Philip Kerr

Last updated

Philip Kerr
Philip Kerr 2014.jpg
Kerr at PEN American Center in 2014
BornPhilip Ballantyne Kerr
22 February 1956
Edinburgh, Scotland
Died23 March 2018(2018-03-23) (aged 62)
London, England
Pen nameP. B. Kerr

Philip Ballantyne Kerr (22 February 1956 23 March 2018) was a British author, [1] [2] [3] best known for his Bernie Gunther series of historical detective thrillers.


Early life

Kerr was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, where his father was an engineer and his mother worked as a secretary. [4] He was educated at a grammar school in Northampton. He studied at the University of Birmingham from 1974 to 1980, gaining a master's degree in law and philosophy. [5] Kerr worked as an advertising copywriter for Saatchi & Saatchi [5] before becoming a full-time writer in 1989. In a 2012 interview, Kerr noted that he began his literary career at the age of twelve by writing pornographic stories and lending them to classmates for a fee. [5]


A writer of both adult fiction and non-fiction, he is known for the Bernhard "Bernie" Gunther series of historical thrillers set in Germany and elsewhere during the 1930s, the Second World War and the Cold War. He also wrote children's books under the name P. B. Kerr, including the Children of the Lamp series. Kerr wrote for The Sunday Times , the Evening Standard , and the New Statesman . He was married to fellow novelist Jane Thynne; they lived in Wimbledon, London, [6] and had three children. He died from cancer on 23 March 2018, aged 62. [7] Just before he died, he finished a 14th Bernie Gunther novel, Metropolis, which was published posthumously, in 2019. [8]

Awards and honours

In 1993, Kerr was named in Granta's list of Best Young British Novelists. [5] In 2009, If the Dead Rise Not won the world's most lucrative crime fiction award, the RBA Prize for Crime Writing worth €125,000. [9] The book also won the British Crime Writers' Association's Ellis Peters Historic Crime Award that same year. [10] His novel, Prussian Blue, was longlisted for the 2018 Walter Scott Prize.


Kerr died from bladder cancer on 23 March 2018. [11]



Bernie Gunther

  • "Berlin Noir" "Bernie Gunther" trilogy, republished 1993 by Penguin Books in one volume. ISBN   978-0-14-023170-0.
  • Later "Bernie Gunther" novels

Scott Manson novels

  • January Window. London: Head of Zeus, 23 October 2014. ISBN   1784082538 ISBN   978-1784082536 ASIN: B00KX96D3G
  • Hand of God. London: Head of Zeus, 4 June 2015. ASIN: B00PULYUSW [14]
  • False Nine. London: Head of Zeus, 5 November 2015. ASIN: B00UVK10AS [14]

Stand alone novels

Non fiction

  • The Penguin Book of Lies. 1991;1996
  • The Penguin Book of Fights, Feuds and Heartfelt Hatreds: An Anthology of Antipathy. 1992;1993

Children's fiction (as P. B. Kerr)

Children of the Lamp

Stand alone fiction


  1. "Philip Kerr". International Science Fiction Database.
  2. The International Who's Who 2004 . Europa Publications. 2003. p.  875. Philip Kerr 22 February.
  3. "Philip Kerr". Wavesound. Retrieved 8 November 2017.
  4. Sandomir, Richard (27 March 2018). "Philip Kerr, 62, Author of 'Gunther' Crime Novels, Is Dead". The New York Times . Retrieved 30 March 2018.
  5. 1 2 3 4 Toby Clements (23 January 2012). "Philip Kerr: Interview". The Daily Telegraph . Retrieved 4 November 2013.
  6. Lauren May (13 September 2013). "Tom Hanks poised to bring novels of Wimbledon author Philip Kerr to small screen". Your Local Guardian. Retrieved 4 November 2013.
  7. Hannah Summers (24 March 2018). "Philip Kerr, author of Bernie Gunther novels, dies aged 62". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  8. "Quercus pays tribute to 'cherished' author Philip Kerr - The Bookseller". Retrieved 29 March 2018.
  9. Giles Tremlett (3 September 2009). "Philip Kerr wins €125,000 RBA crime writing prize". The Guardian . Retrieved 13 September 2013.
  10. "Philip Kerr wins the 2009 CWA Ellis Peters Historic Crime Award" (Press release). The Crime Writers' Association. 29 October 2009. Archived from the original on 7 November 2013.
  11. Kean, Danuta (25 March 2018). "Philip Kerr obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 May 2018.
  12. The text on the dust jacket of UK hardback editions of Field Grey, as well as many listings at online retailers, contain an incorrect early plot summary referencing many elements – including the Isle of Pines as a location and Fidel Castro and a French intelligence officer named Thibaud as characters – that do not appear in the final book.
  13. Prague Fatale was originally announced under the title The Man with the Iron Heart. The name had to be changed shortly before publication, when the publishers discovered there was already a novel with the same title, also about Reinhard Heydrich, by author Harry Turtledove.
  14. 1 2, -. "Philip Kerr".
  15. Dead Meat was adapted for British television as Grushko, and a media tie-in edition was later published with that title.
  16. As of 2019, published only in a German translation.

Related Research Articles

Herbert Richard Hoggart was a British academic whose career covered the fields of sociology, English literature and cultural studies, with emphasis on British popular culture.

Daisy Ashford English writer

Margaret Mary Julia Devlin, known as Daisy Ashford, was an English writer who is most famous for writing The Young Visiters, a novella concerning the upper class society of late 19th century England, when she was just nine years old. The novella was published in 1919, preserving her juvenile spelling and punctuation. She wrote the title as "Viseters" in her manuscript, but it was published as "Visiters".

Joan Smith English novelist, journalist and human rights activist

Joan Alison Smith is an English journalist, novelist, and human rights activist, who is a former chair of the Writers in Prison committee in the English section of International PEN and was the Executive Director of Hacked Off.

Lyndall Gordon is a British-based biographical and former academic writer, known for her literary biographies. She is a senior research fellow at St Hilda's College, Oxford.

P. J. Kavanagh

P.J. Kavanagh FRSL was an English poet, lecturer, actor, broadcaster and columnist. His father was the ITMA scriptwriter Ted Kavanagh.

Colin Cotterill is a London-born teacher, author, comic book writer and cartoonist. Cotterill has dual English and Australian citizenship. He lives in Thailand, where he writes the award-winning Dr Siri mystery series set in the Lao People's Democratic Republic, and the Jimm Juree crime novels set in southern Thailand.

Laurie Graham is a journalist, scriptwriter and novelist. She lives in County Dublin, Ireland.

Edward Grierson was a Northumberland barrister and a writer of crime novels. His debut crime novel is the outstanding Reputation for a Song, a classic inverted detective story. Grierson also wrote five novels, six works of non-fiction and two plays. He also wrote as Brian Crowther and John P. Stevenson.

Martin Walker (reporter) British journalist

Martin Walker is the author of the popular Bruno detective series. After working at The Guardian from 1971–1999, Walker joined United Press International (UPI) in 2000 as an international correspondent in Washington, D.C., and is now Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of UPI. He was a member of A.T. Kearney's Global Business Policy Council.

<i>Every Day is Mothers Day</i>

Every Day is Mother's Day is the first novel by British author Hilary Mantel, published in 1985 by Chatto and Windus. It was inspired in part by Hilary Mantel's own experiences as a social work assistant at a geriatric hospital which involved visits to patients in the community and access to case notes, the loss of which play an important part of the novel.

<i>The Boy Who Taught the Beekeeper to Read</i>

The Boy Who Taught the Beekeeper to Read is a short story collection by British writer Susan Hill published in 2003 by Chatto & Windus (hardback) and the following year in paperback by Vintage Books. It "received long and favourable reviews in The Guardian, The Spectator, The Sunday Times and The Times Literary Supplement.

Sarah Maguire British writer

Sarah Maguire was a British poet, translator and broadcaster.

Carol Rumens FRSL is a British poet.

Nick Davies

Nicholas Davies is a British investigative journalist, writer and documentary maker.

Paul Anthony Griffiths is a British music critic, novelist and librettist. He is particularly noted for his writings on modern classical music and for having written the libretti for two 20th century operas, Tan Dun's Marco Polo and Elliott Carter's What Next?.

<i>The Beacon</i> (novel)

The Beacon, is a novel by English author Susan Hill, first published in 2008 by Chatto and Windus and in paperback the following year by Vintage Books.

Matthew Baylis, also known as Matt Baylis and M. H. Baylis, is a British novelist, screenwriter and journalist.

Diana Evans

Diana Omo Evans FRSL is a British novelist, journalist and critic who was born and lives in London. Evans has written three full-length novels. Her first novel, 26a, published in 2005, won the Orange Award for New Writers, the Betty Trask Award and the deciBel Writer of the Year award. Her third novel Ordinary People was shortlisted for the 2019 Women's Prize for Fiction and won the 2019 South Bank Sky Arts Award for Literature.

<i>Hound Music</i>

Hound Music by English author Rosalind Belben has been described by The Atlantic Companion to Literature as a 'fine historical novel. Published in 2001 by Chatto and Windus it is set at the beginning of the twentieth century in rural England and concerns fox-hunting.

If the Dead Rise Not is a crime novel by Philip Kerr, the sixth in the series starring Berlin police detective Bernhard Gunther. It was published in 2009 by Quercus of London. For it, in 2009 Kerr was awarded the world's most lucrative crime fiction prize, the RBA Prize for Crime Writing, worth €125,000.