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Raffles is the name given to two (unrelated) fictional characters, as well as to a number of dramatized versions of the adventures of the famous "gentleman thief".

The fictional stories about "Raffles"

A. J. Raffles (or Arthur J. Raffles)

The original "Raffles", this character was inspired by the Sherlock Holmes stories and written by E. W. Hornung ()[], brother-in-law of Arthur Conan Doyle (1859–1930)[1]. He first appeared in the story "The Ides of March" (1898) and most of Hornung's Raffles stories would first be published in magazines before later appearing in three short story collections (The Amateur Cracksman, 1899; The Black Mask, 1901; and A Thief in the Night, 1905) and a novel called Mr. Justice Raffles (1909).

An interesting South African connection in Hornung's "Raffles" saga is the story of his involvement as an enlisted soldier in the Anglo Boer War and his death in battle.

Raffles also features in stories and pastiches written by Barry Perowne, Peter Tremayne, Richard Foreman, and other authors.

"John C. Raffles" or "Lord Lister

Clearly in imitation of the English stories, the German writers Kurt Matull and Theo Blakensee created a similar character called "John C. Raffles" or "Lord Lister" , also known as "Raffles"[2], who first appeared in a German pulp magazine story entitled "Lord Lister, genannt Raffles, der Meisterdieb" ("Lord Lister, called Raffles, the Master Thief") in 1908. These stories were particularly popular in Europe, Malaysia, Argentina, Brazil, Poland, Russia, Turkey and Indonesia.

"Arsène Lupin" and the "Raffles" tradition

The widely known French "gentleman thief" Arsène Lupin was first created by Maurice Leblanc ()[] in 1905, after the appearance of the first Raffles stories, and - like Horning's creation - was definitely influenced by the Sherlock Holmes stories, though most probably also by the "Raffles" series. While "Raffles" is better known in the English speaking world, Arsène Lupin is the better known in Europe and South America.

For more on the characters and the stories of the characters, see for example:

"A. J. Raffles (character)" at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A._J._Raffles_(character),

"Raffles (Lord Lister)" at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raffles_(Lord_Lister)

"Arsène Lupin" at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arsène_Lupin

"Raffles" on stage

The original text

Translations and adaptations

Performance history in South Africa

1906 Performed at the Opera House, Cape Town, by the Leonard Rayne company, with Charles Howitt.





D.C. Boonzaier, 1923. "My playgoing days – 30 years in the history of the Cape Town stage", in SA Review, 9 March and 24 August 1932. (Reprinted in Bosman 1980: pp. 374-439.)

F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1912. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: p.426

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