Francis Beeding was, like Patrick Quentin, a pen-name used by a crime writing partnership. John Palmer (1885-1944) and Hilary St George Saunders (1898-1951) were both students at Balliol College, Oxford, but not at the same time, because of the age gap between them. Later, they worked for the League of Nations in Geneva, and began to write together. They specialised in novels of espionage, but their few whodunits are of high quality.
Eleven Were Brave (1940) was sub-titled “a novel of present history”, and this copy was signed by both authors individually, as well as in their shared pen-name. They inscribed it to I.H.E. McEwen, who pasted into the book a fascinating letter sent to him by Saunders.
In his letter, Saunders explains that this book is “somewhat different” from other Beeding titles, because “it is based on actual experiences that I went through in France”. He also claims that, although it is a work of fiction, it presents in essence a true picture of “how and why France collapsed.”