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Sexton Blake Library

Entry updated 13 December 2021. Tagged: Character, Publication.


Sexton Blake, a long-running fictional detective sometimes known as the poor man's Sherlock Holmes, shares (though not in his earliest incarnations) several Holmes characteristics including residence in London's Baker Street; his adventures, however, are substantially more melodramatic. Created in "The Missing Millionaire" (December 1893 The Halfpenny Marvel) by Harry Blyth writing as Hal Meredeth, the character developed into an extensive Series franchise which continued until 1978, with more than 4000 Blake stories by roughly 200 authors. Five series of the Sexton Blake Library appeared from 1915 to 1968, with fantastic elements occasionally intruding. Associated House Names are Desmond Reid and Peter Saxon. Associated House Names (few exclusive to the Library) were W A Ballinger (principally W Howard Baker), Arthur Kirby (principally George Paul Mann), Arthur Maclean (ditto), Desmond Reid, Peter Saxon (principally W Howard Baker) and Richard Williams.

The following Sexton Blake contributors have entries in this encyclopedia, though not all including Sexton Blake titles in Checklists: R Coutts Armour (anonymously and as Coutts Brisbane, H [Hartley] Tremayne and Reid Whitley or Whitly), W Howard Baker (as Baker, Ballinger, Reid, Saxon, Williams, and William Arthur), Lester Bidston, Ladbroke Black (anon and as Black), Sydney J Bounds (as Peter Saxon, Desmond Reid, and [with George Paul Mann] George Sydney), T C Bridges (anon and as Bridges), Edwy Searles Brooks (anon and as Brooks), John Creasey, John Lymington (as Desmond Reid and John Drummond), Colin Collins (anon), Maurice B Dix, Cicely Hamilton (as Scott Rae and/or Max Hamilton), Wilfred McNeilly (as W A Ballinger, McNeilly and Desmond Reid), Michael Moorcock with James Cawthorn (as Desmond Reid), Jack Trevor Story (as Story and, once, Richard Williams), Martin Thomas and E C Tubb (as Arthur Maclean).

Full-fledged sf elements are relatively rare in Sexton Blake work, though from time to time Villains attempt to kill the detective in exotic ways like firing him off to the Moon by Rocket. Wilfred McNeilly's Let My People Be (1965) as by Desmond Reid deals with the Irish "Little People" as a Lost Race. Arthur Maclean's A Touch of Evil (1959) describes a virus from space controlling human victims and was stripped of Blake references to become the award-winning (in Italy) The Possessed (2005) as by E C Tubb. George Sydney's Countdown to Murder (1962) portrays British astronauts developing Communications satellites; it predates Telstar. Martin Thomas's Bred to Kill (1960) includes a Scientist recreating an archaeopteryx, an eohippus and a primitive man-ape (the obvious one escapes). Anger at World's End (1963), by John Lymington et al as by Desmond Reid, describes with unusual ineptitude an interstellar influence that zombifies villagers. Two of Jack Trevor Story's Sexton Blake Library titles are mildly science-fictional: The Frightened People (1958) centres on nuclear radiation leakage, and Danger on the Flip Side (1960) uses the then-futuristic McGuffin of a video disc. [DRL/DR]

see also: Henry Fox.

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