Ernest Bramah (1868 – 1942)


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Bramah was a reclusive soul, who shared few details of his private life with his reading public. His full name was Ernest Brammah Smith. It is known that he dropped out of Manchester Grammar School at the age of 16, after displaying poor aptitude as a student and thereafter went into farming, and began writing vignettes for the local newspaper. Bramah’s father was a wealthy man who rose from factory hand to a very wealthy man in a short time, and who supported his son in his various career attempts. Bramah went to Fleet Street after the farming failure and became a secretary to Jerome K. Jerome, rising to a position as editor of one of Jerome’s magazines. At some point, he appears to have married Mattie. More importantly, after being rejected by 8 publishers, the Wallet of Kai Lung was published in 1900, and to date, remains in print. Bramah wrote in different areas, including political science fiction, and mystery. He passed away at the age of 74. (Source: Goodreads)

See Ernest Bramah unofficial website for more information.

Max Carrados is a fictional blind detective in a series of mystery stories and books by Ernest Bramah, first published in 1914. The Max Carrados stories appeared alongside Sherlock Holmes stories in the Strand Magazine. Bramah was often billed above Arthur Conan Doyle, and the Carrados stories frequently outsold the Holmes stories at the time, even if they failed to achieve the same longevity. George Orwell wrote that, together with those of Doyle and R. Austin Freeman, Max Carrados and The Eyes of Max Carrados “are the only detective stories since Poe that are worth re-reading. (Source: Wikipedia)

Along with Arthur Conan Doyle, G. K. Chesterton, R. Austin Freeman and H. C. Bailey, Ernest Bramah traditionally has been recognized as one of the great early twentieth-century masters of the English detective short story, though he only produced three volumes of the exploits of his blind detective, Max Carrados, each with eight stories apiece, for a total of twenty-four tales (plus an odd twenty-fifth tale, “The Specimen Case,” and a Max Carrados novel, The Bravo of London, evidently not very highly regarded).  To be sure, Bramah’s is a small output of short mystery fiction, but it’s high quality one. (Curtis Evans at The Passing Tramp).

George Orwell, a critic with stern opinions about the genre, said that Carrados’ case were, together with those of Arthur Conan Doyle and R. Austin Freeman, ‘the only detectives stories since Poe that are worth rereading’. (Martin Edwards at The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books).

Critics have praised the stories [Max Carrados (1914)]; highly, and the two other collections — The Eyes of Max Carrados (1923) and Max Carrados Mysteries (1927) — are also well worth attention, although the later stories tend to get ponderous and are uneven in quality. The only Max Carrados novel, The Bravo of London (1934), proves conclusively that Bramah was a good short-story writer. (Source: Mystery*File)

The first Max Carrados stories appeared in 1914. E. F. Bleiler, who wrote a brief introduction to one collection of these stories, says that 25 of the stories were published in three anthologies between 1914 and 1927. Not all the stories, as he says, are first-rate, but enough are so that any collection you find is very likely to include many of the really good stories. (Source: From the Vault: “Best Max Carrados Detective Stories”).

Bibliography: Max Carrados (Methuen & Co, London 1914); The Eyes of Max Carrados (Grant Richards, London 1923); The Specimen Case (Hodder and Stoughton, London 1924); Max Carrados Mysteries (Hodder and Stoughton, London 1927); and The Bravo of London (a novel) (Cassell & Co, London 1934). A selection of stories from the earlier volumes were later gathered into Best Max Carrados Detective Stories (1972).

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(Facsimile Dust Jacket, Grant Richards Ltd. (UK), 1923)

Max Carrados is one of the most unusual detectives in all fiction. He is blind – and yet he has developed his other faculties to such an amazing degree that they more than compensate for his lack of sight.‘Lose one sense and the others, touch, taste, smell, hearing improve…with a little dedicated training.’ Carrados can read a newspaper headline with the touch of his fingers, detect a man wearing a false moustache because ‘he carries a five yard aura of spirit gum’ and shoot a villain by aiming at the sound of his beating heart. Assisted by his sharp-eyed  manservant, Parker, Carrados is the mystery-solver par excellence. Here is a collection of the best of Max Carrados, a set of stories featuring a series of baffling puzzles to challenge the greatest of detectives. They are written by Ernest Bramah with great wit, style and panache. This is vintage crime fiction at its best. (Source: Amazon).

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