John Fenwick Blackburn (born Northumberland, 26 June 1923; died 1993) was a British novelist who wrote thrillers, horror novels, and The Flame and the Wind (1967), an unusual historical novel set in Roman times, in which a nephew of Pontius Pilate tries to discover the facts about the crucifixion of Jesus.
His horror novels are often structured as thrillers, with detective story plots involving international espionage, but leading to a supernatural resolution. This means that, as with some of the books of James Herbert, many of Blackburn's horror novels are notable for pace and plotting rather than for atmospheric effects. Blackburn specialised in mixing modern concerns such as germ warfare and international conspiracies with ancient traditions and curses, often to ingenious effect.
Many of his books feature stock characters, including General Charles Kirk of British Intelligence and his friends, the scientist Sir Marcus Levin and his Russian wife Tania.
Blackburn's novels Nothing But the Night and The Gaunt Woman were the basis for screenplays. The Gaunt Woman appeared as a made for TV movie in 1969 as Destiny of a Spy and Nothing But the Night was released to theaters in 1972.
Blackburn was born in Corbridge, Northumberland and educated at Haileybury and Durham University. He was the brother of the poet Thomas Blackburn. During the Second World War (1942-45) he served in the British merchant navy, becoming a radio officer. He attended Durham University after returning to civilian life, earning his bachelor's degree in 1949. In 1950 he married Joan Mary Clift. He was a schoolmaster in London for two years, and he taught in Berlin for a year, following which he returned to London and became a director of Red Lion Books.