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Raffles, A.J. A.J. Raffles was created by E.W. Hornung (John Dollar, Stingaree) and appeared in fifteen stories and serials and four short story collections and novels from 1898 to 1909, beginning with “The Ides of March” (Cassell’s Magazine, June 1898).

A.J. Raffles is a Lupin. He is a member of Society who steals from his comrades and does so with style. Raffles is good at thievery. He plans ahead and spends time casing the houses he is to crack and the men he is to rob. He believes that “pains and patience” are required to get what he wants. And he has a certain native intelligence and wit to accompany his Society polish and public school education. But he is not a great thief, ala Arsène Lupin. Raffles’ plans occasionally go awry or require help, either from Raffles’ Watson, Bunny Manders, or from Bunny’s dependable incompetence, to make them work and to save Raffles from disgrace. He is good at disguises, and makes use of a crash-pad apartment (one of the first secret headquarters in crime fiction) and alternate identities. He follows his code and avoids violence (except when it is really merited) and won’t murder: “That’s not the game.” Crime is, really, a game for Raffles. He steals for gain, of course, but he is in it as much for the thrill of the chase, for the excitement at the danger of exposure and disgrace as he is for the swag. But he does not seek that thrill regularly, only when the money runs out.

Raffles is one of England’s best cricketers. He thinks well of himself, though not too well. He is usually charmingly frank, although there is that reserve which no one, even Bunny, manages to penetrate. He has the nerve which Bunny lacks, and he prefers fair play to foul.

* I'm including the A.J. Raffles stories in the Best of the Encyclopedia list because of Raffles' archetypal status. Raffles wasn't the first Lupin, but he was the first popular Lupin--and popular he was, very much so. In the English-reading world of letter Raffles became the archetypal gentleman crook, the by-word for the member of Society who steals from his fellow Society members. Long after Hornung stopped writing Raffles stories, he was being imitated and parodied and, in the 1930s, given a new series of stories written by Philip Atkey (of the Rick Leroy stories, among others). In the English-language world he was a titan. But in the rest of the world, Arsene Lupin held sway, both because Maurice Leblanc was a much better writer than E.W. Hornung and because Lupin was a much better master thief than A.J. Raffles was. 

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