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Blake, Sexton. Sexton Blake was created by “Hal Meredith,” the pseudonym of Harry Blyth, and has appeared in almost 4000 stories, novels, plays, radio and television programs, and movies, from 1893 to the present, beginning with “The Missing Millionaire” (The Halfpenny Marvel #6, 23 December 1893). Over 170 authors wrote Sexton Blake stories, including:

Sexton Blake is a Great Detective. Like many other long-running dime novel and story paper characters, including Nick Carter (I), Dixon Hawke, and Nelson Lee, Sexton Blake went through several distinct phases in his fictional career. For the first five years of his career Blake was teamed with a French detective, Jules Gervaise, and was modeled on 19th century detective characters. For the next fifteen years, Blake was primarily influenced by Sherlock Holmes. In the twenty-six years between 1919 and 1945, what is commonly seen as Blake’s Golden Age, Blake became a less misanthropic, less manic-depressive, and more action-oriented version of Holmes. From 1945 to 1955 Blake became a hard-bitten private detective, and from 1955 to 1968, the last year that stories about Blake were regularly published, Blake was influenced by James Bond.

The pre-1945 Blake is a consulting detective whose flats and offices are on Baker Street in London. He is tall and lean, has "hawk-like" features, and customarily wears a dressing gown and smokes a pipe in his officers in order to help himself think. He is assisted by his informally adopted son, Edward “Tinker” Carter, an intelligent Cockney boy who Blake had rescued from the streets. Blake is physically vital and a capable hand-to-hand combatant, a skill he is called upon regularly to use. As a detective Blake has many of the Holmesian traits. Blake is a chemist, a specialist in poisons, and an authority on fingerprints, inks, and firearms. He has various hobbies: microphotography, the study of religions, and the unraveling of codes and ciphers. He is proficient from continual practice at shooting, boxing, jiu jitsu, and fencing. He is "famous" at various sports, including cricket. He is always working on his magnum opus, the Baker Street Index, the definitive encyclopedia of crime. Like Holmes Blake is an accomplished author of monographs, many of which appear in the classic work on German crime, Der Verbrecherkreig (Criminal War). Blake is an honored figure at the police congresses of Europe, and is world renowned for his skill as a detective. Blake had trained as a younger man as a doctor and was educated at either Oxford or Cambridge and graduated "loaded with honors."

Blake’s Rogues Gallery is one of the best in all of popular culture, from the alluring adventuress Mademoiselle Yvonne de Cartier, who becomes Blake’s Loving Enemy, to the Byronic, world-weary albino master thief Monsieur Zenith to the Yellow Peril Prince Wu Ling, the leader of the Brotherhood of the Yellow Beetle, to George Marsden Plummer, a brilliant Scotland Yard inspector turned renegade and master criminal, to Dr. Huxton Rymer, a crooked master surgeon, to the Criminals’ Confederation, a conspiracy of hundreds of criminals from around the world, to Leon Kestrel, “the Master Mummer,” whose skill at disguise was so good that he even impersonated Blake for a time, to the superhumanly strong Waldo the Wonder Man, to Prince Menes, an Egyptian who discovered that he was the reincarnation of the original Prince Menes, the first Pharaoh of Egypt.

Blake also teamed up with a number of characters who had successful fictional careers of their own, including Captain Christmas, Captain Dack, Arthur Augustus d'Arcy, Fenlock Fawn, Nelson Lee, Lobangu, Ferrers Locke, Ferrers Lord, Havlock Preed, Matthew Quin, Will Spearing, and Kit and Cora Twyford.

* I've included Blake in the Best of the Encyclopedia category because of his historical importance. Setting aside the gloriousness of Blake's Rogues Gallery--any such that includes both Monsieur Zenith and Waldo the Wonder Man is high on any list of Rogues Galleries--Blake counts as important, in my view, because of the combination of the length of his appearances--seventy straight years, then intermittent appearances until today, when there's a small group of Blake adherents churning out fanfic about him--the quality of his appearances--there were many poor Blake stories, of course, but there were also a number which are superior pulp entertainment, and the Monsieur Zenith stories positively crackle. Since 1893 readers could turn to Blake stories and be entertained, and since 1893 there have been numerous imitations of Blake, witting and unwitting--every Sherlock Holmes story or movie that shows him being a physical action-adventurer is actually telling a Sexton Blake story, and the number of foreign imitations of Blake is quite substantial. Sexton Blake, often dismissed as the "schoolboys' Sherlock Holmes," is actually an icon of British pulp culture and an archetype of a certain type of two-fisted mystery. 

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