Cheyney, Peter

BORN 22 Feb 1896, London: Whitechapel - DIED 26 Jun 1951, London
BIRTH NAME Southouse, Reginald Evelyn
GRAVE LOCATION London: Putney Vale, Stag Lane (cremated)

Peter Cheyney was born in the East End of London. He left school when he was fourteen and worked as a clerk for a solicitor. His elder brother Arthur was a music hall artist and he started writing sketches for the performers. He saw action during the First World War but was soon woonded and spent the rest of the war at the Labour Corps Record Office.

In 1919 he married Dorma Leigh, a dancer. She was five years older than he and quite famous at the time. After the war he wrote stories for magazines and worked as a free lance investigator. He also became a member of the party of Oswald Mosley but he didn't know the Fascist leader personally. In 1932 he divorced Dorma and in 1934 he married Mrs Kathleen Nora Walter (born Taberer) in London.

It was said that he wrote his first thriller after he had bet five pounds that he couldn't and it wasn't before the late 1930s that his Lemmmy Caution and his Slim Callaghan stories were successful. "This Man Is Dangerous" (1936) was the first Lemmy Caution novel and "The Urgent Hangman" (1938) the first Slim Callaghan novel. The success of these novels made him abandon his investigations and concentrate on his writing career. In 1941 his archive on crime was destroyed during the Blitz Krieg. His books continued to sell very well. For many years he dictated them to his secretary Miss Mildred Evelyn Sprague who worked for him until his death.

His third wife was Lauretta Theresa Singer (born Groves) of Westchester County, New York. He married her in 1948. It seems that Cheyney lived like the heroes in his books and in 1951 he fell into a coma. During this coma his brother Arthur died. Cheyney recovered for a while but fell into a second coma and died in London, aged only 55. A few weeks later his other brother Stanley died.

He was buried in Putney Vale in London. Lauretta married Peter Bathurst afterwards but after she died in 1957 she was buried in Cheyney's grave.


The grave of Peter Cheyney at Putney Vale Cemetery, London.
Picture by Androom (12 May 2011)


Wikipedia (EN):

Chézy, Helmina von

Published: 13 Jan 2013
Last update: 08 Mar 2022