Novelist Leslie Thomas, who lived for many years in Carpenders Park, has died at the age of 83.

He was best known for his comic novel The Virgin Soldiers, which drew upon his national service experiences in Malaya and follows a group of British soldiers in the Far East.

But Thomas was also inspired by the area he lived just north of Watford in the 1960s.

His book The Tropics of Ruislip, subsequently adapted for television, was based on Carpenders Park and its relationship with South Oxhey, just across the railway tracks.

The former Fleet Street reporter for the London Evening News wrote more than 30 novels, including Dangerous Davies, The Last Detective, which also became a small screen drama series.

He died at his home near Salisbury in Wiltshire on Tuesday, May 6, after a lengthy illness  and is survived by his wife Diana, four children and four grandchildren.

Speaking after the announcement of his death, Diana said: "He had a wonderful life and he travelled the world. All he ever wanted to do was write and that is what he did.

"He died at home with his family around him."

In 2004 Thomas was given an OBE for services to literature.

Born in Newport, south Wales, Thomas was brought up a Barnardo's home from age 12.

He used his experiences of growing up in a orphanage to write his 1964 first novel, This Time Next Week.

The "Carpenders Park author" attended a book signing in Watford High Street soon after the memoir was published in 1964.

The West Herts and Watford Observer noted the first customer to sign his book was his then wife Maureen, and that two-year-old Mark seemed more interested in the camera than daddy’s achievement.

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