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Monday, 25 November, 2002, 11:32 GMT
Wycliffe author dies in Cornwall
Jack Shepherd
Jack Shepherd, who played the part of Wycliffe
WJ Burley, the author of the Wycliffe detective novels which were turned into a popular television series, has died.

Mr Burley, who was 88, died at his home in Holywell, near Newquay in Cornwall.

He is believed to have written about 800 books, but it was the Wycliffe novels that made him famous.

ITV broadcast 36 episodes of the series between 1993 and 1998 which regularly attracted 10 million viewers.


I think the choice of the name Wycliffe was important. It caught people's imagination

WJ Burley
They were filmed in Cornwall, where Mr Burley spent most of his life.

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.

Obtained scholarship

Mr Burley was born in Falmouth during World War I and was educated in the town and at Truro Technical School.

He then undertook a five-year apprenticeship at Truro Gas Company, where he became assistant manager.

He was promoted to manager and travelled throughout the South West visiting gas companies where there were problems.

After obtaining a scholarship at Balliol College, Oxford, he moved into teaching, becoming the first head of biology at Newquay Grammar School.

Upmarket detective

He started writing in 1966 and his first two books were about an upmarket detective but he decided a more down-to-earth character was required if he was to write a successful series of books.

"I think the choice of the name Wycliffe was important," said Mr Burley. "It caught people's imagination."

He leaves a wife, Muriel, who he praised for her assistance and encouragement during his early literary attempts.


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12 Nov 02 | TV and Radio
08 Nov 01 | Arts
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