by Mark Hodder

  • An introduction to this popular old character for the benefit of new readers.

Humble Begge is eccentric, other-worldly, kindly, charitable, and seemingly meek ... but actually a resourceful and skilled fighter. He is often accompanied by Tim, the manager of the Eastern Brethrens' Hostel.

The character was created by Andrew Murray.

Humble Begge

Humble Begge is a tall, skinny, narrow-shouldered individual who habitually wears a frock-coat of the wide-skirted variety; narrow, peg-topped trousers, rather baggy at the knees and tucked up to reveal grey socks; black shoes with thick soles, and a soft black shovel hat. He nearly always carries an old umbrella.

His chin is long, pointed and clean-shaven. He has large ears and half-closed, peering eyes. His cranium is almost entirely bald, with just a thin fringe of red hair. These long, lean features, together with his mode of dress, conspire to make him very curious to the eye, somewhat resembling a Quaker or a caricature of a clergyman.

His manner supports this image: he speaks with a hesitant, stuttering voice using old-fashioned language; always sounding rather apologetic.

However, appearances are deceiving and Humble Begge is far from the helpless character he seems. He has a very quick temper, especially when confronted by an injustice, and in a fight he is extremely skilled, often using his umbrella to trip or distract his opponents. Though he maintains that he is a man of peace, his courage is indisputable and he is a staunch ally of the downtrodden and oppressed. To this end, he runs the Eastern Brethrens' Hostel in Goeben Square, in which the poor (mostly Asiatic sailors) are received and treated well.

Over the course of a number of adventures, Begge proves himself a great friend and very capable ally of Sexton Blake and Tinker.


1. At 4 O'Clock (UNION JACK issue 624, 1915)
When Humble Begge discovers that something is going to happen to a man named Julian Wells, he becomes the target of Japanese thugs. He consults Sexton Blake and they visit Wells, discovering that the man is being threatened by a Japanese man named Yoli Mitsugi who wrongly believes that Wells cheated him in the past. When Mitsugi kidnaps Wells's daughter, Begge and Blake rescue her. Tinker and Wells are then captured but, again, Begge and Blake come to the rescue. Mitsugi is killed while trying to escape. His henchman, Wu Li, vows vengeance.

2. The Death Sleep (UNION JACK issue 626, 1915)

3. Self Accused (UNION JACK issue 629, 1915)
A doctor named Cryps hypnotises Sir Richard Carrisbrooke and fools him into thinking he has killed his own uncle. The young baron tries to fake his own death to escape the authorities (and Cryps's subsequent blackmail) but he fails and becomes the doctor's prisoner. Cryps turns his attention to Carrisbrooke's wife-to-be, who responds by consulting Sexton Blake. With the help of Humble Begge, the detective exposes the plot and proves Carrisbrooke innocent. Cryps attempts an escape but when he tries to shoot Pedro he is killed by an insane inmate at his nursing home.

4. The Case of the African Missionary (UNION JACK issue 636, 1915)
Begge outwits a crook named Theodore Hart who intends for the money donated by a shipowner to an African mission to be used, instead, to pay for a shipment of weapons. These are intended for a slave trader and will be used to attack a native village. Begge gets hold of the armaments and uses them to defend the settlement. Sexton Blake, who's been a step behind Begge throughout, catches up in time to see the crook killed at the end of the battle. Begge reveals that Hart was, in fact, his younger brother.

5. A Marked Man (UNION JACK issue 640, 1916)

6. The Affair of the Ulledon Plate (UNION JACK issue 647, 1916)

7. The Grimsdale Abbey Affair (UNION JACK issue 708, 1917)

8. When Greek Meets Greek (UNION JACK issue 725, 1917)

9. Beyond the Law (THE SEXTON BLAKE LIBRARY 1st series, issue 214, 1922)

10. The Case of the Bamboo Rods (THE UNION JACK issue 1,009, 1923)