James Mitchell (writer)

James William Mitchell (12 March 1926, in South Shields 15 September 2002, in Newcastle-upon-Tyne) was a British writer, principally of crime fiction and spy thrillers.

The son of a shipyard worker, Mitchell also wrote under the pseudonyms James Munro and Patrick O. McGuire. He received bachelor's and master's degrees from Oxford. He married twice. His brother had two children who are still alive today; his daughter has two children, and 3 grandchildren.

James Mitchell created the British television series When the Boat Comes In (BBC) and Callan (Thames Television),[1] and wrote many other television scripts, including episodes of The Troubleshooters, the legal drama Justice and The Avengers.



  • Here's a Villain! (1957), US Title: The Lady is Waiting
  • A Way Back (1959), also published as: The Way Back
  • Steady, Boys, Steady (1960)
  • Among Arabian Sands (1963)
  • Ilion Like a Mist (1969), also published as: Venus in Plastic
  • The Winners (1970)
  • The Evil Ones (1982)
  • Sometimes You Could Die (1985)
  • Dead Ernest (1986)
  • KGB Kill (1987)
  • Dying Day (1988)
  • A Woman to Be Loved (1990)
  • An Impossible Woman (1992)
  • Leading Lady (1993)
  • So Far from Home (1995)
  • Indian Summer (1996)
  • Dance for Joy (1997)


  • A Magnum for Schneider (1969), US Title: A Red File for Callan
  • Russian Roulette (1973)
  • Death and Bright Water (1974)
  • Smear Job (1975)
  • Bonfire Night (2002)
  • Callan Uncovered (2014) and Callan Uncovered 2 (2015) - short story collections edited by Mike Ripley

When the Boat Comes In

  • When the Boat Comes In
  • When the Boat Comes In: The Hungry Years
  • When the Boat Comes In: Upwards and Onwards

as Patrick O. McGuire

  • A Time for Murder (1955)
  • Fiesta for Murder (1962)

as James Munro

  • The Man Who Sold Death (1964)
  • Die Rich, Die Happy (1965)
  • The Money That Money Can't Buy (1967)
  • The Innocent Bystanders (1969)

The hero in his Munro books is a British agent named John Craig, who works, mostly reluctantly, for Department K. Mitchell wrote the screenplay for the 1971 film version of The Innocent Bystanders under his real name.


Mitchell died in Newcastle upon Tyne on 15 September 2002.[2] He was 76.[3]


  1. https://www.theguardian.com/news/2002/sep/19/guardianobituaries1
  2. "The British Theatre Guide: Writer James Mitchell Dies". Archived from the original on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 11 November 2014.
  3. "Obituary". The Telegraph. Retrieved 1 January 2016.
  • Platzer, David, 'The Man From Department K', Slightly Foxed, Autumn 2008

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