RARA-AVIS: FW: How Hard-boiled Invaded Britain

From: Duane Spurlock ( duane@emazing.com)
Date: 04 Apr 2001

HI ALL! Steve Holland has been posting the Table of Contents to the British pulp DETECTIVE MAGAZINE to another mailing list I visit. In response to a question I asked him, he posted a great response about the move of hard-boiled fiction into the crime genre in Britain (which had previously been dominated by the Holmesian-deductive and manor-house/cozy form). With his permission, I'm posting his response to this list. I'm curious to see what sort of discussion arises. FOr my part, I was surprised by how popular Carroll John Daly seemed to be. While I don't care that much for his stuff, I certainly understand how it's utter freshness at the time could grab the attention of readers during that period.

Without further ado, Steve's posting:

<< Steve Holland < steve@uworldst.demon.co.uk> Subject: Hard-boiled Britain

Hi Duane,

"By the way...at what point did the American hard-boiled style detective story step onto British shores? I'm assuming it started with reprints from US stories -- perhaps from BLACK MASK, DIME DETECTIVE or a similar mag -- before a true Brit-written hard-boiled dick appeared in print... And who was the first to appear... Hammett, Daly, Chandler, or...?"

I've done a bit of work on this in the past, and the big influence on British crime noir / hard-boiled is likely to be Carroll John Daly, who was very popular over here in hardback -- in fact more books appeared in the UK than in the US -- and James M. Cain.

This is a very rough list (and you may disagree with some titles being listed as hard-boiled) but I've tried to include everything. A few titles fall into the "desperado" category (Clevely's Gang Smasher probably does), but I haven't included all of them -- no The Saint by Charteris, for instance -- which is simply a reflection of this list being very much a first draft working list. Some titles just sound like they're influenced by the USA; I've not seen many of them, but I'm guessing they were given a harder edge and didn't involve country houses, butlers or bodies in libraries. I'm not quite sure why Graham Greene's "entertainments" qualified. Certainly Brighton Rock deserves to be here.

The list is broken down by year that the books appeared in the UK (with the original US 1st edition in brackets).

Pulp magazines were distributed in the UK throughout the 1920s, and certainly copies of Black Mask were available, so they would certainly have been influential as well. I suspect most US pulps found there way over one way or another: either imported directly or as unsold returns.

Probably the earliest British novel of importance here is Edgar Wallace's On the Spot; Wallace was immensely popular, Britain's best-selling novelist, and where he led others followed. On the Spot was inspired by Wallace's trip to the USA in 1929 or 1930 (I'll have to dig around to find out when).

The biggest names that followed were Peter Cheyney and James Hadley Chase. Cheyney is Sapper meets Carroll John Daly; Chase is more James M. Cain and Dashiell Hammett at first, then takes on board everyone from Raymond Chandler to Jonathan Latimer.

Damon Runyon's stories were also published in (I think) the Evening Standard, so much slang was learned from them.

All in all, this is a bit of a mish-mash of a list... but at least it's a start. (One day I will get around to writing up the article that I was going to write on all this... unfortunately, by the time I'd compiled the list, I'd run out of time to do anything with it...)


1927 Booth, Charles G., Sinister House (New York, Morrow, 1926). London, Hodder, 1927. Daly, Carroll John, The White Circle (New York, Clode, 1926). London, Hutchinson, 1927.

1928 Clevely, Hugh, The Gang Smasher. London, Hutchinson, 1928. Daly, Carroll John, The Snarl of the Beast (New York, Clode, 1926). London, Hutchinson, 1928.

1929 Booth, Charles G., Gold Bullets (New York, Morrow, 1929). London, Hodder, 1929. Burnett, W.R., Little Caesar (New York, Dial Press, 1929). London, Cape, Jul 1929. *(popular edition May 1931; Florin Books edition Jul 1932)* Daly, Carroll John, The Man in the Shadows (New York, Clode, 1928). London, Hutchinson, 1929. Hammett, Dashiell, Red Harvest (New York & London, A.A. Knopf, 1929).

(Note: The Thriller ran hard-boiled stories throughout its existence, and the titles listed hereon are just a selection.)
''Lynch Law'' by Hugh Clevely (in The Thriller 2, 16 Feb 1929).
''The Fifty Gun Gang'' by Hugh Clevely (in The Thriller 36, 12 Oct 1929).
''Gang War'' by John G. Brandon (in The Thriller 46, 21 Dec 1929).

1930 Booth, Charles G., Murder at High Tide (New York, Morrow, 1930). London, Hodder, 1930. Clarke, Donald Henderson, Louis Beretti (New York, Vanguard, 1929). London, Knopf, 1930. Daly, Carroll John, The Hidden Hand (New York, Clode, 1929). London, Hutchinson, 1930. Hammett, Dashiell, The Maltese Falcon (New York, Knopf, 1930). London, Cassell, 1930. Hunter, John, When the Gunmen Came. London, Cassell, 1930.

(Run of Sexton Blake short stories in Union Jack starting with ''Gangster's Gold'' by Anthony Skene which involve gangsters; titles include ''Gang Justice'', ''Sexton Blake - Gangster'', ''Say It With Guns'', ''The Man from Chicago'', ''Sexton Blake Cleans Up Chicago'', etc. Stories tail off in 1931, returning to more traditional subjects. In 1930-31 they also published a true-life series about gangsters in Chicago)
(Worth noting: The Thriller held a competition in 1930 to find new writers, and the first three places went to Murdoch Duncan, Fenton Robins (David Gammon) and William P. Vickery, all writing in the new hard-boiled style.)
''The Gunman'' by John G. Brandon (in The Thriller 57, 8 Mar 1930).
''The Killer'' by L.C. Douthwaite (in The Thriller 56, 1 Mar 1930).
''The Man from Chicago'' by L.C. Douthwaite (in The Thriller 73, 28 Jun 1930).
''The Crook of Soho'' by William P. Vickery (in The Thriller 89, 18 Oct 1930).
''The Gang Smasher'' by Fenton Robins (in The Thriller 99, 27 Dec 1930).

Plays On the Spot by Edgar Wallace, produced in London. Smoky Cell by Edgar Wallace, produced in London.

1931 Clevely, Hugh, Gang Law. London, Hutchinson, 1931. Daly, Carroll John, The Tag Murders (New York, Clode, 1930). London, Hutchinson, 1931. Daly, Carroll John, Tainted Power (New York, Clode, 1931). London, Hutchinson, 1931. Faulkner, William, Sanctuary (New York, Cape & Smith, 1931). London, Chatto, Sep 1931. Hammett, Dashiell, The Glass Key. London, Cassell, Jan 1931; (New York, Knopf, Apr 1931). Hammett, Dashiell, The Dain Curse (New York, Knopf, 1930). London, Cassell, 1931.
?Hanley, James, Men in Darkness. London, Bodley Head, 1931. Lloyd, Tom, From Gang to Glory. London, Aldine, 1931. Trail, Armitage, Scarface (New York, Clode, 1930). London, Long, 1931. Wallace, Edgar, On the Spot. London, John Long, 1931.

''Murder in Soho'' by John G. Brandon (in The Thriller 107, 21 Feb 1931).
''Gang Bait'' by Edmond Snell (in The Thriller 113, 4 Apr 1931).
''Gang Law'' by Hugh Clevely (in The Thriller 115, 18 Apr 1931).
''Chicago Nights'' by Murdoch Duncan (in The Thriller 117, 2 May 1931).
''The Dope Den'' by Fenton Robins (in The Thriller 119, 16 May 1931).
''Racket Rule'' by Edmond Snell (in The Thriller 127, 11 Jul 1931).
''The Man from 'Frisco'' by Hugh Clevely (in The Thriller 134, 29 Aug 1931).
''The Big Shot'' by John G. Brandon (in The Thriller 135, 5 Sep 1931).
''Gangster's Gold'' by Barry Perowne (in The Thriller 141, 17 Oct 1931).

Films The Ringer (1931)

1932 Daly, Carroll John, The Third Murderer (New York, Farrar & Rinehart, 1931). London, Hutchinson, 1932. Daniel, Roland, The Gangster. The story of gangster rule in London. London, Wright & Brown, 1932.
?Greene, Graham, Stamboul Train. Heinemann, 1932. Hume, David, Bullets Bite Deep, London, G.P. Putnam, 1932.
*****1st in Mick Cardby series, the rest not listed here***** Hunter, John, Desperado. London, Cassell, 1932. Runyon, Damon, Guys and Dolls. London, Jarrolds, Sep 1932. 1st thus. Wallace, Edgar, When the Gangs Came to London (in Answers, 6 Feb-30 Apr 1932). London, John Long, 1932.

''Tony the Wop'' by Murdoch Duncan (in The Thriller 154, 16 Jan 1932).

Films Innocents of Chicago (aka Why Saps Leave Home; 1932; comedy) Rome Express (1932)

1933 Booth, Charles G., At Ten Paces (Those Seven Alibis, New York, Morrow, 1932). London, Hodder, 1933. Daly, Carroll John, The Amateur Murderer (New York, Washburn, 1933). London, Hutchinson, 1933. Gardner, Erle Stanley, TCOT Velvet Claws (New York, Morrow, 1933). London, Harrap, 1933. Hume, Donald, Crime Unlimited. London, Collins, 1933. Johnston, Frank, Turf Racketeers. London, John Long, 1933. Ronald, James, Cross Marks the Spot. London, Hodder, 1933.

(Note: in 1933, and perhaps earlier, Detective Weekly were publishing Race Williams stories by Carroll John Daly)
''The Mission of Death'' by George Dilnot (in The Thriller 224, 20 May 1933)
''The Mystery of the Arches'' by Patrick Wynnton (in The Thriller 214, 11 Mar 1933)

Non-fiction Laven, Goat, Rough Stuff. The story of a gangster. London, Falcon Press, 1933.

1934 Cain, James M., The Postman Always Rings Twice (New York, Knopf, 1934). London, Cape, May 1934. *eight impressions between 1934-42* Daly, Carroll John, Murder Won't Wait (New York, Washburn, 1933). London, Hutchinson, 1934. Elliott, R.C., Gang Law. London, Hornsey Journey, 1934. Gardner, Erle Stanley, TCOT Sulky Girl (New York, Morrow, 1933). London, Harrap, 1934. Gardner, Erle Stanley, TCOT Lucky Legs (New York, Morrow, 1934). London, Harrap, 1934. Hammett, Dashiell, The Thin Man (New York, Knopf, Jan 1934). London, Arthur Barker, 1934. Melville, Don, The Race Gang Peril. London, Piccadilly Novels, 1934? Nebel, Frederick, Sleepers East (Boston, Little Brown, 1934). London, Gollancz, 1935. Ronald, James, Death Croons the Blues. London, Hodder, 1934.

Films The Fire Raisers (1934)

1935 Daly, Carroll John, Murder from the East (New York, Stokes, 1935). London, Hutchinson, 1935. Daly, Carroll John, Death's Juggler. London, Hutchinson, 1935; (as The Mystery of the Smoking Gun, New York, Stokes, 1936). Dickson, Grierson, Gun Business. London, Hutchinson, 1935. Dickson, Grierson, Soho Racket. London, Hutchinson, 1935. Gardner, Erle Stanley, TCOT Howling Dog (New York, Morrow, 1934). London, Cassell, 1935. Gardner, Erle Stanley, TCOT Curious Bride (New York, Morrow, 1934). London, Cassell, 1935. Gardner, Erle Stanley, TCOT Counterfeit Eye (New York, Morrow, 1935). London, Cassell, 1935. Hammett, Dashiell, The Thin Man. London, John Lane, 1935. 1st full UK release Latimer, Jonathan, Murder in the Madhouse (New York, Doubleday, 1935). London, Hurst & Blackett, 1935. McCoy, Horace, They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (New York, Simon & Schuster, 1935). London, Arthur Barker, 1935. Sharp, R.G., The Blonde Gangster. London, Piccadilly Novels, 1935. Starr, Richard, Gangster's Girl. London, Herbert Jenkins, 1935. Tracy, Don, Criss Cross (New York, Vanguard, 1934). London, Constable, 1935.

Films Crime Unlimited (Aug 1935) The Man Without a Face (Sep 1935) A Gangster Nightmare (Nov 1935)

?Attiwill, Ken, Sky Steward. London, John Long, 1936. Cain, Paul, Fast One (New York, Doubleday, 1931). London, Constable, 1936. Cheyney, Peter, This Man is Dangerous. London, Collins, Jun 1936. Curtis, James, The Gilt Kid. London, Cape, Jul 1936. Curtis, Robert, Smoky Cell, from the play by Edgar Wallace. London, Hutchinson, 1936. Daly, Carroll John, Emperor of Evil (Brown). London, Hutchinson, 1936; (New York, Stokes, 1937). Gardner, Erle Stanley, TCOT Caretaker's Cat (New York, Morrow, 1935). London, Cassell, 1936. Gardner, Erle Stanley, TCOT Sleepwalker's Niece (New York, Morrow, 1936). London, Cassell, 1936.
?Gloag, John, Sweet Racket. London, Cassell, 1936. Goldsmith, W.B., The Racing Racketeers. London, Hornsey Journal, 1936. Greene, Graham, A Gun for Sale. London, Heinemann, Jun 1936. Latimer, Jonathan, Headed for a Hearse (New York, Doubleday, 1935). London, Methuen, 1936. Nebel, Frederick, Fifty Roads to Town (Boston, Little Brown, 1936). London, Cape, Jun 1936.

Films Seven Sinners (Jul 1936) Crime Over London (Oct 1936) The Bank Messenger Mystery (Dec 1936)

1937 Anderson, Edward, Thieves Like Us (New York, Frederick Stokes, 1937). London, Heinemann, 1937. Bruce, George, Too Tough to Die (New York, Caslon, 1936). London, John Long, 1937. Cheyney, Peter, Poison Ivy. London, Collins, 1937. Cheyney, Peter, Dames Don't Care. London, Collins, 1937. Cheyney, Peter, You Can't Hit A Woman, and other stories. London, Collins, 1937. Clarke, Donald Henderson, Confidential (New York, Vanguard, 1936). London, T. Werner Laurie, 1937. Coxe, George Harmon, Murder with Pictures (New York, Knopf, 1935). London, Heinemann, Feb 1937. Coxe, George Harmon, The Barotique Mystery (New York, Knopf, 1936). London, Heinemann, Jun 1937. Cranbrook, Sheldon, The Spider of Soho. London, Wright & Brown, 1937. Curtis, James, There Ain't No Justice. London, Cape, 1937. Curtis, James, You're in the Racket, Too. London, Cape, Sep 1937. Daly, Carroll John, Mr. Strang (New York, Stokes, 1936). London, Hale, 1937. Gardner, Erle Stanley, TCOT Stuttering Bishop (New York, Morrow, 1936). London, Cassell, 1937. Grex, Leo, Transatlantic Trouble. London, Hutchinson, 1937. Latimer, Jonathan, The Lady in the Morgue (New York, Doubleday, 1936). London, Methuen, 1937. McCoy, Horace, No Pockets in a Shroud. London, Arthur Barker, 1937; (New York, New American Library, 1948). Runyon, Damon, More Than Somewhat, selected by E.C. Bentley. London, Constable, Jul 1937. Tracy, Don, How Sleeps the Beast. London, Constable, 1937 (New York, Mill, 1938) Wallace, Francis, Kid Galahad (Boston, Little Brown, 1936). London, Hale, 1937. Wallace, John, Millionaire Gangster. London, John Long, 1937. [Australian?] Westerby, Robert, Wide Boys Never Work. London, Barker, 1937.

''Out of the Fog'' by John G. Brandon (in The Thriller #418, 6 Feb 1937)
''Hard-boiled'' by James Ronald (in The Thriller #431, 8 May 1937).

Films The Frog (1937) The Green Cockatoo (aka Four Dark Hours, Race Gang; 1937) Mucushla (1937) Non-Stop New York (Sep 1937)

1938 Bezzerides, A.I., Long Haul (New York, Carrick, 1938). London, Cape, Jul 1938. Booth, Charles G., The Cat and the Clock (New York, Doubleday, 1935). London, Cassell, 1938 . Cain, James M., Serenade (New York, Knopf, 1937). London, Cape, Apr 1938. Cheyney, Peter, Can Ladies Kill?. London, Collins, 1938. Cheyney, Peter, The Urgent Hangman. London, Collins, 1938. Clevely, Hugh, The Gang Smasher Again (serial, The Thriller, ca Jul 1938). London, Cassell, 1938. Coxe, George Harmon, The Camera Clue (New York, Knopf, 1937). London, Heinemann, Mar 1938. Cunningham, William, Tough Guy (Pretty Boy, New York, Vanguard, 1937). London, John Long, 1938. Curtis, James, They Drive By Night. London, Cape, May 1938.
?Goldsmith, Martin M., Double Jeopardy (New York, Macaulay, 1938). London, Hurst & Blackett, 1938. Greene, Graham, Brighton Rock. London, Heinemann, Jul 1938. Latimer, Jonathan, The Dead Don't Care (New York, Doubleday, 1938). London, Methuen, 1938. McCoy, Horace, I Should Have Stayed Home (New York, Knopf, 1938). London, Arthur Barker, 1938. Olmstead, Edwin, Clip Joint (Nightly She Sings, New York, Knopf, 1937). London, Constable, 1938. Phelan, Jim, Lifer. London, Davies, 1938. Phelan, Jim, Ten-a-Penny People. London, Gollancz, 1938. Ronald, James, Hanging's Too Good. London, Rich & Cowan, 1938. Ronald, James, Murder for Cash. London, Rich & Cowan, 1938. Runyon, Damon, Furthermore, selected by E.C. Bentley. London, Constable, Jan 1938. Runyon, Damon, Take It Easy. London, Constable, Oct 1938.

Films Bad Boy (aka Branded; Mar 1938). The Return of the Frog (1938). They Drive By Night (Dec 1938). Night Journey (Dec 1938).

1939 Chandler, Raymond, The Big Sleep (New York, Knopf, 1939). London, Hamish Hamilton, Mar 1939. Chase, James Hadley, No Orchids for Miss Blandish. London, Jarrolds, May 1939. Cheyney, Peter, Dangerous Curves. London, Collins, Oct 1939. Cheyney, Peter, Don't Get Me Wrong. London, Collins, Jan 1939. Coxe, George Harmon, The Frightened Woman (Four Frightened Women, New York, Knopf, 1939). London, Heinemann, May 1939. Daniel, Roland, The Gangster's Last Shot. London, Wright & Brown, Feb 1939. Docherty, James L., He Won't Need It Now. London, Rich & Cowan, Nov 1939. Goldsmith, Martin M., Detour (New York, Macaulay, 1939). London, Hurst & Blackett, 1939. Green, F.L., On the Night of the Fire. London, Michael Joseph, 1939. Greene, Graham, The Confidential Agent. Heinemann, 1939. Jacobs, T.C.H., Traitor Spy. London, Stanley Paul, 1939. Latimer, Jonathan, Red Gardenias (New York, Doubleday, 1939). London, Methuen, Sep 1939.

Films Murder in Soho (Jan 1939). There Ain't No Justice (Jun 1939). His Brother's Keeper (Sep 1939). Meet Maxwell Archer (Oct 1939). A Window in London (Nov 1939). On the Night of the Fire (Nov 1939). Traitor Spy (Dec 1939)

Steve Holland e-mail: steve@uworldst.demon.co.uk

Story Paper Index: http://users.ev1.net/~homeville/paper/0start.htm

-- Duane Spurlock

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