By George Alex Windish
Leslie Charteris is not a forgotten writer. Though he wrote other things, he will go down in literary history with his character, Simon Templar, the urbane, sophisticated, gentleman-adventurer better known as the Saint.
Charteris was born in 1907, the son of Dr. S.C. Yin, whose roots could be traced to the old emperors of China. Charteris was christened Leslie Charles Bowyer Yin, and learned several language before he learned English. He was not a distinguished scholar, but did manage to write a novel while he was attending Cambridge. He continued to write, but seldom made money at it. To keep himself fed, he worked as a policeman, drove a bus, prospected for gold, worked in tin mines, fished for pearl, tended bar, and became a professional bridge player.
In 1926, he legally changed his name.
In 1929, he wrote Meet The Tiger, the first Saint book.
Meet The Tiger sold very well, and soon the followup adventures of Simon Templar were making Charteris famous and rich.
In 1932, he moved to the United States.
His style of telling a story was very breezy, fast-paced and exciting, and the Saint has always held the fascination of readers. The character has appeared in movies in the 30s & 40s, on radio, in comic strips and on television. A new generation was introduced to an updated version of the Saint n the movie starring Val Kilmer. There is also a meticulously researched website for Leslie Charteris.
Forty years ago, when I was 10, I picked up and read a copy of The Saint At Large, a collection of short stories. I have been writing ever since.
Leslie Charteris died in 1993.
George Alex Windish has been writing for many years, and has become a better typist, if nothing else. He has placed nearly a dozen short stories of horror and science fiction, has had a weekly column in a local Baltimore newspaper, and has written for and edited Country Line, a small Pennsylvania magazine. He has also done ad copy and correspondence for businesses. He has long been a fan of genre literature and truly tacky movies, as well as being a collector of vintage records.