Christmas Eve, 2011, marked 50 Years
since the passing of the finest boys' author,
know as Frank Richards, 
Martin Clifford, Owen Conquest
 and many other pseudonyms.
  Page updated 9th June, 2012.  
bc 'Frank Richards' was just one pseudonym of Charles Harold St John Hamilton (CH from hereon), born in Ealing, Middlesex, England on August 8, 1876. The most prolific boys' fiction author of all time (you'll find him listed in the Guinness Book of Records), Charles attended a local private school, Thorne House, His first story is said to have been penned in 1885, possibly for one of the Trapps Holmes boys' story papers. Using in excess of 20 pen-names, he wrote not only school stories but, adventure, travel, crime - every genre imaginable.
Pen-names listed in 'The Men Behind Boys' Fiction' (see 'Recommended Reading' further on): Harry Clifton, Martin Clifford (St Jims), Clifford Clive, Sir Alan Cobham, Owen Conquest (Rookwood), Gordon Conway, Harry Dorian, Frank Drake, Freeman Fox, Hamilton Greening, Cecil Herbert, Prosper Howard, Robert Jennings, Gillingham Jones, T Harcourt Lewelyn, Clifford Owen, Ralph Redway, Ridley Redway, Frank Richards (Greyfriars and Carcroft), Hilda Richards, Raleigh Robbins, Robert Rogers, Eric Stanhope, Robert Stanley, Nigel Wallace and Talbot Wynyard.

Charles Hamilton is most remembered for his school stories, the most famous of which were those centred on Greyfriars School, a fictitious private school in Kent. These stories, penned for THE MAGNET, an Amalgamated Press weekly paper which ran for 1683 issues (1908 to 1940), featured history's most famous schoolboy, Billy Bunter. With the arrival of WW2 and the closing down of most juvenile STORY PAPERS, Bunter may have disappeared from public view but publisher Charles Skilton had other ideas .. read on.

The idea of a Greyfriars movie has been discussed at length on the Billy Bunter Yahoo group over the years. It most likely was discussed in the pages of Collectors Digest, especially after the 1950s TV series appeared. What worked in the TV series and what didn't work? What would work in a movie? Who would play the characters?

Personally and sadly, I don't think you could set either a movie or a modern TV series in a "Greyfriars School". Problems with the TV series included the inability to show much outside of the classroom, due to cost. The cast was limited to the Famous Five, Quelch and a few others. However, all things considered, it was as closest the producers could have made it to the spirit of the stories.

Perhaps a better idea would be to adapt a Christmas series, which would limit the need of a large cast and allow for a realistic setting in a country house. "The  Mystery of Wharton Lodge" springs to mind as the basis of a script. The cast could be limited to the Famous Five, Bunter and Toddy, Smithy and Redwing, Coker and Company, Quelch and Prout, Col. Wharton and so on. Actually, that's quite a large cast.

Thinking about a school setting once again, the biggest problem would be coming to grips with the layout as no one could ever really work out a fixed layout for Greyfriars, could they?

Below you'll find actor suggestions; all comments welcome! Initially I was going to limit this to actors still with us, but with so many suggestions of actors either retired or passed on, I'll include all with Wiki links. So suggestions for any actor living or dead can be submitted. After all, if such a project was to get off the ground in the future, it would take so long in the making that actors playing 15 year-old schoolboys probably wouldn't have left the cradle yet. The chart of faces below gives any would-be producer of a future product an idea of the traits required for the characters.

INDEX and LINKS will be found on the main CH page.
THE FRIARS site for concise and useful information on the works of CH.
FRIARDALE is the best site for CH material including electronic format.

P.S. Here are other references to filming of the Greyfriars saga, and Greyfriars and Hogwarts

bc       bc


Horace James COKER of the Fifth Form. >
  Russ Abbott as Coker? Hugh Laurie as Coker? Bernard Bresshaw
as Coker?
The late Tommy Cooper as Coker? Benedict Cumberbatch as Coker? The late George
Formby as Coker?
Mr Paul Pontifex PROUT, M.A., Fifth Form Master > The Rev. Herbert 
Henry LOCKE, D.D., Headmaster of Greyfriars >
  Clive Swift as Prout? The late Arthur
Lowe as Prout?
The late Charles Laughton as Prout? Prout and Coker from THE MAGNET   The late Cecil Parker as Dr Lock?
William George BUNTER of the Remove > Mr Ferrers LOCKE, 
of Baker Street, London, cousin of 
the Headmaster >
  Christopher Biggins as Bunter? The late John Candy as Bunter? Perry Benson as Bunter? The late Graham Moffatt as Bunter?   The late Basil Rathbone as Ferrers Locke?
Mr Henry Samuel QUELCH, M.A., Remove Form Master       Harold SKINNER of the Remove >
  Clive Merrison as Quelch?         Nigel Planer as Skinner?
(Our guess, compiled from issues of the Collectors Digest.)
According to contributor Tommy Keen, the following members of the Remove were present when Harry Wharton arrived in issue #1.
Frank Nugent, George Bulstrode, Peter Hazeldene, Dick Russell, Harold Skinner, Trevor and Treluce, and Billy Bunter. Bob Cherry arrived in #2, Inky in #6, David Morgan in #8, Micky Desmond in #15, Smith Minor in #32, Stott in #35, Wun Lung in #36, David Ogilvy in #43, Mark Linley and Sidney Snoop in #45, Tom Brown in #86, Smithy in #119, Alonzo Todd in #125, Fish in #150, Johnny Bull in #151, Percy Bolsover in #182, Mauly in #184, Dick Penfold in #194, Monty Newland in #216, Dick Rake in #258, Oliver Kipps in #268, Peter Todd in #271, Wibley in #322, Squiff in #343, Delarey (a sub invention) in #432, Jimmy Vivian in #471, Tom Redwing in #517, Napoleon Dupont in #540 and Richard Hilary in #559. A total of 38, but who really knows?


McCALL'S GREYFRIARS GUIDE: A Comprehensive Who's Who,What's What and Where's Where by Peter McCall, Howard Baker London, 1982
SIX OF THE BEST! David Bathurst, Romansmead Publications, Chichester, 1994
THE MEN BEHIND BOYS' FICTION W O G Lofts and D J Adley, Howard Baker, London, 1970
THE CHARLES HAMILTON MUSEUM Roger Jenkins, London Old Boys Book Club, Maidstone, undated, post-1961
GREYFRIARS FOR GROWN-UPS Lawrence Sutton, Howard Baker, London, 1980
THE ROAD TO GREYFRIARS George Samways, Howard Baker, London, 1984
THE WORLD OF FRANK RICHARDS W O Lofts and D J Adley, Howard Baker, London, 1975
THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF FRANK RICHARDS pub'd by Charles Skilton, 1952, reprinted in a memorial edition, London, 1962

OTHER REFERENCES including articles on Greyfriars Characters

COLLECTORS DIGEST V.54, #637, January 2000 page 23 - FILM FUN AT GREYFRIARS? by Brian Doyle. Brian goes into stories of possible movies he's heard of over the years that might involve Greyfriars, and other related series.

COLLECTORS DIGEST V.52, #623, November 1998 page 28 [Mark Taha] Watching 'This is your life' recently, ...I spotted Frank Thornton who would have made an excellent Quelch in the 70s. Frank Thornton - tall, slim with the gimlet-eyed look: even the voice sounded right! So in the 70s, Frank Thornton as Quelch, Arthur Lowe as Prout, Michael Hordern as Dr Locke - Robin Bailey as Sir Hilton Popper?

COLLECTORS DIGEST V.52, #616, April 1998  page 4 - A GREYFRIARS STALWART by Ted Baldock, re Mr Paul Pontifex PROUT, M.A., Fifth Form Master

Collectors Digest Annual 1965, volume 19; see Our Boyhood Heroes by Frank Hancock, pages 140-141.


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and insert authorized links if so requested by copyright holders.



bc   bc

In COLLECTORS DIGEST V.53, #632 August 1999, Colin Ray in his article "Harry Potter and Hogwarts: Greyfriars Lives Again?", the author compares characters.
Harry Wharton as Harry Potter
Bob Cherry as Ron
Coker, Potter and Greene (not in my opinion ...) as Malfoy and his henchmen Crabbe and Goyle
Wingate as Wood, the captain of Quidditch
Gosling as Filch, the evil caretaker                                                      
Quelch as Prof. McGonagall
Mosso as Prof. Quirrell