Good Reading : March 2007
character study word of mouth Although most people know of The Saint from the 1960s television series star ring Roger Moore, his origins date back to the twilight of the ‘jazz age’. The world first glimpsed Simon Templar in the 1928 mystery novel Meet – The Tiger! The title refers not to the hero but to the story’s mysterious villain, who is smuggling gold through a British seaside town. Templar is introduced as a wealthy 27-year-old adventurer who, accompanied by his manservant Orace, roams the world fighting crime, largely for the thrill of it, although he would sometimes pursue evildoers if there was a tantalising reward involved. The Saint didn’t always work alone. Sometimes he was joined by his on- again/off-again girlfriend, the socialite Patricia Holm, who shared Templar’s taste for danger. Occasionally he would ck hor ns with Inspector aude Eustace Teal, who iginally appeared in Char- ris’s 1929 novel, Daredevil. ut when it suited them, emplar and Teal would ork together to solve an pecially difficult mystery. Bor n Leslie Charles owyer-Yin to a Chinese ther and English mother n Singapore in 1907, Charteris was a promis- ng Cambridge University tudent who left academia fter his first novel, X Esquire, met with acclaim n 1927. Charteris (who changed his sur name in 1926) eventually settled on developing The Saint as his ongoing character in a string of novels pub- lished during the early 1930s. But financial success im, forcing Charteris to work at several ‘odd jobs’, including gold prospector, publican and bus driver. He relocated to the United States in 1932, where he worked as a screen- writer for Paramount Pictures. America not only became a second home for Charteris, but it for med the backdrop for The Saint in New York, the 1935 thriller which helped make ‘Simon Templar’ a household name around the world. Charteris also wrote ‘The Saint’ newspaper comic strip between 1948 and 1961, and edited The Saint Mystery Magazine from 1953 until 1967. Part of The Saint’s popularity was attributable to the glamorous, exotic settings of the series. Combined with Charteris’s lightness of touch as a writer, this made Simon Templar a hero who evoked the spirit of Robin Hood – and anticipated the ar rival of another British ‘man of action’, James Bond, by several decades. saint or sinner? Simon Templar, the adventurer who eventually became known to millions as ‘The Saint’, assured writer Leslie Charteris of a place in the history of popular fiction. KEVIN PATRICK takes a look at the character and his creator.