug habit, using the then popular "purple hearts" (barbiturates). In 2004, Steve Holland told me: "What became of Philip Chambers? Dick Sharples (the TV writer) used to know him and told me that Chambers sold some scripts via his Sharples-Kelsey agency in the late-1950s (Interpol Calling). He then went on to Blake and after Blake finished did a couple of Avengers script (1963-64) as you mention.

"As well as his drug habits, he was also diabetic and occasionally schizophrenic and turned into something of a manic depressive. He was using lots of tranquilisers to combat his depression. He separated from his wife and went to the USA in the late 1980s where he committed suicide around 1987 via an overdose of insulin.

"Sharples also says that any claims that he was trained for Military Intelligence and engaged in official security work (something he told Bill Lofts) have to be taken with a pinch of salt."

Phil had spent some time in Cyprus (his National Service perhaps), and his first book, Bullets to Baghdad, was considered his best.

Juri Nummelin said...

Huge thanks for this, Chap! Now I have something more substantial on Chambers. He even seems to have his own IMDb record (hadn't crossed my mind to check earlier):

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1263012/

Hoonaloon Books said...

Chap O`Keefe has drawn my attention to your article.

As you are interested in the SBL, you might like to visit my blog,http://thesextonblakeblog.blogspot.co.uk.

Incidentally, the artist you mention is a Hungarian, Stefan Barany.

Here are a couple of links for admirers of his work;

http://pulpcovers.com/tag/stefanbarany

http://illustrationartgallery.blogspot.com/2011/06/stefan-barany.html

Juri Nummelin said...

Thanks for your comment, Hoonaloon! I'll take a look - have done that many times previously, though :)