Re: RARA-AVIS: The Toff

Date: 21 Mar 2001 wrote:
> I remember as a kid seeing a series of books that I took to be
> crime booksabout a character called "The Toff." I never read one,
> even to resolve myyouthful obliviousness to the meaning of the
> word "toff."

> Were these indeed crime books? Seems like the racks in my local
> stores werefilled with either these or Shell Scott novels.

They were akin to the Saint books.

This is what I've got on the Toff at my Pulp Heroes site:

"The Toff. The Toff was created by John Creasey and debuted in "The Black Circle," in The Thriller in 1933; he appeared in a number of other stories and novels through at least 1975. The Toff was Richard Rollinson, a handsome, wealthy Mayfair playboy gentleman. He helps solve crime; actually, he solves the crime, and the police (in the person of Inspector Gryce) help him, cleaning up afterwards, collecting evidence, and all the dirty work that a toff like Rollinson can't be bothered to carry out. The Toff takes on a variety of criminals, from black marketeers to kidnapers to murderers. He's a handsome man, of course, and is assisted by his valet, the wise and devoted Jolly, and by his aunt, Lady Gloria "Old Glory" Hurst, who rather enjoys fighting crime with her nephew Richard.

Since putting in that entry I've read The Durable Desperadoes, an excellent source of information on several pulp characters, and William V. Butler's comments on the Toff have made me rethink the character. Butler points out that the Toff is no Saint-like superman, but is surprisingly fallible, cheerful, unassuming, and somewhat unsure of himself. Rollinson turns out to be rather mild and reflective, very much concerned with what Jolly and Lady Gloria think of him. Rollinson asks them for advice and actually takes it."

Jess Nevins Pulp Heroes of the Pre-War Years

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