Cover of E. W. Hornung


Lifetime: 1866 - 1921 Passed: ≈ 103 years ago




United Kingdom

E. W. Hornung

E. W. Hornung was a renowned British author and literary figure, best known for his captivating crime fiction and his creation of the iconic character A. J. Raffles. With his distinctive storytelling style and complex characters, Hornung left an indelible mark on the world of literature. In this essay, we will explore the life, principles, notable works, and lasting legacy of E. W. Hornung.

Ernest William Hornung, born on June 7, 1866, in Middlesbrough, England, displayed an early passion for literature and writing. He was the third son of John Peter Hornung, a Hungarian immigrant. Hornung attended Uppingham School and later studied law at the City of London School, following his father's wishes. However, his true calling lay in the realm of literature, and he pursued it fervently.

Hornung gained widespread recognition for his crime fiction, particularly for his creation of the character A. J. Raffles. Raffles, a charming gentleman thief, made his first appearance in "The Ides of March" and went on to become the central figure in a series of thrilling short stories and novels. Hornung's unique twist on the crime genre, presenting a criminal as the protagonist, captivated readers and established him as a master of suspenseful storytelling.

Aside from the Raffles series, Hornung wrote numerous other notable works. His collection of short stories, "Dead Men Tell No Tales," showcased his skill in crafting atmospheric tales of mystery and intrigue. "The Amateur Cracksman" and "A Thief in the Night" further solidified Hornung's reputation as a master of crime fiction.

Hornung's writing often explored themes of morality, justice, and the complexity of human nature. He delved into the psychology of his characters, challenging societal perceptions of right and wrong. His work blurred the lines between hero and antihero, presenting nuanced and morally ambiguous protagonists.

E. W. Hornung passed away on March 22, 1921, leaving behind a rich literary legacy. He is remembered as a pioneering author who breathed new life into the crime fiction genre and redefined its conventions. Hornung's impact can still be felt today, with his works continuing to entertain and inspire readers around the world.

Beyond his literary endeavors, Hornung had an eventful personal life. He was married to Constance Doyle, the sister of famous author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who created the legendary detective Sherlock Holmes. This connection led to a close friendship between Hornung and Conan Doyle, as they shared a passion for storytelling and crime fiction.

E. W. Hornung's contributions to literature, particularly within the crime fiction genre, are significant and enduring. Through his captivating characters and thought-provoking narratives, he challenged conventions and left a lasting impact on readers. His creation, A. J. Raffles, remains an iconic figure in the annals of crime fiction. E. W. Hornung's philosophy, literary talent, and memorable works have solidified his place as a respected and celebrated author in the literary world.

Books by E. W. Hornung

Peccavi Cover image


Crime Fiction Novel
Mystery Adventure Thriller Historical Fiction Justice Suspense Danger Twists Intriguing Classic Literature

This is a Mystery novel that keeps readers on the edge of their seats. With its intriguing plot and well-crafted characters, this book has become a timeless classic in the world of crime fiction. Peccavi takes us on a thrilling journey through the c...

Witching Hill Cover image

Witching Hill

Crime Fiction
Mystery Courage Hope Dark Resilience Secret Ghosts

On Witching Hill, where the shadows loom long and the air is thick with portent, the residents whisper of strange occurrences. A phantom carriage gallops through the night, leaving behind a trail of icy mist. A ghostly figure haunts the graveyard, it...

Amateur Cracksman Cover image

Amateur Cracksman

"I'd tasted blood, and it was all over with me. Why should I work when I could steal? Why settle down to some humdrum uncongenial billet, when excitement, romance, danger and a decent living were all going begging together?"- A. J. Raffles, The Ides...

Raffles, Further Adventures of the Amateur Cracksman Cover image

Raffles, Further Adventures of the Amateur Cracksman

Raffles, Further Adventures of the Amateur Cracksman (also published as The Black Mask) is the second collection of stories in the Raffles series. After the dark turn of events at the end of The Gift of the Emperor, Bunny's done his time and, his lif...

Dead Men Tell No Tales Cover image

Dead Men Tell No Tales

Ernest William Hornung (June 7, 1866 – March 22, 1921) was an English author. Hornung was the third son of John Peter Hornung, a Hungarian, and was born in Middlesbrough. He was educated at Uppingham during some of the later years of its great headma...

Thief in the Night - Version 2 Cover image

Thief in the Night - Version 2

A Thief in the Night is a 1905 collection of short stories by Ernest William Hornung, featuring his popular character A. J. Raffles. It was the third book in the series, and the final collection of short stories. In it, Raffles, a gentleman thief, co...

Shadow of the Rope Cover image

Shadow of the Rope

Rachel Minchin stands in the dock, accused of murdering the dissolute husband she was preparing to leave. The trial is sensational, and public opinion vehemently and almost universally against her. When the jury astonishes and outrages the world with...

Mr. Justice Raffles Cover image

Mr. Justice Raffles

A. J. Raffles is a British gentleman thief of some renown who, in this, the hero's final adventure, ironically demonstrates a sense of morality by teaching a London East End loan shark a lesson. The book was later made into a movie, as well as a Brit...

Thief in the Night Cover image

Thief in the Night

Gentleman thief A.J. Raffles burgles his way through a series of homes in late Victorian England. A Thief in the Night is a short story collection and Hornung's third book in the Raffles series. (Summary by Cathy Barratt)

Thousandth Woman Cover image

Thousandth Woman

E. W. Hornung was an English author and poet best known for writing the A. J. Raffles series of stories about a gentleman thief in late 19th-century London. Some of Hornung's novels, including The Thousandth Woman, are notable for "portraying women i...

Camera Fiend Cover image

Camera Fiend

A London schoolboy playing hooky is drawn in to the clutches of a creature evil beyond imagining.(summary by Judi Mason)

Notes of a Camp Follower on the Western Front Cover image

Notes of a Camp Follower on the Western Front

In 1915 Oscar Hornung, son of the famous author E W Hornung, was killed at Ypres after less than a year as a soldier in Flanders. He was only 20. Two years later E W Hornung volunteered to help run one of the YMCA canteens close behind the front line...

Stingaree Cover image


Ten tales of the adventures of an Australian Bushranger - (Summary by Beeswaxcandle)