A. J. Quinnell

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A. J. Quinnell
Born Philip Nicholson
(1940-06-25)25 June 1940
Nuneaton, Warwickshire, England, United Kingdom
Died 10 July 2005(2005-07-10) (aged 65)
Gozo, Malta
Occupation Novelist
Nationality British
Genre Thriller fiction
Notable works Man on Fire, The Mahdi

A. J. Quinnell was the pen name of the English thriller novelist Philip Nicholson.[1] He is best known for his novel Man on Fire, which has been adapted to film twice, most recently in 2004 featuring Denzel Washington.

Life and work

Nicholson traveled throughout his life and several of the minor characters in his books are based on real people that he encountered in his travels. Nicholson was married three times; his last wife, Elsebeth Egholm, is a Danish mystery novelist. The couple maintained residences on the island of Gozo and in Denmark.

When the author was preparing to publish his first book, Man on Fire, he wanted to keep his real identity a secret. During a conversation in a bar, his agent, Chris Little, told him he could use a pseudonym.[citation needed] The author chose "Quinnell" after rugby union player Derek Quinnell and "A. J." from the initials of the bartender's son.[1] Nicholson frequented Gleneagles bar in Mġarr, Gozo, the town where the Malta ferry disembarks. He could often be found drinking vodkas with soda. He wrote late at night and through until the morning, always standing up. He also sponsored a local Gozo soccer team and was admired by the Gozitans.

The author's best-known creation was the character of Marcus Creasy, an American-born former member of the French Foreign Legion. The Creasy novels are cult favorites in Japan.

Man on Fire was directly adapted to film twice, in 1987 and 2004, and the 2004 film was adapted into a 2005 Bollywood film. This has resulted in a wider demand for Quinnell's books, especially those featuring Creasy (see Bibliography below).


  • Man on Fire (1981) - Creasy 1
  • The Mahdi (1981)
  • Snap Shot (aka The Snap) (1982)
  • Blood Ties (1985)
  • Siege of Silence (1986)
  • In the Name of the Father (1987)
  • The Perfect Kill (1992) - Creasy 2
  • The Shadow (1992)
  • The Blue Ring (1993) - Creasy 3
  • Black Horn (1994) - Creasy 4
  • Message from Hell (1996) - Creasy 5
  • The Trail of Tears (1999)
  • A Quiet Night in Hell (2001)
  • The Scalpel (2001)


  1. ^ a b "Social and Personal Obituaries." Times of Malta. Thursday 14 July 2005. Retrieved on 28 March 2011.

External links

  • A. J. Quinnell on IMDb
  • A.J. Quinnell Fan Site
  • My visit to Gozo and A. J. Quinnell
  • Obituary from Times of Malta
  • "A.J. Quinnell." at Shueisha (archive) ‹See Tfd›(in Japanese)

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