Bulldog Drummond is a
British fictional character created by "Sapper,"
a pseudonym of Herman Cyril McNeile (1888-1937),an
influence on the hard boiled noir-style
detectives appearing in contemporary
The Bulldog Drummond stories followed Captain
Hugh "Bulldog" Drummond, D.S.O.
, a wealthy former WWI
officer of the fictional Loamshire Regiment
, who, after the war,
spends his new-found leisure time as a private detective.
Drummond is a proto-James Bond
a version of the imperial adventurers depicted by the likes of
. In terms of the detective
genre, the first Bulldog Drummond novel
was published after the Sherlock
stories, the Nayland Smith/Fu
novels and Richard
's first three adventures including The Thirty-Nine Steps
character first appeared in the novel Bulldog Drummond
(1920), and this was followed by a lengthy series of books and
adaptations for films, radio and television.
"Drummond... has the appearance of an English gentleman: a man who
fights hard, plays hard and lives clean... His best friend would
not call him good-looking but he possess that cheerful type of
ugliness which inspires immediate confidence ... Only his eyes
redeem his face. Deep-set and steady, with eyelashes that many
women envy, they show him to be a sportsman and an adventurer.
Drummond goes outside the law when he feels the ends justify the
Bulldog Drummond undoubtedly had influences on the pulp heroes,
notably Doc Savage
. Like Savage, Drummond
was a muscular man with a group of followers who helped him in his
adventures. They rounded up crooks and took them to a place only
they knew and reformed them. Doc Savage had a clinic upstate and
used brain surgery to do the job. At one point, Drummond and his
men, the "Black Gang", imprison a collection of saboteurs on a
Scottish island under the command of a sergeant-major, who
institutes a 'boarding-school' regime of physical work and exercise
- a precursor of the 'short, sharp, shock' treatment supported
later by right-wing politicians.
The first four books dealt with Drummond up against Carl Peterson
who was killed in the fourth book. In the fifth book, the title
refers to the female of the species being more deadly than the male
which in this case is Peterson's (presumed — their relationship is
never explicitly stated) wife Irma, who proves a very dangerous
adversary in a number of following books and wants to murder
Drummond for killing her husband.
On the cover of The Black Gang
novel were mystery men
wearing black cloaks and "slouch" hats, with guns, a guise that
would be adopted by The Shadow
Ian Fleming, creator of James Bond, acknowledged that Drummond was
an influence on Bond.
After Herman Cyril McNeile
death in 1937, his friend Gerard
continued to write stories based on the
Drummond (1920, by McNeile)
- The Black Gang
(1922, by McNeile)
- The Third Round (1924,
- Bulldog Drummond (1925, by Gerald du Maurier and McNeile)
- The Final Count (1926,
by McNeile) "A scientist has invented a poison which will end war.
He is seized, along with large quantities of the poison (which
causes instantaneous death wherever it is sprayed). The kidnapper,
an old enemy of Bulldog Drummond, intends to use the deadly
invention for his own foul ends."
- The Female of
the Species (1928, by McNeile) "Carl Peterson, a long-time
villain, has been killed by Bulldog Drummond but Peterson's
mistress escapes and turns the tables on the detective. She kidnaps
Drummond's bride and plays a nerve-jangling game of
- Temple Tower (1929, by
- The Return of
Bulldog Drummond (1932, by McNeile)
- Knock-Out (1933, by
- Bulldog Drummond at
Bay (1935, by McNeile)
- The Challenge
(1937, by McNeile)
- Bulldog Drummond on
Dartmoor (1938, by Gerard
- Bulldog Drummond
Attacks (1939, by Fairlie)
- Captain Bulldog
Drummond (1945, by Fairlie)
- Bulldog Drummond
Stands Fast (1947, by Fairlie)
- Hands Off Bulldog
Drummond (1949, by Fairlie)
- Calling Bulldog
Drummond (1951, by Fairlie)
- The Return of the
Black Gang (1954, by Fairlie)
- Deadlier Than the
Male (1966, by Henry Reymond)
- from an original story by Jimmy Sangster
- Some Girls Do
(1969, by Henry Reymond) - based on
the film script by David Osborn & Liz Charles-Williams
Short stories by McNeile
- "Lonely Inn"
- "The Mystery Tour"
- "The Oriental Mind"
- "Thirteen Lead Soldiers"
- "Wheels Within Wheels"
McNeile's works are, to a modern reader, strongly laced with
stereotypes. This was typical of British adventure stories of the
period (e.g. Buchan's Greenmantle
, 1916) but McNeile's works are
notable for their frequent hostile references to foreigners,
especially Germans, and to Jews. In "The Final Count", Robin Gaunt
muses in his diary: "And if once the secret [a deadly new poison]
was handed over to a nation which could not be trusted to use it
the way in which I intended - God help the world. I imagined Russia
possessing it - Russia ruled by its clique of homicidal alien
Jews." Earlier in the book, one of Drummond's companions disguises
himself as "a nasty-looking little Jew". In "The Female of the
Species" Drummond disguises himself as a black henchman of the
villainous Irma and, revealing himself to Irma and his astonished
companions, explains: "Every beard is not false, but every nigger
smells. That beard ain't false, dearie, and dis nigger don't smell.
So I'm thinking there's something wrong somewhere."
Films and television
Radio and television
A Bulldog Drummond
radio series ran on the Mutual Broadcasting System
1941 to 1954. Bulldog was portrayed by Ned
A 30-minute episode of Douglas
Fairbanks Jr Presents
featured Bulldog Drummond in "The
Ludlow Affair" (1957). Drummond (Robert
) was little more than a detective in London, aided by
Kelly (Michael Ripper
). This episode
is available on DVD.
Despite the outdated images presented in the original books,
Bulldog Drummond still appears as a popular culture reference. He
is one of the heroes mentioned in The
' 1957 hit "Searchin'":
- No matter where she's a-hidin', she's gonna hear me
- Gonna walk right down that street like Bulldog
Bulldog (Drummond) is also one of the nicknames proposed by Jumbo
for former British spy turned teacher Jim Prideaux in John le Carré
's Tinker, Tailor, Soldier,
. This reflects his jingoistic spirit and determined
attitude towards life, although Jim is not wealthy.
- "Sapper" (McNeile, Herman Cyril), Bulldog Drummond: The
Adventures of a Demobilised Officer Who Found Peace Dull,
London: Atlantic Books, 2008 ISBN 9781843548515
- Penzler, Otto et al., Detectionary Overlook
Press, New York, 1977 ISBN 0879510412l2