Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A Singular Conspiracy (1974) Barry Perowne

A Singular Conspiracy (1974) by Barry Perowne is a fictional treatment of the unaccounted period in Edgar Allan Poe's life from January to May 1844.

Poe visits Paris under an assumed name, having used travel papers belonging to a stranger he has seen wounded in a bar-room brawl in New York. He has the intention of parlaying his West Point training into a position in the Lafayette Circle, a group of volunteer soldiers about to aid Poland against its' Russian occupiers. This inveigles Poe with a young Charles Baudelaire in a plot to expose Baudelaires' stepfather (who rejects Poe's application) to blackmail, to free up Baudelaires' patrimony.

Barry Perowne was a pseudonym of the British writer Philip Atkey (1908–1985), best known for crime fiction. Another pseudonym was Pat Merriman. He continued the A. J. Raffles series after its creator E. W. Hornung's death, as well as other stories with his own characters.

Ernest William Hornung (7 June 1866 – 22 March 1921)[1], known as Willie, was an English author, most famous for writing the Raffles series of novels about a gentleman thief in late Victorian London.

Hornung was born in Middlesbrough, England, the third son[2] and youngest of eight children[1] of John Peter Hornung, who was born in Hungary. Ernest Hornung was educated at Uppingham School during some of the later years of its great headmaster, Edward Thring. Hornung spent most of his life in England and France, but in December 1883 left for Australia, arrived in 1884 and stayed for two years where he worked as a tutor at Mossgiel station in the Riverina[1]. Although his Australian experience was brief, it coloured most of his literary work from A Bride from the Bush published in 1899, to Old Offenders and a few Old Scores, which appeared after his death. Nearly two-thirds of his 30 published novels make reference to Australian incidents and experiences.[3]

Hornung returned to England in February 1886, and married Constance ("Connie") Aimée Monica Doyle (1868–1924), the sister of his friend Sir Arthur Conan Doyle on 27 September 1893[1]. Hornung worked as a journalist and also published the poems Bond and Free and Wooden Crosses in The Times. The character of A. J. Raffles, a "gentleman thief", first appeared in Cassell's Magazine in 1898 and the stories were later collected as The Amateur Cracksman (1899). Other titles in the series include The Black Mask (1901), A Thief in the Night (1905), and the full-length novel Mr. Justice Raffles (1909). He also co-wrote the play Raffles, The Amateur Cracksman with Eugene Presbrey in 1903.

After Hornung spent time in the trenches with the troops in France, he published Notes of a Camp-Follower on the Western Front in 1919, a detailed account of his time there.

Hornung's only child, a son, was killed at Ypres on 6 July 1915; Hornung then took up work with the YMCA in France. Hornung died in Saint-Jean-de-Luz, in the south of France on 22 March 1921[1], survived by his wife[2].

In addition to his novels and short stories Hornung wrote some war verse, and a play based on the Raffles stories was produced successfully. Hornung was much interested in cricket, and was "a man of large and generous nature, a delightful companion and conversationalist."

The model for Raffles was George Ives, a Cambridge-educated criminologist and talented cricketer according to Lycett [4].


A Bride from the Bush (1890)
Under Two Skies (1892)
Tiny Luttrell (1893)
The Boss of Taroomba (1894)
The Unbidden Guest (1894)
The Cricket on the Green (1895)
The Rogue's March: A Romance (1896)
Young Blood (1898)
Dead Men Tell No Tales (1897)
The Amateur Cracksman (1899)
The Belle of Toorak (English title) (1900) /
The Shadow of a Man (American title) (1900)
Peccavi (1900)
The Black Mask (1901)
The Shadow of the Rope (1902)
Raffles, The Amateur Cracksman (1903) play with Eugene Presbrey
Denis Dent: A Novel (1904)
A Thief in the Night (1905)
Stingaree (1905)
Mr. Justice Raffles (1909)
The Camera Fiend (1911)
Fathers of Men (1912)
The Thousandth Woman (1913)
The Crime Doctor (1914)
Trusty and Well Beloved (privately printed) (1915)
Ballad of Ensign Joy (1917)
Wooden Cross (1918)
Notes of a Camp-Follower on the Western Front (1919)
The Ballad of Ensign (1919)


Some Persons Unknown (1898)
The Young Guard (1919)
Old Offenders and a Few Old Scores (1923)


1.^ Stephen Knight, 'Hornung, Ernest William (1866–1921)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, MUP, 1983, pp 369–370. Retrieved 5 August 2009
2.^ Serle, Percival (1949). "Hornung, Ernest William". Dictionary of Australian Biography. Sydney: Angus and Robertson. Retrieved 2009-08-05.
3.^ Eric Irvin, Dictionary of the Australian Theatre 1788–1914
4.^ The Man who created Sherlock Holmes: The Life and Times of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle by Andrew Lycett pages 229–230 (2007, Weidenfield & Nicolson, London and Viking, New York) ISBN 0-7432-7523-3
Rowland, Peter: 'Raffles and His Creator: the Life and Works of E.W. Hornung' (Nekta Publications,London, 1999)

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