Afterword - Leslie Charteris and the Saint
Afterword - Leslie Charteris and The Saint
I've had a lot of feedback on this story, mostly from people who are unfamiliar with the Saint books or unaware that the character existed before the recent film, and wanted to know more. Here's a little history:
Leslie Charteris (1907-1993) was born as Leslie Charteris Bowyer Yin in Singapore, and in 1928 changed his name to Leslie Charteris. He moved to the USA in the late 30s or early 40s, and became a US citizen in 1946.
The first Saint novel (Charteris' third, after two flops) was Meet The Tiger (aka The Saint Meets The Tiger), published in 1928. After that Charteris wrote at least a hundred novels and stories about the character, including several with supernatural or SF-related themes, although from the mid 1960s onward most if not all of these stories were ghost-written or rewrites of TV scripts by other authors.
The early Saint was known as "The Robin Hood of Modern Crime," a professional criminal who robbed other criminals and gave the money to charity, less expenses and 10% for himself. His methods included outright robbery, fraud, and extortion, and he was soon one of the most wanted men in Britain. He also had a habit of killing drug dealers, white slave traders, and other "dirty" criminals who came his way, methods ranging from bare hands, knives, and guns to remote controlled bombs. Templar's main alias was the Saint, but he used many others, the most common being Sebastian Tombs. He usually signed messages with a picture of a stick-figure man with a halo over his head. His personality seemed similar to that of Bertie Wooster or Lord Peter Wimsey, but his apparent light-heartedness concealed a razor-sharp mind with a talent for crime.
The Saint's standard equipment included a cigarette case containing smoke and flash bombs as well as genuine cigarettes, with a concealed razor-sharp edge for cutting through ropes, the throwing knives Anne and Belle, and a variety of hand guns. He was expert with all these weapons and with several forms of unarmed combat, and a skilled escapologist, pickpocket, card sharp, locksmith, pilot, driver, actor and, of course, thief.
Eventually Templar was suspected of being the Saint, and finally unmasked while saving a policeman's life. He then went on the run, briefly visited Europe on the trail of foreign agents, and returned to Britain to uncover a plot to assassinate the King and start a war. As a result he was pardoned of all crimes. After this his criminal career continued, but he had to take much more care to avoid arrest. During this phase of his career he visited most of Europe and the USA.
During WW2 the Saint was active as a British agent in the USA, thwarting numerous enemy plots. After the war his career was global, and stories were set in Britain, Europe, the Far East and the USA.
Associates of the early Saint included his girlfriend (and later mistress) Patricia Holm, 'Orace his servant, American gangster Hoppy Uniatz, and several friends, at least one of whom, Norman Kent, died heroically during one of his adventures. His main nemesis in this period was Chief Inspector Claude Eustace Teal, but he also had a long feud with Rayt Marius, an arms merchant responsible for the plot against the King.
The WW2 Saint mostly worked alone or with Hoppy Uniatz and (rarely) Patricia Holm. His main official contacts were Inspector Fernack of the New York Police Department and "Hamilton", an official in an (unspecified) US intelligence organisation.
After WW2 the Saint had numerous girlfriends but no permanent relationships. He tended to work more on the side of the law, although he never entirely gave up his habit of murdering people he particularly disliked.
There have been numerous films about the Saint, from 1938 onwards, with TV series starring Roger Moore (1963-68) and Ian Ogilvie (1978). The most recent film is probably the least true to the original character.