Arthur Hailey was a British-Canadian bestselling author of contemporary fiction. His suspense novels, like Airport and Hotel, also became screen hits and brought him international fame. Hailey sold over 170 million copies of his books worldwide, and several of his novels were translated into dozens of languages.
Arthur Hailey was born to working-class parents in Luton, England.
He did not have any formal education beyond high school. Hailey left school at 14 after he failed to secure a scholarship while his family had financial difficulties.
He overcame his lack of education and airsickness to become an airman in the Royal Air Force during World War II.
He began his career as a copywriter and later worked as a television scriptwriter in England before moving to Canada in the early 1960s. The reason for this move was disillusion with what he saw as a socialist trend in postwar Britain.
Hailey worked first at the Maclean-Hunter Publishing Company, then in sales. The tipping point came in 1955 when he created a teleplay, Flight Into Danger.
The TV drama was produced to critical acclaim by the Canadian Broadcast Company and later sold to NBC. Encouraged by the success, Arthur Hailey became a full-time writer in 1956.
His first novel, The Final Diagnosis, was published in 1959 and was set in a hospital. Hailey spent almost a year researching a subject, followed by six months reviewing his notes and about 18 months writing the book.
The next, In High Places(1962), is political fiction with a plot that follows the professional career of Prime Minister of Canada, James McCallum Howden, which went almost unnoticed.
But following the success of the Hotel in 1965, Hailey moved to California, later to the Bahamas. The story of an independent New Orleans hotel was adapted into TV series which ran for five seasons.
In 1968 Arthur Hailey published a page-turner Airport about an airport manager's ordeal after a bomber boards a plane flown by the manager's womanizing brother-in-law. The novel became a NY Times bestseller and later a successful film.
Hailey wrote several other bestselling books, such as Wheels (1971) and The Moneychangers (1975).
His novels are known for providing readers with an inside look at various industries. Almost all his bestselling stories dealt with the inner workings of different industries, such as hotels, banks, and airports.
Critics often dismissed Hailey's success as the result of a formulaic "potboiler" style, in which he caused an ordinary character to become involved in a crisis, then increased the suspense by switching among multiple related plot lines.
In 2002, Hailey told John Marquis, editor of the Bahamas' newspaper The Tribune, that he was lucky to have supportive parents who encouraged him to believe in himself.
Arthur Hailey died in his sleep at his home in the Bahamas. He was 84.