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Manning Coles is the pseudonym of two British writers, Adelaide Frances Oke Manning (1891–1959) and Cyril Henry Coles (1899–1965), who wrote many spy thrillers from the early 1940s through the early 1960s. The fictional protagonist in 26 of their books was Thomas Elphinstone Hambledon, who works for a department of the Foreign Office, usually referred to in the novels as "MI5" (see Tommy Hambledon, below).
Manning and Coles were neighbors in East Meon, Hampshire. Coles worked for British Intelligence in both the World Wars. Manning worked for the War Office during World War I. Their first books were fairly realistic and with a touch of grimness; their postwar books perhaps suffered from an excess of lightheartedness and whimsy. They also wrote a number of humorous novels about modern-day ghosts, some of them involving ghostly cousins named Charles and James Latimer. These novels were published in England under the pseudonym of Francis Gaite but released in the United States under the Manning Coles byline.
Many of the original exploits were based on the real-life experiences of Coles, who lied about his age and enlisted under an assumed name in a Hampshire regiment during World War I while still a teenager. He eventually became the youngest officer in British intelligence, often working behind German lines, due to his extraordinary ability to master languages. Coles had 2 sons (Michael and Peter, who were identical twins and who are both still alive, living in the UK) and the Ghost stories were based on the tales he used to tell his young sons when he was 'back from his travels'.
Thomas Elphinstone Hambledon works for a department of the Foreign Office, usually referred to in the novels as "MI5" (counter-intelligence), although in the earliest books he is clearly working for the active overseas department MI6, the then-British equivalent of the CIA.
"Death Keeps a Secret", 1960 (in The Mystery Bedside Book, edited by John Creasey)