BOOKS and PRINTS
JOHN MARQUIS (born Wigston Magna, Leicestershire, England, 1943) has been writing for a living since he was in his teens. He also paints as a hobby, producing what he calls 'infantile images depicting everyday life.'
He was a journalist for half a century, with 27 years as a newspaper and magazine editor, and is the author of seven books, including the internationally acclaimed Blood and Fire, about the famous murder of Sir Harry Oakes, the British Empire’s richest man, in 1943. This was listed by the Wall Street Journal among the top five books in its genre and has featured in GCSE literature examinations in the Bahamas. Sir Christopher Ondaatje in The Canada Post described it as 'the most explicitly accusatory' of the seven books about the Oakes case, which is rated the greatest murder mystery of the 20th century.
In his early career, he was an international boxing writer and London Sports Editor of the Thomson newspaper chain, which included major city newspapers like The Scotsman of Edinburgh, the Belfast Telegraph, the Western Mail of Cardiff and The Journal of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. He also wrote for fourteen evening papers, travelling the world covering major fights, including several involving Muhammad Ali.
As an acclaimed investigative reporter, he won a coveted British National Press Award in 1974 for exposing major child neglect scandals at two leading hospitals. In the mid-1980s he was appointed Editor of the Packet Newspapers group in Cornwall, thus fulfilling a long-standing ambition to live in the English West Country. He also spent fourteen years in the Bahamas, where he worked as a political reporter in the 1960s and later (1999-2009) as Managing Editor of the nation’s leading daily newspaper, The Tribune. During his ten-year 'reign' as editor in Nassau, he was credited with bringing down the national government following a scandal involving a cabinet minister and the American starlet Anna Nicole Smith. Political enemies described him as a 'hired political assassin' and a 'journalistic terrorist', but a supporters' group called him 'the most colourful and controversial newspaper editor in the Caribbean region.'
Four street demonstrations were staged outside The Tribune's offices with placard protesters demanding his deportation, but he stood firm in what he called 'a fight for truth and democracy.'
He wrote for Reuters for many years as a staff and freelance journalist, and his byline appeared in many of the world's leading titles, including the Washington Post, the now defunct Washington Evening Star, the Boston Globe, the Miami Herald, and The Independent and Evening Standard of London.
Since his first stint in the Bahamas (1966-69) he has been keenly interested in Haiti. His book, Papa Doc, about the tyrant Francois Duvalier, was widely praised when published in 2007 and is frequently cited as one of the most penetrating insights into the regime. He has also written books about the modern Bahamas, the writer D.H.Lawrence and the American murderess Sante Kimes and her son Kenny, her partner in crime.
Blood and Fire and Papa Doc are stocked as research material in leading university libraries in the United States and the Caribbean. These include American 'Ivy League' establishments like Princeton and Harvard, the University of California in Los Angeles, and the premier Caribbean seat of learning, the University of the West Indies. The books are also stocked at the US Library of Congress in Washington DC and New York Public Library. Blood and Fire was ranked an Amazon Canada and Caribbean bestseller.
In 1980, when he was between marriages, Marquis was revealed in the Sunday Mirror to be the lover of the sex-in-chains girl, Joyce McKinney, who was the tabloid sensation of the 1970s. McKinney, a former Miss Wyoming, had been charged with the 'rape' of a Mormon missionary in Devon in 1978, but fled Britain before the trial. Marquis met her two years later while covering a world title fight in Las Vegas.
In 2006, Marquis appeared in a Matt Wortmann Channel Four ducumentary about the Oakes murder, in which he claimed the killing was a 'strictly local' affair involving the Bahamas' ruling white oligarchy of the time. In 2018, he featured in another Oakes documentary, this time on the Yesterday Channel, when he claimed the Duke of Windsor -then Governor of the Bahamas - was implicated in a cover-up. He also appeared in the Evolution of Evil television series about tyrants, offering his assessment of Duvalier's mental state while in power, and features in a 2019 TV documentary about the killer Sante Kimes.
During an hour-long Bahamas radio interview in 2008, Marquis outlined his journalistic philosophy to host Jeff Lloyd, and described his controversial and extremely confrontational editorship as a contribution to democracy.
Told his critics accused him of abusing the 'privilege' of free speech, Marquis said: 'Free speech is a right, not a privilege.'
In 2002, Marquis was part of a Bahamas media delegation to China, where he visited newspaper offices and met senior government officials to promote friendship and co-operation between Beijing and Nassau. He was later described by the Bahamas B2B news website as 'arguably the finest journalist to have worked on any Bahamas publication since his mentor, Sir Etienne Dupuch.' Dupuch, who was The Tribune's publisher for a record 53 years, was among the most revered figures in the Commonwealth media.
Marquis and his wife Joan, a fine art graduate, live in a Cornish fishing village, where he continues to write books and paint for relaxation. They have eight children and sixteen grandchildren.