Arthur Catherall, an Englishman born in Lancashire in 1906, started to write as a young working man going to nightschool. The acceptance of small articles in the local paper whetted his appetite for writing. Later, persevering through many rejections and “a long, hard grind uphill” he made a full time career as the author of action-packed adventure books for young people. Between the 1950s and 1980, the year of his death, Catherall was bringing out fiction of a high quality at a constant rate, often under a variety of pseudonyms,* to a total of 100 titles to his name. Catherall married and had two children.
During World War II he served as a staff officer in the Royal Airforce. For the rest of his life he would frequently travel, “usually on the cheap.”
The Strange Intruder was inspired by a visit to the Faroe Islands, where the author got acquainted with the land and people and their way of life. And most Catherall books take the reader to similarly intriguing areas of the world suggested by the author’s journeyings. We can count on accurate geographical and technical information, for: "As a young reader I always took for gospel whatever I got from a book. For that reason I have endeavoured throughout my life as a writer to be authentic. As far as possible I have been to the places where I set my stories. I have worked with young people for over 40 years and I have tried to get the feel of what they look for." (This and the following quotation from the author are taken from an interview in The Evening News March 3, 1966.) A gift for creating suspense combined with his keen attention to local realities has enabled Catherall to give each of his many stories an unrepeatable plot. He tells us, "When I begin a book I do not see the whole pattern laid out before me. The process of unfolding the story is as interesting to me, the writer, as it is to the reader. There is a part of my mind that is saying “This is interesting. I wonder what is going to happen next?” Sometimes it all works out quite differently from the way I imagined that it might."
As for the heroes of his books, Gwen Marsh in Twentieth Century Children’s Authors notes, It is a comment on our times that a writer of exciting adventures with real believable heroes was considered a writer for young people…Throughout his long writing career [Catherall] always held up to his readers an image of a hero or heroine with courage, kindness, loyalty, and spirit. In fact, Catherall’s outstanding gift for spinning tales of spine-tingling realism, with heroes we can enjoy, recommend his books to both youth and adults.
* Look for books under the pseudonyms of A.R. Channel, Margaret Ruthin, Peter Hallard and Dan Corby.