John Barman

Created by Arthur William à Beckett

“…the Raymond murder–pretty piece of bushness–genteel piece of bushness. I’m proud of it! Itsh been managed capitally–I shay capitally!”
— Barman

One of the earliest private detectives actually identified as such, JOHN BARMAN was a pipe-smoking, whiskey-drinking (and occasionally over-served) Victorian-era gentleman sleuth who lived at King’s Road, Chelsea, and was just plain hell on his long-suffering servants. He was featured in Fallen Among Thieves: A Novel of Interest, originally serialized in twelve monthly parts in 1869 in Britannia, a short-lived fiction magazine he just coincidentally happened to edit. The serial was subsequently published as a three-part novel the following year, and presented as a “true and not uneventful history” of the country house murder of a man named Raymond.

The book was also adapted into a play by Beckett and J. Palgrave Simpson, and was performed in 1881 as From Father to Son.

The author, Arthur William à Beckett, worked as a journalist, novelist and playwright. In 1874 joined the staff of the humour magazine Punch, the humour mag, and wrote for them from 1974 to 1902. It was something of a family affair — his father, Gilbert Abbott à Beckett, had been a member of the magazine’s original staff, and his brother, Gilbert Arthur à Beckett, also became a regular contributor. À Beckett also edited the Sunday Times from 1891 to 1895, and the Naval and Military Magazine in 1896. He may have died as the result of an unsuccessful leg amputation in 1909, although it was his brother Gilbert who suffered from paralysis of both legs, the result of falling down the stairway of London’s Gower Street station.


  • “Fallen Among Thieves (Part One)” (January 1869, Britannia)
  • “Fallen Among Thieves (PartTwo)” (Febuary 1869, Britannia)
  • “Fallen Among Thieves (Part Three)” (March 1869, Britannia)
  • “Fallen Among Thieves (Part Four)” (April 1869, Britannia)
  • “Fallen Among Thieves (Part Five)” (May 1869, Britannia)
  • “Fallen Among Thieves (Part Six)” (June 1869, Britannia)
  • “Fallen Among Thieves (Part Seven)” (July 1869, Britannia)
  • “Fallen Among Thieves (Part Eight)” (August 1869, Britannia)
  • “Fallen Among Thieves (Part Nine)” (September 1869, Britannia)
  • “Fallen Among Thieves (Part Ten)” (October 1869, Britannia)
  • “Fallen Among Thieves (Part Eleven)” (November 1869, Britannia)
  • “Fallen Among Thieves (Part Twelve)” (December 1869, Britannia)


  • Fallen Among Thieves I: A Legacy of Vengeance (1870) | Kindle it!
  • Fallen Among Thieves II: The Marble Heart (1870) | Kindle it!
  • Fallen Among Thieves III: Nemesis (1870) | Kindle it!


    (1881, Liverpool)
    Based on Fallen Among Thieves by Arthur William à Beckett
    Script by Arthur William à Beckett and J. Palgrave Simpson.
    A dramatised, three-act version of à Beckett’s novel Fallen Among Thieves.


  • Early Eyes
    Historical and Literary Influences on the Genre
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.



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