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The History of Sexton Blake

Created at the tail end of the Victorian era, Sexton Blake rapidly became one of the most popular fictional characters of the 20th Century. He featured in thousands of adventure stories published in countless papers, magazines and comics. He also appeared in stage plays, radio dramas, films and television serials. In these articles , you'll discover what made him such a quintessential part of the English landscape for so long; how he changed with the times; his cultural significance; and why he faded from view in the mid-seventies.

A Sexton Blake Bibliography

After his debut in 1893, Sexton Blake featured in a multitude of story papers, at one point appearing in five new stories every week! Here you will find the most complete and detailed bibliography ever produced. With serial episodes and story reprints included, it has over 5,000 entries, plus cover scans, illustrations, reviews and story notes.

A Sexton Blake Timeline

While Sexton Blake's publication history has been well documented, no one has ever told the story of the character's life ... until now! In this investigative timeline, conclusions and assertions are made that will fascinate and astonish!

The Assistants and Allies

In Tinker, Sexton Blake was blessed with a very faithful and capable sidekick, but Tinker was neither the first nor the detective's only helper. Blake "auditioned" a number of assistants in his early years, and even after finally discovering Tinker, he went on to gather further allies. Most notably, he acquired the remarkable bloodhound, Pedro. He also earned the friendship and loyalty of talented Scotland Yard men, of male and female adventurers (the latter usually smitten with him), and even of crooks whose crimes he overlooked due to their having an element of honour and justice about them.

The Villains

Prior to the First World War, Sexton Blake's enemies were mostly burglars, swindlers, and aristocratic scoundrels. However, from the turn of the century, the villains became less concerned with inheritances, marriages, and jewels than they were with the weakening of the British empire. Then, in 1913, something extraordinary happened: a breed of "super-crooks" appeared. These men and women had no motive (apart from revenge, in a few cases) other than personal power and profit. With their advent, the Blake saga entered its Golden Age. Meet the Master Crooks in these articles ...

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Authors, Editors and Artists

Sexton Blake was created by Harry Blyth, under the pen name 'Hal Meredeth'. He only penned a handful of Blake stories but, even before his untimely death, other writers had adopted his fictional detective. Over the ensuing eighty years or so, more than two hundred authors wrote Blake tales. Some, such as Michael Storm, remain mysterious to this day. Others, like John Creasey, Michael Moorcock and Jack Trevor Story, became extremely well known. The character was also supported by a number of dedicated editors (H. W. Twyman and W. Howard Baker to name but two) and artists (foremost among them being Eric Parker). Meet them here!

A Baker Street Index

From Edwardian gentleman to WWI spy-catcher, saviour of the upper-classes to 1930's gang-buster, working man's hero to swinging sixties super-sleuth, Sexton Blake always moved with the times. His stories chronicle the changing face of Britain as the Empire crumbled, the class system broke down, and new technologies changed the social landscape. No wonder he became, according to Dorothy L. Sayers, "the nearest approach to a 20th Century national folklore." The articles herein explore some of the many aspects of the Sexton Blake saga.

Stage, Screen and the Airwaves

Sexton Blake was featured in short films from the very start of the movie business and continued to do so throughout the silent era. By the mid-1930s he made the jump to sound, and though far fewer (but far longer) Blake movies were produced, at least their quality improved. The great detective also inspired countless stage productions, a number of radio serials and, in the 1970s, two television series. Sexton Blake was portrayed by a great many actors over the years but none ever became 'the definitive Blake', which perhaps explains why the detective's career on stage, screen and the airwaves is largely forgotten today.

The Sexton Blake Archive

For your reading pleasure, a selection of scanned Sexton Blake stories are herein presented. Please be aware that most of the old story papers used very fine print on quite rough textured paper, so the quality of the scans is variable. The character "Sexton Blake" is owned by Time Inc UK, and the licence to publish Blake stories, by Obverse Books Ltd. In order not to infringe on any plans for the character that those organisations may have now or in the future, I provide here only material that in my judgement is unlikely to ever be re-issued in any form. If I am asked to remove anything, I shall do so immediately. You will also find here some examples of "fan fiction," including a few tales by me (Mark Hodder), which can be viewed as "practice stories" leading up my authoring of THE SILENT THUNDER CAPER, the first "official" new Sexton Blake tale of the 21st Century.

Fan Fiction

I cut my teeth as an author by writing Sexton Blake fan fiction. My stories are here ... along with a few tales from other fans. You are invited to submit your own!