Saturday, February 02, 2013

Thurlow Craig

Charles William Thurlow Craig was the eldest son of Donald Craig (1868-1954), a colliery director in Denbighshire, Wales, and his wife Violet Isabel (nee Godfrey-Thurlow, 1877-1958). He was born on 14 September 1901 in Gresford, Wrexham and grew up with his younger brothers Patrick and Donald in Richmond House, Wrexham while his father ran coal mines set up by grandfather William Young Craig, a surveyor and manager of collieries in the 1850s and 1860s who became the co-owner of a colliery in 1870.

C. W. Thurlow Craig went to Naval College was a Midshipman in the Royal Navy in 1917, his wartime service including seeing action in the North Sea with H.M.S. Téméraire and in the Arctic sea. Keen to seek out further adventure,in March 1922, Craig, at the age of 20, left Liverpool aboard the S.S. Deseado, heading for Buenos Aires, Argentina.

His plan was to become a gaucho, a South American cowboy, and he worked for the next dozen years as a farmer in Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil. He involved himself in the Constitutionalists Revolution in Brazil in 1932, which inspired him to write A Rebel for a Horse (1934). Further adventures were related in Paraguayan Interlude, of which Charles J. Finger said (Saturday Review, 15 Aug 1936):
"You will find it worthwhile because it gives what a true travel book should give—a very real enlargement of horizon. Having that, you can sit unconcerned, but very interested, at the passing pageant managed by Mr. Craig. You will surrender all sorts of cherished notions received from romanticists. You will see correctly educated Englishmen throwing off civilization to go about in chiripas and faja, and counting it a gain to live lie a gaucho, learning the the flesh of a steer killed in the hour of its cooking can be tender and tasteful. You will come to believe in the truth of the author's saying: "If, instead of trying to convert the Indians, we were to adopt a few of their ideas, we should do ourselves some good and them no harm..."
In a brief biographical essay on Craig, Lynn Hughes notes: "In time, he became foreman then manager of foreign-owned cattle stations with herds of up to 80,000 head, roaming over a million unfenced acres, destined as tinned corned-beef. In charge also of wild bunches of knife-wielding, gun-toting desperadoes, Carlos Craig (as he liked to be called), a superb horseman and crack shot, quickly learned to look after himself. His subsequent first-hand account of these years, Black Jack's Spurs, is a much-neglected classic."

Craig returned to Europe where he spent two years fighting in the Spanish Civil War before returning to Wales to take up writing novels which, according to Hughes: "despite his gift for storytelling and natural ear for dialogue, are alas pulp fiction. His last and best novel, Bitter is the Harvest, rose without trace—though today it would walk the Booker!"

He was called up during the Second World War and served with Naval Intelligence, spending some time working in Belgium where he me his wife to be, Anne-Marie Crevecour, also known as Mitzi, an undercover agent who won the Croix de Guerre.

Subsequently, C. W. Thurlow Craig  and his wife lived at Cefn Blaenau, Rhyd-Cymerau, Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire, Wales, where Craig continued to write, most notably the Sunday Express column 'Up Country', and books on fishing and shooting.

Anne Marie Thurlow Craig died on the evening of 20 October 1967 at Etterbeek Hospital, Brussels, after "a sudden illness" ... or so said the notice that appeared in The Times. Lynn Hughes says she "was mysteriously murdered on a visit to Belgium in 1970".

Charles William Thurlow-Craig died on 10 September 1985. He was survived by two children, Adrian and Philip.


Love Under Smoke. London, Hutchinson & Co., 1937.
White Girls Eastward. London, Hutchinson & Co., 1938.
The Changed Face. London, Hutchinson & Co., 1939.
Plague over London. London, Hutchinson & Co., 1939.
Ghost Mesa. London, Hutchinson & Co., 1944.
The River of Diamonds. London, Hutchinson & Co., 1945.
The Swamp of Cardelli. London, Hutchinson & Co., 1947.
West of Rio Grande. London, Hutchinson, 1948.
Bitter is the Harvest. London, Hutchinson, 1949.

A Rebel for a Horse. London, Arthur Barker, 1934. 
Paraguayan Interlude. London, Arthur Barker, 1935.
Spinner's Delight, with an introduction by Brian Vesey-Fitzgerald. London, Hutchinson, 1951.
Shooter's Delight. London, Hutchinson, 1952.
Baitmaker's Delight, with a preface by Maurice Wiggin and an introduction by H. R. G. Whates. London, Hutchinson, 1953.
Black Jack's Spurs: An Autobiography. London, Hutchinson, 1954.
The Up-Country Year Book, illus. Biro. London, Andre Deutsch, 1964.
Tackle Pony Trekking This Way. London, Stanley Paul, 1961.
Animal Affinities With Man, illus. Margaret Chapman. London, Country Life, 1966.
The Sunday Express Up Country Yearbook, illus. Bill Martin. London, Arthur Barker, 1979; as A Countryman's Year, illus. Bill Martin, introduced by Peter Haining, London, Souvenir Press, 1988.


  1. About time someone recognized this incredible, unique man, and his Life's experiences.

    We will not sees his like again. . .

  2. Fascinating history and deserving of having his life story recorded in a book.

  3. West of Rio Grande and Bitter is the Harvest were translated and edited in Germany in the 60´s

  4. My mother lived in Llanybydder where they lived. She remembers him riding his horse into the village, she says they were lovely people.

    1. hi im eating at cross hands inn tonight. rode with him 1973 i was in contact with one son then lost. is ann still living near do you know judith

  5. I remember meeting him in Lampeter in about 1981. He was almost a caricature of a Gentleman Farmer - immensely tall, wearing tweed jacket, cap and riding breeches with tall black gaiters.



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