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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Basil F. Deakin

A regular contributor to comics and annuals in the 1950s, Basil Deakin wrote spy and jungle stories for Lion featuring Julo of the Islands (1954) and Max Malone of the Secret Service (1957-60), which for a time co-starred Battler Britton (the character was subsequently taken over by Frank S. Pepper). As well as writing anonymously and as Guy Deakin and Trevor Hugh in the pages of Lion, he also wrote for the Lion Annual as Michael Alan. Full details can be found in Lion King of Picture Story Papers.

As Guy Deakin, he contributed a number of stories to other annuals, including the Daily Mail Boys Annual, Daily Sketch Modern Boys Annual, Super Thriller Annual and Our Own Schoolboys Annual. I believe he also adopted the name Beryl Deakin for a story in Cherry Ames Girls Annual.

In 1960, Deakin published the first of a number of tie-in books. Walt Disney's Zorro Annual contained nine stories by Deakin illustrated by John Challen. Deakin also wrote a collection of stories, True Adventure Stories for Girls, for Paul Hamlyn's Spring Books, and four volumes based on the western series Bonanza for Purnell, illustrated by a number of artists, including R. Walker and Barrie Mitchell.

He also penned three adventure stories for Collins' Spitfire Books range of short novels.

Basil Frederick Deakin was born in Aston, Warwickshire, on 21 August 1906. His birth was registered as Frederick Basil Deakin, named after his father, Frederick Montague Deakin (1878-1973), but I suspect that, like many families, he was known to his family as Basil as 'dad' would have been called Fred or Frederick. It is not uncommon to find people switching their Christian names for this reason.

At the time of the 1911 census, Frederick, his wife Florence Martha Deakin (d.1961), and the family—which included siblings Marjorie Dorothy (1899), Madeline May (1901-1993) and Colin Hugh (1910-2003)—were living at 6 Rowdan Road, Beckenham. Frederick was a municipal official inspector of buildings for Beckenham urban district council. He served during the First World War, giving his address in 1914 as 34 Royston Road, Penge SW. After the Great War, the family moved to 7 Werter Road, Putney SW15.

Basil Deakin married Hilda Rose Gore (1898-1988) in 1926 and had a number of children, including Keith Warwick I. (1927-1994), Trevor Hugh Guy (1929), who seems to have been the source of numerous pen-names, and Michael A. B. (1933). At the time, the family lived at 24 Tangier Road, Richmond [fl. 1929/31) before moving to 16 Copthall Gardens, Twickenham [fl.1934/57].

Basil died in Louth, Lincolnshire, in February 1989, shortly after the death of his wife.


The Menace of Mask. London & Glasgow, Collins (Spitfire Books), 1967.
Secret of Zarb. London & Glasgow, Collins (Spitfire Books), 1967.
The Terror of Tiba. London & Glasgow, Collins (Spitfire Books), 1967. 

Walt Disney’s Zorro Annual. London, Daily Mirror, 1960.
True Adventure Stories for Girls. London, Spring Books, 1961.
Bonanza. Paulton & London, Purnell, 4 vols., 1965-68.


  1. These three novels, do you have a character in common?

  2. Hi Johny,

    I'm afraid I don't have any of them, so I don't know.

  3.       Johny, are you referring to the three Spitfire books ("The Terror of Tiba", "The Menace of Mask", and "Secret of Zarb")?
          If so, I can tell you that the first two do, being about two British spies (named Rod Renton and Mat Malloy, if I recall the names correctly) who are sent to investigate various threats to Britain's security.
          Tiba is a small nation on a tropical island which some sinister power (just known as the Eastern Power) is interfering with; the ruler is a good and fair ruler, but has had his power undermined by the Eastern Power for unknown reasons. Mask is the name of a mad scientist based in the desert in Egypt who becomes a threat to world peace, owing to his scientific and technological genius and his unquenchable thirst for power. His technological feats include things that may be impossible according to the laws of science as they are generally understood.
          I don't know about "Secret of Zarb", but I would hazard a guess that it may be about the same two spies, and is very likely a similar story.
          They are quite good, exciting stories, if you can go along with the slightly improbable premises behind the plots.

  4. Thank you very much for the information, MJE.