Parker (born September 17, 1932) is an acclaimed American writer of detective fiction. His most famous works are the Spenser series, which achieved a far wider audience due to being dramatized as a television series, Spenser: For Hire, on the ABC network during the late 1980s. His works explore uncomfortable aspects of human nature and incorporate considerable knowledge about the Boston metropolitan area. His sidekick, Hawk, is probably modeled on the sidekick in Book Five of Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene. Artegal, the knight of justice, has a helper named Talus who is an invincible man of iron.
Robert Brown Parker was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. He met the future Joan H. Parker when both were three, but they began dating at Colby College and married in 1956; they have two sons, David and Daniel. Robert Parker received a Ph. D. in English literature from Boston University in 1971, with a dissertation on the private-eye heroes of Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, and Ross MacDonald. He worked in technical writing and advertising and then in academia, eventually becoming a full professor at Northeastern University, and became a full-time writer in 1979. He and his wife separated in 1982 but reconciled in 1984, first living separately and since 1986 living on different floors of a house in Cambridge.
Parallels between Parker's life and his fiction are easy to find. His first literary collaboration with his wife, Three Weeks in Spring, is based on her first bout with breast cancer. Spenser's separation from and reconciliation with his girlfriend mirror the Parkers' marriage. Spenser's surrogate son, Paul Giacomin, is a dancer and choreographer like David Parker. Both David and Daniel Parker are gay, a situation that may be reflected in several sympathetic gay characters in Parker's fiction. In fact Daniel Parker, an actor, has played two of those characters (Spike and Detective Lee Farrell) in television films of Spenser novels.