A daily note on some event in the history of mystery fiction.
Sunday, June 7, 2015
6/7/1866 Raffles' creator breaks in
June 7, 1866. E.W. Hornung was born in Middlesborough on this date. He became a published writer at age twenty. His great claim to fame was his invention of A.J. Raffles, "the amateur cracksman." In other words, Raffles was a gentleman burglar, essentially the first hero-rogue in the mystery genre. The stories were narrated by Bunny Manders, Raffles' faithful companion.
If that sound vaguely familiar, you're right. The stories were a sort of parody or answer to the Sherlock Holmes stories created by Arthur Conan Doyle, who happened to be Hornung's borther-in-law. Doyle admitted the tales were of high quality but, like many reviewers, found them morally abhorrent.
Like Doyle, Hornung killed his hero, having Raffles slain during the Second Boer War. Unlike Holmes, Raffles stayed dead.