By Luke O'Reilly, PA
Best-selling thriller writer Henry Patterson has died at the age of 92.
Patterson, known to the public under his pseudonym Jack Higgins, published 85 books during his lifetime.
He died at home in Jersey, surrounded by his family, his long-term publishers HarperCollins said in a statement.
Patterson is best known for the 1975 novel The Eagle has Landed about a fictional plot to kidnap Winston Churchill during World War Two.
The book sold more than 50 million copies and was adapted into a film starring Robert Duvall, Donald Sutherland, and Sir Michael Caine.
Patterson was born in Newcastle on July 27 1929 to an English father and a Northern Irish mother.
He was raised in Belfast until his mother remarried and he moved to Leeds.
After a two-year stint of National Service, he qualified as a teacher and began to write novels on the side.
He received a £75 advance for his first novel, Sad Wind From The Sea, in 1959.
His final book, The Midnight Bell, was published in 2017 and was a Sunday Times bestseller.
HarperCollins said that by the time his final novel came out, they referred to him simply as “The Legend”.
He is survived by four children from his first marriage – Sarah, Ruth, Sean, and Hannah – as well as his wife, Denise.
In a statement, HarperCollins chief executive Charlie Redmayne said Patterson was a “classic thriller writer”.
“I’ve been a fan of Jack Higgins for longer than I can remember. He was a classic thriller writer: instinctive, tough, relentless,” he said.
“The Eagle Has Landed and his other Liam Devlin books, his later Sean Dillon series, and so many others were and remain absolutely unputdownable.
“Being part of his publishing for even part of his career has been a privilege – his passing marks the end of an era.”
Jonathan Lloyd, his literary agent and president of Curtis Brown, said he knew The Eagle Has Landed would be an “instant classic” when it was first published.
“I had the privilege of being at Collins Publishers when we received the manuscript of The Eagle Has Landed,” he said.
“We all knew, with a rare certainty, that we would be publishing an instant classic.”