Alumni author sees series return to the big screen 

Lee ChildLee Child is the worldwide best-selling author behind the Jack Reacher series, which has just seen the premiere of its second big screen adaptation featuring Tom Cruise. But did you know that Lee is also a graduate of Sheffield, and an ardent supporter of the University.

Lee, whose real name is actually Jim Grant, studied at Sheffield from 1974 to 1977. Although he came to Sheffield to study law, he had no intention of becoming a lawyer. Instead he used law as a lens through which to observe the world and the current issues it confronts.

During his studies Lee developed a passion for drama, and spent much of his time working on stage productions in the Drama Studio. It was while working on these productions that Lee met his wife Jane who was also studying at the University. This love of drama led Lee to work in television after graduating from Sheffield, joining Granada Television and producing a range of successful programmes such as Prime Suspect, The Jewel in the Crown, Cracker and Brideshead Revisited.

After leaving television in 1995 Lee decided to try his hand at writing, having always been a voracious reader. He signed a three book deal and in 1997 published his first book ‘Killing Floor’, which became an instant success. The book introduced the world to the character of Jack Reacher, one of the most memorable crime fiction characters of all time, a former US military police officer who investigates suspicious and dangerous situations, confronting serial killers, kidnappers and assassins.

Since then he’s had over 20 books published and well over 100 million books sold. In 2012 Lee turned his attention to the big screen where his much-loved character Jack Reacher was adapted for cinema in two feature films starring Tom Cruise as the lead. Lee even managed to make it into the first film himself with a brief cameo.

Lee still has a great deal of affection and strong links with Sheffield (as well as studying here, two of his brothers are also Sheffield alumni). Indeed it is because of this connection and belief in what Sheffield is working towards that Lee established over 50 ‘Jack Reacher Scholarships’ at the University, supporting current students through their studies. In 2009 he was awarded an Honorary Degree, and earlier in 2016 Lee was kind enough to join us for our Alumni Reception in New York (where he now spends much of his time) as our guest speaker.

Gary & Pamela Dickinson (left and front-center) with Lee (right) & his brother Andrew (back center) Lee Child delivering his speech at the US Alumni Reunion 2016

When he does make it back to Sheffield Lee comes to the University on a frequent basis - both as a Visiting Professor as well as giving his time and experience to students through masterclasses in his craft. Lee’s accomplishments have allowed him to lend his support to a wide range of areas beyond the University – from supporting the Brecon Mountain Rescue Team where his brother works, to Amnesty International and Stonewall – and truly goes to show how Lee has taken his success and used it to better the lives of so many others.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Keith Burnett commented:

"It is tremendous to see Jim Grant's ongoing success as a writer, and in particular with the release of this new film. Jim is a great friend of our University and a sincere supporter of students in Sheffield today. Earlier this year Jim was guest of honour and speaker at our University’s American Alumni Reunion in New York where he described his experiences as a writer, his commitment to sharing opportunities with young people, and his concerns about growing nationalism in politics across the West, including both the UK and the US.

"I also had the pleasure of meeting Jim in his own home and sharing with him our concerns to share opportunities with young people from all backgrounds in ways which had benefitted us both personally. Jim in particular welcomed the university's work to raise funds for refugee scholars and Sheffield's leading role in the #WeAreInternational campaign which stresses that education works best when it is open to talent and idea across national borders."

Lee has touched and enriched the lives of many students at the University and we are exceptionally proud to see his achievements and to call him one of our own.

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