Dane Chandos is one of Lakeside’s most celebrated writers, but no one has ever seen his photo and no tombstone marks his grave because Chandos is a pen name that Lakeside writer Peter Lilley shared with two successive collaborators.
Lilley, born in the U.K. in 1913, lived for much of his life in San Antonio Tlayacapan. His first collaborator was Nigel Millett, who was born in London in 1904 and emigrated to Mexico with his father in 1937.
The pair wrote two books before Millet died in 1946. (He and his father are both buried in Ajijic’s Panteón.) Both stories share a San Antonio Tlayacapan setting and many of the same characters.
Village in the Sun (1945) tells the story of building Lilley’s house in Mexico and is still treasured as an authentic account of Lakeside life in the 1940s. Find it here on Amazon.
In House in the Sun (1949) the protagonist has added guest rooms to the house and become an innkeeper of sorts. Find it here on Amazon.
The year after Millet’s death, Lilley was visited in Mexico by Anthony Stansfeld, a U.K. expat who shortly after emigrated to the U.S. Stansfeld later became Lilley’s second collaborator, traveling frequently from his American home to Mexico.
The pair wrote two travelogues under the name Dane Chandos.
They also created a huarache-wearing Mexican detective who appears in two works written under the pen name Bruce Buckingham. Three Bad Nights (1956) here on Amazon, and Boiled Alive (1957), here on Amazon.
Peter Lilley lived in San Antonio Tlayacapan into the 1970s, but returned to the U.K. in his final days and died there in 1980.
But there’s a delightful postscript…
The new owners of Lilley’s house discovered an unpublished manuscript containing a collection of recipes and anecdotes that they released in 1997 as the bilingual work Candelaria’s Cookbook under the name Dane Chandos.
Read more about the Lake Chapala area’s rich literary legacy here.
(Post by Antonio Ramblés.)