Leslie Charteris

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Leslie Charteris
Leslie Charteris.jpg
BornLeslie Charles Bowyer-Yin
(1907-05-12)12 May 1907
Died15 April 1993(1993-04-15) (aged 85)
Windsor, Berkshire, England
OccupationThriller writer, screenwriter
Period20th century
Spouse Audrey Long (1922-2014) his death

Leslie Charteris (born Leslie Charles Bowyer-Yin, 12 May 1907 – 15 April 1993), was a British-Chinese author of adventure fiction, as well as a screenwriter. [1] He was best known for his many books chronicling the adventures of the charming antihero Simon Templar, alias "The Saint."


Early life

Charteris was born in Singapore to a Chinese father, Dr S. C. Yin (Yin Suat Chwan, 1877–1958), [2] and Lydia Florence Bowyer, who was English. His father was a physician, who claimed to be able to trace his lineage back to the emperors of the Shang Dynasty. [1]

Singapore Republic in Southeast Asia

Singapore, officially the Republic of Singapore, is an island city-state in Southeast Asia. It lies one degree north of the equator, at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, with Indonesia's Riau Islands to the south and Peninsular Malaysia to the north. Singapore's territory consists of one main island along with 62 other islets. Since independence, extensive land reclamation has increased its total size by 23%. The country is known for its transition from a developing to a developed one in a single generation under the leadership of its founder Lee Kuan Yew.

Physician professional who practices medicine

A physician, medical practitioner, medical doctor, or simply doctor, is a professional who practises medicine, which is concerned with promoting, maintaining, or restoring health through the study, diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of disease, injury, and other physical and mental impairments. Physicians may focus their practice on certain disease categories, types of patients, and methods of treatment—known as specialities—or they may assume responsibility for the provision of continuing and comprehensive medical care to individuals, families, and communities—known as general practice. Medical practice properly requires both a detailed knowledge of the academic disciplines, such as anatomy and physiology, underlying diseases and their treatment—the science of medicine—and also a decent competence in its applied practice—the art or craft of medicine.

Charteris became interested in writing at an early age. At one point, he created his own magazine with articles, short stories, poems, editorials, serials, and even a comic strip. He attended Rossall School in Fleetwood, Lancashire, England.

Rossall School British, fee paying co-educational, independent school

Rossall School is a British, fee paying co-educational, independent school, between Cleveleys and Fleetwood, Lancashire. Rossall was founded in 1844 by St Vincent Beechey as a sister school to Marlborough College which had been founded the previous year. Its establishment was "to provide, at a moderate cost, for the sons of Clergymen and others, a classical, mathematical and general education of the highest class, and to do all things necessary, incidental, or conducive to the attainment of the above objects." Along with Cheltenham, Lancing and Marlborough, Rossall was part of a flurry of expansion in education during the early Victorian period. These schools were later complemented by others such as Clifton, Wellington, Malvern and Radley.

Fleetwood town in Lancashire, England

Fleetwood is a coastal town in Lancashire, England, at the northwest corner of the Fylde, with a population of 25,939 at the 2011 census.

Lancashire County of England

Lancashire is a ceremonial county in North West England. The administrative centre is Preston. The county has a population of 1,449,300 and an area of 1,189 square miles (3,080 km2). People from Lancashire are known as Lancastrians.


Once his first book, written during his first year at King's College, Cambridge, was accepted, he left the university and embarked on a new career. Charteris was motivated by a desire to be unconventional and to become financially well off by doing what he liked to do. He continued to write English thriller stories, while he worked at various jobs from shipping out on a freighter to working as a barman in a country inn. He prospected for gold, dived for pearls, worked in a tin mine and on a rubber plantation, toured England with a carnival, and drove a bus. In 1926, he legally changed his last name to Charteris, after Colonel Francis Charteris [ citation needed ], although, in the BBC Radio 4 documentary Leslie Charteris – A Saintly Centennial, his daughter stated that he selected his surname from the telephone directory.

Kings College, Cambridge college of the University of Cambridge

King's College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge in Cambridge, England. Formally The King's College of Our Lady and Saint Nicholas in Cambridge, the college lies beside the River Cam and faces out onto King's Parade in the centre of the city.

BBC Radio 4 British domestic radio station, owned and operated by the BBC

BBC Radio 4 is a radio station owned and operated by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) that broadcasts a wide variety of spoken-word programmes including news, drama, comedy, science and history. It replaced the BBC Home Service in 1967. The station controller is Gwyneth Williams, and the station is part of BBC Radio and the BBC Radio department. The station is broadcast from the BBC's headquarters at Broadcasting House, London. On 21 January 2019 Williams announced she was quitting the role. There are no details of when or who will be her replacement.

Origin of Simon Templar

His third novel, Meet the Tiger (1928), introduced his most famous creation, Simon Templar. [3] However, in his 1980 introduction to a reprint by Charter Books, Charteris indicated he was dissatisfied with the work, suggesting its only value was as the start of the long-running Saint series. Occasionally, he chose to ignore the existence of Meet the Tiger altogether and claimed that the Saint series actually began with the second volume, Enter the Saint (1930); an example of this can be found in the introduction Charteris wrote to an early 1960s edition of Enter the Saint published by Fiction Publishing Company (an imprint of Doubleday).

<i>Meet the Tiger</i> novel by Leslie Charteris

Meet the Tiger is the title of an action-adventure novel written by Leslie Charteris. In England it was first published by Ward Lock in September 1928; in the United States it was first published by Doubleday's The Crime Club imprint in March 1929 with the variant title Meet – the Tiger!. It was the first novel in a long-running series of books featuring the adventures of Simon Templar, alias "The Saint". It was later reissued under a number of different titles, including the unofficial Crooked Gold by Amalgamated Press in 1929 which failed to credit the authorship of Charteris, and the best-known reissue title, The Saint Meets the Tiger. In 1940 the Sun Dial Press changed the title to Meet – the Tiger! The Saint in Danger.

<i>Enter the Saint</i> book by Leslie Charteris

Enter the Saint is a collection of three interconnected adventure novellas by Leslie Charteris first published in the United Kingdom by Hodder and Stoughton in October 1930, followed by an American edition by The Crime Club in April 1931.

Doubleday is an American publishing company. It was founded as the Doubleday & McClure Company in 1897 and was the largest in the United States by 1947. It published the work of mostly U.S. authors under a number of imprints and distributed them through its own stores. In 2009 Doubleday merged with Knopf Publishing Group to form the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, which is now part of Penguin Random House. In 2019 the official website presents Doubleday as an imprint, not a publisher.

Although he wrote a few other books (including a novelisation of his screenplay for the Deanna Durbin mystery-comedy Lady on a Train , and the English translation of Juan Belmonte: Killer of Bulls by Manuel Chaves Nogales), his lifework — at least in the literary world — consisted primarily of Simon Templar Saint adventures, which were presented in novel, novella, and short-story formats over the next 35 years (with other authors ghost writing the stories on Charteris' behalf from 1963 onward; Charteris acted as an editor for these books, approving stories and making revisions when needed).

Screenplay written work by screenwriters for a film or television program

A screenplay, or script, is a written work by screenwriters for a film, television program or video game. These screenplays can be original works or adaptations from existing pieces of writing. In them, the movement, actions, expression and dialogues of the characters are also narrated. A screenplay written for television is also known as a teleplay.

Deanna Durbin Canadian singer and actress

Edna Mae Durbin, known professionally as Deanna Durbin, was a Canadian-born actress and singer, later settled in France, who appeared in musical films in the 1930s and 1940s. With the technical skill and vocal range of a legitimate lyric soprano, she performed many styles from popular standards to operatic arias.

<i>Lady on a Train</i> 1945 film by Charles David

Lady on a Train is a 1945 American film noir crime film directed by Charles David and starring Deanna Durbin, Ralph Bellamy, and David Bruce. Based on a story by Leslie Charteris, the film is about a woman who witnesses a murder in a nearby building from her train window. After she reports the murder to the police, who quickly dismiss her story, she turns to a popular mystery writer to help her solve the crime. The film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Sound.

Move to the United States

Charteris relocated to the United States in 1932, where he continued to publish short stories and also became a writer for Paramount Pictures, working on the George Raft film, Midnight Club . [4] [ page needed ]

However, Charteris was excluded from permanent residency in the United States because of the Chinese Exclusion Act, a law which prohibited immigration for persons of "50% or greater" Oriental blood. As a result, Charteris was forced to continually renew his six-month temporary visitor's visa. Eventually, an act of Congress personally granted his daughter and him the right of permanent residence in the United States, with eligibility for naturalisation, which he later completed. [5]

Other activities

In America, The Saint became a radio series starring Vincent Price. In the 1940s, Charteris, besides continuing to write The Saint stories, scripted the Sherlock Holmes radio series featuring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce. [6] [ page needed ] In 1941, Charteris appeared in a Life photographic adaptation of a short story of The Saint, with himself playing the Saint. [7] [8] [ page needed ]

The Saint on Film

Long-term success eluded Charteris' creation outside the literary arena until RKO produced an eight film series between 1938 and 1943: The Saint in New York (1938) with Louis Hayward as The Saint; The Saint Strikes Back (1939), The Saint in London (1939), The Saint's Double Trouble (1940), The Saint Takes Over (1940), and The Saint in Palm Springs (1941) all with George Sanders as The Saint; Hugh Sinclair took over the role in The Saint's Vacation (1941) and The Saint Meets the Tiger (produced in 1941 but not released until 1943).

A ninth film, The Saint's Return (known as The Saint's Girl Friday in the US) from 1953, with Louis Hayward returning as The Saint, is sometimes regarded as part of the RKO series. However, it was produced by British Hammer Film Productions 12 years after the conflict between Charteris and RKO, based on a special agreement between Hammer Films and Leslie Charteris, which gave Charteris a percentage in the film. RKO acted only as the film's US distributor, six months after the UK release.

The Saint on TV

In 1962–1969 the British-produced television series The Saint went into production with Roger Moore in the Simon Templar role.

Many episodes of the TV series were based upon Charteris' short stories. Later, as original scripts were commissioned, Charteris permitted some of these scripts to be novelised and published as further adventures of the Saint in printed form (these later books, with titles such as The Saint on TV and The Saint and the Fiction Makers , carried Charteris' name as author, but were in fact written by others). Charteris lived to see a second British TV series, Return of the Saint starring Ian Ogilvy as Simon Templar, enjoy a well-received, if brief, run in the late 1970s (with Charteris himself making a cameo appearance in one episode) and, in the 1980s, a series of TV movies produced by an international co-production and starring Simon Dutton kept interest in The Saint alive. Also, an ill-fated attempt at a 1980s TV series was made in the United States, which resulted in only a pilot episode being produced and broadcast. He also produced the original theme tune to the series, as can be seen on the end credits.

Later life

The adventures of The Saint were chronicled in nearly 100 books (about 50 published in the UK and US, with others published in France). Charteris himself stepped away from writing the books after The Saint in the Sun (1963). The next year, Vendetta for the Saint was published and while it was credited to Charteris, it was actually written by science fiction writer Harry Harrison. Following Vendetta came a number of books adapting televised episodes, credited to Charteris, but written by others, although Charteris did collaborate on several Saint books in the 1970s. Charteris appears to have served in an editorial capacity for these later volumes. He also edited and contributed to The Saint Mystery Magazine, a digest-sized publication. The final book in the Saint series was Salvage for the Saint , published in 1983. Two additional books were published in 1997, a novelization of the film loosely based on the character, and an original novel published by "The Saint Club", a fan club that Charteris himself founded in the 1930s. Both books were written by Burl Barer, who also wrote the definitive history on Charteris and The Saint.

Charteris spent 55 years - 1928 to 1983 - as either writer of or custodian of Simon Templar's literary adventures, one of the longest uninterrupted spans of a single author in the history of mystery fiction, equalling that of Agatha Christie, who wrote her novels and stories featuring detective Hercule Poirot.

Personal life and death

Charteris also wrote a column on cuisine for an American magazine, and invented a wordless, pictorial sign language called Paleneo, which he wrote a book on. Charteris was also one of the earliest members of Mensa. [9] [10]

In 1952, Charteris married Hollywood actress Audrey Long (1922-2014); the couple eventually returned to England, where he spent his last years living in Surrey. He died at Princess Margaret's Hospital Windsor, Berkshire, on 15 April 1993, survived by his wife and daughter, Patricia.


He was married four times:

  1. (in 1931) to Pauline Schishkin (1911–1975), daughter of a Russian diplomat
  2. (in 1938) to Barbara Meyer (1907–1950), editor at The American Magazine
  3. (in 1943) to Elizabeth Bryant Borst (1909–2003), Boston society woman and night club singer
  4. (in 1952) to Audrey Long (1922–2014), film actress

Charteris was the brother of Rev Roy Bowyer-Yin. [11]

Related Research Articles

Simon Templar is a fictional character known as The Saint. He is featured in a series of books by Leslie Charteris published between 1928 and 1963. After that date, other authors collaborated with Charteris on books until 1983; two additional works produced without Charteris's participation were published in 1997. The character has also been portrayed in motion pictures, radio dramas, comic strips, comic books and three television series. The most recent film was in 1997, most recent television pilot aired as a TV movie was 2017.

<i>The Saint in London</i> 1939 film by John Paddy Carstairs

The Saint in London is a 1939 British crime film, the third of eight films in RKO's film series featuring the adventures of Simon Templar, alias "The Saint".

<i>Saint Overboard</i> novel by Leslie Charteris

Saint Overboard is the title of a 1936 mystery novel by Leslie Charteris, one of a long series of novels featuring Charteris' creation Simon Templar, alias "The Saint". It was originally published in magazines as The Pirate Saint; some paperback editions append the article The to the title.

<i>The Saint Meets the Tiger</i> 1943 film by Paul L. Stein

The Saint Meets the Tiger is the title of a crime thriller produced by the British unit of RKO Pictures, produced in 1941 but not released until 1943. This was to be the last of the eight films in RKO's film series about the Saint

<i>She Was a Lady</i> novel by Leslie Charteris

She Was a Lady is the title of a mystery novel by Leslie Charteris featuring his creation, Simon Templar, alias The Saint. The novel was first published in magazine serial form in 1930, and was first published in complete form in the United Kingdom by Hodder and Stoughton in November 1931. This was the seventh book chronicling Templar's adventures, and the fourth full novel.

<i>The Holy Terror</i> (short story collection) book by Leslie Charteris

The Holy Terror is a collection of three mystery novellas by Leslie Charteris, first published in the United Kingdom in May 1932 by Hodder and Stoughton. This was the eighth book to feature the adventures of Simon Templar, alias "The Saint". When published in the United States for the first time, in September 1932, the title was changed to The Saint vs. Scotland Yard.

<i>Getaway</i> (The Saint) novel by Leslie Charteris

Getaway is a mystery novel by Leslie Charteris first published in the United Kingdom in September 1932 by Hodder and Stoughton. This was the fifth full-length novel featuring the adventures of the modern day Robin Hood-inspired crimebuster Simon Templar, and the ninth Saint book published overall since 1928. When first published in the United States by The Crime Club in February 1933, the title was modified to The Saint's Getaway which was later adopted by future UK editions.

<i>The Misfortunes of Mr. Teal</i> book by Leslie Charteris

The Misfortunes of Mr. Teal is a collection of three mystery novellas by Leslie Charteris, first published in the United Kingdom in May 1934 by Hodder and Stoughton and the United States by The Crime Club. The book was republished under two additional titles: The Saint in England and, as of 1952, The Saint in London.

<i>The Saint Goes West</i> book by Leslie Charteris

The Saint Goes West is a collection of three mystery novellas by Leslie Charteris, first published in the United States in 1942 by The Crime Club, and in the United Kingdom the same year by Hodder and Stoughton.

<i>The Saint in the Sun</i> book by Leslie Charteris

The Saint in the Sun is a collection of short stories by Leslie Charteris, featuring the Robin Hood-inspired crimefighter, Simon Templar, whom Charteris introduced in 1928. The book was first published in 1963 by The Crime Club in the United States and by Hodder and Stoughton in the United Kingdom in 1964. This was the 36th book of Simon Templar adventures, and was the first published after the start of the TV series The Saint starring Roger Moore as Templar.

<i>Salvage for the Saint</i> book by Leslie Charteris

Salvage for the Saint is the title of a 1983 mystery novel featuring the character of Simon Templar, alias "The Saint". The novel was written by Peter Bloxsom based on the two-part Return of the Saint episode, "Collision Course" by John Kruse, but per the custom at this time, the author credit on the cover went to Leslie Charteris, who created the Saint in 1928, and who served in an editorial capacity.

<i>Capture the Saint</i> book by Burl Barer

Capture the Saint is the title of a 1997 mystery novel by Burl Barer, featuring the character of Simon Templar, alias "The Saint" who was created by Leslie Charteris in 1928.

<i>The Saints Vacation</i> 1941 film by Leslie Fenton

The Saint's Vacation is a 1941 adventure film produced by the British arm of RKO Pictures. The film stars Hugh Sinclair as Simon Templar, also known as "The Saint" a world-roving crimefighter who walks the fine edge of the law. This was the seventh of eight films in RKO's film series about the character created by Leslie Charteris. It was Sinclair's first appearance as Templar, having taken over the role from George Sanders, who then stepped into RKO's "Falcon" series. The film is the seventh of nine features produced by RKO Pictures featuring suave detective Simon Templar and it marks a major change in the series, shifting production to England.

Patricia Holm

Patricia Holm is the name of a fictional character who appeared in the novels of Leslie Charteris from the 1920s to the 1940s. She was the on-again, off-again girlfriend and partner of Simon Templar, alias "The Saint", and shared a number of his adventures.

<i>Daredevil</i> (novel) novel by Leslie Charteris

Daredevil is the title of a mystery novel by Leslie Charteris which was first published by Ward Lock in 1929. This was Charteris' fourth full-length novel, and is one of the few full-length books in his canon that does not feature the character of Simon Templar, alias "The Saint". However, the book does have a connection to the Saint series.

Claud Eustace Teal

Claud Eustace Teal is a fictional character who made many appearances in a series of novels, novellas and short stories by Leslie Charteris featuring The Saint, starting in 1929. A common spelling variation of his first name in reference works and websites is Claude, however in his works Charteris uses the spelling without the 'e'.

The Saint refers to eight B movies made by RKO Pictures between 1938 and 1941, based on some of the books in British author Leslie Charteris' long-running series about the fictional character Simon Templar, better known as The Saint.



  1. 1 2 "Biography of Leslie Charteris." saint.org. Retrieved: 4 September 2016.
  2. "Dr S.C. Yin (Son Created The Saint) Dies at Age 82"." The Singapore Free Press, 3 April 1958. Retrieved: 10 April 2014.
  3. "Leslie Charteris Dies; Mystery Writer Was 85." The New York Times 18 April 1993.
  4. DelFattore 1989
  5. United States Congressional Serial Set, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1943
  6. Marks 2008
  7. {Charteris, Leslie. "The Saint Goes West: The Mystery of the Palm Springs Playboy." Life Magazine, May 19, 1941 pp99-105;120.
  8. Barer 2003
  9. Cos'è il Mensa? Mensa Italy
  10. Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series, Volume 58, Page 80
  11. "Roy Henry Bowyer-Yin (1910-2010)". blog.saint.org. Retrieved 8 March 2014.


  • Barer, Burl. The Saint: A Complete History in Print, Radio, Film and Television 1928–1992. Jefferson, North Carolina: MacFarland & Company, 2003 (originally published in 1992). ISBN   978-0-7864-1680-6.
  • DelFattore, Joan. "Leslie Charteris". In Benstock, Bernard and Thomas Staley. British Mystery Writers, 1920–39. Detroit: Gale Research, 1989. ISBN   978-0-8103-4555-3.
  • Marks, Jeffrey Alan. Anthony Boucher: a biobibliography. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2008. ISBN   978-0-7864-3320-9.
  • Tuska, Jon. The Detective in HollywoodThe Movie Careers of the Great Fictional Private Eyes and Their Creators. New York: Doubleday, 1978. ISBN   978-0-3851-2093-7.

Further reading

For a list of all Charteris's works, see List of works by Leslie Charteris; for a breakdown of Simon Templar novels, novellas and short story collections by Charteris, see the list at Simon Templar.

In addition, Charteris authored numerous uncollected short stories and essays. [1]

  1. Saint.org. "Bibliography of Leslie Charteris".