Henry Patterson, author of The Eagle Has Landed, dies aged 92

Henry Patterson, the bestselling novelist who wrote the The Eagle Has Landed, has died aged 92.

The writer died at his home in Jersey surrounded by his family, his publisher HarperCollins said.

Patterson wrote 85 novels, predominantly thrillers and in the espionage genre, using the pseudonym Jack Higgins.

He is most synonymous with writing The Eagle Has Landed, set during the second world war, which was published in 1975.

It sold more than 50m copies and was adapted into a British film of the same name which starred Sir Michael Caine, Donald Sutherland, Jenny Agutter and Robert Duvall.

Michael Caine in the 1976 film adaptation of The Eagle Has Landed.
Michael Caine in the 1976 film adaptation of The Eagle Has Landed, the story of a fictional German plot to kidnap Winston Churchill. Photograph: TCD/Prod.DB/Alamy

Patterson sold more than 250m copies worldwide and his books were translated into 60 languages.

HarperCollins chief executive Charlie Redmayne said: “I’ve been a fan of Jack Higgins for longer than I can remember. He was a classic thriller writer: instinctive, tough, relentless.

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

“Being part of his publishing for even part of his career has been a privilege – his passing marks the end of an era.”

Patterson was born on 27 July 1929 in Newcastle upon Tyne to an English father and a Northern Irish mother. He was raised in Belfast until his mother remarried and he moved to Leeds.

After a two-year stint of national service, he qualified as a teacher and began to write novels in his spare time. The writer received a £75 advance for his first novel, Sad Wind From the Sea, in 1959.

Jonathan Lloyd, Patterson’s literary agent and president of Curtis Brown, said he was at Collins Publishers when it received the manuscript of The Eagle Has Landed, and everyone there knew it would become a classic.

He said: “Forty years later, Curtis Brown became his agent … and it was thrilling to work again with Harry, and I look forward now to working with his wife, Denise, and daughter, Hannah, and the family on preserving and promoting his extraordinary legacy.”

Patterson’s final book, The Midnight Bell, was published in 2017 and was a Sunday Times bestseller.

The novelist is survived by his four children from his first marriage – Sarah, Ruth, Sean and Hannah – and by his wife, Denise.