FREDERICK NOLAN was born in Liverpool, England, and was educated there and at Aberaeron in Wales. He decided early in life to become a writer, but it was some thirty years before he got around to being one. While working as a shipping clerk, typewriter salesman, and even a squiggler in a chocolate factory, he somehow completed his first book, The Life and Death of John Henry Tunstall, became an authority on the history of the American frontier, founder of The English Westerners' Society, and something of a connoisseur of western fiction in the days when it was a flourishing literary genre. Moving to London in the early Sixties as an editor for Corgi (Bantam) Books also made it possible for him to pursue another consuming interest: the history of the American musical theatre. Also at this time he began writing western fiction as Frederick H. Christian, a pseudonym derived from his own, his wife Heidi's, and his older son's first names.
Over the next decade, while working in publishing in New York and London – Nolan produced fourteen westerns and half a dozen children’s books, as well as a considerable body of journalism. Between 1971 and 1975 he also edited and co-published The Gee Report, one of the most widely-read and influential international book trade publications of its time.
By that time he had quit his job as a highly-paid publishing executive and signed a contract to write eight (!) full length novels in a year. The first of these, The Oshawa Project (published in the US as The Algonquin Project), was a best-seller on both sides of the Atlantic, and was later filmed by MGM as Brass Target, starring Sophia Loren, John Cassavetes, Max von Sydow, Robert Vaughan and George Kennedy. Two years later came The Mittenwald Syndicate, also a major international bestseller.
Since then he has written many successful thrillers (Red Center, Wolf Trap, Sweet Sister Death, Rat Run), historical novels, biographies, childrens' books, and translations from French and German, as well as many radio and television scripts; other fiction has included a highly-praised series of legal thrillers written under the pen-name Christine McGuire. He has contributed profiles of songwriters such as Cole Porter, Johnnie Burke and Sammy Cahn to the Dictionary of American Literary Biography, and is also the author of a biography of the lyricist Lorenz Hart, A Poet on Broadway and a joint biography, The Sound of Their Music: The Story of Rodgers & Hammerstein.
A leading authority on the outlaws and gunfighters of the Old West, he has scripted and appeared in many television programs both in England and in the United States, and authored numerous articles in historical and other academic publications. His award-winning books on Southwestern frontier history include The Life and Death of John Henry Tunstall (1965), The Lincoln County War: A Documentary History (a New York Times ‘Book of the Year’ in 1992), Bad Blood: The Life and Times of the Horrell Brothers (1994), The West of Billy the Kid (1998), an annotated edition of Pat Garrett’s Authentic Life of Billy the Kid (2000), and a popular introduction to the history of the frontier, The Wild West: History, Myth and the Making of America, published in 2003. Two more books were published in 2007: Tascosa, Its Life and Gaudy Times, a comprehensive historical study of the Texas Panhandle cattle town, and The Billy the Kid Reader, a new anthology. More recently he has edited the "frontier memoir" of Frank Clifford, a contemporary of Billy the Kid--Deep Trails in the Old West, for publication in October, 2011. In addition to all this he has completed the script for a film about the life of the Kid which is currently in development.
In 1993 Frederick Nolan received the Border Regional Library Association of Texas’ Award for Literary Excellence. In 2001 he was awarded the first France V. Scholes Prize for outstanding research from the Historical Society of New Mexico and during the same year, he received the first J. Evetts Haley Fellowship from the Haley Memorial Library in Midland, Texas. In 2005 the Western Outlaw-Lawman History Association (WOLA) gave him its highest honour, the Glenn Shirley Award, for his lifetime contribution to outlaw-lawman history. In 2006, The Westerners Foundation named his The West of Billy the Kid one of the 100 most important 2oth-century historical works on the American West. In 2007 the National Outlaw-Lawman Association (NOLA) awarded him its prestigious William D. Reynolds Award in Recognition of Outstanding Research and Writing in Western History and in 2008,True West magazine named him “Best Living Non-Fiction Writer.”