Peter James

Born: Brighton, Sussex, England



My mother, Cornelia James (d.)1999 was Glovemaker to Her Majesty the Queen running the business with my late father who was a chartered accountant. The firm is today run by my sister, Genevieve and her husband, and still supplies the Royal Family: www.corneliajames.com. There is a tenuous but classy link between gloves and one particularly great writer (not that I would dare put myself in his league): Shakespeare’s father was a glove maker!



I lived for 10 years in a very haunted Georgian manor house, near Ditchling, Sussex. It was converted from a monastery built on the site of Roman ruins, and had the ghost of a Centurion, a monk, a baby and a nasty, man-hating grey lady! Then moved to a group of converted farm buildings on a historic site outside Lewes, which were occupied by a whole bunch of ghosts of victims of the Battle of Lewes, but they were politely evicted. My Sussex home is now a Victorian rectory and so far ghost-free, as is my apartment in Notting Hill, London, on the site of a former cinema. No spectral screenings yet during the night, but always hoping…

Made publishing history:

In 1994, in addition to conventional print publishing, Penguin published my novel, Host, on two floppy discs, and it is now in the Science Museum as the world’s first electronic novel. It caused huge controversy, I was pilloried on the Radio 4 Today Programme for attempting to destroy the novel, and I was front page news on many papers around the globe, all equally furious! In the immediate following years I became a media spokesperson for the electronic publishing age, and in 1996 found myself as a keynote speaker at a conference at UCLA on the future of reading, alongside (gulp) Steve Jobs and the CEO of Time Warner!


After-Dinner Speaking:

I do – and enjoy – regular after-dinner speaking engagements. Recent engagements include the County Times Business Awards dinner, the Association of Legal Aid Solicitors’ dinner, the Association of Private Investigators’ annual dinner, the Sussex CID Ball, the Pan Macmillan Sales Conference dinner in Agra, India, the Martlets Hospice luncheon, the Lewes Rotary Club dinner, Brighton & Hove Rotary lunch, the Sussex Heritage Trust dinner, the Brighton and Hove Motor Club dinner dance. In addition I have given numerous speeches on cruise ships, and at literary festivals around the globe, including Dubai, Munich, Paris, Melbourne, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Antwerp, Toronto, Auckland, Milan, Barcelona, Singapore, Hong Kong and Bangkok.


Charterhouse, then Ravensbourne Film School.



I have a huge love of animals. Current headcount includes Oscar, a rescue Labrador/something cross who was found abandoned on the streets of Havant,


Spook, a young labradoodle who is very bouncy and tries her very best to please,


Cosmo, a grey cat who has the dogs well under his control and even comes on walks with us.


Six hens, including two that we reared from pre-fertilised eggs after the original hens went broody, and one that we adopted from a friend, called Betsy, who is a real character and gives us great eggs!


We have recently added five gorgeous alpacas to our expanding zoo, they are such inquisitive animals and we just love them!


Then there is a selection of small furries and fish… indoor tropical fish and some huge carp outside in the lake.


Cars, Classic and Modern:

My first car was a 1929 Rolls Royce hearse. Among the favourites I have owned are a 1961 MGA 1600, a 1966 Mini Cooper S, a 1972 drophead Boss engined Mustang, a 1963 fixed head 3.8 Jaguar E-Type, a 1971 drophead V12 E-Type (the sixth one built) a 1986 BMW M5, a 1997 Aston Martin DB7,

a 2004 Aston Martin Vanquish,
my current Brabus S-Class Mercedes,
my 2008 Bentley Continental Speed
and my current Aston Martin Vanquish Volante.
The most unreliable was a 1975 Triumph Stag. My 2004 Aston Martin Vanquish, which I bought new, demented me with its unreliabilty to the point where I eventually, reluctantly, sold it back to Aston in sheer frustration. I traded the Aston Vanquish for an Aston DB9 convertible, which I did not like at all – I found it cramped, noisy, and it flexed horribly on bends. I bought a black Mercedes SL 55AMG, on Jeremy Clarkson’s recommendation – which was totally wicked! Quicker than the Vanquish, with more space, but sadly not much more reliable – a constant pain with electrical problems. And it did not have the Aston’s “soul”. When you drive an Aston everyone on the road is nice to you – everyone, even the most resolute of car-hating greens seems to love them. But people looked less lovingly at the Merc, like it belonged to a successful drugs dealer. At the beginning of 2007 I took delivery of a Bentley Continental GT. I fell in love with the looks of these cars the moment they first appeared. To me they were pure sculpture on wheels, and next to my DB7, one of the most beautiful cars ever made. But my joy of owning this car lasted a mere 18 months – before it caught fire as I was on my way to a charity event at Glyndebourne Opera House. In the long-ensuing saga, the car was off the road for a staggering 12 weeks. I got fed up in the end and bought another one, the massively uprated Bentley Continental GT Speed, a car with real attitude! It had 600 BHP, would do 203 mph and handled as sharply as a Porsche. I owned this car for almost six years, and barring a faulty boot mechanism, it never missed a beat. Some years ago, the head of design of Porsche was talking about the secret of successful car design: “Every time you get into the car, behind the driver’s wheel, it must make you feel like it is your birthday”. My 2004 Vanquish did that, my Bentley Speed did, and my Vanquish Volante does every single time I open the driver’s door.

The world of the Police…

…As well as Science, Medicine & the Paranormal are my principal interests above all else. I spend a lot of time with police forces on my research, in particular Sussex Police – and I have now donated two police cars to them. The first in 2008

and the second in 2014
on which the livery (alongside the Police markings) changes each year to match the jacket of my latest Roy Grace novel.


I’m useless, although I once played four rounds in one day for a bet for charity (and won!). Have given my name to “The Peter James Golf Classic” an annual charity golf day at Haywards Heath Golf Club, Sussex, in aid of Action Medical Research, now in its 5th year. We have to date raised over £65,000 – and it means I get to play one game a year!


I run seven days a week, between 2-5 miles.

Motor Racing:

One of my maddest passions is motor racing. I passed my ARDS British racing drivers licence test back in 2004 (after failing at the first attempt and scaring the instructor witless when I spun a Lotus Elise at 110mph on Copse corner at Silverstone). Some friends called it yet another of my many mid-life crises! Some, less charitably, said it demonstrated that I would do just about anything to promote my books! But all of them were united when they saw the car I was racing. They said, a What??? I began my motor racing in a 2CV Citroen

in the annual championship series, the high-point of the season being the annual 24 Hour Endurance Race for 2CV Citroens at Snetterton. Subsequently I graduated to racing Touring Cars in the Britcar Endurance series. In 2010 we raced a works Honda Accord,
but were blighted during the first part of the season. But we did finish decently at Castle Combe, Brands Hatch and in the 24 hour race at Silverstone. In 2011 we raced a seriously quick 350 brake horsepower Seat Toledo, formerly raced by two-times British Touring Car Champion, Jason Plato. With uprated power we came 4th in class at the Britcar Production Cup endurance race at Brands Hatch. (Photo shows PJ taking the textbook line through Graham Hill Corner!)
Unfortunately, in June 2012 at Oulton Park my then racing partner Andre Severs, hit the barrier on Old Hall bend at 120mph after the steering arm broke totaling the car and coming perilously close to totaling himself although I am happy to say he is now back racing. I now race this beautiful 1965 BMW 1800 Ti (known as a TiSa) in a number of historic series. In May 2013, I had this spectacular high-speed crash at Brands Hatch when I was hit from behind by a Lotus Cortina and rolled at over 90mph. I suffered two broken ribs, a bruised spleen and three slipped discs (from which I am still recovering!). The car was re-built in time for the 2013 St Mary’s Trophy at The Goodwood Revival. Steve Soper driving on the Saturday finished in 5th position and we got 10th place overall. In July 2014 Paul Taft and I got 2nd in class in the Silverstone Classic.
I raced in the 2014 St Mary’s Trophy with Paul Taft again, in this huge 1955 BMW 502.
It was last raced by Jackie Oliver in 2009 but the current engine was down on power and we finished a not entirely unrespectable 18th overall. In 2016 I am continuing to race this BMW as well as my 1958 Fiat Abarth Evocation (which I will be co-driving with my wife Lara, who has recently passed her ARDS licence) and my 1958 Austin A35. You may also notice whizzing around some circuits my BMW M3 Schnitzer race practice car with a full Roy Grace livery and the licence plate ‘A PJ 800K’!


I used to own a Second World War Mitchell B25 bomber. It is now permanently housed at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford. Skiing: Was selected to train for the British Olympic ski team when I was 15, but my parents, (probably very wisely), felt it would be too disruptive to my education. I still ski a lot.


Is my favourite sport, I love singles and doubles and try to play regularly.

Food and Wine:

I write a monthly restaurant column for Sussex Life Magazine. I’ve always been passionately interested in both food and wine, and writing this column gives me a great opportunity to explore restaurants of Brighton, as well as the county of Sussex and further afield – and sometimes to say what I jolly well think about them!


First job:

Holiday job at 16 as assistant to Jack Tinker, the late, great theatre critic, who was then the film critic on the Brighton Evening Argus. The highlight of this was when Jack phoned in sick and told me I had to go and see the press screening of In Search Of The Castaways the new movie starring the then massively famous teenage Hayley Mills and then interview her afterwards. I was nervous as hell, took along a notepad into which I scribbled illegibly, pretending I was doing shorthand! She was very sweet to me.

Second job:

Orson Welles’ house cleaner. (Really!). Needed money when I was at film school and got a job cleaning Orson Welles’ London home for ten shillings an hour.


1971-78: Full time involvement through jointly-owned production company, Quadrant Films, in writing, producing, financing and distributing movies, mostly in Canada and US. These included:

We also had substantial involvement in:

I sold my shareholding in Quadrant in 1979 to concentrate on a career as a novelist, with my first novel, a spy thriller ‘Dead Letter Drop’ published in 1981. From then on until 2005 when I decided to devote my time entirely to being a full-time novelist, (covered in detail in this website) I divided my time between writing my novels, an involvement in several businesses, including my family business, Cornelia James, and writing and developing film and television, before going back into production itself.

From 1980-1985 I bought the rights to all 93 Biggles books and was very involved in bringing to the screen Biggles (Peter Cushing, Alex Hyde-White, dir. John Huff) in 1985. The film had a Royal Premiere in the presence of Prince Charles and Princess Diana.

In 1993 I co-founded Pavilion Internet plc, one of the first Internet Service Providers in the UK, which we sold to Easynet in 1998.


Began in Canada, 1970, writing daily 1/2 hour tv programme for pre-schoolers, Polka Dot Door. Graduated to writing science programmes, particularly computing and space exploration, then started own film company, Quadrant Films, which became Canada’s largest independent feature film production company during the 1970s.

In 1997, together with producer and music writer James Simpson (most famed for his No 1 hit, The Chicken Song in the smash hit TV show Spitting Image) I co-founded Ministry of Vision Ltd, a film and television development company. We made the 10-part series Hypnosex, for Channel Four, and in partnership with Objective Television, the 6-part Rose D’Or nominated series Bedsitcom, also for Channel 4, and in partnership with Sony, the 10-episode series Time Travellers for network ITV.

1st published piece:

A news cutting I sent to Private Eye in 1965 about US inventor Reuben Tice, who was killed when a machine he had invented for de-wrinkling prunes exploded.


In 2001 I co-founded Movision Entertainment Limited and was Managing Director until the end of February 2005. Movision produced thirteen films on which I am an Executive Producer, with a combined budget of $300m:

  • Five Moons SquareStarring: Donald Sutherland, Stefania Rocca and Giancarlo Giannini
    Director: Renzo Martinelli
  • Jericho MansionsStarring: James Caan, Jennifer Tilly, Genevieve Bujold, Maribel Verdu.
    Director: Alberto Sciamma
  • A Different LoyaltyStarring: Sharon Stone, Rupert Everett
    Director: Marek Kanievska
  • Head in the CloudsStarring: Penelope Cruz, Charlize Theron, Stuart Townsend
    Director: John Duigan
  • The Bridge of San Luis ReyStarring: Robert De Niro, Kathy Bates, Gabriel Byrne & Harvey Keitel
    Director: Mary McGuckian
    Based on the Pulitzer Prize winning novel
  • The StatementStarring: Michael Caine, Tilda Swinton, Jeremy Northam
    Director: Norman Jewison
  • The Last SignStarring: Andie MacDowell, Bruce Greenwood, Jacqueline Bisset
    Director: Douglas Law
  • Merchant Of VeniceStarring: Al Pacino, Joseph Fiennes, Jeremy Irons
    Director: Michael Radford
  • Bailey’s BillionsStarring: Jennifer Tilly, Jon Lovitz, Tim Curry, Dean Cain
    Director: David Devine
  • River KingStarring: Edward Burns, Jennifer Ehle
    Director: Nick Willing
  • Guy XStarring: Jason Isaacs, Natascha McElhone, Jason Biggs
    Director: Saul Metzstein (Late Night Shopping)
  • Perfect CreatureStarring: Dougray Scott and Saffron Burrows

To find out more about my novels, take a look in the books section of this site.

To find out more about my plays, visit www.theperfectmurder.co.uk and www.deadsimpletheplay.co.uk


  • CWA Diamond Dagger Award, 2016Winner
  • Honorary Mastership of the Open University, 2015
  • The CWA Dagger in the Library Award, 2015Shortlisted
  • Dead Good Readers Dr Lecter Award for Scariest Villain, 2015Winner – “You Are Dead”
  • WHSmith, The Best Crime Author of All Time, 2015Winner
  • Sainsbury’s eBook of the Year, 2014Winner – “Want You Dead”
  • Sounds of Crime award for best audio novel, 2014Shortlisted – “Dead Man’s Time”
  • Specsavers National Book Awards, Crime Thriller Of The Year 2013Shortlisted – “Dead Man’s Time”
  • The 2013 Argus Outstanding Contribution To Sussex Award
  • Specsavers National Book Awards, Crime Thriller Of The Year 2012Shortlisted – “Perfect People”
  • Sussex Police – Outstanding Public Service Award 2012
  • Welcome Trust Book Prize 2012Shortlist – “Perfect People”
  • US Barry Award, 2012Best British Crime Novel of 2011, “Dead Man’s Grip” – winner.
  • ITV3 Crime Thriller Awards: Winner, People’s Bestseller Dagger for Crime Novel Of The Year 2011Winner
  • Sounds of Crime Award for best abridged novel, 2011 winnerWinner – “Dead Like You”
  • Sounds of Crime Award for best unabridged novel, 2011Shortlisted – “Dead Like You”
  • Galaxy British Book Awards – Sainsbury Popular Fiction Book of the Year. 2010Shortlisted – “Dead Like You”
  • Quick Reads Readers’ Favourite Award 2010Winner – “The Perfect Murder”
  • Sounds of Crime Award for best abridged novel, 2010Shortlisted – “Dead Tomorrow”
  • Sounds of Crime Award for best unabridged novel, 2010Shortlisted – “Dead Tomorrow”
  • Awarded Honorary Doctorate by the University of Brighton, 2009Made a Doctor of Letters in recognition of his “ongoing contribution to the arts and to the status, infrastructure and culture of Brighton and Hove.”
  • CWA Dagger In The Library, 2009Shortlisted
  • Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award, 2009Shortlisted – “Dead Man’s Footsteps”
  • ITV Crime Thriller Author Of The Year 2008Shortlisted – “Not Dead Enough”
  • Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award 2008Shortlisted – “Not Dead Enough”
  • Le Grand Prix de littérature policèreShortlisted – “La Mort Leur Va Si Bien”
  • Prix SNCF du polar 2007Shortlisted – “La Mort Leur Va Si Bien”
    (French translation of Looking Good Dead)
  • Richard & Judy Galaxy British Book Awards – Crime Thriller Of The Year, 2007Shortlisted – “Looking Good Dead”
  • Le Prix Coeur Noir 2007Winner – “Comme Une Tombe”
  • Le Prix Polar International award, 2006Winner – “Comme Une Tombe”
    (French translation of Dead Simple)
  • Krimi-Blitz – winner, 2005Peter James voted Best Crime Writer of the year in Germany
  • Rose D’Or nominationat the 2004 Montreux Television Festival for Bedsitcom
  • Public Awareness Of Science Award 2000Runner Up. Alchemist
  • BAFTA nominationThe Merchant Of Venice, (Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons, Ralph Fiennes), which had a Royal Premiere in the presence of HRH The Prince Of Wales on 29th November 2004
  • Honorary Fellowship, FHS Emeritus awardby the Hypnotherapy Society, 1999 “in recognition of the sympathetic and well researched portrayal in your works of hypnotherapy in particular and alternative medicine in general.”
  • Sitges International Horror Film Festival, 1974Best Foreign Film, Dead of Night
  • Esquire Magazine International College Film Festival1969 – The Island
  • Charterhouse school poetry prize, 1967