Albert Campion

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Albert Campion
Albert Campion mysteries character
First appearanceThe Crime at Black Dudley
Created byMargery Allingham
Portrayed byBernard Horsfall
Brian Smith
Peter Davison
James Snell
Richard Hurndall
William Fox
Basil Moss
In-universe information
Aliasthe Honourable Tootles Ash, Mornington Dodd, Orlando, Christopher Twelvetrees
OccupationAdventurer, Detective
FamilyHerbert (brother)
Valentine Ferris (sister)
Emily K (mother)
SpouseLady Amanda Fitton
ChildrenRupert (son)

Albert Campion is a fictional character in a series of detective novels and short stories by Margery Allingham. He first appeared as a supporting character in The Crime at Black Dudley (1929), an adventure story involving a ring of criminals, and would go on to feature in another 18 novels and over 20 short stories.[1]

Supposedly created as a parody of Dorothy L. Sayers' detective Lord Peter Wimsey,[2] Campion established his own identity, and matured and developed as the series progressed. After Allingham's death her husband Philip Youngman Carter completed her last Campion book and wrote two more before his own death.

Fictional biography[edit]

Albert Campion is a pseudonym used by a man who was born in 1900 into a prominent British aristocratic family. Early novels hint that he was part of the Royal Family but this suggestion is dropped in later works. He was educated at Rugby School and the (fictitious) St. Ignatius' College, Cambridge (according to a mini-biography included in Sweet Danger; this is also hinted at in Police at the Funeral). Ingenious, resourceful and well-educated, in his 20s he assumed the name Campion and began a life as an adventurer and detective.


Campion is thin, blond, wears horn-rimmed glasses, and is often described as affable, inoffensive and bland, with a deceptively blank and unintelligent expression. He is, nonetheless, a man of authority and action, and considers himself to be a helpful and comforting 'Uncle Albert' to friends and those in need. In some stories, he lives in a flat above a police station at Number 17A, Bottle Street in Piccadilly, London. In the early stories he has a pet jackdaw called Autolycus.


The name 'Campion' may have its origin in the Old French word for 'champion'.[3] Another source says the name was suggested by Allingham's husband, Philip Youngman Carter, and may allude to the Jesuit martyr St. Edmund Campion. Carter and St. Edmund Campion were both graduates of Christ's Hospital school. Campion's fictional college, St. Ignatius, supports the Edmund Campion connection, since St. Ignatius of Loyola was the founder of the Jesuits.[4] There are also occasional references in the books to the field-flower campion (e.g., Look to the Lady ch. 21), evoking the similar relationship between the fictional hero the Scarlet Pimpernel and the pimpernel flower.

'Albert Campion' is revealed early on to be a pseudonym. In Mystery Mile and Police at the Funeral, his true first name is said to be Rudolph, while his surname begins with a K. In The Fashion in Shrouds he also mentions his first name being Rudolph but confides he changed it, asking people to call him Albert as he did not like the name Rudolph. In Look to the Lady the butler reveals to Lugg that he has deduced who Campion is by a particular feature of his pyjamas which he has also seen on Campion's elder brother's pyjamas.

Campion has used many other names in the course of his career. 'Mornington Dove' (although in the 1988 Avon edition (page 72) of 'The Black Dudley Murder', and in the 1950 UK Penguin edition of "the Crime at Black Dudley", he is called 'Mornington Dodd') and 'the Honourable Tootles Ash' are mentioned in The Crime at Black Dudley; 'Christopher Twelvetrees' and 'Orlando' are mentioned in Look to the Lady.

Family and background[edit]

Allingham makes various references to Campion's aristocratic background, and hints at a connection to royalty in several asides. A study of the books suggests his father was a viscount and was already dead at the start of the series.[5] Campion's mother is mentioned several times and writes a letter in The Fashion in Shrouds, and Campion borrows a car from his older brother (apparently the current holder of the title) in Mystery Mile, but neither of them appears in person. In Sweet Danger, it was mentioned that his brother was 'still unmarried' and therefore Campion is likely to 'come into the title some day.' In Coroner's Pidgin a character mentions Campion's uncle, a bishop, and says, 'Let me see, you're the only nephew now, aren't you?' This indicates that, by the middle of the Second World War, Campion's older brother Herbert has died and Campion has inherited the title.

In More Work For the Undertaker, set just after the war, Lugg addresses Campion sarcastically as 'young Viscount Clever'. Campion's sister Valentine Ferris plays a central part in The Fashion in Shrouds; in that book, it is revealed that they are both estranged from most of their family. In Police at the Funeral, the venerable Caroline Faraday is aware of his true identity, and knows his grandmother Emily (whom she refers to as 'The Dowager') – she calls him by his real name, 'Rudolph', and states at one point that the rest of his family blame Emily for encouraging Campion in his adventurous ways.


From Mystery Mile onwards, Campion is normally aided by his manservant, Magersfontein Lugg, an uncouth, rough-and-tumble fellow who used to be a burglar. Campion is good friends with Inspector (later Superintendent) Stanislaus Oates of Scotland Yard, who is as by-the-book as Campion is unorthodox, and in later books with Oates's protégé Inspector Charles Luke.

In wartime, Campion is involved in intelligence work, and after the war he continues to have a connection to the secret services.

Campion also has many friends and allies, seemingly scattered all across London and the English countryside, often including professional criminals. In the short story "The Meaning of the Act" Campion explains to Oates that the secret of his success is to 'take a drink with anyone, and pick your pals where you find 'em'.[6]

In Mystery Mile Campion is subtly shown to be in love with Biddy Paget, around whose home most of the story revolves; Campion is distraught when, at the end of the adventure, she marries an American, and his sadness at losing her is mentioned again in subsequent stories.

After a doomed passion for a married woman in Dancers in Mourning, Campion eventually marries Amanda Fitton, who first appears in Sweet Danger as a 17-year-old and later becomes an aircraft engineer; they have a son, named Rupert. Her brother Hal recovers the family title of Earl of Pontisbright as a result of the adventures described in Sweet Danger, and Amanda then becomes Lady Amanda, as the sister of an Earl.

Mr Campion's Farewell[edit]

Crime writer Mike Ripley completed an unfinished Campion manuscript, started by Philip Youngman Carter before his death.[7] The fragment, which contained revisions and minor corrections but no plot outline, character synopsis or plan, was bequeathed to Margery Allingham's sister Joyce; upon her death in 2001, the manuscript was left to officials of the Margery Allingham Society.[8] Beginning in 2012, Ripley, with the approval and agreement of the Margery Allingham Society, completed Youngman Carter's manuscript, which has become Mr Campion's Farewell. The novel was published in March 2014 by Severn House Publishers.[9] Succeeding volumes were entirely Ripley's work.


The Campion stories are generally adventures rather than true mysteries, as they rarely feature puzzles that the reader has a chance of solving; it is the characters and situations which carry the story. Most of the novels are short by modern standards – about 200 pages long.


Short story collections[edit]

  • Mr. Campion: Criminologist (1937) comprising:
    • The Case of the Late Pig
    • The Case of the White Elephant
    • The Case of the Man with the Sack
    • The Border-Line Case
    • The Case of the Widow
    • The Case of the Pro and the Con
    • The Case of the Old Man in the Window
  • Mr. Campion and Others (1939, 1950)
    • The Widow
    • The Name on the Wrapper
    • The Hat Trick
    • The Question Mark
    • The Old Man in the Window
    • The White Elephant
    • The Frenchman's Gloves
    • The Longer View
    • Safe as Houses
    • The Definite Article
    • The Meaning of the Act
    • A Matter of Form
    • The Danger Point
  • The Casebook of Mr. Campion (1947) comprising:
    • The Case of the Question Mark
    • The Crimson Letters
    • The Definite Article
    • The Magic Hat
    • A Matter of Form
    • The Meaning of the Act
    • Safe as Houses
  • The Allingham Case-Book (1969) comprising:
    • Tall Story
    • Three is a Lucky Number
    • The Villa Maria Celeste
    • The Psychologist
    • Little Miss Know-All
    • One Morning They'll Hang Him
    • The Lieabout
    • Face Value
    • Evidence in Camera
    • Joke Over
    • The Lying-In-State
    • The Pro and the Con
    • Is There a Doctor in the House?
    • The Borderline Case
    • They Never Get Caught
    • The Mind's Eye Mystery
    • Mum Knows Best
    • The Snapdragon and the C.I.D.
  • The Allingham Minibus (U.S. title: Mr. Campion's Lucky Day and Other Stories) (1973)
    • He Was Asking After You
    • Publicity
    • The Perfect Butler
    • The Barbarian
    • Mr Campion's Lucky Day
    • 'Tis Not Hereafter
    • The Correspondents
    • He Preferred Them Sad
    • The Unseen Door
    • Bird Thou Never Wert
    • The Same To Us
    • She Heard It On The Radio
    • The Man With The Sack
    • The Secret
    • A Quarter of a Million
    • The Pioneers
    • The Sexton's Wife
    • The Wink
  • The Return of Mr. Campion (1989) comprising:
    • The Case is Altered
    • My Friend Mr Campion
    • The Dog Day
    • The Wind Glass
    • The Beauty King
    • The Black Tent
    • Sweet and Low
    • Once in a Lifetime
    • The Kernel of Truth
    • Happy Christmas
    • The Wisdom of Esdras
    • The Curious Affair in Nut Row
    • What to do with an Aging Detective

Omnibus editions[edit]

  • Crime and Mr Campion (1959) – Death of a Ghost, Flowers for the Judge and Dancers in Mourning.
  • Three Cases for Mr Campion (1961) – Look to the Lady, The Fashion in Shrouds and Traitor's Purse.
  • The Mysterious Mr Campion (1963) – The Case of the Late Pig, Dancers in Mourning and The Tiger in the Smoke;
    also a short story On Christmas Day in the Morning and a preface by the author.
  • Mr Campion's Lady (1965) – Sweet Danger, The Fashion in Shrouds and Traitor's Purse;
    also a short story A Word in Season and a preface by the author.
  • Mr Campion's Clowns (1967) – Mystery Mile, Coroner's Pidgin and More Work for the Undertaker;
    with a preface by Philip Youngman Carter.


Campion (1959–1960)[edit]

Two stories were adapted by the BBC in 1959 and 1960, with Bernard Horsfall as Campion and Wally Patch as Lugg. Each story was shown in six 30-minute episodes. The 1959 adaptation of Dancers in Mourning also featured John Ruddock as Oates, Denis Quilley as Jimmy Sutane, Michael Gough as Squire Mercer and Noel Howlett as 'Uncle' William Faraday. The 1960 adaptation, Death of a Ghost, featured Arthur Brough as Oates.

Detective (1968)[edit]

In 1968 The Case of the Late Pig was adapted for television starring Brian Smith as Campion, and George Sewell as Lugg.[10] It was part of the BBC Detective (1964–1969) series which was an anthology series featuring adaptations of detective stories.

Campion (1989–1990)[edit]

In 1989 and 1990, the first eight of the novels (excluding The Crime at Black Dudley) were adapted over two seasons, with each story shown in two hour-long episodes. Peter Davison played Campion, Brian Glover was Lugg and Andrew Burt was Oates.


Various stories were adapted for BBC Radio over the years. Campion was played by James Snell, Richard Hurndall, William Fox, and Basil Moss.
Among them were the following.
"Traitor's Purse" (read by Roger Allam in 10 episodes),
"Look to the Lady" (1961) starred Richard Hurndall.
"Mr Campion's Falcon" (1972) is not by Marjery Allingham: William Fox took the lead role.


  1. ^ Rosemary, Herbert (2003-01-01). Whodunit? : a who's who in crime & mystery writing. Oxford University Press. pp. 28. ISBN 0195157613. OCLC 252700230.
  2. ^ 'The Great Detectives: Albert Campion' by Mike Ripley, Strand Magazine
  3. ^ Martin, Richard. (1988) Ink in her Blood (The Life and Crime Fiction of Margery Allingham). Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press. p64.
  4. ^ Morpurgo, J. E. (1988) introduction to The Return of Mr Campion London: Hodder and Stoughton. p. xiii.
  5. ^ Thoughts on Mr Campion and his family by Roger Johnson Archived 2007-06-11 at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ Allingham, Margery. (1950) Mr Campion and Others, London: Penguin. The Meaning of the Act, p240
  7. ^ "Mike Ripley talks to Crime Time".[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ "The Return of Albert Campion".
  9. ^ "Mr Campion's Farewell".
  10. ^ IMDB Entry for 1968 'The Case of the Late Pig'

External links[edit]