Jack Higgins’ literary success rewarded by the University of London

Binda Rai and Bronnie McCarthy report on an honorary award for a modest, best-selling author
 Jack Higgins receiving his Honorary Doctorate
Harry Patterson, alias Jack Higgins receives his Honorary Doctorate from HRH The Princess Royal
Receiving this award poetically marks the full circle of my academic career and relationship with the University of London

Harry Patterson, alias Jack Higgins, completes full circle with the University of London International Programmes by collecting an Honorary Doctorate of Literature. This was awarded in recognition of his 70-year-long writing career, or as he refers to it, ‘scribbling’.

Mr Patterson was presented with the award by HRH The Princess Royal, at the Barbican Centre, at the University of London International Programmes Graduation Ceremony, attended by more the 3,000 people from 86 countries across the globe.

Mr Patterson said: “While any writer would be thrilled to obtain such an accolade, this award is particularly special to me. I too am an alumnus, like all you new graduates sat before me, of the University of London International Programmes, having studied for a BSc in Sociology many years ago, with what was then known as the External System. Thus, receiving this award poetically marks the full circle of my academic career and relationship with the University of London.”

"I have spent the last 70 years, writing and creating characters that have become literary friends, to people all over the world. Not once did I ever dream that I would receive a Doctorate of Literature from such a prestigious university."

His long and successful career has seen the publication of more than 70 books. His best known book, The Eagle Has Landed, was made into a blockbuster film starring Michael Caine and Donald Sutherland. Mr Patterson explained: “Writing, or should I say ‘scribbling’ as it was once described whilst I was serving in the army, is my compulsion. When I was 14 or 15 years old I decided to enter a short-story competition. Although I did not win, months later I received a letter from an author on the judging panel, who was kind enough to tell me that I was a writer and never to forget it. I never have. And with that encouragement in mind, I have spent the last 70 years, writing and creating characters that have become literary friends, to people all over the world. Not once did I ever dream that I would receive a Doctorate of Literature from such a prestigious university.”

In her oration speech for Mr Patterson, Dr Mary Stiasny OBE, said: “The University of London International Programmes is very proud to honour such an exceptional person, who has faced adversity throughout his life and who was told once as a schoolboy that he ‘would never amount to anything’; how wrong they were.” Mr Patterson’s books have sold over 50 million copies worldwide and translated into more than 60 languages. However, the ever modest author attributes his astounding success to ‘someone up there’.