Prolific writer: crime, novels, journalism, plays films. Born 7 Ashburnham Grove, Greenwich to an unmarried mother. Adopted by a Billingsgate fish porter and wife. Aged 18 joined the army medical corps and went to South Africa for the Boer War but reported on the war rather than fought in it. Returned to London to report on crime for the Mail. Also sent on foreign assignments but still found the time to write novels, lots of them - at his height he was averaging almost 3 a month.
At one time the most widely read author in the world. Founder member of the Company of Newspaper Makers. He went to America to write the screenplay for King Kong but died while working on it, in Hollywood. The Empire State Building scene is his.