Frank Crisp was a popular children's author in the 1950s and 1960s who has rather fallen out of the spotlight. His most popular series was the adventure novels featuring schooner skipper Dirk Rogers, a salvage master and pearl diver who works with his cousin Jim Cartwright around the world. Beginning with The Sea Robbers in 1949, Dirk featured in 10 novels in all, the titles including The Haunted Reef (1950), The Java Wreckmen (1956), The Manila Menfish (1956), The Sea Ape (1958), The Demon Wreck (1958), The Giant of Jambu Gulf (1959), The Ice Divers (1960), The Coral Wreck (1964) and The Sanguman (1965). Many of his other books (e.g. The Devil Diver, 1954, and The Treasure of Barby Swin, 1955) featured young boys involved with deep-sea diving and treasure hunting in the Pacific.
nee Sinton). Crisp served with the British Merchant Navy, spending several years as a bosun aboard an inter-island steamer in Indonesia; he also worked as a pearl fisherman in Western Australia before settling in England after World War II to become a writer.
He made two whaling trips to the Antarctic, which he used as for his novel The Adventure of Whaling (1954). Although he could bring an authenticity to novels with a background of sailing and diving, not all his books involved the sea: The Golden Quest (1952) and The Weird Archer (1953) were historical novels and some, including The Ape of London (1959), were science fiction—in this instance an alien creature takes over the minds of human beings and gives them inhuman strength. His 1960 novel The Night Callers was filmed in 1965 by Armitage Film Productions Ltd. in association with New Art Productions Ltd. under the title The Night Caller. It was released in the USA as Blood Beast from Outer Space.
Crisp's career as a writer seems to have come to an end around the same time as the film was released and he subsequently went into business in London. Living in Wembley, he was the director of a catering service and wrote only part-time.
He died in June 1996. Crisp married Margaret Diston in 1941 and had three daughters.
Crisp contributed to Eagle Annual in the early 1950s and his novel The Coral Wreck was first serialised in The Children's Newspaper in 1962. Three of his novels were adapted into comic strip form in Super Detective Library in 1955-57 and Dirk Rogers was the inspiration for the character Pike Mason in Boy's World.
Novels (series: Dirk Rogers)
Within This House. London, Stanley Paul & Co., 1947.
The Voice from Yesterday. London, Stanley Paul & Co., Jun 1948.
The Sea Robbers (Dirk Rogers), illus. A. K. Lee. London, Bodley Head, Oct 1949; New York, Coward-McCann, 1953.
The Nail of Suspicion. London, Stanley Paul & Co., Dec 1949.
The Haunted Reef (Dirk Rogers), illus. A. K. Lee. London, Bodley Head, Oct 1950; New York, Coward-McCann, 1952.
By Whose Hand. London, Stanley Paul & Co., 1951.
The Golden Quest: A Seventeenth Century Tale of Adventure for Older Boys and Girls. London, Bodley Head, 1952; New York, Coward-McCann, 1953.
The Weird Archer. London, Bodley Head, 1953, abridged as The Rogues of Alwyn, London & Glasgow, Collins, 1964.
The Adventure of Whaling, illus. Winston Megoran. London, Macmillan, 1954; New York, St. Martin's Press, 1954.
The Devil Diver. London, John Lane, 1954; New York, Coward-McCann, 1954.
The Chandu Men. London, Stanley Paul & Co., 1955.
Fazackerley's Millions. London, Stanley Paul & Co., 1955.
The Treasure of Barby Swin, illus. Richard Powers. London, Bodley Head, 1955; New York, Coward, 1955.
The Java Wreckmen (Dirk Rogers). London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1955; New York, Coward, 1956.
Maori Jack's Monster. London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1956.
The Manila Menfish (Dirk Rogers). London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1956; New York, Coward, 1957.
The Manila Stranger. London, John Long, 1957.
The Sea Ape (Dirk Rogers). London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1958; New York, Coward, 1959.
The Demon Wreck (Dirk Rogers). London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1958.
The Giant of Jembu Gulf (Dirk Rogers). London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1959.
The Ape of London. London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1959.
The Night Callers. London, John Long, 1960.
The Ice Divers (Dirk Rogers). London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1960.
The Coral Wreck (Dirk Rogers). London, Jonathan Cape, 1964.
The Sanguman (Dirk Rogers), illus. Patrick Williams. London, Jonathan Cape, Sep 1965; New York, McCutcheon, 1966.
Ships. London, Macmillan, 1955; New York, St. Martin's Press, 1955.
(* The Children's Newspaper © Look and Learn Magazine Ltd. With thanks to Tony, Frank's nephew (see comments) for the photo.)