Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Peter O'Donnell 1920-2010

Yesterday brought the sad news of the death of the writer Peter O'Donnell, who died on May 3rd at the age of 90. O'Donnell is best known for creating the classic comic strip heroine, Modesty Blaise, whose adventures appeared in the London Evening Standard from 1963-2001 and in a series of novels published between 1965 and 1993.

Peter O' Donnell portrait by Steve Epting via Hey Oscar Wilde! It's Clobberin' Time!

Modesty's character was inspired by a chance meeting O'Donnell had with a feral refugee girl during his wartime service in the Middle East. The incredible story of the real Modesty Blaise can be found here.
Jim Holdaway: La Machine 1963

After surviving a tough, nomadic childhood Modesty joined the Tangier underworld and quickly rose through the ranks to take control. Under Modesty's leadership The Network excelled in smuggling, theft and espionage, operating through branches across the globe.

Enric Badia Romero: The Bluebeard Affair 1972

With her ambitions fulfilled Modesty broke up The Network and retired to London, only to find life dull and insipid. With the intervention of the British secret service Modesty, along with her trusted lieutenant Willie Gavin, begin to embark on a series of thrilling capers tackling ruthless adversaries from one exotic location to the next.

John M. Burns: Green Cobra 1979

Dubbed the 'female James Bond', a description O'Donnell never cared for, Modesty Blaise was the fore-runner for all the high-kicking ladies of action from Emma Peel to Buffy via Charlie's Angels. The comic strip and the novels were an international success but Modesty never entered the public consciousness in the same way as her imitators. Ill-served by under achieving film and TV adaptions, O'Donnell requested, upon his retirement, that no one else but him should write Modesty's adventures.

Neville Colvin: The Lady Killers 1980

The comic strip is currently being re-printed by Titan Books. So far there have been 17 volumes containing strips the from 1963-83 with introductions and commentaries by O'Donnell himself.
Most of the 11 novels and 2 short story collections O'Donnell produced are criminally out of print but second-hand copies can be tracked down via auction sites. For more information about Modesty's literary adventures visit the Modesty Blaise books website.

You can find more information about Peter O'Donnell's career at his website, Modesty Blaise Ltd.

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