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The University of London is very sad to hear of the passing of Jack Higgins (real name Henry Patterson), who received an honorary doctorate of literature from the University of London International Programmes in recognition of his 70 year-long writing career in 2014. 

(left to right) Mr Harry Patterson, alias Jack Higgins; the Chancellor of the University of London, HRH The Princess Royal and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Adrian Smith (2014)
Harry Patterson, alias Jack Higgins, with the Chancellor of the University of London, HRH The Princess Royal and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Adrian Smith, at graduation 2014.

Jack Higgins was a successful crime/thriller writer best known for his book The Eagle Has Landed (1975), which is said to have sold over 50 million copies worldwide. The year after publication, it was turned into a film starring Michael Caine, Robert Duvall, Donald Pleasence and Donald Sutherland. His 85 novels in total have sold more than 150 million copies and have been translated into 55 languages. 

Henry Patterson was born on 27 July 1929 in Newcastle upon Tyne before shortly moving with his mother to Belfast, Northern Ireland. Later he would relocate to Leeds, Yorkshire, when his mother remarried. In 1947 he began two years of national service, at first with the East Yorkshire Regiment, and later the Royal Horse Guards Regiment of the Household Cavalry doing security work on the East German border. 

When he returned to the UK, Patterson enrolled for a distance learning BSc degree course in sociology from the London School of Economics, University of London. He was one of two external candidates to pass the final exams in Bradford in 1961, making him one of the earliest graduates in the new subject of sociology in Britain.  

Read his full obituary on the Guardian website: Jack Higgins obituary