Military Review

Secrets of the birth of famous literary adventurers and detectives

Read by fascinating stories about the adventures of world-famous detectives and spies, readers sometimes do not even realize that the characters they love are literary reflections of real personalities. The authors of detective stories about the great Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Commissar Megra, Nate Pinkerton, James Bond, Miss Marple and many other famous detectives have always taken the lives of specific people as the basis of their works, giving the plot a colorful and dramatic way through the use of various literary devices. Who were these figures unfamiliar to a wide readership?

Secrets of the birth of famous literary adventurers and detectives

The prototype is a certain concrete historical or well-known personality of the writer, which served as the starting point for working through the image. Maxim Gorky said that the author is simply obliged to conjecture, typify a real person, turning him into the character of his work. The strongest examples of their prototypes are specific specimens of literary heroes - adventurers of all kinds and directions.

Until now, researchers argue about who was the true prototype of the famous James Bond. Most tend to believe that he was the agent of British intelligence, Sydney Reilly, whose archival documents the author Bondiana reviewed while working as an assistant to one of the chief intelligence officers of Britain. It was then that Jan Fleming, in his own words, had the idea of ​​writing the first story about the 007 agent.

The biography of a man who bore the name of Sydney Reilly and called the "king of spies" is extremely controversial. Known information for the most part is not supported by any documents and is based only on the personal stories of the scout. Much of them, of course, is fiction.
The popularity of the British agent is indicated by the fact that he is mentioned by at least three well-known authors as a prototype of his characters - Ian Fleming copied James Bond from him, Ethel Voinich from Gadfly, and Ilf and Petrov took his manners for Ostap Bender. Of course, the “reflections” of this versatile personality were taken completely different.

The most plausible version seems to be about the Russian origin of the main prototype of James Bond. One of the researchers in the history of British intelligence, Andrew Cook, cites data in his book indicating that the real name of Sydney Reilly is Solomon Rosenblum. He was born in the 1874 year in Odessa or Kherson and was the illegitimate son of a Polish noblewoman and a simple pharmacist (according to other sources - a doctor), although he was raised by an adoptive father, a colonel of the Russian army. The boy received an excellent education, spoke several languages. A turning point in the life of the young man was his participation in the revolutionary movement (according to other sources - a family scandal), after which, after writing a farewell note, Rosenblum successfully staged his own death in the port of Odessa and went on the run. He secretly made his way to the ship bound for South America. The team found him when the ship was already far from the coast. Ocean Sigismund Rosenblum, and that is how he called himself his companions, overcame as a sailor. In Brazil, he happened to change many professions, he was in the shoes of a doctor, docker, builder and even a plantation worker. In the 1895 year, he was hired as a cook on an expedition by British intelligence officers. In one of the adventures, Rosenblum managed to save the life of an English officer, agent Charles Fothergill. In gratitude for the courage shown, the British issued him a new passport and offered to work for the secret service.

The career of a successful spy began in Brazil, and then was brilliantly continued in Europe. Sigismund, and according to the new documents Sydney Reilly, managed, although not without difficulty, to accomplish the most difficult secret mission - to steal the military secrets of Kaiser Germany by settling as a simple worker at one of the German military factories. Among the British agents, Reilly was considered one of the most experienced employees, he did not fail a single operation entrusted to him and was known for finding a way out of virtually any situation. Based on the situation, Reilly was able to instantly transform into a completely different personality. It was precisely because of its origin and inventiveness that the intelligence officer, classified under the code ST.1, was sent to Russia in 1897 in the year, where he set up an agent network. For several years of his activity, no one thought that a successful entrepreneur and a cheerful frequenter of fashionable clubs was in fact a secret British spy. Also, living in Russia, in the 1903 year, he dealt with the machinations of the forest trade in Port Arthur. Under the guise of a simple merchant, he managed to get hold of plans for the fortifications of the port, which were then allegedly sold to the Japanese ...

Adventurism has always been inherent in this man. Several times he, without instructions from the management, actually planned and carried out dangerous tasks on his own whim. This approach, of course, did not appeal to his superiors, but the results were quite satisfactory for them, and therefore the supervising intelligence leaders looked at the tricks of the agent through their fingers. One of the independent ST.1 adventures in 1905 ended with the fact that it was the British who became the owners of the newly discovered, but not yet developed oil fields in Persia. The secret service only instructed the agent to find a Frenchman named Darcy, who was going to sell Rothschild his right to extract “black gold” in the region. Reilly not only found him without any hindrances, but also persuaded Darcy to change the decision in favor of the British. As a result, the world-famous company today British Petroleum became the main owner of huge reserves of Persian oil, which in four years brought her fabulous profits.
On the instructions of the British intelligence services, Reilly produced strategically important information about Russian naval bases, oil production in Iran and the rearmament of Germany. And in his spare time, he godlessly smoked and littered with money, visited the most expensive places, was a gambling gambler, bought only the most expensive clothes. His novels were numerous and ubiquitous, according to some information, the agent simultaneously had several wives.

One of the brightest and at the same time tragic facts of his biography is an attempt to capture the leader of the revolution Vladimir Lenin in 1918. Having established contact with the head of the British mission, Bruce Lockhart, ST.1 began to intensively collect information about the weak points in the leader’s guard. To fulfill the mission, he received from the British a huge amount of money in rubles, which was supposed to be transferred to the commander of the Latvian riflemen involved in the protection of the Kremlin, Eduardo Berzin. But the main miscalculation of Reilly was that, having believed in the sincerity of the officer, he, along with the money, gave him for contact the names and appearances of his contacts. The agent's self-confidence this time let him down. Edward Berzin, with whom the spy came into contact, counting on his support in the anti-Soviet coup, turned out to be a loyal Bolshevik and daily reported to Sverdlov and Dzerzhinsky about each step of the operation. The outcome of the operation, carefully prepared by the British spy, to arrest Lenin was unexpected for everyone. 30 August 1918 year Reilly, standing in a crowd, witnessed Kaplan's attack. After the attempt on the life of the leader, a wave of repression and arrests of anti-Bolshevik-minded citizens swept through the country. Reilly himself and his contacts, photos of which appeared in all departments of the Cheka, got into the detention lists. The agent managed to escape and leave for Petrograd, from where he went by ship to Sweden. Already in Britain, Reilly learned that in Russia he was sentenced to an immediate execution if he ever dared to cross the border again. But this did not become an argument for a spy who wants to take revenge.

British intelligence chief Mansfield Cumming believed that after the failure of Reilly, it is not worth returning to Russia. He offered him assignments in different parts of the world, but for an ST.1 who considers himself invulnerable, returning to our country became a matter of principle. In the spring of 1918, Reilly made a trip to the White Don, taking Alexander Kerensky to Murmansk. Later in Petrograd and Moscow, he coordinated the actions of the Left SRs, organized conspiracies, recruited Soviet citizens, receiving the necessary documents from them. After the discovery of the plot of Lockhart, he again managed to escape to England, where he became Churchill's consultant on the Russian question. In his reports, he called the Communists only a "cancer", calling on everyone to unite against this dangerous threat. Subsequently, he visited Russia more than once.

The largest operation of the domestic special services of the early twentieth century was able to put an end to its activities. It began with the fact that Reilly received an offer from the anti-Bolshevik organization "Trest" to lead the upcoming uprising against the Communists. For a meeting with the leaders of the conspiracy, he was offered to come to Moscow, while guaranteeing complete security. British intelligence warned Reilly about the possibility of the “Trust” playing a double game, but the desire to get even for the former failure turned out to be stronger than prudence. Immediately after the meeting in Moscow, Reilly was arrested by members of the State Political Administration (GPU) under the NKVD, who set up a front company to lure out foreign spies. The agent was brought to the Lubyanka, what happened to him later, we can only guess, because the Reilly interrogation protocols were kept secret. All that is known is that at the end of 1925, after agonizing torture, he allegedly agreed to cooperate by issuing the names of co-workers and getting permission to walk around Sokolnikov through the forest accompanied by guards. According to some information, it was there that Sydney Reilly was shot while trying to escape, but there is no official information about this outcome. This gives rise to very fantastic assumptions about the successful escape of agent ST.1, who managed to cross all the borders and was lost in South America forever. Another version suggests that the elusive agent in the GPU was able to be recruited and used for their own purposes.

Despite the glory of Reilly, who took on the implementation of the most difficult tasks, many connoisseurs of Bondiana rightly believe that not only he was the prototype of their favorite character. In particular, the pseudonym 007 itself was probably taken by Fleming from the English agent John Dee, who was in the habit of signing all reports addressed to Queen Elizabeth I with a special sign in the form of two zeros and an angle bracket that resembles a seven. Among the other most likely candidates for an honorable role, it is worth highlighting Reilly's associates for his work in intelligence. Of these, the scout and diplomat Bruce Lockhart, whom the author of Bondiana met during the Second World War, is most similar to the famous spy. Partial episodes could also be taken from the biography of one of the most effective British agents in Russia, Paul Dux, as well as George Hill, a suspect in the betrayal of Reilly. In addition, Fleming was well acquainted with the head of the Paris intelligence agency Wilfried Biffy Dunderdale, who repeatedly claimed that the writer used the stories he told in his books, as well as a British agent on navy Merlin Minshell. Fleming borrowed some manners and phrases from Prince Bernard van Lippe-Bisterfeld, an agent who had transferred from German organs to British intelligence. A refined man with a princely title was married to a Dutch princess and loved to get involved in dubious adventures. It was from him that Bond adopted the habit of ordering Vodka Martini, adding: “Shake without stirring”, as well as the manner of spectacular performance: “Bernard, Prince Bernard”.

Attentive researchers of this topic could not help but note that Fleming endowed the hero with his own character traits. In particular, both officers were rampant overlords and preferred the same type of women, both graduated from the naval career with the rank of commander. Finally, the author, like the character he created, has the same culinary preferences, habits, and even one elementary school. Maybe this is precisely what explains Fleming’s disregard for his hero, since he saw himself in him?

If there are disputes concerning the prototype of James Bond, then it is absolutely certain who became the prototype of the unsurpassed Sherlock Holmes, created by Arthur Conan Doyle in the likeness of his idol, professor of medicine, brilliant surgeon Joseph Bell. The future writer met this interesting, smartest person while studying at the medical faculty of Edinburgh University. The method of deduction, which became famous after the publication of works about the adventures of the detective, Bell himself considered the main thing in the work of the doctor for the correct diagnosis. Having brilliantly mastered this method of analysis, the professor could give an absolutely accurate conclusion about the condition of the patient even before he had time to say a word. Conan-Doyle wrote in his memoirs that if a professor had become a detective story, then many crimes would have been solved in England. From his idol, Doyle wrote off not only the appearance and habits of Sherlock who conquered the whole world, but also used the same phrases that the famous professor often liked to repeat. For example, during his lectures, by the way, popular with students, Bell often said: “Use the power of deduction!”. Another interesting fact is that the very first story about Holmes came out in time for Joseph Bell’s 50th anniversary, becoming a kind of gift for him.

The doctor himself, agreeing with his partial resemblance to the protagonist Conan Doyle, always noted that detective abilities were never his strength, and Holmes owes his talent for investigating intricate crimes to the author himself, whom the former mentor called a brilliant detective story. Throughout his life, Bell followed with great interest the literary work of his pupil, believing that it was Arthur who was the main prototype of Sherlock Holmes. The depth of the analytical genius of the writer really more than once helped him to reveal the complicated cases, during the investigation of which the police came to a standstill. The ability to single out the main thing, to see the nuances imperceptible to other people, connecting them into one logical and sometimes completely unpredictable chain always aroused the admiration of colleagues. The writer's detective abilities become even more obvious if we recall that during the creation of works on Sherlock Holmes there were no special guidelines for conducting investigations into crimes. The author of the famous detective had to study in detail the reports on the trials and newspaper clippings in order to understand and develop in his writings the techniques and methods of disclosing the atrocities committed. Like his famous character, Doyle often received letters and met with strangers who turned to him for help in finding the truth. After such visits, according to the recollections of his son, the writer could sit for a long time in his office, thinking with concentration, without giving any signs of life.

The efforts of Conan Doyle did not pass without a trace, after the publication of the first two novels about Sherlock, a significant work on forensic science was published - “Crime Study” written by G. Gross. And the leaders of Scotland Yard explicitly stated that it was Conan Doyle who had indicated the path to a scientific approach to solving crimes. Through the words of Holmes, the writer expressed his desire for an absolutely disinterested restoration of justice. And the letters addressed to Sherlock from people who needed the help of this talented, but unfortunately invented detective came long after the writer left his life.

The identity of the prototype of another famous literary hero-detective Nat Pinkerton, who became his namesake Alan Pinkerton (1819-1884), the founder of the first National Detective Agency, is also clearly defined. He was born in the Scottish city of Glasgow. For the first time, Alan felt his taste for solving crimes in his childhood, working in his father’s Bondar workshop. When buying barrels someone handed Alan fake money. Having discovered this, Pinkerton was able to independently track down and apprehend the criminal. In 1842, Alan emigrated to America, and in 1846, the locals of the small town where he lived chose the young man as their sheriff. The decision to become a detective, Pinkerton took in thirty-one. He left public service and organized his own detective agency with an open eye emblem, operating under the motto “We never sleep”. The agency worked the real aces of their profession, brave daredevils who could not only shoot perfectly, but were also experienced psychologists, observers, artists, perfectly mastered the art of reincarnation and disguise.
Nine employees of the Pinkerton Agency for a long time managed with success to deal with the robbers of trains and banks that were walking at that time. The good reputation and trust that the agency deserved contributed to the task of protecting its members to protect Abraham Lincoln himself during his trip to Baltimore in 1861. A few days before the planned meeting with voters, Pinkerton, who arrived in the city, managed to uncover the conspiracy and prevent an assassination attempt on the president, which could well have cost the leader of the country of life. And soon the agency managed to become famous again. His employees were able to uncover and catch intruders trying to steal from the railway company Adams Express the fabulous sum of money at that time of seven hundred thousand dollars. In addition to his work, Pinkerton was engaged in a lot of research and development, improved the methods of work of criminologists. It was he who first introduced the practice of using photographic images and verbal descriptions of criminals to catch them. Drawings and photos of the villains, indicating the amount of remuneration for assisting in their capture, were hung by members of the agency for cities and farms. Pinkerton also laid the foundations, and his sons developed methods for classifying criminals. The detective created a filing cabinet of famous gangsters with an indication of their specializations. After the American Civil War, during which Pinkerton officers conducted intelligence activities in favor of the northern states, Alan, in the midst of inaction and passivity of the authorities, unleashed a stormy activity in a country where crime was rampant. Both he and his people were actively infiltrating into big gangs, risked their own lives, but did their dangerous work. Thanks to their efforts, several major leaders of criminal groups were arrested. The famous detective died in the 1884 year due to the gangrene developed as a result of accidental prokus. His agency still exists, it is owned by the Swedish company Securitas AB.

The extremely popular stories about Nate Pinkerton, which were released at the beginning of the last century, first in America, and then in Europe and Russia, were spread by millions of copies. The recognition of publications contributed to the fact that, despite all the obviousness of reports about the identity of the prototype of the main character of detective stories, nothing was known about their author. It was assumed that they could not be one, but several people, experienced writers who are fond of writing small detective pamphlets. Among Russian authors, among possible candidates were the names of A. Kuprin, M. Kuzmin, N. Breshko-Breshkovsky and other writers, but the final verdict has not yet been rendered, but the mystery remains unsolved.
More recently, Agatha Christie's great-grandson discovered audio recordings, which eloquently indicate that the prototype of the omnipresent and witty Miss Marple was the age-old who was none other than the writer's own grandmother. The above-mentioned find drastically changed the prevailing ideas that the prototype of one of the most popular heroines in the world of detective stories was the French writer Madeleine de Scudery, who lived in the seventeenth century. No one has known about the existence of twenty-seven half-hour records found in Greenway for more than forty years. Meanwhile, in them, Agatha Christie sets out the curious facts of her biography, real stories, on the basis of which she created her immortal works. The records found are of great value, since during the lifetime of Agatha Christie did not like to give an interview. Meanwhile, as the great-grandson of the writer notes, they are more expressive than words written on paper. Christie's moderately domineering, calm, emotion-filled voice makes it possible to more accurately understand the essence of her thoughts.

Pointing out that her grandmother was the prototype of Jane Marple, the author of the detectives nevertheless stipulates that the image she had invented did not fully correspond to the real person. But the basic character traits of the two women are similar. In particular, the ability to foresee the worst possible development of events, for all her cheerfulness, Miss Marple took over from her real prototype. This feature of her grandmother's character, as Christie herself says in the notes, always scared her in her childhood. And in most cases, granny, alas, was right. Among other things, the author of many stories and novels about amateur detective confesses that she was not originally going to make Jane Marple a regular heroine of her works. The character was conceived as a secondary, but insightful old woman, according to the writer, somehow imperceptibly and firmly entered her life, becoming Hercule Poirot's “dangerous rival”.

It is almost impossible to talk about the Avtopope Ostap Bender - this amazing hero inherited the features of a multitude of real people, acquaintances and friends of the authors. And at the same time, in the company of Ilf and Petrov, there was one person, to some extent able to claim the extraordinary role of Ostap’s prototype. His name was Osip Veniaminovich Shor, he was born in the city of Nikopol, but spent his childhood in Odessa, from an early age he discovered remarkable tendencies to adventures. He learned only one year at the Petrograd Institute of Technology, and then the revolution began. Osip decided to return to Odessa, but had neither the money nor the desire to earn it honestly. On the way home, he presented himself as a chess grandmaster, now a hiding member of an underground anti-Soviet organization, now a modern artist. He even spent some time as a rich aunt's fiancé.

After returning to his beloved city, Shor entered the service in the criminal investigation department. Perhaps, Bender’s respect for the Criminal Code originates from here. Becoming a detective, he launched an active fight against local criminals, participated in operations to catch members of the gang of Mishka Jap. He mercilessly destroyed the offenders who resisted him, the gangsters preferred to turn in their accomplices, rather than meet him during interrogations. Shortly after his brother died at the hands of criminals, Osip left the organs and moved to live in Moscow. His friends included Kataev, Ilf and Petrov, Edward Bagritsky and Yuri Olesha. He often told them about his adventures. After the appearance of "The Twelve Chairs" Osip Shore falsely resented the authors, but it was clearly visible that he was proud of the hero's similarity to the work. Odessa became really popular after the release of Kataev's novel “My Diamond Crown”.

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  1. strange and pretty meaningless
    strange and pretty meaningless 19 July 2013 09: 09
    The article is interesting. There are references to the fact that Agent 007 was infused with traits not only by Reilly. The collective image of the "knight of the cloak and dagger" of the British crown took over a lot from Lawrence of Arabia. The same propensity for adventures "beyond the foul," the need for speed.
    I change my home every day, my work every two days, my language every three, but I still remain unsatisfied. I hate to be in front, I hate to be behind, I hate responsibility, and I do not obey orders. One of the "rules of life" of the subject.
    Joseph Bell was undoubtedly one of Conan Doyle's "arsonists". The future author was struck by Bell's ability to grasp subtle details on the fly - and draw conclusions from them. Anecdote on the topic. Bell, explains to the students that there are times in the life of a doctor when you need to suppress the disgust inherent in everyone. As an example, he dips a finger in the patient's urine, then licks it demonstratively. "So the doctor, if necessary, examines urine for sugar. Whoever repeats it, takes the course without an exam." One of the students agrees - repeats. And - receives a punishment from Bell: "One of the most important qualities of a doctor is OBSERVANCE. If you look closely, you might notice that I dipped my index finger - and licked my ring finger."
    Thank you all.
    1. viktorR
      viktorR 19 July 2013 11: 17
      I don’t know how much all this is true, but I also read somewhere that Flemeng participated in an operation to extract Nazi secrets in Germany after her defeat, so it’s kind of like the code name for this operation was a combination of three numbers - 007
  2. omsbon
    omsbon 19 July 2013 09: 13
    Researchers are still arguing about who was the true prototype of the famous James Bond. Most tend to believe that they were British intelligence agent Sydney Reilly,

    This prototype named Solomon, the young counterintelligence of Soviet Russia, spent as a baby, gutted all the information from him and deservedly slapped. Awesome prototype!
    1. strange and pretty meaningless
      strange and pretty meaningless 19 July 2013 09: 30
      Quote: omsbon
      Awesome prototype!

      Duc and Bond, after all, the scout is a shitty one. Lucky there, the women helped out laughing
      1. Vladimirets
        Vladimirets 19 July 2013 11: 07
        "The version about the Russian origin of the main prototype of James Bond seems to be the most plausible."

        laughing Mother is Polish, father is Jewish, was born in Odessa or Kherson, definitely Russian.
  3. Alexanderlaskov
    Alexanderlaskov 19 July 2013 15: 50
    All fictional characters are a bad example to make. Supermans unfinished.
  4. Alexanderlaskov
    Alexanderlaskov 19 July 2013 15: 58
    When creating a hero image, different heroes are taken. For example Stirlitz from "17 Moments of Spring".
  5. Alexanderlaskov
    Alexanderlaskov 19 July 2013 16: 13
    Recently I read the book "The Scout's Fate". In this book, Karpov V.V. describes his life story. This is superman. James Bond in comparison with him is a boy with a saber on a wooden horse. That such heroes as V.V. Karpov not filmed, but any riffraff?
  6. Alexanderlaskov
    Alexanderlaskov 19 July 2013 17: 53
    Article plus. It was very interesting to read.
  7. sokrat-71
    sokrat-71 19 July 2013 22: 16
    Interesting article. Thanks to the author.
  8. RoTTor
    RoTTor 19 July 2013 23: 20
    Homeland Railay - ODESSA!
  9. Enot-poloskun
    Enot-poloskun 19 July 2013 23: 43
    a bit of a parody ...