John Creasey and the Toff Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

John Creasey and the Toff

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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

The Toff - or the Honourable Richard Rollison - was 'born' in the twopenny weekly Thriller in 1933, but it was not until 1938 that John Creasey first published books about him. He was written originally to special editorial requirements and in the first few volumes no amount of re-writing and lengthening, even from 25,000 words to 60,000, could make him more than a rather heavy-footed 'Saint'1. Once new stories were written for the novel form, however, the Toff took on characteristics all his own and became a kind of 'Saint with his feet on the ground'. It was in this period that the author began consciously to use the Toff to show how well the Mayfair man-about-town could get on with the rough diamonds of the East End.

His first police catalyst, flat-footed Inspector McNab of the Yard, soon gave way to a more realistic policeman, Detective Superintendent 'Bill' Grice. McNab hadn't seemed real to the Creasey, but Grice did, and has grown and matured with the Toff until today they are more friends than enemies. Bill Ebbutt, ex-prizefighter and East End pub-keeper - who began life as Bert, but between books was accidentally converted to Bill - has appeared in most Toffs, and his Salvation Army wife, Lil, in many. Some Salvationists told Creasey that such a marriage could not take place, but he always claimed author's licence. In these books, Lady (Old Glory) Gloria Hurst, the Toff's patrician and community-minded aunt, rubs shoulders happily with Grice and Ebbutt, to show that no matter what their backgrounds, people can live in complete harmony with one another.

The chief harmonising character in the Toff books is Jolly, the Toff's 'man'. There is an element of caricature in Jolly, of course, as indeed there is in the other characters (with the possible exception of Grice), and it is at least 20 years since he was first called an anachronism. Yet his popularity is as great with 'pop' fans as it has been with youths for several generations. He moves with the times a great deal more freely than many who criticise realise, and comes to grips with some intensely serious social problems, as in The Toff and the Teds (US Title).

Creasey had been trying to get the Toff published in the United States for 15 years before Pyramid Books and then Walker presented this character to American readers. Almost instantly 'the anachronism' was a success, and Walker sometimes publish as many as six Toffs in a year, ranging from very early books to those most recently published in England. He is widely popular, too, in France; in fact, the Toff was translated into a dozen different languages.

What gives the Toff his ever-fresh, ever-appealing quality it is impossible to say, unless it is that he likes people, and continues to live a life of glamour and romance while constantly showing (by implication alone) that all men are brothers under the skin.

Original TitleFirst British EditionFirst US editionUS Title if Different
Introducing the Toff1938--
The Toff Steps Out1939--
The Toff Goes On1939--
The Toff Breaks In1940--
Here Comes the Toff19401967-
Salute the Toff19411971-
The Toff Proceeds19411968-
The Toff is Back19421973-
The Toff Goes to Market19421967-
Accuse the Toff19431974-
The Toff Among the Millions19431975-
The Toff and the Great Illusion19441967-
The Toff and the Curate19441969The Toff and the Deadly Parson
Feathers for the Toff19451970-
The Toff and the Lady1946--
Hammer the Toff19471971-
The Toff on Ice19471965Poison for the Toff*
The Toff Takes Shares19481972-
The Toff in Town1948--
The Toff and Old Harry19491970-
The Toff on Board19491973-
Kill the Toff19501966-
Fool the Toff19501966-
The Toff Goes Gay19511966A Mask for the Toff
A Knife for the Toff*19511964-
Hunt the Toff19521969-
Call the Toff19531969-
The Toff Down Under19531969-
The Toff at Butlins1954--
The Toff at the Fair **19541968-
A Six for the Toff19551972-
The Toff and the Deep Blue Sea19551967-
Make-up for the Toff19561967-
The Toff in New York*19561964-
The Toff on Fire19571966-
Model for the Toff*19571965-
The Toff and the Stolen Tresses19581965-
The Toff on the Farm19581964-
The Toff and the Runaway Bride19591964-
Double for the Toff19591965-
The Toff and the Kidnapped Child19601965-
A Rocket for the Toff*19601964-
Follow the Toff19611967-
The Toff and the Teds19621968The Toff and the Toughs
Leave it to the Toff*19631965-
A Doll for the Toff19641965-
The Toff and the Spider19651966-
The Toff in Wax19661966-
A Bundle for the Toff19671968-
Stars for the Toff19681968-
The Toff and the Golden Boy19691969-
The Toff and the Fallen Angels19701970-
Vote for the Toff19711971-
The Toff and the T-T-Triplets19721972-
The Toff and the Terrified Taxman19731973-
The Toff and the Sleepy Cowboy19741974-
The Toff and the Crooked Copper19751975-

* Paperback only in the USA.

** To be republished in 2004 as 'Last Laugh for the Toff'
1The suave and sophisticated agent created by Leslie Charteris and personified by Roger Moore in the TV series

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