A prominent Scottish writer during his time, the author George MacDonald Fraser left behind a long and illustrious legacy that any upcoming novelist would hope to aspire to, as he wrote not only fiction and non-fiction, but screenplays as well. Focusing largely on historical literature, he had a keen eye for accuracy and period detail, something which his many peers and contemporaries came to admire him for. With an extensive knowledge of what he was writing about, he was also able to make them engaging and insightful, keeping his readers hooked right up until the very end, with his relatable and enduring characters.

Early and Personal Life

Born on the 2nd of April in 1925 and living till the 2nd of January, 2008, the author George MacDonald Fraser lived a long and eventful life. Building an impressive legacy he wrote a lot of books that are still revered to this very day, with many continuing to discover his works as time goes on. With an interest in writing from a very young age, he grew up in Carlisle in Scotland, where he was born and raised seeking inspiration from the world around him.

Studying at the Carlisle Grammar School, George MacDonald Fraser was always an academically gifted child, something which lent itself well to his writing. Later going on to study at the highly prestigious Glasgow Academy, he would have a highly successful learning career that was both eventful and fruitful. Not only that, but he maintained his passion for writing throughout, along with his love for Carlisle, something which was imbued into him from an early age as well, and can has been reflected in his writing ever since.

During World War Two, George MacDonald Fraser was called up for service, as he enlisted in to the Border Regiment, serving in Burma, something which he would later go on to write about. Following his discharge he went into a writing career in journalism, whereby he became a trainee reporter for the Carlisle Journal, at which he would learn the tools of his trade. This, along with his period serving, would go on to help him hone and refine his voice, creating the style for which people would come to know and appreciate him for.

Later going on to become a novelist with his first book published in 1966, he would carve himself a successful career as an author, utilizing many of his experiences from the second world war. No stranger to the silver screen either, he’d also gain work as a screenwriter in the years to come, with many of his works also being adapted for cinema. With his legacy living on, many readers are still discovering to this very day, as many writers are also inspired by his work, something which shall continue for some time yet.

Writing Career

Starting his ‘Flashman’ series in 1966, George MacDonald Fraser was inspired by a character found in the book ‘Tom Brown’s Schooldays’, whereby he took the antagonist and turned him into a hero. This proved to be hugely successful, spawning a long-running franchise that itself spawned a huge number of imitators and parodies, one most notably being ‘Lord Flasheart’ seen in the TV series ‘Blackadder’. Creating such an iconic character, the hero still endures to this day as part of his legacy, allowing huge legions of fans to continue to read his exploits.

Unable to get Flashman onto the screen, he would be hired by the famous director Richard Lester to instead write the screenplay for ‘The Three Musketeers’ in 1972. This proved to be so popular that it spawned its own sequel with ‘The Four Musketeers’, which MacDonald also wrote the screenplay for shortly after the first. Due to this, MacDonald would find himself in continual employment with both Hollywood and his novels for the next twenty years, as he provided hit after hit.

Not only was he a commercial success though, but a critical one as well, with his work traveling far and wide, reaching a global audience, both nationally and internationally. Constantly reaching the top of the bestseller lists on numerous occasions, he managed to draw in readers from all corners of the globe. This is something that has carried on to this very day, all due to the timely qualities that his novels convey, with his tales of excitement and adventure that can be enjoyed by all ages.
Flashman at the Charge

Coming out in 1973, this was initially serialized in the Playboy magazine as it made up the fourth title in the ongoing and ever popular Flashman series. Continuing in much the same vein as before, it manages to provide readers with more of what they want, capturing both the style and the tone of the previous novels. Not only that, but it also works at offering some exciting twists and turns along the way, keeping the readers on the edges of their seats, guessing right until the end.

After a drunken altercation with William of Celle who is none other than Queen Victoria’s cousin, Flashman finds himself in charge of the young boy whilst serving in the Crimean War. He still finds himself getting involved in some of the most notable events of the war though, as he finds his name is somewhat larger than he is, despite William’s unfortunate death. He then hears plans of a Russian invasion planned on the British Raj and sets about preventing it, leading to him finding himself in the heart of British India. Will he manage to unwittingly save the day once again? Where will the next strike take place? Can the armies deal with Flashman at the charge?
Mr American

Written in 1980, this was to be a longer and more serious work from George MacDonald Fraser, whilst also being a lot more ‘conventional’ in his own words. Working as a historical piece, it manages to convey the period that it’s set within well, evoking a sense of the time, being set around 1909. Whilst it provides somewhat of a departure from his previous novels, it’s still a must for any aficionado of the author, showing his versatility and depth as a writer.

Following the arrival of Mark Franklin in Liverpool, it charts his time there as an American prospector all the way from Nevada looking to make his way. Will he be able to make his fortune? Can he find success and happiness? What will become of Mr American?

Books in order of publication:

Flashman Papers Books

Flashman(1969) 
Royal Flash(1970) 
Flash for Freedom!(1971) 
Flashman at the Charge(1973) 
Flashman in the Great Game(1975) 
Flashman’s Lady(1977) 
Flashman and the Redskins(1982) 
Flashman and the Dragon(1985) 
Flashman and the Mountain of Light(1990) 
Flashman and the Angel of the Lord(1994) 
Flashman and the Tiger(1999) 
Flashman on the March(2005) 

Flashman Papers Books

Flashman(1969) 
Royal Flash(1970) 
Flashman’s Lady(1977) 
Flashman and the Mountain of Light(1990) 
Flash for Freedom!(1971) 
Flashman on the March(2005) 
Flashman and the Redskins(1982) 
Flashman at the Charge(1973) 
Flashman in the Great Game(1975) 
Flashman and the Angel of the Lord(1994) 
Flashman and the Dragon(1985) 
Flashman and the Tiger(1999) 

Private McAuslan Collections

The General Danced at Dawn(1970) 
McAuslan in the Rough(1974) 
The Sheikh and the Dustbin(1988) 
The Complete McAuslan(2000) 
McAuslan Entire(2001) 

Standalone Novels

Mr. American(1980) 
The Pyrates(1983) 
The Candlemass Road(1993) 
Black Ajax(1997) 
The Reavers(2007) 
Captain in Calico(2015) 

Non-Fiction Books

The Steel Bonnets: The Story of the Anglo-Scottish Border Reivers(1971) 
World of the Public School(1977) 
The Hollywood History of the World(1988) 
Quartered Safe Out Here(1992) 
The Light’s on at Signpost(2002)