W.J. Burley, Wycliffe author

W.J. Burley, Wycliffe

WJ Burley, the author of the Wycliffe detective novels. A prolific writer, he is thought to have written about 800 books, but it was the Wycliffe novels that made him famous.

John Burley was born in Falmouth 1914 August 1st, during World War I and was educated in the town and at Truro Technical School. He then worked a five-year apprenticeship at Truro Gas Company, and went on to become manager, travelling throughout the South West visiting gas companies where there were problems.

1938 April 10th Married Muriel Wolsey at Penwerris Church in Falmouth.

After obtaining a scholarship in 1950 at Balliol College, Oxford, he moved into teaching. He was appointed the head of biology at Newquay Grammar School in 1955 where he remained until his retirement in the 1970s.

1956 After a long search John Burley and Muriel bought St Patrick's, Holywell, and lived there for the rest of their lives.

John Burley's first book was published in 1966, it featured a detective called Dr Henry Pym, an upmarket detective. But he decided a more down-to-earth character was required if he was to write a successful series of books.The first of Wycliffe's 22 adventures appeared two years later.

ITV broadcast 37 episodes of the Wycliffe series between 1993 and 1998 which regularly attracted 10 million viewers. He was overwhelmed by the success of the programme in which Jack Shepherd played the character of Detective Superintendent Charles Wycliffe. "It was totally unexpected, but very pleasing," he said, after the first series went on air "I think the choice of the name Wycliffe was important. It caught people's imagination."

By 1995 the author was, for the first time in his life, financially comfortable. He was over eighty.

He has praised his wife Muriel for her assistance and encouragement during his early literary attempts. Biographer Andrew Darling said: "He was guy who drew a picture of Cornwall that was warts and all, and that was something that many people found most endearing about the books."

John Burley died in 2002 while working on Wycliffe's Last Lap which would have been the 23rd novel featuring Charles Wycliffe.

WJ Burley W J Burley web site

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