Hammond Innes (1913–1998) was the British author of over thirty novels, as well as children’s and travel books. Born Ralph Hammond Innes in Horsham, Sussex, he was educated at the Cranbrook School in Kent. He left in 1931 to work as a journalist at the Financial News. The Doppelganger, his first novel, was published in 1937. Innes served in the Royal Artillery in World War II, eventually rising to the rank of major. A number of his books were published during the war, including Wreckers Must Breathe (1940), The Trojan Horse (1940), and Attack Alarm (1941), which was based on his experiences as an anti-aircraft gunner during the Battle of Britain.
Following his demobilization in 1946, Innes worked full-time as a writer, achieving a number of early successes. His novels are notable for their fine attention to accurate detail in descriptions of place, such as Air Bridge (1951), which is set at RAF stations during the Berlin Airlift. Innes’s protagonists were often not heroes in the typical sense, but ordinary men suddenly thrust into extreme situations by circumstance. Often, this involved being placed in a hostile environment—for example, the Arctic, the open sea, deserts—or unwittingly becoming involved in a larger conflict or conspiracy. Innes’s protagonists are forced to rely on their own wits rather than the weapons and gadgetry commonly used by thriller writers. An experienced yachtsman, his great love and understanding of the sea was reflected in many of his novels.
Innes went on to produce books on a regular schedule of six months for travel and research followed by six months of writing. He continued to write until just before his death, his final novel being Delta Connection (1996). At his death, he left the bulk of his estate to the Association of Sea Training Organisations to enable others to experience sailing in the element he loved.