Lee Child

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Lee Child
Lee Child, Bouchercon 2010.jpg
Lee Child at Bouchercon XLI, 2010
BornJim Grant
(1954-10-29) 29 October 1954 (age 59)
Coventry, England, UK
OccupationNovelist, writer, author
GenresCrime fiction, mystery, thriller
Notable work(s)Killing Floor


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Lee Child
Lee Child, Bouchercon 2010.jpg
Lee Child at Bouchercon XLI, 2010
BornJim Grant
(1954-10-29) 29 October 1954 (age 59)
Coventry, England, UK
OccupationNovelist, writer, author
GenresCrime fiction, mystery, thriller
Notable work(s)Killing Floor



Jim Grant (born 29 October 1954), better known by his pen name Lee Child, is a British thriller writer.[1] His first novel, Killing Floor, won the Anthony Award for Best First Novel.

Each of Child's novels follows the adventures of a former American military policeman, Jack Reacher, who wanders the United States.

Early life[edit]

Though Grant was born in Coventry, England,[2] his parents moved him and his three brothers to Handsworth Wood in Birmingham when he was four years old, so that the boys could get a better education.[3] Grant attended Cherry Orchard Primary School in Handsworth Wood until the age of 11. He attended King Edward's School, Birmingham, also the alma mater of J. R. R. Tolkien and Enoch Powell.[4] His father was a civil servant[5] and his younger brother, Andrew Grant, is also a thriller novelist.

In 1974, at age 20, Grant studied law in Sheffield at Sheffield University, though he had no intention of entering the legal profession and, during his student days, worked backstage in a theatre.[5] After graduating, he worked in commercial television.[6]


Television production career[edit]

Grant at Bouchercon XL, 2009

Grant joined Granada Television, part of the UK's ITV Network, in Manchester as a presentation director.[7] There he was involved with shows including Brideshead Revisited, The Jewel in the Crown, Prime Suspect, and Cracker. Grant was involved in the transmission of more than 40,000 hours of programming for Granada, writing thousands of commercials and news stories.[8] He worked at Granada from 1977–1995[5] and ended his career there with two years as a trade union shop steward.[9]

Writing career[edit]

After being made redundant from his job due to corporate restructuring,[7] Grant decided to start writing novels, stating they are "the purest form of entertainment."[10] In 1997, his first novel, Killing Floor, was published, and he moved to the United States in the summer of 1998.[11]

His pen name "Lee" comes from a family joke about mispronunciation of the name of Renault's Le Car, while "Child" would place his work on bookstore shelves between crime fiction stars Raymond Chandler and Agatha Christie.[7]

Grant has said that he chose the name Reacher for the central character in his novels because he himself is tall and, in a supermarket (Asda in Kendal, Cumbria, when he was living in Kirkby Lonsdale), his wife Jane told him: "'Hey, if this writing thing doesn't pan out, you could always be a reacher in a supermarket.' ... 'I thought, Reacher — good name.'"[5] Some books in the Reacher series are written in first person, while others are written in the third person. Grant has characterised the books as revenge stories – "Somebody does a very bad thing, and Reacher takes revenge" – driven by his anger at the downsizing at Granada. Although English, he deliberately chose to write American-style thrillers.[7]

In 2007, Grant collaborated with 14 other writers to create the 17-part serial thriller The Chopin Manuscript, narrated by Alfred Molina. This was broadcast weekly on Audible.com between 25 September 2007 and 13 November 2007.

On 30 June 2008, it was announced that Grant would be taking up a Visiting Professorship at the University of Sheffield from November 2008. In 2009, Grant funded 52 Jack Reacher scholarships for students at the university.[12]

Grant was elected president of the Mystery Writers of America in 2009.[13]

In 2012, his novel One Shot was adapted into Jack Reacher; an American thriller film starring Tom Cruise. Grant has a cameo appearance as a police desk sergeant in the film.

Writing style[edit]

Grant's prose has been described as "hardboiled" and "commercial" in style. A 2012 interview suggested that many aspects of the Jack Reacher novels were deliberately aimed at maintaining the books' profitability, rather than for literary reasons. For instance, having Jack Reacher have one parent who was French was suggested as being partly because the absence of any non-American members of Reacher's family would limit the series' appeal in France. The same interview stated that Grant "didn't apologise about the commercial nature" of his fiction.[14]


In January 2012, Grant donated £10,000 towards a new vehicle for Brecon Mountain Rescue Team in Wales. He offered the donation because his brother is a senior member of the team. The team's former control vehicle was written off after a collision in 2011.[15]

Personal life[edit]

Grant's wife Jane[5] is from New York.[11]

Grant is a fan of Aston Villa Football Club.[16]

Novels and awards[edit]

Child receiving a Barry Award in 2005 for The Enemy.
Killing Floor1997Anthony Award winner Barry Award winner Dilys Award nominee Macavity Award nominee Japan Adventure Fiction Association Prize winner
Die Trying1998WH Smith Thumping Good Read Award winner
The Visitor (known as Running Blind in the US)2000
Echo Burning2001
Without Fail2002Dilys Award nominee Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award nominee
Persuader2003Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award nominee
The Enemy2004Barry Award winner Dilys Award nominee Nero Award winner
One Shot2005Macavity Award nominee
The Hard Way2006
Bad Luck and Trouble2007Shortlisted for Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award, 2009[17]
Nothing To Lose2008
Gone Tomorrow2009
61 Hours2010Winner, Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award, 2011
Worth Dying For2010
The Affair2011
A Wanted Man2012Specsavers' National Book Award, Thriller & Crime Novel of the Year[18]
Never Go Back2013

Other awards[edit]

Short stories[edit]


  1. ^ David Smith (22 June 2008). "Sacked at 40 and on the scrapheap. Now Brummie tops US book charts". London: guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 8 July 2008. 
  2. ^ Glass, Ben (2 December 2008). "If you don't know Lee Child, you don't know Jack". It's All About Coventry. Retrieved 12 January 2013. 
  3. ^ Bob Cornwell. "A Reacher Moment...or Two". twbooks.co.uk. Retrieved 18 February 2007. 
  4. ^ David Smith (22 June 2008). "Sacked at 40 and on the Scrapheap: Now Brummie tops US Book Charts". London: guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 22 June 2008. 
  5. ^ a b c d e "Interview in January Magazine, May 2003". Retrieved 7 October 2007. 
  6. ^ Claire White (1 August 2001). "A Conversation with Lee Child". Writers Write. 
  7. ^ a b c d Curtis, Bryan (20 December 2012). "The Curious Case of Lee Child: Before Tom Cruise could become Jack Reacher, Jim Grant had to become Lee Child". Grantland.com. Retrieved 6 March 2013. 
  8. ^ "Lee Child". BookBrowse. 1 May 2004. 
  9. ^ "Interview with Tangled web Books, 2005". Retrieved 7 October 2007. 
  10. ^ Readers Digest. "Select Editions". RD.com. Retrieved 18 February 2007. 
  11. ^ a b "Interview in Writers' Write Journal, August 2001". Retrieved 7 October 2007. 
  12. ^ Alison Flood, Students offered scholarships from fictional crimefighter, Jack Reacher, Guardian
  13. ^ "People and Publishing: Milestones", Locus, April 2009, p.8
  14. ^ Maher, Kevin (25 August 2012). "Lee Child on creating Jack Reacher". The Times. 
  15. ^ "Author Lee Child's £10k to Brecon Mountain Rescue Team". BBC News. 24 January 2012. 
  16. ^ "Exclusive interview with ace author Child in matchday programme". Aston Villa Football Club. 15 September 2011.
  17. ^ "Shortlist for Theakston's Crime Novel of the year Award 2009". digyorkshire.com. 2 June 2009. Retrieved 17 June 2009. 
  18. ^ Alison Flood (5 December 2012). "EL James comes out on top at National Book awards". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 December 2012. 
  19. ^ Alison Flood (12 February 2013). "Lee Child gets away with major crime writing award". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 February 2013. 
  20. ^ Child, Lee (6 June 2009). "Guy Walks Into a Bar... ". The New York Times.

External links[edit]

Newspaper interviews[edit]