John Christopher (Sam Youd) was born in England in April 1922, during an unseasonable snowstorm. His early years were spent in Lancashire and Hampshire. He left school at sixteen to work as a local government clerk until being called up for army service in 1941, and spent the following four and a half years with the Royal Corps of Signals, in Gibraltar, North Africa, Italy, and Austria.
On leaving the army he renewed a teenage ambition toward being a writer, and in 1947, on the basis of an unfinished novel, won an Atlantic Award, sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation, which enabled him to devote himself to writing for a year. He tried to justify the award by writing serious novels, but subsequently also wrote detective thrillers, light comedies, novels based on cricket, and science fiction, to which he had been passionately devoted in his early teens. After several adult science fiction novels, he was asked to write for the young adult field, and ended up writing sixteen books in that genre, including The Guardians, The Lotus Caves, Dom and Va, Empty World, and the Sword and Fireball trilogies, as well as the Tripods trilogy. Following a BBC television series in 1984 based on the Tripods books, he wrote a prequel, When the Tripods Came, explaining how it all came about.
Sam Youd is a widower with five children and numerous grandchildren, and lives in Rye, in the county of Sussex, England.
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