Peter O'Donnell

Peter O'Donnell is the author of the Modesty Blaise comic strips and books, as well as the Garth comic series, a set of historical/romance novels written under the nom de plume Madeleine Brent, several short stories, plays, TV scripts, and hundreds of articles.

Peter O'Donnell signing Cobra Trap in Gothenburg, 1996


There are many websites with detailed information on Peter O'Donnell, so rather than trying to replicate these, below is a short summary followed by links to the sites.

Peter O'Donnell began writing the Modesty Blaise comic strip in for The Evening Standard in 1963. The strip was a success, and the following year, Peter was asked to write a screenplay. The film went into production, but with many rewrites (not by Peter O'Donnell!) to the screenplay. To tie in with the release of the film, Peter was asked to write a book version of the screenplay. Althoug the film wasn't released until 1966, the book was first published in 1965, which means that the book "came first" -- just as well, given how far the film diverted from the original, not so much in terms of plot, but in the characters of Modesty and Willie.

Thus the first book in the Modesty Blaise series was born. Work on the comic strip continued, and at the same time, Peter penned more books in the series.

From Jim Pattison's site (quoted with permission):
"All of the books were published first in England in hardcover by Souvenir Press, with paperback editions from Pan Books following a year or two later. The only exception was Pieces Of Modesty, which was only published as a Pan paperback. In the United States, the early books were published in hardcover by Doubleday and in paperback by Fawcett. In 1981, Archival Press of Cambridge, Massachusetts issued a hardcover edition of The Silver Mistress with 20 full page Romero illustrations. In the mid 1980's, The Mysterious Press of New York reprinted the entire series in both hardcover and paperback. There has also been a series of US paperbacks published by Tor Books. In 2001, Souvenir Press in the UK began re-issuing the series in trade paperback editions. These new books make use of the cover art that first appeared on their original hardcover editions."

[In this author's opinion, very few of the covers, with the exception of the original Souvenir Press hardcovers (illustrator still unidentified) and the Fawcett Crest paperbacks illustrated by Robert McGinnis, do the books any justice! You can compare them all on the overview page.]

The reprints were coming out as new books in the series were still being written; Peter O'Donnell continued to pen the series through the 1970s and 1980s, with the last novel, Dead Man's Handler, published in 1985. There was then a rather long hiatus until Cobra Trap, a collection of Modesty Blaise short stories, was published in 1996.

The final Evening Standard strip ran in April 2001.

Souvenir Press is currently reprinting the Modesty Blaise books (with Pieces of Modesty scheduled for release this year); Titan Books is reprinting the comic strips; and Penguin India is reprinting the entire Modesty Blaise series, all the Madeleine Brent books, as well as the entire Garth comic strip (which has never yet been published in a collection!).

Peter O'Donnell has since retired, although he has made appearances to do book signings.