Thursday, April 09, 2009

Bernard Buley

An author who appeared on my radar many years ago, way back in the late 1970s when I was still at school, Bernard Buley remained stubbornly elusive when it came to personal information for years. Although I chipped away at him for years, it was only recently that I managed to track down information on his death, which, despite being reported as "some time in the 1960s", actually occurred in 1973 when Buley was in his early seventies.

Ernest Bernhardt Buley was born in Melbourne, Australia, on 17 September 1899, shortly before his father, the journalist and editor Ernest Charles Buley, and mother, German-born Olga, came to England. The Buley family, which included Bernard's elder sister Olga Margerita Buley (1897-1986), took up residence at 240 Goldhawk Road, Hammersmith, and, later, at 7 Burbage Road, Herne Hill. Ernest soon became a popular figure in Fleet Street, easily recognised because of his Mephistophelian beard and the battered bowler hat that he always wore to cover his bald head.

Bernard followed his father into writing and was a regular contributor to Chums, Crusoe Magazine, Boys Magazine, Boys Realm and Champion. He joined Hulton Press where he became editor of Boys Magazine in the late 1920s. He was the sub-editor, under Hadyn Dimmock, of Scoops, Britain's first science fiction magazine, in 1934 for which he wrote the serial "Master of the Moon".

After the Great War, his father had become a prolific novelist as Bat Masters, under which name he wrote a series of horse racing novels. An expert on the track, although not so successful as a pundit, Ernest Buley earned himself the nickname "the new Nat Gould". As far as I'm aware (and contrary to what I've said in the past), I now believe that Bernard Buley did not use the name. Two later reprints published in the mid-1930s after Ernest's death have proven to be reprints of earlier titles.

In the late 1930s, he also contributed to Modern Wonder.

During the war, Buley began writing for a number of small publishers and it is likely that he used a great many untraced pen-names or was writing for magazines as yet unindexed. One known pen-name is Roy McRae, used on four short crime novels in the late 1940s. He seems to have contributed regularly to various publications from the same publisher, Popular Fiction, writing for their romance series Women's 2d Popular Novels and the fairy tales series Modern Fairy Tales.

Buley also contributed anonymously to Boys' World in the early 1960s, his last known story appearing in 1964.

Buley was married to Suzanne R. Berryman (1897-1972) at Holborn in 1922 and had at least five children: Suzanna J. (b. Romford, 1923), Peter Bernard (b. Romford, 1925-1988), Keith Paul (b. Bucklow, 1927-2000), John L. (b. Eton, 1928) and June R. (b. Eton, 1933).

He died at Richmond-upon-Thames in 1973.


Klondike Bound. London, Amalgamated Press (Boys Friend Library 2/262), Nov 1930.
The Lumber Champion. London, Amalgamated Press (Boys Friend Library 2/294), Jul 1931.
Sky Devils. London, Amalgamated Press (Boys Friend Library 2/314), Dec 1931.
With Whizz at the Wheel. London, Amalgamated Press (Champion Library 129), Jun 1934.
The Sword of Justice. London & Dublin, Mellifont Press, 1935.
The Boy who Played with Giants. London, Popular Fiction, 1941?
The Husband She Dare Not Trust [and ‘‘Whom God Hath Joined’’ by Doris Farlowe]. Popular Fiction (Women’s 2d Popular Novels 32), 1943?
The Spanish Main, illus. Serge Drigin. Edinburgh & London, W. & R. Chambers, 1950.

Novels as Roy MacRae
Death at the Theatre. London, Popular Fiction (Detective 113), 1949?
The Whispering Voice. London, Popular Fiction (Detective 119), 1949?
The Black Cat Murder. London, Grayling (Mystery Thrillers 2), 1949?
Dangerous Lady. London Grayling (Mystery Thrillers 4), 1949?

UPDATE: 16 April 2009

It would appear that my assertion that Bernard Buley wrote under the female pen-names Alma Buley, Amber Leigh and Alice Stafford, contributing to girls' papers such as School Friend, School Girl and School-days Weekly in the 1920s, is wrong. A relative of Bernard contacted me after I posted the above piece and said that Alma Buley was, in fact, Bernard's sister. I'm hoping for some additional information shortly and will re-post once this little mystery is resolved.

Novels by Alma Buley
Wendy Beresford’s Double. London, Amalgamated Press (SOL 1/140), Oct 1927.
The Slackest House in the School. London, Amalgamated Press (SOL 1/179), Nov 1928.
A Spoilt Girl’s Schooldays. London, Amalgamated Press (SOL 1/221), Oct 1929.
Expelled. London, Amalgamated Press (SOL 1/267), Sep 1930.
Monica Eversley’s Ordeal. London, Amalgamated Press (SOL 1/283), Jan 1931.
Lorna’s Last Term. London, Amalgamated Press (SOL 1/323), Nov 1931.
When Dancing Days Were Over. London, Amalgamated Press (SOL 1/329), Jan 1932.
In Conflict with the Captain. London, Amalgamated Press (SOL 1/371), Nov 1932.
The Rebel of the Family. London, Amalgamated Press (SOL 1/399), Jun 1933.

Novels as Amber Leigh
Rivals for Ballet Fame. London, Amalgamated Press (SOL 2/197), Nov 1954.
Loyal Allies of the Expelled Captain. London, Amalgamated Press (SOL 2/205), Mar 1955.
Rinty—the Dog with a Secret. London, Amalgamated Press (SOL 2/211), Jun 1955.
Challengers for the Gold Cup. London, Amalgamated Press (SOL 2/235), Jun 1956.
Stand-in for Her Filming Sister. London, Amalgamated Press (SOL 2/248), Nov 1956.
Youngest Girl in the Ballet. London, Amalgamated Press (SOL 2/284), May 1958.
Water Ballet at St. Wynn’s. London, Amalgamated Press (SOL 2/293), Oct 1958.
Winter Sports Rivals. London, Amalgamated Press (SOL 2/299), Jan 1959.
Tess of the High Trapeze. London, Amalgamated Press (SOL 2/304), Mar 1959.
Schoolgirl Pony Trekkers. London, Amalgamated Press (SOL 2/342), Nov 1960.


  1. I'm related to Bernard Buley - I heard a lot about him and his family from my aunt and my late father. Their father was one of several children, one of whom was Patricia Hanly. She married a Berryman and Suzanna Berryman was their daughter. My father knew the family well as a young man in London.
    Cecilia Watts

  2. Bernard Buley was my grandpa I was in my mothers tummy and due to be born In Jan 1974 he was aware of me but sad to say I never got to meet him

  3. I'd love to know more if the family have any further information on his career inside and outside of writing. Maybe a photograph?



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