“Hamilton was born in Ealing, London to a family of eight children. His parents were Mary Ann Hannah (née Trinder – born 1847) and John Hamilton (1839-1884), a Master Carpenter. Charles Hamilton was privately educated at Thorn House School in Ealing, where he learned Classical Greek among other subjects. He embarked on a career as a writer of fiction, having his first story accepted almost immediately. According to William Oliver Guillemont Lofts it appeared in 1895.
Amalgamated Press started a new story paper for boys called The Gem in 1907 and by issue number 11 it had established a format – the major content was to be a story about St Jim’s school, starring Tom Merry as the main character and written by Charles Hamilton under the pen name of Martin Clifford. This paper rapidly established itself and anxious to capitalize on its success, a similar venture was launched in 1908. This was to be known as The Magnet, the subject matter was a school called Greyfriars and Hamilton was again to be the author, this time using the name Frank Richards.”
From The Book of Forgotten Authors (2017), by Christopher Fowler:
“Owen Conquest, Martin Clifford, Ralph Redway, Winston Cardew and Peter Todd were authors with something in common: they were all alter egos of the writer Charles Hamilton…Tales of schooldays and derring-do filled the pages of two Edwardian story papers, The Gem and The Magnet, and Hamilton excelled at them.
For the next thirty years, Hamilton churned out several thousand adventures about cowboys, firemen, coppers and crooks…”
“Following the closure of The Magnet in 1940, Hamilton had little work, but he became known as the author of the stories following a newspaper interview he gave to the London Evening Standard. He was not able to continue the Greyfriars saga as Amalgamated Press held the copyright and would not release it.
In the event he was obliged to create new schools such as Carcroft and Sparshott, as well as trying the romance genre under the name of Winston Cardew. By 1946, however, he had received permission to write Greyfriars stories again, and obtained a contract from publishers Charles Skilton for a hardback series, the first volume of which, Billy Bunter of Greyfriars School, was published in September 1947. The series was to continue for the rest of his life, the publisher later changing to Cassells.
His life interests were writing stories, studying Latin, Greek, and modern languages, chess, music, and gambling, especially at Monte Carlo. The Roman poet Horace was a particular favourite. He travelled widely in Europe in his youth, but never left England after 1926, living in a small house called Rose Lawn, at Kingsgate, a hamlet in St Peter parish, now part of Broadstairs, Kent, looked after by his housekeeper, Miss Edith Hood. She continued to reside in Rose Lawn following his death in 1961.
While Hamilton was reclusive in later years, he had a prolific letter correspondence with his readers. He generally wore a skull cap to conceal his hair loss and sometimes smoked a pipe.
He died on 24 December 1961, aged 86.”