Sam Youd, a.k.a John Cristopher
Born 16 April 1922
Huyton, Lancashire, England
Died 3 February 2012 (age 89)
Bath, Somerset, England
Occupation Writer
Nationality British

Sam Youd (16 April 1922 - 3 February 2012), known professionally as Christopher Samuel Youd, was a British writer, best known for science fiction under the pseudonym John Christopher, including the novel The Death of Grass and the young-adult novel series The Tripods. He won the Guardian Prize in 1971 and the Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis in 1976.

Youd also wrote under variations of his own name and under the pseudonyms Stanley Winchester, Hilary Ford and William Godfrey.


Sam Youd was born in Huyton, Lancashire. He was educated at Peter Symonds' School in Winchester, Hampshire in 1922. Sam adopted the name Christopher Samuel Youd for his professional writings, leading to the widespread but mistaken belief that that was his birth name. Throughout his life he was known simply as Sam to his friends and acquaintances.

He served in World War II in the Royal Corps of Signals from 1941 to 1946. A scholarship from the Rockefeller Foundation made it possible for him to pursue a writing career, beginning with The Winter Swan (Dennis Dobson, 1949) under the name Christopher Youd. He wrote science fiction short stories as John Christopher from 1951 and his first book under that name was a science fiction novel, Year of the Comet, published by Michael Joseph in 1955. John Christopher's second novel, The Death of Grass (Michael Joseph, 1956) was Youd's first major success as a writer. It was published next year in the U.S. as No Blade of Grass (Simon & Schuster, 1957); an American magazine published Year of the Comet later that year and it was issued in 1959 as an Avon paperback entitled Planet in Peril. After Grass, Youd continued to use the John Christopher pseudonym for a majority of his writing and all of his science fiction. The Death of Grass has been reissued many times, most recently in the Penguin Modern Classics (2009)


Samuel Youd

Many of his subsequent Sci-Fi novels were published almost simultaneously in the UK and US, and a great majority by the next calendar year. A definitive summary may be possible based on this source. Certainly it fits the claim that Grass was a major success and his first one.

In 1966 he started writing science fiction for adolescents. The Tripods trilogy (1967–68), The Lotus Caves (1969), The Guardians (1970), and the Sword of the Spirits trilogy (1971–72) were well received. He won the annual Guardian Children's Fiction Prize for The Guardians. In 1976 he won the Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis, youth fiction category, for the same novel in German translation (Die Wächter).

Youd died in Bath, England, on 3 February 2012 of complications from bladder cancer.

Film and television adaptionsEdit

The Death of Grass was adapted as a film by Cornel Wilde under its American title, No Blade of Grass (1970). The Tripods was partially developed into a British TV Series. There have also been plans to make the series into a film. Empty World was developed into a 1987 TV movie in Germany, Leere Welt. The Guardians was made into a 1986 TV series in Germany, Die Wächter. The Lotus Caves was in development in 2007, as a film from Walden Media, to have been directed by Rpin Suwannath.


As John ChristopherEdit

  • The Twenty-Second Century (1954) (short story collection)
  • The Year of the Comet (Michael Joseph, 1955); US title, Planet in Peril (Avon, 1959)
  • The Death of Grass (Michael Joseph, 1956); US title, No Blade of Grass (Simon & Schuster, 1957)
  • The Caves of Night (1958)
  • A Scent of White Poppies (1959)
  • The Long Voyage (US title The White Voyage, 1960)
  • The World in Winter (US title The Long Winter, 1962)
  • Cloud on Silver (US title Sweeney's Island, 1964)
  • The Possessors (1964)
  • A Wrinkle in the Skin (US title The Ragged Edge, 1965)
  • The Little People (1966)
  • The Tripods trilogy (expanded to tetralogy, 1988)
  • Pendulum (1968)
  • The Lotus Caves (1969) Macmillan (US); Hamish Hamilton (UK) ISBN 0-241-01729-7
  • The Guardians (1970)
  • The Sword of the Spirits trilogy
    • The Prince In Waiting (1970)
    • Beyond the Burning Lands (1971)
    • The Sword of the Spirits (1972)
  • In the Beginning Longman (1972) ISBN 0-582-53726-6
  • Dom and Va (1973)
  • Wild Jack (1974)
  • Empty World (1977)
  • The Fireball trilogy
  • A Dusk of Demons (1993)
  • Bad Dream (2003)

As Christopher YoudEdit

  • The Winter Swan (1949)

As Samuel YoudEdit

  • Babel Itself (1951)
  • Brave Conquerors (1952)
  • Crown and Anchor (1953)
  • A Palace of Strangers (1954)
  • Holly Ash (US title The Opportunist, 1955)
  • Giant's Arrow (1956); as Anthony Rye in the UK, Samuel Youd in the US
  • The Choice (UK title The Burning Bird, 1961)
  • Messages of Love (1961)
  • The Summers at Accorn (1963)

As William GodfreyEdit

  • Malleson at Melbourne (1956) - a cricket novel, volume 1 of an unfinished trilogy
  • The Friendly Game (1957) - volume 2 of the trilogy

As Peter GraafEdit

  • Dust and the Curious Boy (1957); US title, Give the Devil His Due - volume 1 in the Joe Dust series
  • Daughter Fair (1958) - volume 2 in the Joe Dust series
  • The Sapphire Conference (1959) - volume 3 in the Joe Dust series
  • The Gull's Kiss (1962)

As Hilary FordEdit

  • Felix Walking (1958)
  • Felix Running (1959)
  • Bella on the Roof (1965)
  • A Figure in Grey (1973)
  • Sarnia (1974)
  • Castle Malindine (1975)
  • A Bride for Bedivere (1976)

As Peter NicholsEdit

  • Patchwork of Death (1965)

As Stanley WinchesterEdit

  • The Practice (1968)
  • Men With Knives (1968); US title, A Man With a Knife
  • The Helpers (1970)
  • Ten Per Cent of Your Life (1973)

Short storiesEdit

Youd's first published story was "Dreamer" in the March 1941 Weird Tales, as C.S. Youd. He has had stories published in the magazines Astounding Science Fiction, Science Fantasy, Worlds Beyond Science-Fantasy Fiction, New Worlds, Galaxy Science Fiction, SF Digest, Future Science Fiction, Space SF Digest, Thrilling Wonder Stories, Authentic Science Fiction, Space Science Fiction, Nebula Science Fiction, Fantastic Universe, Saturn Science Fiction, Orbit Science Fiction, Fantastic Story Magazine, If: Worlds of Science Fiction, Worlds of Science Fiction (UK), Argosy (UK), The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Beyond Infinity


No Blade of Grass was serialized in The Saturday Evening Post in 1957. Caves of Night was serialized in John Bull Magazine in 1958.


  • The Best SF Stories 3rd Series by Grayson & Grayson (1953)
  • Avon Science fiction and Fantasy Reader #1 (1953)
  • The Twenty-Second Century Grayson & Grayson (1954)
  • Gateway To Tomorrow edited by John Carnell, published by Panther (1963)
  • Avon Science Fiction and Fantasy Reader No. 2
  • The Best Science Fiction Stories Third Series edited by Everett F. Bleiler and T. E. Dikty
  • The Tenth Pan Book of Horror Stories, edited by Herbert Van Thal (1969)
  • Young Winter’s Tales No. 2, ed. M. R. Hodgkin, London: Macmillan]] (1971)
  • In Time to Come, Topliner (1973)
  • The Best of British SF 1 Orbit Books (1977)
  • The Random House Book of Science Fiction Stories Random House (1997) (ISBN 0-679-88527-7)
  • The Young Oxford Book of Nasty Endings, (1997), edited by Dennis Pepper, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-278151-0

External linksEdit

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