Arthur Hailey was probably the greatest Canadian novelist and among the best world wide although he has not received a lot of credit. Perhaps because critics often dismissed his success claiming he simply had a formula. Critics claimed he wrote "potboilers" (a low quality novel) using a character in a crisis, after which suspense was enhanced by switching to other, related plot lines.
However, readers thought other wise and probably because of his extensive research before writing a book - it had a sense of realism and a lot of detail. Hailey was so popular with readers that his books were nearly guaranteed to become best-sellers.
What most don't realize he was a sound money advocate and a bit of a 'gold bug'. He was a subscriber of my newsletter until his passing (age 84) in November 2004 in his home in the Bahamas.
In an email from 2003 “I have acquired a quite large holding of gold shares because I am sure that eventually gold will triumph. (I wonder if you have read my novel "The Moneychangers," recently republished in paperback. If not, I'd be glad to send you a copy.) “
He did send me a copy and it was a fascinating story about banking. It is too bad that Arthur missed Gold's big move as it was just breaking out of it's slump in late 2004 moving above $400.
Arthur Hailey was British/Canadian - born on Luto, Bedfordshire, England in 1920 and moved to Canada in 1947. He left school at 14 and also served as a second world war RAF pilot, flying fighters in the Middle East.
Hailey's books were published in 40 countries and sold more than 170m copies. It started when he moved to Canada in 1947 and began writing television screenplays. His 1968 novel Airport was later adapted for the screen, starring Burt Lancaster and Dean Martin and prompted other 1970s disaster films, in including the 1980 spoof Airplane! based on Hailey's serious television screenplay, Flight Into Danger, itself based on his experience of imagining having to take the controls if both pilots fell ill.
I also find that very intriguing as I almost got my pilot license with over 50 hours flight time and often wondered if I could land a jetliner in a crisis of sorts.
Four of his books reached No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list (Airport, Overload, The Moneychangers and Wheels), with Airport alone spending thirty weeks in the top spot, and more than 170 million copies have been sold worldwide in 40 languages. Many have been made into movies and Hotel was made into a long-running television series. Airport became a successful film with dramatic visual effects.
What is more impressive is he achieved these numbers with just 11 books as most authors produced 2 to 4 times as many books to achieve these numbers. The only other is the J K Rowling, author of Harry Potter with about 400 million sold. For example Stephen King is credited with 70 books and over 300 million sold and Agatha Christi between 2 and 4 billion sales but he wrote 85 books.
If you search best selling books or novels you probably won't find Hailey. It is widely believed that
A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens is the best seller of all time - first published in 1859 and since sold around 200 million copies!
Also in the top spots you will find “The Lord of the Rings, by J. R. R. Tolkien” – First published in 1954, the book has already sold 150 million copies!
But Hailey's Airport is reported to have sold between 140 to 170 million copys so he is right up there in this league.
His books are available on Amazon and of course I suggest “The Money Changers”
Attesting to his real popularity and unfortunate is news of his death was published in more than 300 major newspapers worldwide.