Introduction On Racism Epigraphs A History of the Pulps A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Glossary and Character Taxonomy Breakdown by Country of Origin Bibliography Table of Contents The Best of the Encyclopedia
Lister, Lord. Lord Lister was created by the German authors Karl Matull (Harry Taxon) and Theo Blankensee (Harry Taxon) and appeared in Lord Lister, Genannt Raffles, des Meisterdib #1-110 (1908-1911) and Der Grosse Unbekannte #1-50 (1909-1910); Matull and Blankensee’s stories were reprinted, and Lord Lister appeared in thousands of unauthorized sequels, across Europe, Egypt, Scandinavia (in Denmark his stories were written by Niels Meyn (Count Basil, Kurt Danner, Gentleman Detective, Lord Kingsley, John Mac Carty, Mister X, Modern Thief, Count Sterling)), Russia, South America, and Asia from 1909 to 1968.
Lord Lister began as an unauthorized, non-English use of A.J. Raffles, and was named “John Raffles” in the German series, but in the French Lord Lister, Dit Raffles (1909-1914) he was quickly named “John C. Sinclair,” and it was by that name that he was most successful. He became known as a “Raffles,” a gentleman thief, rather than as “John Raffles.”
Lord Lister is an upper class Lupin, trusted by Society, which never dreams that the popular, respected, and admired John C. Sinclair, a champion cricket player, is actually the dreaded thief Lord Lister. Sinclair was driven to crime at a young age, when his father was ruined by corrupt members of society whom the law would not touch. Lister is pursued by the dishonest and incompetent Inspector Baxter of Scotland Yard and his intelligent and capable agent Malhorme, and is engaged to Miss Ellen Patrick-Baxter, Inspector Baxter's cousin. Lord Lister's Bunny Manders is Charley Brand, who like Manders was saved from suicide by his master thief friend. Lister is described in this way:
He opposes...all the usurers and the men of rotten affairs, makes away with their goods, and with grace in his actions, he protects himself with the persecuted innocents and helps with his actions the honest man ruined by swindlers. A gentleman from his head to his feet, it is true that he twists the truth to Justice and the Law, but he always acts according to his code and believes in immanent Justice.
He steals money, gems, and jewelry around the world. He fights Femmes Fatale (the Lady in Black), murderous Egyptian sun god cultists, an air pirate, a Mad Scientist who creates a potion of eternal youth, angry Saivite Stranglers (after Lord Lister steals the “sacred treasure of Siva” [sic]), and finds the Elixir of Youth. He goes up against "the Silver Apostle," the apaches of Paris, "the Red Master," "the Diamond King," a ghost (or is it?), and a "mysterious flying machine."
The Lord Lister stories were also popular in Malaysia, though not under that name. The first Malay detective novel, Muhammad bin Muhammad Said's Cheritera Kechurian Lima Million Ringgit (published in 1922 but written some time between 1908 and 1914), stars "John C. Sinclair" as a heroic, famous English thief who, while attempting to fleece a dissolute American playboy of his millions (they intend to use the money to build housing for the poor of New York City), runs into both "Mr. Baxter," the Chief of Police in London, and Nick Carter (I). Sinclair eludes Baxter and Carter in Cheritera; in later stories Sinclair appears as a more heroic and less criminal adventurer. Lord Lister also duels at length with Nick Carter (I) in the Italian pulp Lord Lister Contro Nick Carter #1-36 (1933-1934). John C. Sinclair also appeared in a Malay heroic poem, 28 pages long, entitled “Shaer Cheritera Bijaksana,” in which John Sinclair, in his guise as an amateur detective, unmasks a thief, rescues a damsel and distress, and gets involved with the family of the late Austro-Hungarian emperor, all against the backdrop of various Swiss luxury hotels.
* I'm including the Lord Lister stories in the Best of the Encyclopedia category because of Lister's archetypal nature and because of the stories' historical importance. The thing to know about Lord Lister is that, although he started as a rather naked lift of A.J. Raffles, and although he soon took on elements of Arsene Lupin, Lord Lister far outstripped either in popularity, lasting for sixty years and thousands of stories. Lord Lister was tremendously popular around the world, and served as the best advertisement popular for Lupin stories. Lord Lister can be thought of as being just like Sexton Blake: as Blake to Sherlock Holmes, so Lister to Raffles and Arsene Lupin, both Blake and Lister appearing in less elevated venues than Holmes and Lupin, being less respected by the mainstream, and both selling many many many more issues of the magazines they appeared in. In the German original, Lord Lister has adventures with more than a hint of ideasplosion within them, but that largely (though not entirely) did not transfer to the non-German stories of Lister.
Table of Contents / Annotations / Blog / Books / Patreon / Twitter / Contact me