John Hefford: Obituary

Author John Hefford, who wove his fiction around modern French history and the contrast of French and British personalities, was born and educated in England but he lived most of his life in Nice and Paris.

Speaking to the Reporter in 2012, discussing the release of his novel The Spy She Loved, he said, “When I came to Nice a long while ago I ran a bookshop and wondered if I could write. Then for many years I was very busy in the property field. Actually, I did a bit of rather tentative writing but didn’t take it very far. When my wife died I took up my pen again, I suppose as bereavement therapy. I devoted my time to research into the true history of World War II, from which I suffered in England. I then realised I could actually produce a good book.”

John HeffordNice-based author John Hefford with his beloved Sam

John’s non-fiction book The French Building Industry was published in 1961 by The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. He went on to become CEO of a “large group of British housing estate developers in Paris”, and was honoured with the “Gold Cup for Good French Taste” for housing in 1977, the only Englishman to receive this award.

His first novel, The Rebel Legionnaire, was a reworking of an earlier attempt at fiction, which this time turned out well. It’s got a strong autobiographical basis, relating the experiences of a young British surveyor who marries a French girl, moves to Paris and gets involved willy-nilly in the Algerian crisis. The book is not only highly readable but offers real insight into the events of that time.

A friend to and librarian at the English American Library in Nice, John passed away on the 3rd of May, 2016, after a long illness, surrounded by his family. Library President, Judit Kiraly, observes, “A pleasant man who enjoyed writing historical fiction, John was much appreciated by many. We will all miss him.”