Perhaps you’ve heard, perhaps you haven’t, but honored and beloved jockey-turned-author Dick Francis passed away at the age of 89.
Sarah’s post amounts to a virtual wake (Be sure to click on the on the link to Janet Rudolph’s blog for a charming story about her meeting with Francis.)
For more obits and tributes, see below.
- Aintree, the site of the Grand National jump race, is naming a race for him.
- The Blood Horse
- Connie Fletcher’s remembrances for Booklist Online
- Edward Gillespie of Cheltenham Racecourse
- Gerald Ensley’s fan boy visit with Francis
- The Horse
- Iconic Photos shows Devon Loch’s jump/fall in 1956 (FWIW, Devon Loch lived seven more years after that incident.)
- Irish Times obit
- John Crace’s memories as a reader and fan
- Larry Thornberry’s comments in The American Spectator
- Laura from Lines … in Pleasant Places has a list of Francis’s books
- Laura Crum at Equestrian Ink talks about her famous pen pal
- Luis Puza (in Spanish but includes video of Devon Loch’s near-finish)
- Mary Cannon in The Globe and Mail
- Megan Smith on BlogHer
- Mystery Scene
- Readings (videos here)
- Toledo Blade has more about Francis’s writing process
- Thoroughbred Times
- Virginia Thoroughbred Blog
- Washington Post story, with a photo of him riding jump races
And the homepage on the Dick Francis website has this tribute.
People have shared their memories of Dick Francis on Twitter, the micro-blogging service. Several Twitterers have wondered what they will “buy Dad for Christmas” without new Dick Francis novels. (Guys, you’re covered for this year.)
Hallie Ephron, known as @BibsDevotional on Twitter posted a quote from Francis’s work:
“The mingled smells of hot horse and cold river mist filled my nostrils.” He will be missed.
Another Twitterer @WriteRCastle, intended as the Twitter account for the TV show character, mystery author Rick Castle from the ABC-TV series Castle:
I will be spending a day at the races tomorrow in honor of the great Dick Francis. May he rest in peace.
Hoisting a pint in Francis’s honor would probably be appropriate, too, Rick.
After a family service, Francis was buried by his beloved wife Mary in the Caymans. A larger service reportedly will be held in Britian. Here are some accounts of the farewells:
My own comments
Although Francis’s books carried his name and racetrack cred, his mostly silent partner for decades had been his wife Mary, who’d conducted his research and is alleged to have written his books.
Like literary agent Janet Reid, I have a “so what?” attitude about the rumors concerning her involvement. I’ll even take it a step forward and state that the Francises were ahead of their time.
In modern commercial fiction parlance, as a former jockey for the Queen Mother and almost winner of the prestigious Grand National steeplechase, Dick Francis had the best author platform imaginable. He had international name recognition as a sports celebrity. As a result, the Francis family built a brand that has delivered gritty thrillers set in the world of horse racing to more than 60 million readers for almost 50 years.
In recent years, after Mary’s passing, the elder Francis had joined forces with his youngest son Felix to write additional books. Their next book Crossfire is scheduled for release in late fall.
I have to admit that my sentimental favorite is Reflex (1980). The book combined my long-time love of horse racing with my then-new love of photography. When I picked up the US paperback edition, I had just purchased my first 35mm SLR, a Nikon FM, and had begun learning B&W darkroom work.
Thank you, Francis family, for enhancing such good memories with such a good book.
And to echo Hallie, he will be missed.