John Creasey and the Baron
Created | Updated Jun 7, 2013
John Creasey: Ten Authors in One
| The First of Many
| Simple Facts
| The Toff
Gideon of the Yard (as JJ Marric) | Department Z | Dr Palfrey
Patrick Dawlish (as Gordon Ashe) | As Jeremy York | Inspector West
Michael Fane and Dr Cellini | The Baron
It's Christmas, 1935 and John Creasey - out of work as he so often was - became a temporary postman in Ealing, West London. The job ended on Christmas morning, and he cycled several miles through driving snow to his home at Isleworth, Middlesex. Browsing after the family Christmas dinner, he remembered a book he had started to write as an entry for the £1,500 Cracksman competition, organised by George G Harrap in England and JB Lippincott in the United States. He took the first chapter, which was all he had so far done, from the shelf, and discovered that the latest entry date was 31 December: there were 75,000 more words to be written and he had six days in which to write them.
He began chapter two that night.
He finished the book at Chapter 23 on the afternoon of 31 December, and cycled nine miles to London, delivering the manuscript to Harraps with five minutes in hand. Its title was Meet the Baron.
In July the following year he was told that a panel of judges, including Dennis Wheatley and Leonard R Gribble, had awarded him first prize. If his excitement was slightly dampened by the reduction of the prize to £1,000 (a magazine which was to have used the serial rights in the USA had ceased publication) he realised very quickly that his success as a writer of crime stories was now assured; he became, if not famous, at least widely known overnight.
The series had an unbroken run for 35 years. Yet the character of the Baron - or John Mannering - gradually changed throughout the series. From being a new 'Raffles', stealing precious stones for gain, he became a kind of Robin Hood, robbing the rich to help the poor. Before long, undoubtedly under the influence of Lorna Fauntley, whom he married, he became the owner of Quinns, a Mayfair antique shop, now famous wherever the Baron books are read - which is throughout most of the world
As the owner of Quinns, Mannering is now often consulted by Scotland Yard about precious stones and objets d'art. He goes to the help of many people, often customers of Quinns, who are in desperate trouble. The variety and scope of adventures, his extensive and exciting knowledge of jewellery and other treasures, make him unique. When I read about jewels in your books I positively drool at the mouth', one of John Creasey's female American editors told him.
While there were no major changes in the series, the steady maturing of story line and plot and character development was fascinating for students of the genre. John Creasey's own particular favourite was Sport for the Baron, set mostly in Australia, a 'crime book without a crime'. And he is right to be proud of it - the theme, writing and background of this book put many 'straight' novelists to shame.
The television series based on the Baron books helped book sales considerably, although the English television producers changed the Baron from an English aristocrat to a Texan cattle baron, and replaced his beautiful, portrait-painter wife by a lovely, but often rather superfluous, girl assistant!
With a few 'middle vintage' exceptions, all the Baron books have been published in the United States, and most of them in France as well as several other European countries.
Meet the Baron, the prize-winning novel, has never been revised or altered in any way. Lythway Press published the book in the original text for 32 years and many millions of readers after first publication. Marking the turning point in Creasey's astonishing career, this book, in its own particular way, is a classic of the crime story genre.
|Original Title||First British Edition||First US edition||US Title if Different|
|Meet the Baron||1937||1937||The Man in the Blue Mask|
|The Baron Returns||1937||1937||Blue Mask Returns|
|The Baron at Bay||1938||1938||Blue Mask at Bay|
|The Baron Again||1938||1938||Blue Mask Again|
|Alias the Baron||1939||1939||Alias Blue Mask|
|The Baron at Large||1939||1939||Blue Mask at Large|
|Versus the Baron||1949||1949||Versus Blue Mask|
|Call for the Baron||1940||1940||-|
|The Baron Comes Back||1943||-||-|
|A Case for the Baron||1945||1949||-|
|Reward for the Baron||1945||-||-|
|Career for the Baron||1946||1950||-|
|The Baron and the Beggar||1947||1950||-|
|A Rope for the Baron||1948||1949||-|
|Blame the Baron||1949||1951||-|
|Books for the Baron||1949||1949||-|
|Cry for the Baron||1950||1970||-|
|Trap the Baron||1950||1971||-|
|Shadow the Baron||1951||-||-|
|Attack the Baron||1951||-||-|
|Warn the Baron||1952||-||-|
|The Baron Goes East||1953||-||-|
|Danger for the Baron||1953||1974||-|
|The Baron in France||1953||-||-|
|The Baron Goes Fast||1954||1973||-|
|Nest Egg for the Baron||1954||1961||Deaf, Dumb and Blonde|
|Help the Baron||1955||-||-|
|Hide the Baron||1956||-||-|
|Frame the Baron||1957||1961||The Double Frame|
|Red-Eye for the Baron||1958||1960||Blood Red|
|Black for the Baron||1959||1962||If Anything Happened to Hester|
|Salute the Baron||1960||1972||-|
|A Branch for the Baron||1961||1967||-|
|Bad for the Baron||1962||1967||The Baron and the Stolen Legacy|
|A Sword for the Baron||1963||1966||The Baron and the Mogul Sword|
|The Baron on Board||1964||1968||-|
|The Baron and the Chinese Puzzle||1965||1969||-|
|Sport for the Baron||1966||1969||-|
|Affair for the Baron||1967||1968||-|
|The Baron and the Missing Old Masters||1968||1969||-|
|The Baron and the Unfinished Portrait||1969||1970||-|
|Last Laugh for the Baron||1970||1971||-|
|The Baron Goes a-Buying||1971||1972||-|
|The Baron and the Arrogant Artist||1972||1973||-|
|Burgle the Baron||1973||1974||-|
|The Baron - Kingmaker||1974||1975||-|
|Love for the Baron||1975||-||-|
Where no date is given, US publication is likely by Walker after John Creasey's revision.