Dane Chandos, part three: Anthony Stansfeld and the Mexican detective Don Pancho
As we saw in previous posts, the two writers behind the first two Dane Chandos books related to Lake Chapala – Village in the Sun and House in the Sun – were Nigel Millett and Peter Lilley.
Whether by coincidence or not, less than 3 weeks after Nigel Millett‘s father died in Ajijic in 1947, Anthony Stansfeld set out from the U.K. to visit Peter Lilley in Mexico. This timing makes it perfectly conceivable that he helped Lilley in the final stages of preparing the manuscript of House in the Sun for publication.
Anthony Ralph Wolryche Stansfeld was born in Winchester, Hampshire, on 4 March 1913 and died in Macon, Georgia, on 7 March 1998. Stansfeld was at Oxford University from 1932 to about 1935. During World War II he served as a Temporary Lieutenant in the Royal Naval Volunteer Service for two years from 4 March 1943 (his 30th birthday). The blond, blue-eyed Stansfeld, who spoke fluent English, French, Spanish and Italian, subsequently became a university lecturer, specializing in art history.
It is unclear how he and Peter Lilley first met, though they were very close in age. In about 1950, Stansfeld took a teaching position at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia. He lived the remainder of his life in Macon but became a regular visitor to Lake Chapala to collaborate with Lilley.
Continuing the pen name Dane Chandos, the duo wrote two travelogues: Journey in the Sun (a trip from Mexico to Spain) and The Trade Wind Islands (which takes the reader from Mexico to several Caribbean islands). The two men also created the huarache-wearing Mexican detective Don Pancho and wrote two well-constructed stories about his crime-solving exploits: Boiled Alive and Three Bad Nights, for which they used the pen name (or more accurately pen name of a pen name) Bruce Buckingham.
Several chapters of Foreign Footprints in Ajijic: Decades of Change in a Mexican Village offer more details about the history of the literary community in Ajijic.
- Bruce Buckingham. 1956. Three Bad Nights. London: Michael Joseph (Reissued as Penguin edition, 1961).
- Bruce Buckingham. 1957. Boiled Alive. London: Michael Joseph (Reissued as Penguin edition, 1961).
Comments, corrections or additional material related to any of the writers and artists featured in our series of mini-bios are welcomed. Please use the comments feature at the bottom of individual posts, or email us.
Tony Burton’s books include “Lake Chapala: A Postcard History” (2022), “Foreign Footprints in Ajijic” (2022), “If Walls Could Talk: Chapala’s historic buildings and their former occupants” (2020), (available in translation as “Si Las Paredes Hablaran”), “Mexican Kaleidoscope” (2016), and “Lake Chapala Through the Ages” (2008).
Anthony “Tony” Stansfeld was also a professor of Art History at Mercer University, Macon GA. The Art Department of Mercer’s College of Liberal Arts was founded in 1946 by Stansfeld and artist, Marshall Daugherty. He was my teacher when I was at Mercer from 1977-1982 and he was a wonderful friend. He talked about the community there at Lake Chapala often and spent as much time as possible there.