'Richard Allen' is the name on the front cover of the million-selling Skinhead books. The name was thought of by the editors at the London publishing firm New English Library and given by them to Jim Moffatt, one of a number of hack writers who churned out their books to order.
Born of Irish extraction, Jim Moffatt went to Britain and learnt his trade writing up to six stories a week (thrillers, spies, Westerns) for pulp fiction magazines. He moved on to writing books, and by the mid-seventies reckoned he had produced 250 in the previous 20 years, at a rate of 10,000 words a day when deadlines were approaching. Meanwhile, the managing director of the ailing New English Library imprint was desperate to make inroads into a new audience of younger readers; his editorial board came up with the idea of commissioning a novel set in the emerging skinhead subculture. In six days Moffatt wrote Skinhead. The book was an immediate hit, and many of its youthful readers were convinced that the author was a real hooligan, not a 55-year-old Canadian who always wore a jacket and tie and whose lurid tales of sex and street violence were written from the same seafront cottage in Sidmouth in which he also penned a column for the local paper. Soon after Skinhead Farewell Moffatt's real-life relationship with NEL came to an end.
Moffatt died of cancer in the early nineties, just at the time when the skinhead style was coming back into fashion.
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