Chapman Pincher Biography

Journalist, Author, Editor (1914–)
British author Chapman Pincher has concentrated on history and espionage-related topics in his investigative journalism as well as his fiction writing.


Chapman Pincher was born on March 29, 1914, to English parents living in India. He was raised and educated in England, and after brief careers in the military and education, he worked as a reporter for The Daily Express in London. Throughout the Cold War he was known as a journalist who was able to get exclusive “scoops” about British intelligence and espionage from confidential insider sources.

Early Life and Education

Henry Chapman Pincher was born in Ambala, India, on March 29, 1914. His parents, Helen (Foster) and Richard Chapman Pincher, had been brought to India by his father’s military service. The family returned to England after World War I and settled in the town of Darlington, in the northeast of England. Pincher attended school in Darlington and then moved to London to study biology at King’s College.

Early Career

After college, Pincher taught science at Liverpool Institute for several years and wrote articles for agricultural journals. When England entered World War II, he joined the Royal Armoured Corps in 1940, attended the Royal Military College of Science and served as a staff officer in the Ministry of Supply from 1943 to 1946. During his military career, he became interested in weaponry. In 1946, a friend who worked at the newspaper The Daily Express hired him to write about science and military defense.

Career in Journalism

Pincher worked as the defense, science and medical editor of The Daily Express from 1946 to 1973. His writing for the paper earned him the awards of Journalist of the Year in 1964 and Reporter of the Decade in 1966. From 1973 to 1979 he was an assistant editor at The Daily Express and a defense correspondent to other papers in the Beaverbrook Newspapers group. Pincher became known for the “scoops” that he obtained from confidential sources within the government and military; his exclusive information about cover-ups and crises within British intelligence gave the papers some of their biggest national news headlines during these years.

Other Publications

In addition to his newspaper reporting, Pincher published numerous works of nonfiction and fiction. His best-known books deal with issues of espionage and counterespionage. Their Trade Is Treachery, published in 1981, looks closely at the inner workings of the United Kingdom’s MI5 (Security Service) and MI6 (Secret Intelligence Service) during the Cold War against the Soviet Union. He returned to this subject in Too Secret Too Long in 1984 and The Secret Offensive in 1986. In 2009’s Treachery: Betrayals, Blunders, and Cover-ups: Six Decades of Espionage Against America and Great Britain he claimed that British counterintelligence had been corrupted from the inside, through the work of a “mole”: Roger Hollis, MI5’s own director from 1956 to 1965.

Pincher has also written historical novels, spy thrillers and several works of science fiction.

Personal Life

Pincher married Constance Sylvia Wolstenholme in 1965. He has two children, daughter Patricia and son Michael, from a previous marriage.

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