Biografie Colin Forbes
Colin Forbes was the principal pseudonym of British novelist Raymond Harold Sawkins (born in Hampstead, London on 14 July 1923, died on 23 August 2006). Sawkins wrote over 40 books, mostly as Colin Forbes. He was most famous for his long-running series of thriller novels in which the principal character is Tweed, Deputy Director of the Secret Intelligence Service.
Sawkins attended The Lower School of John Lyon in Harrow, London. At the age of 16 he started work as a sub-editor with a magazine and book publishing company. He served with the British Army in North Africa and the Middle East during World War II. Before his demobilisation he was attached to the Army Newspaper Unit in Rome. On his return to civilian life he joined a publishing and printing company, commuting to London for 20 years, until he became successful enough to be a full-time novelist.
Sawkins was married to a Scots-Canadian, Jane Robertson (born March 31, 1925, died 1993). Together they had one daughter, Janet.
Sawkins died of a heart attack on August 23, 2006.
His first book, Snow on High Ground, was written under his own name in 1966. Two more books in the Snow series were also published under his own name. Over the next few years Sawkins experimented with books under three pseudonyms: Richard Raine, Colin Forbes, and Jay Bernard (though the latter is not to be confused with the UK poet). Tramp in Armour was the first book published as Colin Forbes, in 1969. Apart from a book called The Burning Fuse written as Jay Bernard in 1970, all subsequent books except one have been written as Forbes.
Sawkins was often quoted as personally visiting every location he features in his books to aid the authenticity of the writing.
As a result, there is detailed description of the places where the action in his books takes place. On the downside, though, the content of the stories was often sorely lacking. Especially during the 90's, the plots became repetitive. Forbes's favourite characters, the Tweed team, were the centre of many of his novels. They would always be trying to keep a devious millionaire from changing the world or simply ruling it. The author seems to express his own right-wing views on topics such as immigration, equality and the political climate of the UK through the character of Tweed. For example, female characters in Forbes's novels are not portrayed in a positive light. With the exceptions of Paula Grey, Tweed's long standing number two, and the occasional femme fatale, female characters tended to be dismissed as waitresses, receptionists or prostitutes.
Critics were not too fond of these works of his, pointing out that members of the team surrounding Tweed always remained unscathed in even the most dangerous of circumstances. The laws of physics and logics never seemed to concern Forbes. There are instances where Tweed's team would kill people by throwing grenades while their opposition was unable to use their machine guns because they were out of reach. Some argue he was beginning to suffer from dementia. A common thread in his later work was the incorporation of climatic conditions, especially fog. His works are also notable for his frequent inclusion of a prologue and epilogue. Plots in Forbes novels tend to be rather thin and insubstantial. The writing can also be considered rather simplistic, such as in its overuse of superlative forms.
Sawkins released some stories in the German language only, including a novel he wrote in 1979 under the pseudonym Harold English.
Sawkins did not appear to welcome wide knowledge of his earlier books, or the fact that Colin Forbes was a pseudonym. He preferred to be known for just the books written as Forbes.
Just one of Forbes' novels was made into a film: Avalanche Express, directed by Mark Robson and starring Lee Marvin and Robert Shaw, which was released in 1979 to generally poor reviews.
His last book, The Savage Gorge, was published posthumously in November 2006.