Leon Garfield (1921–1996) was born and raised in the seaside town of Brighton, England. His father owned a series of businesses, and the family’s fortunes fluctuated wildly. Garfield enrolled in art school, left to work in an office, and in 1940 was drafted into the army, serving in the medical corps. After the war, he returned to London and worked as a biochemical technician. In 1948 he married Vivian Alcock, an artist who would later become a successful writer of children’s books, and it was she who encouraged him to write his first novel, Jack Holborn, which was published in 1964. In all, Garfield would write some fifty books, including a continuation of Charles Dickens’s Mystery of Edwin Drood and retellings of biblical and Shakespearian stories. Among his best-known books are Devil-in-the-Fog (1966, winner of The Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize), The God Beneath the Sea (1970, winner of the Carnegie medal), Bostock and Harris; or, The Night of the Comet (1979; forthcoming from The New York Review Children’s Collection), and John Diamond (1980, winner of the Whitbread Award).
Full of high adventure and vivid characters, this Dickensian tale about a child pickpocket is perfect for any young reader that loves history, mystery, and lots of serious fun.