est-selling novelist Henry Patterson, who wrote 85 books – including The Eagle Has Landed – as Jack Higgins, has died aged 92, his publisher HarperCollins said.

Patterson, who mainly wrote thrillers and espionage novels – selling more than 250 million copies and being translated into some 60 languages, died at his home in Jersey surrounded by his family, HarperCollins said.

He was born on July 27 1929 in Newcastle upon Tyne, and was initially raised by his mother in Belfast.

He began writing novels in 1959 while working as a teacher, and in 1975 published The Eagle Has Landed, which has sold more than 50 million copies and was made into a film starring Sir Michael Caine and Donald Sutherland.

The novel, about a fictional plot to kidnap Winston Churchill during World War Two, sold more than 50 million copies.

His final book, The Midnight Bell, was published in 2017 and was a Sunday Times bestseller.

HarperCollins said that by the time his final novel came out, they referred to him simply as “The Legend”.

He is survived by four children from his first marriage – Sarah, Ruth, Sean, and Hannah – as well as his wife, Denise.

HarperCollins chief executive Charlie Redmayne said: “I’ve been a fan of Jack Higgins for longer than I can remember. He was a classic thriller writer: instinctive, tough, relentless.

“The Eagle Has Landed and his other Liam Devlin books, his later Sean Dillion series, and so many others were and remain absolutely unputdownable. Being part of his publishing for even part of his career has been a privilege – his passing marks the end of an era.”

Jonathan Lloyd, Patterson’s literary agent and president of Curtis Brown, said he was at Collins Publishers when it received the manuscript of The Eagle Has Landed, and everyone there knew it would be an instant classic.

“Some 40 years later, Curtis Brown became his agent… and it was thrilling to work again with Harry, and I look forward now to working with his wife, Denise, and daughter, Hannah, and the family on preserving and promoting his extraordinary legacy,” he said.

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