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E. W. Hornung (1866–1921)

Author of Raffles: The Amateur Cracksman

86+ Works 1,800 Members 55 Reviews

About the Author


Works by E. W. Hornung

The Amateur Cracksman (1899) 147 copies
A Thief in the Night (1905) 143 copies
Mr. Justice Raffles (1909) 84 copies
Dead Men Tell No Tales (1897) 53 copies
The Shadow of the Rope (1910) 37 copies
Stingaree (1905) 34 copies
The Camera Fiend (2009) 16 copies
The Crime Doctor (2007) 13 copies
No Hero (2004) 11 copies
Witching Hill (1914) 11 copies
The Shadow of a Man (2011) 7 copies
A bride from the Bush (1901) 7 copies
My Lord Duke (2011) 5 copies
Peccavi (2011) 5 copies
At large (2014) 5 copies
Young blood (2014) 4 copies
Tiny Luttrell (2011) 3 copies
The thousandth woman (2011) 3 copies
Denis Dent (1904) 3 copies
Mr justice raffles (2021) 2 copies
Raffles 2 copies
Le Premier Pas 2 copies
The Boss of Taroomba (2014) 2 copies
Tiny Luttrell (2019) 1 copy
Stingaree Rides Again (2016) 1 copy
Some Persons Unknown (2009) 1 copy
Fathers of Men (2018) 1 copy
Nine Points Of The Law (2010) 1 copy
The Return Match (2010) 1 copy
業餘神偷萊佛士 (2007) 1 copy
The Unbidden Guest (2016) 1 copy
Vendepunkt i marts (1996) 1 copy

Associated Works

The Big Book of Christmas Mysteries (2013) — Contributor — 289 copies
The Omnibus of Crime (1929) — Contributor — 208 copies
The Penguin Book of Gaslight Crime (2009) — Contributor — 180 copies
100 Crooked Little Crime Stories (1994) — Contributor — 165 copies
Murder at the Manor: Country House Mysteries (2016) — Contributor — 165 copies
Shadows of Sherlock Holmes (Wordsworth Collection) (1998) — Contributor — 154 copies
Resorting to Murder: Holiday Mysteries (2015) — Contributor — 147 copies
The Oxford Book of Villains (1992) — Contributor — 137 copies
The Folio Book of Christmas Crime Stories (2004) — Contributor — 117 copies
Deep Waters: Mysteries on the Waves (2019) — Contributor — 83 copies
The Mammoth Book of Great Detective Stories (1985) — Contributor — 80 copies
Crime and Mystery Short Stories (2016) — Contributor — 69 copies
The Big Book of Victorian Mysteries (2021) — Contributor — 37 copies
Bodies in the Library Short Stories (Gothic Fantasy) (2020) — Contributor — 33 copies
Great Short Stories of Detection, Mystery, and Horror (1928) — Contributor — 32 copies
The Mystery Book (1934) — Contributor — 29 copies
Rogues' Gallery: The Great Criminals of Modern Fiction (1945) — Contributor — 27 copies
Sporting Blood: The Great Sports Detective Stories (1942) — Contributor — 25 copies
Urban Crime Short Stories (Gothic Fantasy) (2019) — Contributor — 20 copies
Great English Short Stories (1930) — Contributor — 20 copies
The World's Best One Hundred Detective Stories, Volume 4 (1929) — Contributor — 19 copies
Classic Crime Short Stories (2001) — Contributor — 13 copies
Crime and Detection (1926) — Contributor — 11 copies
A Cavalcade of Collier's (1959) — Contributor — 10 copies
Famous stories of five centuries (1934) — Contributor — 4 copies
Short Stories: The Timeless Collection (Unabridged) (2007) — Contributor — 2 copies
Detectives and Criminals (1993) — Contributor — 1 copy


Common Knowledge



Gentleman thief A. J. Raffles and his accomplice Harry ‘Bunny’ Masters are the criminal mirror images of Holmes and Watson. Any resemblance is entirely intentional: the book bears the dedication ‘To A.C.D., This Form of Flattery’ and Hornung was married to Constance Doyle, Conan Doyle’s sister. Raffles is a dandy about town, a handsome, well-heeled member of late Victorian society who is also a diamond thief and burglar. He has a bachelor pad at the Albany, belongs to the best West End clubs and dines in grand houses as a guest before breaking into them and cracking the safe.

Raffles and Bunny met at their public school and are very close friends. Their relationship carries a delicious homoerotic subtext. At first I thought this was my fevered imagination but Hornung knew Oscar Wilde and it seems that echoes of the Wilde/Bosie dalliance were also entirely intentional. Raffles and Bunny inhabit a Wildean world of paradox, moral relativism and aestheticism. Raffles is criminal as artist relishing the conception, plotting and realisation of his crimes. He steals partly to maintain his lifestyle but also for the sheer creative fun of it. And there’s a whiff of socialism in the privileged air: challenged by Bunny about his depredations Raffles avers that crime is wrong but the distribution of wealth is wrong as well.

He has a talent for cricket and plays for England - ‘a dangerous bat, a brilliant field, and perhaps the very finest slow bowler of his decade’. His fame on the field provides cover for his secret life of larceny as well as allowing Hornung to spin parallels between the game of cricket and the game of crime. George Orwell had a talent for writing perceptive essays and he wrote one about Raffles. Orwell points out that cricket is the perfect sport for Raffles as it is bound up, in England at least, with notions of style and fair play; the phrase ‘it’s not cricket’ to express ethical disapproval is not entirely obsolete even in the 21st century. By making his burglar a cricketer, observes Orwell, Hornung was ‘drawing the sharpest moral contrast that he was able to imagine’.

Raffles is an amateur cricketer, just as he is an amateur cracksman, and he regards with condescension the professionals in both occupations. Raffles, you understand, is a Gentleman and most emphatically not a Player. Which brings us to the essence of these delightfully absurd adventures: snobbery. By making his hero a toff Hornung catered to his readers fantasies about upper crust society but making his toff a criminal also enabled him to playfully subvert Victorian values. Raffles has it both ways with great panache and so does Hornung. These interrelated stories are awash with period charm, cleverly plotted and a rattling good read.
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gpower61 | 32 other reviews | Apr 29, 2023 |
Further adventures of gentlemen burglars Raffles and Bunny.
AliceAnna | 32 other reviews | Apr 22, 2023 |
I read this previously and found the tales of Raffles and his sidekick Bunny entertaining in a quaint, old-fashioned kind of way. Nothing groundbreaking, but likeable characters. The fact that they are gentlemen burglars makes it even more fun.
AliceAnna | 32 other reviews | Apr 22, 2023 |
Not a bad story. I did enjoy it more than the Raffles tales but that's just me.
TazMatilda | 2 other reviews | Oct 31, 2022 |



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