Saturday, May 23, 2009


Any widely read person always has some greater or lesser population of authors, persons, ideas or topics that reside on the periphery of their knowledge, something they have seen alluded to but of which they know little or nothing. Raffles, the gentleman burglar, was one such skirmisher between the battlefields of ignorance and my mainline of knowledge. Heard of him but couldn't have told you who wrote about him, when, or really anything else other than that he was a once famous literary character.

I couldn't have told you anything, that is, until this weekend when I picked up The Collected Raffles Stories written by Ernest William Hornung and published by Oxford University Press in 1996 and unfortunately out of print.

I have read the first couple of stories and look forward to the rest of the collection. They read very much in the fashion of a Sherlock Holmes on the wrong side of the law.

This is perhaps not surprising as Hornung's early stories were published in the Strand magazine where Sherlock Holmes also saw the first light of day. Further, Hornung married A.C. Doyle's sister Constance in 1893. The world was so much smaller then.

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