Singapore-born US novelist. His varied career in many exotic occupations gave authentic background to some 40 novels about the Saint, a gentleman adventurer on the wrong side of the law. The novels have been adapted for films, radio, and television. The first was Enter the Saint (1930).
Early life Charteris claimed direct descent from the Shang-dynasty emperors of China, and could speak Chinese and Malay before he learnt English. For much of his early childhood he travelled around the world with his parents until, at the age of 12, he was sent to school in England. He studied at Cambridge, where his interest in crime rapidly developed; he read everything he could find on criminology and many crime novels. He changed his name to Leslie Charteris when he decided to settle in Britain 1928.
Career Encouraged by the early publication of a story and his first novel, Meet the Tiger (1928), he made up his mind to become a professional writer. For the next few years, Charteris pursued an exciting life, working on a rubber plantation in Malaya (now Malaysia), prospecting for gold, pearl fishing, working as a sailor on a freighter, and playing bridge professionally. Then he came up with the fictive character of Simon Templar, the Saint. This took him to the USA in 1932, first to New York and then on to Hollywood, where numerous ‘Saint’ films were made with several different actors playing the title role. He became a US citizen in 1946. His last novel to appear was Salvage for the Saint (1983).
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