Friday, October 22, 1999 Published at 14:54 GMT 15:54 UK
Real-life mystery over Dick Francis
Dick Francis: Mystery over power behind pen
The publishers of Welsh-born thriller writer Dick Francis have denied reports that he owes most of his literary success to his wife.
Biographer Graham Lord, who has known the couple for 30 years, says Mr Francis's desire that his wife be credited as a co-author gives credence to the claims.
He also points to the fact that Mr Francis left school at 15, while his wife gained a degree in French and English before working for a publisher, as evidence that Mary is the real force behind the books.
But publishers for Mr Francis, 78, who was born in Lawrenny, south Wales, say while Mary has always helped with research, it is he who writes the bestsellers.
"He has also made it clear that he would like Mary to have a co-author credit but while she helps with the research and discussing the books, it is Dick who writes them."
Mr Francis's 40 crime thrillers have helped make him one of the most successful post-war authors, selling more than 60m copies worldwide. He and his wife live on the Cayman Islands.
The 400-page biography recalls a conversation in 1980 between Mr Lord and Mary Francis about whether she wrote the books under her husband's name.
One man who knows the couple well - the broadcaster Brough Scott - told BBC Radio 5 Live the books were very much a team effort.
"They have always done these things together. They go and research them together and talk about the plots.
"Dick writes bits and she writes bits and they put it together and exactly who finally polishes up every comma to me is really irrelevant.
"I think it should be the secrets of the boudoir and the secrets of the word processor."
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