Tuesday, January 04, 2011

James S. Rand

As we've not had one for a while, I thought I'd pick a random Digit book and see what I could find out about the author. I struck lucky with The Stake, which not only has a fabulous cover by Rainey but an interesting author, too.

James S. Rand was the pen-name of  Bernard George Attenborough, born in Moseley, Birmingham, in 1912, the son of George (a surveyor and architect) and his wife Lilian Elizabeth (nee Oakley). He was educated at the University of Birmingham and subsequently became a journalist in Fleet Street, working as a contract writer for the News Chronicle and Sunday Times. It was whilst on an assignment in Lisbon, Portugal, that he met his Scottish-born wife-to-be, Eileen Osborne, who had been serving in the WRAF. They married two years later in 1947.

It was a bet with another newspaper correspondent that led to Attenborough's first fiction writing. Challenged to write a story in the style of a popular thriller writer in only a few hours, he succeeded and began selling articles and short stories in addition to his journalistic work. He then became managing director of Osborne & Co. (Glasgow) Ltd., a firm of metal merchants, and moved to Cardross, Ireland. Here he wrote his first novel, The Stake, a thriller set in Spain.

From a boyhood interest in shooting and fishing, Attenborough graduated to deerstalking in Scotland and hunting big game of Africa and Central and South America. This fascination became the background for his later novels. Turning freelance in 1964, his next novel, Run for the Trees, an international bestseller, was described as "probably the finest book ever written about White Hunters in the African bush", and Viva Ramirez! involved trips to South America to research "calling" jaguars.

Attenborough moved from Ireland to Scotland in 1965 but a tragic shooting accident in 1975 in which his son was killed, led to Attenborough and his wife returning to Ireland. Attenborough wrote one further novel, The Great Sky and the Silence, published in 1979. He lived at Compass Hill, Kinsale Co. Cork, where he died in April 1982.


The Stake. Glasgow, William MacLellan, 1959.
Run for the Trees. London, Dobson, 1966; New York, Putnam, 1966.
Viva Ramirez! London, Joseph, 1970; New York, Bantam, 1970.
The Great Sky and the Silence. London, Macdonald & Jane's, 1979; New York, McGraw, 1980.


  1. Hi Steve, Do you have any idea where I can get a copy of this book? Kind regards, Vicki

  2. By "this book" I'm guessing you mean The Stake. I'd keep an eye on Ebay or any of the major book-selling sites (Abebooks, Amazon, Biblio, etc.). At the moment I can see only one copy and that's on offer with five other titles by Springbok Books in the US at a considerable price, although they will accept offers.



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