Jack Higgins, author of ‘The Eagle Has Landed’ and other thrillers, dies at 92

Jack Higgins wears sunglasses and strokes his chin in an author photo.
Bestselling novelist Jack Higgins wrote more than 80 books including ‘“he Eagle Has Flown” and “Angel of Death.”
(HarperCollins Publishers)

British author Jack Higgins, who wrote “The Eagle Has Landed” and other bestselling thrillers and espionage novels, has died at 92.

Higgins died at his home on the English Channel island of Jersey surrounded by his family, publisher HarperCollins said.

Born Henry Patterson in Newcastle, England, on July 27, 1929, Higgins served in the military before studying sociology at the London School of Economics. He became a teacher in the northern city of Leeds and a writer in his spare time, with novels that sold modestly starting in the late 1950s.


That changed swiftly with the 1975 publication of “The Eagle Has Landed,” the story of a fictional World War II plot to kidnap British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. In a 2010 interview with the Guardian, Higgins recounted a pivotal call from his accountant.

“He asked me what I wanted to get out of my writing,” Higgins said. “I replied that I wasn’t really sure, before adding as a joke it would be nice to make a million by the time I retired. He then said: ‘Well you’re a bloody fool. Because you’ve just earned that much this week. So what are you going to do about it?’”

He was advised to leave England because of the country’s sky-high 1970s taxation rates and settled with his family on Jersey.

“The Eagle Has Landed” became more popular after the 1976 film adaptation was released, a box-office success starring Michael Caine, Donald Sutherland and Robert Duvall.

HarperCollins Chief Executive Charlie Redmayne said in a statement that Higgins’ death marked “the end of an era.”

“I’ve been a fan of Jack Higgins for longer than I can remember. He was a classic thriller writer: instinctive, tough, relentless,” he said.


“‘The Eagle Has Landed’ and his other Liam Devlin books, his later Sean Dillon series, and so many others were and remain absolutely unputdownable.”

Higgins wrote nearly 80 books. Though he occasionally wrote under his given name, he mostly wrote under the pseudonym Jack Higgins. Other Higgins titles included “The Eagle Has Flown,” “Angel of Death,” ”Day of Reckoning,” and “A Darker Place.”

According to his publisher’s website, the novels have sold more than 250 million copies and have been translated into dozens of languages.

His survivors include his wife, Denise, and four children.