Work of Whittington best-selling author is set to go under the hammer

The life work of an international bestselling author credited as creating the techno-thriller is heading to auction.

Craig Thomas’ 1977 landmark Firefox was made into the 1982 Hollywood blockbuster of the same name directed by and starring Clint Eastwood.

Craig Thomas

Copyright to the book and the former English teacher’s 17 other novels – including two published under the pseudonym David Grant – will be sold as one collection by Richard Winterton Auctioneers on Monday, April 12.

A notice of copyright assignment will be provided to the new owner.

Mr Thomas lived in Whittington with his wife Jill for many years. Fans regard Mr Thomas as the true inventor of the techno-thriller, with his run of meticulously researched novels revolving around cutting-edge technology.

Appropriately, the sale will be hosted online with live international bidding through the internet.

Copyright to the 18 novels will go under the hammer at 9.30am on Monday, April 12, as Lot 1 in Richard Winterton Auctioneers’ Antiques & Home Sale from The Lichfield Auction Centre.

The back catalogue is expected to reach anywhere between £20,000 to £50,000.

Mr Thomas died from pneumonia following a battle with acute myeloid leukaemia aged 68 in April 2011.

Auctioneer Richard Winterton said: “We expect this sale to cause quite a stir in the literary world.

“Not only is it a rather unique auction prospect, this is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the legacy of a bestselling author whose way with words, attention to detail and audacious plots spearheaded an entire genre.

“We are especially pleased to be carrying out the sale on the instructions of the estate of Craig’s wife Jill as they lived for many years in Whittington, just a couple of miles from us here at The Lichfield Auction Centre.

“As an ex-teacher held in high regard by pupils and staff alike, he was a popular man locally as well as an author highly esteemed by fans all over the world.

“What a wonderful opportunity to carry on Craig’s literary legacy to a new generation as the tenth anniversary of his death approaches.”

Arguably Mr Thomas’ most famous work, Firefox featured the fictional MiG-31 – a Russian stealth aircraft so advanced British spymasters felt duty-bound to implement a secret mission to steal one of the prototypes.

Such trademark technical details such as the aircraft’s Mach 5 speed, invisibility to radar and guided missile system controlled by the pilot’s thoughts helped propel the novel to bestseller status with a first paperback edition of 250,000 copies.

The book took just four-and-a half-months to complete.

Yet over the next 17 years it was reprinted 33 times – a supply and demand feat no doubt aided by the popular Clint Eastwood movie.

In the film, Eastwood portrayed USAF pilot Mitchell Gant, who would become a recurring character in four of Mr Thomas’ books.

By the time of the Gant character’s fourth and final appearance in 1997’s A Different War, Mr Thomas’ international sales had exceeded 20 million books.

Mr Thomas married his wife Jill in 1967. She was also his editor and the couple lived for many years in Whittington on the outskirts of Tamworth.

Copyright of Mr Thomas’ 18 novels will go under the hammer as Lot 1 in Richard Winterton Auctioneers’ Antiques & Home Sale on Monday, April 12, starting at 9.30am.

For bidding and other enquiries, email office@richardwinterton.co.uk or telephone 01543 251081.

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