Freeman Wills Croft
Freeman Wills Croft was born in Ireland and a railway engineer by trade. In 1919 after a long illness he began to write, and shortly afterwards his first novel 'The Cask' was published.
By the early 1930’s, Freeman Wills Crofts was considered one of the ‘big five’ British crime writers along with Agatha Christie, Dorothy L.Sayers and R.Austin Freeman.
Crofts played a pioneering role in the development of detective fiction between two World Wars.
At a time when the fashion was for books featuring private investigators or gifted amateur sleuths, he created what is generally considered to be the first police detective of real significance; Inspector, later Chief Inspector, Joseph French of Scotland Yard.
French appeared in 30 of his 34 novels and in dozens of short stories. Crofts wrote at least a book a year for over 30 years along with plays and short stories.
In 1929, Crofts moved with his wife to Blackheath. Religion played an important part in Crofts life and he was an active member of the church. He was an accomplished organist and often played in St.Martins Church.
Crofts lived in ‘Crofts’ in the village but wrote a number of his books in a small summerhouse in his garden.
Many of his books were set in and around Guildford including the novel 'The Hogs Back Mystery' in 1933 and 'Crime in Guildford' in 1935.
In 1953, Crofts and his wife left Blackheath to live in Worthing, where he remained until his death in 1957.