Bruce Buckingham is the pseudonym of Dane Chandos, in turn the pseudonym of the writing duo of Peter Lilley and Anthony Stansfeld. The pair used the Bruce Buckingham pseudonym for two detective mysteries set in Mexico.
James Gilbert Lilley, always known as ‘Peter Lilley’, lived from 1913 to 1980. He first visited the Lake Chapala region at the end of the 1930s. Lilley was a tennis-loving expatriate Englishman who built a beautiful home at San Antonio Tlayacapan on Lake Chapala and lived there for 40 years.
Prior to university, Lilley had attended Stowe School in the UK from 1927 to 1932. His first pseudonym, “Dane Chandos”, was on account of his schoolboy nickname “Dane” (referencing his Danish-looking square jaw) and the name of one of the school’s boarding houses. Stowe School is set in the picturesque market town of Buckingham which helps explain “Bruce Buckingham”, his second choice of pseudonym. “Dane Chandos” was first used by Peter Lilley and Nigel Stansbury Millett (1904-1946) for Village in the Sun.
Following Millett’s untimely death in 1946, Lilley’s writing partner became Anthony Stansfeld (1913-1998), a multilingual fellow Englishman who was professor of art history at Mercer University in Macon, Atlanta, Georgia. The two collaborated on a series of books, either as “Dane Chandos” (used for House in the Sun, the follow-up to Village in the Sun – and for several travelogues) or as “Bruce Buckingham” (reserved for their two detective stories).
The two detective novels, both set in Mexico, are:
- Three Bad Nights (London: Michael Joseph, 1956; Penguin edition, 1961) and
- Boiled Alive (London: Michael Joseph, 1957; Penguin edition, 1961)
Both feature a Mexican detective, Don Pancho (short for “Francisco de Torla Saavedra, Marqués de Langurén y Orandaín”), an eccentric, laid-back, huarache-wearing former federal detective who, with his manservant sidekick Crisanto, solves jewel thefts, murders and other glamorous international crimes. Both books also feature the British aristocrat Lady Kendon.
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).
I hope all their books will someday be available in Kindle format.
That would be great, but meanwhile used copies are fairly easy to find (and not very expensive) via sites such as http://www.abebooks.com We will be posting brief reviews of both detective stories in the next couple of weeks.
Womderful books.. Village in the Sun is a 12 chapter compilation of seasonal village life in 1940″s Mexico. The vivid descriptions and Lake Chapala environs and local characters is still highly relevant and endearing some 70 years later.
House in the Sun recounts Lilly’s stent as manager for La Posada, Ajijic’s iconic and now desheveled lafefront inn.
Another gems is Tour in the Sun, a romp across 1950’s Spain and Portugal. Hilghly entertaining travelogue with historical tidbits interwoven with human encounters and period travel escapades. Reveals Lilly’s craft and the storytelling at the center of Lilly’s work.
Indeed, those books are still very well worth reading. I do plan to write a mini-series about “Dane Chandos” and the two books related to Mexico later this year; watch this space!