Who was Richard Allen?
Richard Allen was a nom-de-plume employed by James Moffat (1922-1993), who penned several successful pulp novels on British youth subcultures of the 1970s for the New English Library (NEL), most notably the Skinhead series. He also wrote as Etienne Aubin and Trudi Maxwell for the imprint, albeit less successfully. He was not a skinhead but a jobbing journalist paid to knock out quick copy for NEL’s exploitation genre novels and while the first book in the series was slow to catch on, its later success saw many sequels and spin-offs.
Who published the Skinhead books?
The Skinhead books were published as single editions by NEL during the 1970s. However, their enduring prominence among the youth culture Moffat successfully absorbed saw them republished in volumes of three during the early 1990s by ST Publishing, the publishing arm of Skinhead Times, edited by George Marshall.
What became of the books and Moffat?
Moffat died in 1993, just as the revival of interest in his later writing career was beginning to forment. This interest manifested itself not only in features such as that in Scootering Magazine and an interview in Skinhead Times by George Marshall, but also in the work of avant-pulp novelist Stewart Home and even a BBC documentary Skinhead Farewell.
What became of Joe Hawkins from the books?
Rumours persist to this day of children fathered out of wedlock during the early to mid 1970s in Plaistow. However, one affectionate tribute does exist in the character Hawkins in John King’s 2008 novel Skinheads. Some Oi! bands have also referenced him over the years.
I’ve heard James Moffat/the Skinhead books were racist, is this true?
Neither could (by all accounts, in the case of the author) be described as politically correct, though we don’t see that as cause for concern as the author is deceased and the books are out of print. The reader takes away from them what they want to and they have been the cause of some literary debate since.
If it makes you feel any better though, Victor Headley aped the vernacular style for his Yardie series and at no point in the Skinhead series is nationalism endorsed by any characters.
Are there any plans to adapt the Skinhead series for film or television?
There appears to have been some recent internet chatter in this direction, but it remains just that.
Are there any plans to remarket the Skinhead books?
Yes – by Dean Street Press (as ebooks) in 2015.
Can you tell me how to get in touch with the New English Library/ST Publishing or the estate of James Moffat?
The rights to the New English Library imprint reside with Hodder, now a division of Hachette Livre UK. ST Publishing
is still going but the reprinted versions are now out of print. Both NEL and ST versions of the Richard Allen books can be purchased secondhand on the internet. We have no details for the estate of James Moffat however (or ST Publishing, for that matter).