His adventures appeared in a variety of publications including Union Jack, launched in April 1894 in which he appeared in the second issue under the title; Sexton Blake Detective, and
its successor from 1933Detective Weekly from 1904 to 1940 and simultaneously in The Sexton Blake Library, from 1915 to 1963 which ran five series, the last with 526 digest size issues. A series of 160 page Sexton
Blake annuals, featuring old stories and new material began in 1938 but only lasted till 1941.
Blake also appeared in a number of serials in Boy's Friend in 1905 and in Penny Pictorial in 1907 - 1913 when the magazine folded. In Boy's Friend came the first real lengthy stories, upto 60,000 words allowing plot and character development. In 1907, a story
entitled "Sexton Blake's Honour" which dealt with his pursuit of a criminal who turned out to be his brother, Henry Blake.
Blake turned out to have another bad brother, Nigel, in the first issue of Detective Weekly in a story titled "Sexton Blake's Secret". With the popularity of school stories at the time, Tinker's schooldays
were chronicled in issues 229 and 232. Thanks to his success, it was decided that he should get his own magazine and on 20th
September 1915 appeared the first issue of Sexton Blake Libaries, entitled "The Yellow Tiger" written by G H Teed, which introduced villains; Wu Ling and Baron de Beauremon in an eleven chapter story, costing 3d (1.25p). The
second issue was called "Ill Gotten Gains" (The Secret of Salcoth Island) where Blake fought Carlac and Kew. No. 3 was called
"The Shadow of his Crime" and no. 4 "The Rajah's Revenge". Writers who worked on Blake's appearances include John Creasey, Jack Trevor Story and Michael Moorcock. There was one Super Detective Library appearance of Blake, a comic strip called "Sexton Blake's Diamond Hunt", four hardbacks, designed for the younger
market in one of which Blake went up against Raffles, then a final series of just forty five paperbacks followed.
As the years passed Blake's character underwent various permutations. Originally he was created in the vein
of earlier 19th century detectives, but late in the 1890s Blake's authors consciously modeled him on Sherlock Holmes. It was not until 1919 that Blake took on a more distinctive personality. The golden age of the story papers matched Blake's, as he became more action-oriented than Holmes and duelled with a variety of memorable enemies.
Many of Blake's writers had been men of adventure. Men who had travelled the world and seen the seamier side of life. When
World War Two started, they enlisted leaving just a small group of writers behind with just the occasional guest writer and
the stories suffered. In 1956, William Howard Baker took over as editor of the Sexton Blake Library and made changes. Blake
who had moved a number of times over the years moved to a suite of plush offices in Berkeley Square and acquired a secretary,
Paula Dane who was a background not quite love interest for Blake and later the younger Marion Lang who filled the same spot
for Tinker. Tinker was given a real name, Edward Carter. Covers which had become dull in the forties became more eye catching
and a new group of authors arrived. Baker stayed as editor till 1963, his last story being "The Last Tiger".
In Union Jack number 53, in a story titled "Cunning Against Skill", Blake picked up a wiry street-wise orphan
as an assistant who was known only as "Tinker" till the 1950's. Over the years, Tinker changed from a bright eyed boy with
a hard right hook to a rugged and able young man. As well as assisting the "guv'nor", as he called Blake, Tinker also kept
Blake's crime files upto date with clippings from the daily newspapers as well as helping Blake in his fully equipped crime
lab. Other helpers included Derek "Splash" Page of the Daily Radio and Ruff Hanson, a tough American Investigator (both created
by Gwyn Evans) as well as friends at Scotland Yard; Chief Detective Inspector Lennard, Detective Inspector Coutts and Superintendent
In 1905, Mrs Bardell (created by William Murray Grayson, who also created Pedro), Blake's bustling housekeeper turned up and remained till the end. Her misuse of the
English language was legendary in stories, and she was an able cook and would be on hand if a client needed food or a cup
of tea and even featured as the main character in some stories: "The mystery of Mrs Bardell's Xmas pudding" in 1925 and "Mrs
Bardell's Xmas Eve" in 1926. In Union Jack 100, a story entitled "The Dog Detective", a bloodhound named Pedro turned up and
was to track many villains to their lair in future stories.
George Marsden Plummer (created by Ernest Semphill), a crooked Detective Sergeant at Scotland Yard went after Blake when he stood between him and a fortune but
like many others, he ended up in a police cell. But unlike many before him, he escaped again and again, becoming Blake's bitterest
enemy. Another memorable character was Waldo the Wonderman (created by Edwy Searles Brooks) who started out as a villain and ended up in later stories as a friend of Blake's who helped him in a number
of cases. This 1918 superman had tremendous strength, could contort his body like a rubber man and was insensitive to pain.
But even when reformed, he stole money but now from blackmailers, swindlers and other members of the Underworld. Others including
the Byronic master thief Zenith the Albino who had crimson eyes, Dr Huxton Rymer, Leon Kestrel, the Master Mummer and many more.
Blake in Films
There were several Sexton Blake stage plays, the earliest one produced in 1907, "The Case of the Coiners".
The first Blake film appeared in 1909 was called "Sexton Blake" and was written by C Douglas Carlisle who also directed and starred in the twelve minute short. This was followed by "Sexton Blake V Baron Kettler"
a few years later. In 1914 during the silent era there were thirteen more half-hour Blake features, the first being "The Clue of the Wax Vesta" followed by "The
Mystery of the Diamond Belt". Another was titled "Sexton Blake Versus Mademoiselle Yvonne.
A second series of six silent films were released in 1928 with Langhorne Burton as Blake and Mickey Brantford as Tinker. The first was "Silken Threads" and later came "The Clue of the Second Goblet".
"Sexton Blake and the Bearded Doctor" was the first of three films in the 1930's. Based on a novel by Rex Hardinge, it featured George Curzon as Sexton Blake and Tony Sympson as Tinker. "Sexton Blake and the Mademoiselle" (featuring Mme. Roxanne as the female villain from the books)
from a story by G H Teed followed shortly afterwards and the third was "Sexton Blake and the Hooded Terror" with Todd Slaughter playing the villain.
Blake on the Radio and TV
On 26th January 1939 BBC Radio broadcast a serial called Enter Sexton Blake with George Curzon again as Blake and Brian Lawrence as Tinker, followed on 30th March 1940 by A Case for Sexton Blake which was adapated for radio by Francis Durbridge (creator of Paul Temple). Later in 1967, BBC aired another radio serial on the character with William Franklyn playing Blake. ITV aired Sexton Blake from 1967 to 1971. Among the storylines lasting 4-6 episodes was "The Invicta Ray"
where a villain dresses in a costume and hood of sack cloth like material and under the rays of the Invicta Ray becomes invisible
so he can commit his crimes without being seen.
There was also Simon Raven's Sexton Blake and the Demon God was a short television show produced by the BBC in 1978.
Other Blake appearances
Blake even made it onto records a seven minute long 78 rpm record called "Murder on the Portsmouth Road,"
written by Donald Stuart and featured Arthur Wontner (who was later to star in a Sherlock Holmes film) as Blake.
A set of poorly drawn Sexton Blake playing cards were produced around 1940 and Blake made it into comics too.
In the Knockout comic and some annuals, started by artist Jos Walker and then taken over by Alfred Taylor for ten years, though the undoubted highlight was a strip drawn by Eric Parker who drew hundreds of memorable covers for the Sexton Blake Libraries, called "The Secret of Monte Cristo.